County Council explains more about Superfast broadband for Stradbroke

Suffolk County Council have provided some more information about the availability of "superfast" broadband in Stradbroke. There is not much new but their response does explain in more detail exactly why only half of the village will have Superfast broadband when it launches in September this year.

Superfast broadband is called Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and is provided from the green street cabinets that can be seen throughout the country. In most places in order to make FTTC available both the local telephone exchange and the existing street cabinets that deliver phone lines have to be upgraded. The problem in Stradbroke (and many similar rural areas) is that telephone lines have never been delivered from street cabinets. The village is small enough for most of the lines to go straight back to the telephone exchange in Queens Street.

That sounds more straightforward but the problem is that for these "exchange only" lines it is not possible to install the FTTC equipment into the telephone exchange as it interferes with other equipment. So what has to happen is new street cabinets need installing outside the phone exchange and every single telephone line needs to be cut and re-routed to a new street cabinet.

This has happened for the first 400 lines out of the 680 that serve the village. The new green cabinet in Queens Street somewhat ironically serves 400 lines further to the South of the village (as the coverage map below shows) but not the immediately surrounding areas such as Queen Street and Westhall.

The reason only 400 lines have been converted is simple. Money. The first phase of the Superfast Broadband project is just coming to an end and this was funded from that project. The County Council intend to fund the remaining lines from the next phase and there will be an announcement in around October which should tell us when this is likely to happen but it looks likely to be some time during 2016 with the earliest possible dates of late 2015 and latest 2017.

It is worth noting that as well as many houses both the Primary School and Courthouse/Library will be unable to receive high speed broadband in the first phase.

Another mystery has been cleared up too. The reason our broadband has come so late in this project is logistical. The fibre cables to make it work come from Dickleburgh so places like Hoxne "on the way" have been served first.

It seems the best way to speed this process up is to get local politicians to put pressure on Suffolk County Council to make the second cabinet for Stradbroke an early target for the second phase of the Superfast broadband project. There don't look to be any obvious logistical constraints here so with a bit of pressure from the Parish Council, our county councillor and maybe our MP this could hopefully be achieved.

Meanwhile the existing broadband infrastructure in Stradbroke seems to be creaking with frequent low speeds and service losses being reported by several local people. There is a small silver lining on the horizon though for Stradbroke residents who won't get superfast broadband in the first phase. As people move onto FTTC in the other part of the village the service should speed up significantly for regular broadband customers.

This can't come soon enough though and some pressure on BT Openreach to activate the FTTC service as soon as possible might also be helpful even for those who don't actually benefit directly in the first round.

I've reprinted the map as a reminder. If you live in the "green" area you should get superfast broadband by September! If you want to be sure you can enter your phone number and postcode on the Better Broadband for Suffolk website.

My thanks to Jonathan Chown at Suffolk County Council for providing a really comprehensive response to my questions.
Suffolk Politics 4290952207174820713

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