Thursday, 21 April 2016

Superfast broadband - further update


I have been seeking information about superfast broadband for our village since April 2014. Two years later, we are now at the point where almost every household will have that availability, if choosing to upgrade.

During those two years, I discovered a few properties (my own included) were linked via a legacy connection to Cabinet 3 at Dunston Top, rather than to Pillar 3/2 outside the Post Office. Whilst initially finding that Cabinet 3 had been an early upgrade for fibre (FTTC), when I checked my telephone number via the BT Fibre Availability Checker, I found I might not get superfast broadband after all.

After contacting BT, I was very disappointed to be told by the Customer Call Centre representative that superfast broadband was not available for my telephone line, but could not elaborate on the reason.


I was later informed by OnLincolnshire that our property is situated too far away from the fibre cabinet (2.5 kilometres) for BT Infinity. As my line is connected by legacy wiring to the fibre cabinet, it seems the signal speed deteriorates over distance and there would be no benefit to me. Hence my enthusiasm to get a new fibre cabinet installed in Nocton.

When the new fibre Cabinet 17 was installed opposite the Post Office, I did think (rather naively) that my line would automatically transfer over, but now find this will not be the case.

From: Stephen Brookes
Sent: 20 April 2016 11:55
To: Geoff Hall
Cc: Marianne Overton MBE <>
Subject: RE: Upgrade for Nocton

Good Morning Geoff,

Please see response from BT below. In essence, they are unable to change the routing of the lines mentioned because of an OFCOM ruling that deals with what they call 'Equivalence'. In simple terms, if BT were to re-route these lines, they would be obligated to do the same for everyone else in the UK that wanted this done, irrespective of which ISP they used.

This is something we are well aware of as we are seeing it in other areas as well. I am putting together a technical representation to OFCOM on behalf of another customer, but in truth, I don't hold out much hope.


DSLAM is stood, road crossing complete (for copper). As for the prems below; we cannot really do anything for them as we would have to move their lines from Cab 3 to the new 17. Equivalence becomes any issue for us. In terms of degraded Ali cables – this will disappear once the fibre is installed."

Steve Brookes
Lincolnshire Broadband Programme Manager
Tel. 01522 552450
Mob. 07825 043978

From: Geoff Hall
Sent: 20 April 2016 14:02
To: Stephen Brookes
Subject: RE: Upgrade for Nocton

Hi Steve,

Thanks for pursuing this and for the rather expected response from BT.

I managed to speak with two BT Openreach guys on their site visit this morning and who examined both telephone poles concerned with Cab 3 and Cab 17 - they were clearly aware of the anomaly with these legacy lines. Perhaps their visit was coincidental but I suspect not?

I was given the impression our lines might be relocated, but it would have to be as a separate job to that of making Cab 17 live, but obviously that is not to be the case.
I will draft a letter to the Select Committee examining broadband issues currently and copy both Ed Vaisey MP and Stephen Phillips MP to highlight our ridiculous situation.

If you can pursue this with Ofcom I would appreciate it.

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

1st telegraph pole - lines to Cab 3

2nd telegraph pole - lines to Cab 3

What next?

For the majority, it will not be long before the new fibre cabinet goes 'live'. Indeed residents may find they can order their upgrade to superfast broadband now - by visiting the BT Openreach Fibre Availability Checker.

With regard to the few, who will not be connected to the new fibre Cabinet 17, they too may experience a slightly improved service.

I understand that once the existing connections in Pillar 3/2 link across to the new fibre Cabinet 17, this will reduce the number of telephone lines dependent on the old aluminium infrastructure from Cabinet 3 at Dunston Top. It is hoped this will result in a more reliable and possibly slightly faster service for those left on the aluminium link, as BT Openreach can allow us access to more of the wiring for each of our telephone lines, thus reducing the degradation.

I decided to revisit the BT Openreach Fibre Availability Checker myself this morning and was surprised to discover the following message for my telephone number:

"Accepting Orders

Great news, you can order a fibre service. Please get in touch with your service provider. Your fibre service is connected from this exchange.

Exchange name: Metheringham.
Exchange status: Fibre enabled
Cabinet number: 3
Technology: FTTC"

This message is probably indicating that I can benefit from an increase in broadband speed, if I was to pay for connection to the upgraded fibre service in Cabinet 3... but under no circumstances would I get superfast broadband (BT Infinity) because of the distant Cabinet 3 location.

I have noticed the contractors have been working along Old Sleaford Rd and down Main Street today, to clear the existing piping and ducting of roots and debris. 'Pull through' nylon ropes have also been inserted ready for BT Openreach to draw through the new fibre cable from Cabinet 3 to Cabinet 17.

Road coned off for safety of contractors
Ducting showing cabling (and 'pull through' rope)
My initial thoughts are now to wait until all the work on Cabinet 17 and Pillar 3/2 are complete, before testing my line speed again and then deciding my next actions.
BT Openreach - Equivalence

'Openreach provides products and services to communication providers (CPs) on an "equivalent" basis.  This obligation is embodied in the BT Undertakings given to the telecoms regulator Ofcom in September 2005.'

How DSL Works

'When you connect to the Internet, you might connect through a regular modem, through a local-area network connection in your office, through a cable modem or through a digital subscriber line (DSL) connection. DSL is a very high-speed connection that uses the same wires as a regular telephone line.'

How Fiber Optics Work

'You hear about fiber-optic cables whenever people talk about the telephone system, the cable TV system or the Internet. Fiber-optic lines are strands of optically pure glass as thin as a human hair that carry digital information over long distances.'

Blog history re: superfast broadband





  1. Hi Geoff,
    Many thanks again for your work pursuing this.
    I think another possibility is to inform the media of this ridiculous situation...
    Kind Regards,

  2. Thanks Geoff. I am not in your list of properties with a 'legacy' supply but I got this on the broadband checker:

    "We're working with government and industry to explore ways to bring Superfast fibre to as many people as possible but don't have a plan for your area yet. You might consider co-funding fibre access in your community. Knowing there's a healthy demand in your area can also really help. Register your interest here."

    I am not holding my breath...


  3. Thanks Liz for letting me know... oh dear why am I not surprised?

    It might be pertinent to check again once the new cabinet goes 'live' in a few weeks. Hopefully BT's systems will have been updated by then for your Tel No/Postcode. However, as you have seen with my own case there are clearly anomalies remaining!

  4. Thanks Geoff for following this with so much tenacity. Very frustrating to know that although we now have cones in front of our house we won't get a significant improvement on our paltry 2.2mbs. We would like to make some noise and add to the pressure that you are applying to get connected onto the new cabinet, who should we start with? Jason & Maria (Embsay Holt)

  5. Thanks Jason and Maria - I have now submitted my contemporaneous record of all my correspondence to the Broadband Select Committee. I have also copied in Stephen Phillips MP, who might be your best bet. Regards.

  6. Interesting words from BT re: the statement

    "DSLAM is stood, road crossing complete (for copper). As for the prems below; we cannot really do anything for them as we would have to move their lines from Cab 3 to the new 17. Equivalence becomes any issue for us. In terms of degraded Ali cables – this will disappear once the fibre is installed."

    I agree that Equivalence may well be an issue that can only be changed by OFCOM involvement. What BT are saying confirms the failure last year of my request that BT switch Manor Court customers into Cab 12 situated at the junction of Manor Court/Potter Road. The statement above also assumes the degraded Aluminium cable will disappear once the fibre is installed - true - however this only applies to those fed off 3/2. Those not on 3/2 will continue to be on Aluminium sections. As I mentioned previously to you they can upgrade your speed to <17mbit once 3/2 is cut over simply by using now defunct additional twisted pairs in the old aluminium to each line that is not connected to 3/2 (new Cab 17). This helps to decrease the resistance to your property and should work. Be careful they do not add an additional cost for this and also remember you will still remain off CAB 3 fault prone aluminium distribution cable.

    I am not certain but as a last resort if everyone clubs together to pay for the small additional ductwork and cable to connect to new Cab 17 then this may be a way around equivalence issues. I can if wanted help in assisting in conjunction with whoever BT send to survey the costs.

    As an aside many years ago there was a window when Aluminium cable was installed throughout the BT local networks, instead of the time proven Copper cables, in order to save money. Aluminium was cheaper and copper prices at that time went through the roof. This was a huge error by the then Post Office Telephones - government owned - and BT are still paying the price today for that decision. The main reason for renewals is simply because Aluminium wires are extremely brittle in cold weather and it has been known that maintenance repair engineers whilst clearing an aluminium fault manage to disturb other aluminium wires in the same cable thus causing more faults. Most cities are now free of Aluminium but much still remains in rural villages.

    Your problem now Geoff and those around you is certainly at the highest level and I would also suggest as an addition a petition and complaint letter by those unable to connect to 3/2 sent DIRECTLY to Sir Michael Rake, Chairman of BT, 81 Newgate Street, London.

    Keep it going Geoff

    Mick Middleton

  7. As an update Geoff if there are jointing chambers directly beneath the telegraph poles serving you and your neighbours then no additional ductwork is require to connect to 3/2. If so that now confirms to me that with some small additional cabling its simple from an engineering point of view.

    Will take a walk around later this afternoon and have a look.


  8. It was good to meet up with you this afternoon Mick. A useful walk-through of the physical practicalities involved with linking our properties through to Cab 17.


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