The implementation of a hyperfast broadband network in Great Bromley by County Broadband (CB) appears to be well underway. This will provide fast broadband connectivity to the 80% of the village who do not have access to the existing (BT) Openreach fibre network and will place Great Bromley in the top 6% in the UK with regards to the speeds available.
The implementation is being carried out under the OFCOM Electronic Communications Code. (CB) has been granted Code Powers by OFCOM which enables them to roll out fibre broadband projects in agreed locations, but CB must adhere strictly to the conditions contained within the code. A key element of the Code (and one which comes as a surprise to many observers) is that proposals for systems outside AONBs, conservation areas and other designated landscapes do not have to go through the normal planning process and as such neither the District Council or Parish Council are required to be consulted. At a high level the government has effectively given approved suppliers planning permission in order to get broadband rolled out as quickly as possible. However, as part of the Code, CB are working closely with local authorities especially regarding the impact of installing infrastructure in a rural location. For example, utilising tree surgeons with local knowledge and recommended by TDC.
New telegraph poles have been installed in the village and ducting is being instated where existing infrastructure either doesn’t exist or is at capacity. As part of the aforementioned Code CB are able utilise existing Openreach telegraph poles and ducting where appropriate.
Traditionally BT, now Openreach, has enjoyed a gentlemen’s agreement with UK Power Networks (UPN) enabling them to hang telecoms wires from electricity poles (and vice versa). The only stipulation being a 1m separation between the wires. However, it is understood that this agreement ceased when Openreach was formally split from BT and a new arrangement regarding co-use of existing infrastructure by UKPN, Openreach and smaller communications companies (such as CB) has yet to be negotiated and signed off. Accordingly, CB has permission to use only exiting Openreach poles and ducting for the fibre installation in Great Bromley until the new arrangement is in place. This explains why some new telegraph poles are close to existing poles carrying power lines.
Getting fibre to individual households will either be via underground ducting from the street, or overhead wires depending on location. Obviously, any underground solution will require some digging to the property but CB will discuss this with individual property owners. Regarding overhead wires, there is a limit of 55m between the pole and property and poles have been erected with this in mind. (The limit between poles is 68m).
At the time of writing fibre has been hung on the poles leading from the A120 along the Harwich Road and also down Parson’s Hill. It is unclear as to whether any fibre is underground yet. However, work continues and is not subject to the current lockdown as broadband provision is considered an essential service.
Once fibre has been installed throughout the village, either between poles or underground and it is connected to the main network, installation to individual properties can commence. Current estimates for this are Q3 this year.
Note: This is not an endorsement of County Broadband or Openreach.
In October County Broadband (CB) confirmed that they will be going ahead with implementing a fibre based broadband service in Great Bromley. Once implemented it will offer residents speeds of up to 1,000Mbts putting the village into the top 6% of users in the UK with regards to broadband performance. It will offer fibre to the property (FTTP) as opposed to the usual method of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) usually offered by BT Openreach. FTTC sees a drop off in performance the further a property is located from the cabinet due to the final stage being carried via traditional copper. FTTP sees consistent performance regardless of the time of day or how many people are using it.
CB has stated that prebuild works will be completed in November / December and the main build works to commence as soon as that is completed, possibly as early as end November. Recent planning notices that have appeared around the village suggest that the pre-planning has actually been underway for some considerable time.
A relatively recent change in the law enables 3rd party suppliers to utilise existing Openreach infrastructure such as telegraph poles and ducting, to install their own fibre. As such CB – or any other 3rd party for that matter - will theoretically keep disruption to a minimum by not having to implement entirely new infrastructure.
The caveat that has always been in place to this though – and again applies to all 3rd parties - is that they will use existing infrastructure where possible. So inevitably there will be some additional infrastructure required. This is unfortunately particularly relevant to Great Bromley where the existing telecoms set-up is in a particularly sorry state with for example, collapsed ducting in many places and routing that does not support the latest requirements.
The above is written for information purposes and is in no way an endorsement or recommendation of any supplier mentioned.
County Broadband will be hosting a meeting in The Bromley Cross Inn on the evening of 15th July from 7pm to answer any questions about the proposed fibre service.
A polite reminder that the 26th April is the deadline to apply to County Broadband for their fibre based internet service and avoid the £250 instllation fee. It is essential that as many people as possible apply for this service to ensure County go ahead with their plans. Please remember that for most of the village this really is the only game on town for the foreseeable future. Failure to persuade County that Great Bromley is worth investing in will leave the village without high speed broadband for years to come.
County Broadband will be holding a meeting in the Village Hall at 7:30pm on Tuesday 26th to present their plans for providing a fibre based seervce to Great Bromley.
Residents at the Ardleigh end of the village have had access tp BT Openreach fibre via the cabinet in Waterhouse Lane (Ardleigh 4)for a couple years. Access to Openreach fibre means suppliers such as BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Plusnet etc. are able provide a service to residents. Properties along Frating Road, Ardleigh Road, part of Hall Road and others just off these roads benefit from this.
The rest of Great Bromley is officially served by County Broadband using their wireless system. This service has been scrutinised since it went live due to lack of universal availability and poor levels of service regarding reliability, support and cost.
County Broadband have what is known as a ‘Claim’ on Great Bromley. This means that no other supplier (i.e. Openreach) is allowed to provide a service where this Claim exists. Their Claim does not cover the Ardleigh end of the village hence Openreach has implemented a fibre solution there. For reasons that are unclear County did not include Springhill Close and certain properties in the Parson’s Hill area in their Claim. Therefore Openreach, with additional funding through Superfast Essex (Essex County Council), laid approximately 4km of fibre to a new cabinet called Ardleigh 6at the end of Springhill Close.
Here it becomes farcical! Properties near the church, including the school, have fibre in the ground yards from their front doors to a cabinet many can see, but are not allowed access to, simply due to bureaucracy and red tape.
County’s service has been under scrutiny because of the unreliability of the wireless technology offered and Superfast Essex has now amended County’s claim for some Essex villages due to poor service. The Claim over Great Bromley however remains in place as Superfast Essex has not received enough evidence for it to be removed. Superfast Essex’s figures show that County Broadband’s Claim here covers 389 properties, a reduction of only 4.
Disappointing. However, those villages with their Claim removed, either in part or completely, are now reliant on Openreach, or another supplier, making a purely commercial decision on the viability of providing fibre. Current government funding has all been allocated. The Ardleigh 6cabinet took nearly 4 years to go live since the planning application so these villages are unlikely to see anything soon even assuming Openreach decide to get involved. Also, more remote properties are unlikely to receive any sort of service unless the rules change.
Some months ago County announced plans to implement a fibre solution in Great Bromley offering speeds far in excess of those Openreach offer. This should be a more reliable solution than their wireless offering which needs line of sight between transmitters and property - difficult to achieve with so many trees around. Their solution involves providing fibre directly to the property rather than a street cabinet, then copper to the door as Openreach usually does – hence the potential faster speeds. This is possible as Openreach are now legally obliged to provide third party suppliers, like County, full access to their infrastructure such as ducting and telegraph poles, to lay their fibre. So, theoretically, with a BT landline into your house, County can provide fibre along the same route. It will be interesting to see how this works in practice….
Allegedly County has access to funding to implement its fibre offering but a final decision will be based on the potential take up within the village. They are due to host a meeting in Great Bromley in early 2019 to explain their plans and to gauge interest.
Experience of County Broadband has shown that their claims, promises etc. should be treated with a large pinch of salt. They are at present implementing a fibre solution in Bulmer village and I will be monitoring their progress. However, the majority of Great Bromley will, for the foreseeable future, be reliant on County Broadband to provide a fibre based superfast broadband service.
Users who can’t wait for a fibre solution might be interested in looking at a 4G Router accessing the internet via a mobile phone signal. Not necessarily the best solution for heavy users as it can be expensive but it is an option. Google 4G Routersfor more information.
A polite reminder that if your property does have access to High Speed Broadband it is not automatically upgraded – you have to ask your supplier as it is effectively a different product.
Lastly, I mentioned that County Broadband’s claim on Great Bromley has been reduced by 4 properties. Due to the nature of Superfast Essex’s reporting and the commercial sensitivities involved it is not possible to identify which 4 properties, unless you know their status before. You can see your property’s status by going to http://www.superfastessex.org/interactive-maps/rollout-map/ If you know your status has changed the Parish Council would like to know – please email the Clerk at email@example.com.
The new cabinet in Springhill Close is being connected to the power supply and fibre trunking is being laid along Hall Road in places where the existing infrastructure is blocked or collapsed. Current estimates are that the cabinet (to be called Ardleigh 6) will go live after Christmas. This should see all properties along the B1029 (Ardleigh Road; Hall Road; Brook Street; Parsons Hill) and those in the vicinity, have access to fibre based Superfast Broadband. (Ardleigh Road and environs has had access since “Ardleigh 4” in Waterhouse Lane went live last year).
Still awaiting confirmation as to if / when the cabinet opposite the Court House that serves Hare Green and properties towards Elmstead. (Great Bentley 3.1) is to be upgraded to fibre.
Superfast Essex (SE) – part of Essex County Council – is tasked with identifying parts of the county that do not have access to Superfast Broadband (>30Mbts) and allocating funds to rectify the situation. If a commercial operator has identified an area as one they support then SE are not allowed to allocate funds. County Broadband are the official provider for Great Bromley having persuaded the necessary authorities that they can do this. As such BT are not obliged to provide an infrastructure upgrade to fibre but have actually decided anyway to do so with the 2 cabinets from Ardleigh, having deemed them commercially viable.
SE will assume that those areas where a supplier – in our case County Broadband – has claimed they can provide a service, then everybody can get it. It is essential therefore that if you are unable to get a service from County Broadband or the service you are getting from them is less than 30Mbts, then you let Superfast Essex know ASAP. The same applies to anybody who has upgraded to a fibre based Superfast Broadband service but is getting less than 30Mbts – you must tell Superfast Essex or they will assume all is well.
The Parish Council has previously requested instances from parishioners where County Broadband has said they cannot provide a service, as required by SE. Unfortunately SE has decided that is cannot accept ‘anecdotal’ evidence but must have specific instances that County Broadband cannot provide a service. Evidence such as an email, a screen print of a refusal, or details of a phone conversation are now required.
Lastly, a polite reminder that if you have access to a fibre based Superfast Broadband service, you are not automatically upgraded when it becomes available – you have to ask your ISP (BT, Sky, Talk Talk, Plusnet etc…) to do the upgrade. Contact your ISP to see if you are eligible.
Contact details for Superfast Essex are: www.superfastessex.org/contactus (Note: the SuperfastEssex website will be relaunched on 30th November and will contain more information and, allegedly, better navigation)
To test the speed of your connection go to any of the many speedtest websites that are available.
Are you getting superfast broadband?
Essex County Council is running a public consultation during August 2017 to create an updated map of superfast broadband availability in the county. The council will publish an online map showing all Essex premises and their current classification (superfast broadband available or planned/ superfast broadband under review/ no superfast broadband available). Superfast broadband is now defined as a connection offering at least 30Mb download speeds most of the time. When the consultation launches on Monday 31st July, residents and businesses are invited to check their broadband status on the interactive State Aid map available at: www.superfastessex.org/whatshappeningnext. The Superfast Essex programme team at Essex County Council would like to hear your feedback on the broadband status allocated to your address. This includes feedback confirming the broadband status shown on the map is correct as well as feedback from anyone who disagrees with their current broadband status. Respondents will be required to provide some evidence to back up any requests to change the status of an address. Details about the type of evidence required and instructions about how to obtain this will be detailed in the public consultation feedback form. Full details about the consultation, including the link to respond, will be available on the same ‘What’s happening next?’ page of the Superfast Essex website: www.superfastessex.org/whatshappeningnext with the interactive State Aid map. Please note the map being consulted on will be used to decide whether properties are eligible for public subsidy in the future. This is different to the interactive rollout map which is separate to this consultation. The outcome of this consultation will form the basis for directing future investment by Essex County Council to improve broadband access, with the ambition to ensure everyone in the county has a superfast connection by 2020 at the latest.
Feedback on the consultation must only be submitted via the online public consultation feedback form available on the ‘What’s happening next?’ page at: www.superfastessex.org/whatshappeningnext. Residents in areas with poor connectivity are encouraged to take the time to visit libraries or use workplace computers to complete their feedback, as the team would like to hear from them in particular. Unfortunately, due to the volume of responses expected and the need to process them quickly, Superfast Essex is unable to offer the option of hard copy correspondence. If you agree with the status of your property as shown on the map (e.g. no superfast broadband available), you do not need to take any further action, however we would welcome your feedback via the public consultation form to confirm the current status shown on the map is correct.
Those in the village who are attached to the Ardleigh exchange may be interested to know that the cabinet on the corner of Waterhouse Lane that Great Bromley residents are attached to has been upgraded to fibre. To see if you will be eligible to get a *much* faster broadband serice check your details here: http://www.homeandwork.openreach.co.uk/OurNetwork/Superfast/buy-it-now.aspx (This link is no longer available)
Also, planning permission has been granted to build a fibre cabinet at the junction of Springhill Close and Mary Lane North - ref 16/01175/TELLIC
3rd March (2014)
Those who showed an interest some 20 months ago now in the service proposed by County Broadband will probably have today, the 3rd March 2014, received a notification from them saying they are ready to proceed. If you did show an interest but have not heard anything and are still interested in proceeding with them, we suggest you contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another supplier, MML, are, according to TDC, in the process of setting up a service for people in this are.
In the meantime please note that Essex County Council is still pushing BT to speed up the roll out of their high speed broadband network to rural Essex. For more information, please go to: http://www.superfastessex.org
No formal communication from County Broadband suggesting the end of March is not likely as a 'go live' date.
A revised estimate for going live in Great Bromley of the first quarter of 2013 has been provided by County Broadband
County Broadband have advised that they hope to be up and running within Great Bromley by end of January 2013.
6th October 2012 - For those enquiring on progress with County Broadband, please can you contact them direct. The Parish Council's role is to facilitate the bringing together of interested parties which has now been done, and any arrangement ongoing is between County and the individuals concerned. In the meantime please note that Essex County Council is pushing BT to speed up the roll out of their high speed broadband network to rural Essex. To add your voice to this campaign, please go to:
27th July 2012 - Those who registered an interest in receiving a service from County Broadband should have today received further information together with an application form.
You may be aware that Great Bromley Parish Council has been working with Tendring District Council to identify ways of bringing high speed broadband to the village. A potential supplier has now been identified and there is the possibility that the necessary infrastructure can be installed at no cost to the village. Recent announcements in the media have detailed high speed broadband solutions for the people of Colchester and BT have announced further plans for Tendring including an upgraded service in Manningtree. However none of these schemes will benefit Great Bromley which falls into an area referred to as 'the final third' - basically the bit left behind that the government is looking to third party suppliers to provide a solution.
As previously mentioned any supplier needs assurance that there is necessary interest in the area so the investment they are prepared to put in is worth their while. As such the Parish Council will be required to conduct a house to house survey of every property in the parish to gauge the potential take up of any such service.
To whet your appetite the service being proposed will have a number of competitive price bands offering different speeds. At the top end an initial download speed of 20Mbps (increasing to 40Mbps in due course) will be available. To give an idea of performance, an hour long TV programme on the BBC iPlayer takes approximately 2.5 hours to download with the average speed available in Great Bromley. At 20Mbps it will take 3.5 minutes.