Wednesday, 18 November 2015

End of The Road For Coombe Lane?

On 17 Nov 2015 I wrote to Wiltshire Online:

As a hamlet served by a a very old and unreliable EO line (Cabinet 5, Netheravon exchange), we were disappointed not to get fibre during Phase 1. However I was informed that we may be in with a chance for Phase 2. Can you please advise whether the plans for Phase 2 have been finalised, and whether we in Coombe Lane will benefit? Thank you.

I received the following response:

Thank you for contacting the Wiltshire Online team. I can confirm that your premise is indeed served by Cabinet 5, Netheravon exchange which has already been upgraded to fibre however, the distance of your premise from the cabinet means that you have not seen any uplift in speed.

Wiltshire Council has recently secured some further funding for a Phase 2 rollout however, having analysed our plans for Phase 2, unfortunately at this time the infrastructure that serves your postcode is not in the programme for upgrading further.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Gone Live

Wiltshire Online have advised that Enford is now connected to fibre broadband! I have done a quick postcode check using the Wiltshire Online postcode checker – all postcodes in the parish (with 2 exceptions) are described as ‘GONE LIVE’. The exceptions (which are both described as ‘FUTURE FUNDING’) are:

SN9 6DE – Coombe, SN9 6DQ – Fifield

Surprisingly, we in Coombe Lane (SN9 6DF) are also described as ‘GONE LIVE’ despite Wiltshire Online notifying me in December that we were definitely NOT going to be included in the fibre rollout programme. This also seems a bit odd, particularly as we are next door to Coombe and Fifield – one would think that we would share the same status.

I (naively) thought that we would all immediately benefit from a fibre connection, but it is not so. Apparently you are still connected to the exchange via the existing infrastructure until such time that you arrange (through your ISP) to upgrade to a ‘fibre’ package. At which point your line is disconnected from the old infrastructure (inside the cabinet) and plugged instead into a new board which is connected to the fibre going back to the exchange. At the same time, your ISP should also supply you with a new router, as the standard (ADSL) routers are not compatible with a fibre connection. Presumably there will be some increase in subscription charges as well.

These are the handful of reports I have received from people who have already upgraded:

Enford Farm Road
Chisenbury Court
Far end of E Chisenbury
8 Mbps

On average looks to be a 10x – 15x improvement.

Interestingly, I contacted our ISP (Plusnet) to enquire about upgrading but there are no upgrade options for Coombe Lane. A resident in New Buildings was also told the same by her ISP (Sky), and another resident in East Chisenbury was told by his ISP (BT) that a fibre connection was not available, that the exchange had reached capacity and he would not be able to get connected until it is upgraded. It seems that ‘GONE LIVE’ does not necessarily mean the same thing to all people!

There is more information from BT on the village website ( If you have any information to add, please put it on this blog.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Fibre At Last! least for some of us

I was telephoned by a couple of people early December to tell me that BT were doing work on the cabinet on Enford Hill. When asked what they were up to, the technicians said they were installing fibre. I emailed the Wiltshire Online people to see if I could find out what was going on. The following email exchange ensued:

Me: 14 Dec - I live in the parish of Enford, albeit about a mile from the centre of the village. According to the Wilts Online Broadband rollout webpage, this area is due to be surveyed in 2015. Recently, however, we have had BT technicians digging up the road - they say they are installing fibre to the cabinet (at SN9 6DJ). Can you tell me please, is this part of the broadband rollout programme in this area? If so does this mean that the survey has already been conducted ahead of schedule? If that is the case, can you tell me where I can read the results of the survey for this area so that I know what is going to happen?

Wilts Online: 17 Dec - Thank you for your email.

I can confirm that we are working in the Netheravon exchange area however, your premise is what is known as an Exchange Only (EO) line; this means you are served directly by a copper cable from the exchange to your premise and your connection does not go through a roadside cabinet.

At this time the infrastructure that feeds your premise is not in the programme for upgrading.

The aim of the project is to achieve the best possible long-term broadband coverage for Wiltshire within the budget available. To achieve this the roll-out design is based on not just one factor but a combination of several factors such as existing infrastructure, speeds already received, number of homes and premises in the area and distances of homes and businesses away from the infrastructure.  Other roll-out designs were considered such as prioritising specific communities or the most rural areas but the roll-out becomes less efficient and more costly and ultimately reduces the number of homes we can provide a service to for the budget available.

We are looking at opportunities to extend our coverage to include additional premises such as yours that are currently not planned for upgrade.  We are constantly reviewing our progress and processes to ensure maximum time and cost efficiencies.  Any cost savings made will be reinvested into the project to extend our coverage further. 

In addition, Wiltshire Council has recently secured further funding from central government for a phase 2 rollout of superfast broadband.  We have started consultation with commercial broadband providers to establish where we are allowed to invest these additional funds however, it is still very early days and we will not be in a position to advise which communities will be able to benefit until mid-2015.  The phase 2 funding will follow on from the end of the current phase and so we will be looking to upgrade communities during 2016/2017.

Me: 18 Dec - Thank you very much for your reply. Clearly, it will come as a great disappointment to us living at SN9 6DF that we are to get no upgrade to our broadband infrastructure รข€“ it is already pretty old and unreliable, especially in wet weather.

However, I also try and keep the rest of the parish updated on broadband developments. Hence my other questions:

  • Are the BT road works at SN9 6DJ part of the broadband rollout programme in this area?
  • If so does this mean that the survey for our area has now been conducted?
  • If that is the case, can you tell me where I can read the results of the survey for this area, and what the outcome is, so that I can let people in the village know what is happening?

 I'd be especially grateful if you could let me know where I can read about what specific changes are being made to the infrastructure in our area (Enford, Coombe and Chisenbury).

Wilts Online: 5 Jan - Apologies for the delay in responding to your query.

I can confirm that the works you are seeing being undertaken in your exchange area are part of the Wiltshire Online broadband rollout programme.

With regards to the other communities you mention, the majority of Enford is served by Cabinet 1 from the Netheravon exchange (as is the whole of Chisenbury) and this cabinet is included in our rollout plans.  The fibre cabinet has already been stood but we will now need to work on bringing the fibre to the new cabinet; I anticipate that the work should be completed during Summer of this year.  Until such time as the cabinet is live, I cannot comment on the improved speeds the area will be able to receive.

As with your property, there are a number of other EO lines in Enford and the hamlet of Coombe is solely serviced by EO lines which at this moment in time are not planned to be upgraded for reasons previously mentioned.