Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Pie 'N' Mash Lunch

Friday, 9 October 2015

Superfast Cornwall - But Superslow Perranuthnoe?

Superfast Cornwall received £53m from the European Regional Development Fund and, in partnership with Cornwall County Council and BT, fibre broadband has been rolling out in a 2011-2015 programme.  Perranuthnoe is lucky as we are now covered and counted among the premises served – the job is done.  Or is it?

We live and work from our Perranuthnoe home and have had serious problems with our ‘superfast’ fibre broadband since we installed it in 2012 (often 1-4mbps download and failing completely) and routine problems with our ‘crackly’ phone line.  After a year of engineers’ visits and reports, we have just been told that BT will do nothing. We think that there will be others in the village with a similar problem.  This message is to find out if this is the case and then to consider a community effort to solve the problem for us all. Alternatively, we are considering satellite broadband.

The Facts

The facts, from our 12 month records of notes and phone calls from Openreach engineers and our ISP (Zen Internet – terrific people), are that: from the fibre cabinet at Perran Cross on the main road (opposite the Dynasty restaurant) ‘there is 970m of aluminium cable to the cable box (Cab1/5) at the Victoria Arms – at Dynasty (ie Perran Cross) there is a full strength signal and at the pub the tester can hardly measure it; it is like 1940s cable and its absolute rubbish…. it needs to be upgraded”; “there are 2 cables that run to the scp, there is a 50pair copper cable and a 50 pair aluminium cable, if customers are on the aluminium, max sync speeds are 10 and 15mbps whereas the copper are almost full speeds… there are no spares or stops down there” (paraphrased, records kept).

In early July we had traffic lights along the road into the village. The Openreach contractors told us that they were locating the original (clay) conduits carrying the cables to the cabinet by the pub, building access manholes and installing new plastic pipe conduits (see photos), to allow new cable to be installed easily.  They thought that it might be to bring fibre cable into the village (the ultimate ‘superfast’!). Our ISP was told that we would be switched to a copper line in early September.  After a year of effort, our ISP has now been firmly told that “Openreach would not be looking to change out the aluminium as there is a cost implication and this would not be cost effective for 1 customer. There would have to be a number of customers affected before they would look at undertaking any work”.

Our summary (and we are amateurs not experts!) is that:
  • there are 2 cables from Perran Cross to the Victoria in new conduit, with new access manholes;
  • one (newish?) cable has 50 copper pairs providing many in the village with relatively fast and reliable broadband; there are no spare copper cables;
  • the second (old) cable has 50 aluminium pairs supplying others in the village; this cable cannot be used for reliable superfast broadband;
  • we need either to live with the aluminium cable or seek a collective solution;
  • with the new manholes and conduit, removing and installing new cables should be straightforward;
  • a 50pair copper cable could replace the 50pair aluminium cable; all premises in the village would then have good telephone connections and relatively fast and reliable broadband (or be reasonably ‘future proofed’, if they do not have broadband now); there may be a need for additional cable to cope with growth.
Now that the conduit is upgraded, could we even have fibre links from the Perran Cross to the Victoria? This would give us almost ‘city superfast broadband’ (we would still have the short pubpremises link), as even copper is regarded as bad for broadband speed (but much better than aluminium).  What are the technical and policy issues involved in achieving this serious ‘future-proofing’ for Perranuthnoe?
What Can You Do?
We would first be grateful to hear from anyone that has a similar problem with their phone (crackle) and/or broadband (unreliable/slow) and second if they or anyone else is interested in taking this issue forward. The key point is that we are now counted as “served” with fibre access to the village, and those of us with aluminium cable will not be adequately served in the foreseeable future if we do not take collective action.
Please email us at by October 31st, so that we can see what the numbers are.  If there is a quorum and interest, we could perhaps meet and consider a proposal for action.  Our preliminary thoughts would be to put a strong petition to all or some of: our MP (Derek Thomas), Cornwall County Council Chairman (John Wood), BT CEO (Gavin Patterson), and Openreach CEO (Joe Garner), possibly with radio/TV/print media coverage.
Jane and David Grey,
Carn Perran
(01736 710031)

    photographs of the manholes and conduits going in