'In November 2015, the prime minister announced the government's intention to implement the new broadband universal service obligation (USO) to provide broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps (megabits per second) to everyone, saying it wanted to put broadband on a more equal footing with essential services such as electricity and water.'
Letter from Ed Vaizey MP
SIR – The Government commitment for everyone in the United Kingdom to have access to fast broadband remains firmly in place. Nothing has been abandoned. We are giving every home and business the legal right to request fast broadband, helping make sure no communities are left behind.
Nine out of 10 homes and businesses can already get superfast speeds – four million of which would have missed out if not for our £1.7 billion investment through the superfast broadband programme. By December 2017 that will rise to 95 per cent.
Reaching the least accessible parts of the UK is of course more expensive, so it makes sense for broadband to be provided on request to those who want it – in the same way that telephone lines are provided.
Ed Vaizey MP (Con), Digital Economy Minister, London SW1
This is my latest correspondence with Steve Brookes:
Thanks for getting back to me, but we seem to be getting conflicting messages from different sources. You might like to clarify the situation please.
The correspondence from BT Openreach below seems to indicate that the ‘Equivalence Rules’ do not apply to our circumstances in Nocton (as we already have access to fibre cabinets) and therefore a solution to our problem of being located too far away from the fibre cabinet rests with the Onlincolnshire BDUK project team.
It also states that I should let Onlincolnshire know of my requirements, which are:
I am now formally requesting to have my legacy telephone line re-routed from Metheringham Cab 3 to the new fibre cabinet Metheringham Cab 17 in order for me to have the choice of upgrading to a broadband service that should give me a minimum 10 Mbps.
If there is a personal cost to me in order to have this work carried out, I would like to have a quote provided beforehand to consider (I have already emailed both BT as my provider and BT Openreach to enquire about the process for this to take place – response still awaited).
As the Equivalence Rules do not appear to apply, surely the work involved in moving the legacy lines connected to Metheringham Cab 3 can be carried out now as part of the budgeted upgrade relating to Metheringham Cab 17.
I await your comments with interest.
Correspondence from BT Openreach
“Dear Mr Mellor,
Please see below for the response from Openreach regarding broadband access in Nocton.
Senior Parliamentary Assistant
Office of Stephen Phillips QC MP
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
020 7219 7146”
“Dear Mr Philips,
Thank you for the letter that you sent to Gavin Patterson, that was dated 25 April, on behalf of the residents who live on Main St, Nocton.
I appreciate the residents frustration and need for fibre broadband, especially as other residents nearby have the service. I’ve looked into this.
I’m sorry that the residents were told that they couldn’t be connected to fibre broadband due to OFCOM’s equivalence rules. This isn’t an accurate statement.
Fibre broadband availability
The area is served via cabinet 3 connected to our Metheringham exchange. The good news is that both have been upgraded to deliver fibre broadband services with support from the ‘Onlincolnshire’ BDUK project – in which BT is a delivery partner. As you’re probably aware, the aim of the project is to deploy fibre broadband in areas not covered by private commercial markets.
However, the technology that we have largely deployed is ‘Fibre to the Cabinet’ (FTTC). This will be available to a number of premises locally. However, we’ve been clear in our communications that when a cabinet is upgraded it doesn’t mean that all premises will be able to get the service. This is what has happened here.
FTTC technology has line length limitations. If the distance from the premises to the fibre cabinet is greater than 1.5km, the service will not work reliably. And as the residents have already indicated, their homes fall into this category as they’re over 1.5km from the fibre cabinet. This means that their lines are unfortunately too long to support a reliable FTTC service.
We continue to work on technical solutions (for example, Fibre to the Premises, extending the existing fibre cable route or deploying alternative technology), but these can be economically challenging and will require public funding.
To help, I’ve been in touch with one of my colleagues who works in the ‘Onlincolnshire’ BDUK project team and I’ve been told that the residents affected by long lines are very much part of project team’s plans to be upgraded to fibre broadband in the near future.
I therefore suggest that the residents contact the ‘Onlincolnshire’ BDUK project team to let them know of their requirements. More information is available at the following link:
The decision as to when the upgrade takes place rests with the project team, who are managing the delivery of the programme.
Finally I'm really sorry that we're unable to provide an immediate solution for the residents but I hope my comments help to explain our current position and it assures you of our ambition to deliver fibre broadband for as many communities as quickly as we can.
High level complaints, Openreach”