Posts Tagged 'broadband'

After years of promises, Haughley Green finally gets broadband

As of today (17th October 2016) residents of Haughley Green can order superfast fibre broadband.  A new cabinet has been installed in the village and after six long years of promises we will finally be able to get a decent broadband service.

Many properties in the village cannot get landline based broadband at all and for others the speed is around 0.5mgb – barely enough to use email.

Local residents and councillors (myself and County Councillor, Andrew Stringer) have been campaigning for over six years fot this to happen.  We have attended conferences, held public meetings, lobbied councils, door-stopped BT, asked questions of MPs, conducted surveys and finally worked with Suffolk County Council’s Better Broadband team to get a service for our area.

Thank you to everyone who has persevered.

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Broadband developments for Haughley Green

Displaying Broadband cabinet (600x800).jpgOn Friday I received an important update from the Better Broadband team at Suffolk County Council and there are some significant developments regarding broadband in our area.  This is, in part, due to the overwhelming pressure placed on the Council, BT and others by members of the public.

 The major issue for our area has been that we were told BT would include us in their commercial upgrade but the reality is that for most of us this has not happened (as many suspected at the time).  Additionally some areas in Suffolk were not covered either by a commercial upgrade or the publicly-funded intervention area.

These two areas are now being addressed by a new procurement process which starts today.  The public consultation for this will be in the Spring with the new contract being signed in the Summer and work commencing before the end of 2014.  I will do all I can to help bring these dates forward (as much as the procurement rules allow) but, in the meantime, will advise you when the public consultation is open.

Broadband – fibre optic cabling…

Many of you will have noticed various vans along the roads installing cabling.  The current installation is of fibre optic cable, running from Stowmarket, to Haughley and then via Haughley Green to Bacton.   For the next stage, this needs to be connected up to the cabinets for improvements in line speed.

 A planning application has been made to install a new cabinet just round the corner from the existing cabinet next to the bus shelter in Haughley (next to 2 Station Road).  This cabinet serves most of Haughley and Haughley Green.  I understand that that this cabinet will be fibre-enabled and, once in place and “live”, will greatly enhance broadband services in the area.

There is no date for this work (the application goes before Haughley Parish Council next week) and in a similar situation it was some months between installation of the cabinet and the fibre becoming operational – however a step in the right direction!

With regards to the Suffolk-wide Better Broadband project, I have raised our concerns that properties on the edge of Haughley and in Haughley Green may be at risk from not being part of the project nor benefit from the BT investment.  I’ve been told that these concerns have been “taken on board” and will be included in the contract discussions.  In the meantime I understand Suffolk County Council is still waiting on the EU decision as to how the public funds can be used.

Broadband Progress

At the Suffolk Better Broadband conference in Bury St Edmunds earlier this month (two years after the need for better broadband was recognised), we were updated with the progress of the bid to provide decent broadband speeds across the whole of Suffolk.  I was assured, by political leaders, county council executives and project coordinators, that the hard to reach areas with little or no service (such as Old Newton and Haughley Green) would be dealt with first.

Overall the plan is for the contracted supplier to begin work by the end of this year and entire project is expected to be completed by March 2015.  The conference heard that the hard to reach areas would be addressed within the first six months of the contract (ie: by June 2013 at the latest) and the other easier to reach areas would follow.  We were told the coverage would be a combination of technologies and may involve existing providers.

More immediately, residents of Haughley may have noticed work going on in the village including the installation of a new telecoms cabinet on Windgap Lane.  This is part of the upgrade to the Stowmarket exchange that will, in the next few months, lead to an improvement in fixed broadband services in Haughley and hopefully beyond.  We are told that this work has been brought forward due to local pressure.

When the upgrade is complete, retail providers will be advised and will then contact their customers with news of any changes or upgrades in service.

The Suffolk Better Broadband team are still asking if residents could complete their survey (www.suffolk.gov.uk/broadband ) as the more people that complete this, the more the suppliers will see the demand and want to invest in the project.  If you haven’t already completed it, the deadline is 31st March.

 

Little progress on broadband

A year on from the broadband conference held in Ipswich, another conference was held this week, this time in Beccles, to look at how to address the issue of poor rural broadband.  Disappointingly, not much has changed in a year – although Suffolk MPs are now getting involved.  Choose Suffolk is about to put in a bid for funding from central government for a Suffolk-wide solution and a decision on this is due at the end of May.  If this isn’t successful we will need to look at alternatives as we can’t wait for another year with no improvements.

What next for broadband?

What’s been happening?

The good news is that the results of our broadband survey have helped persuade Mid Suffolk District Council to contribute some funds for investment in broadband with an acknowledgement that our area is a priority.

Mid Suffolk’s favoured approach is a short term fix using a new generation of wireless technology which should provide a more robust service than that currently available.  Longer term the aim is to deliver the more future proof “fibre to premises” solution although this will involve investment from BT and others.

Further funding for the short term may come from a bid for external funding submitted with Suffolk County Council and Suffolk ACRE, again helped by our survey.  The result of this bid will not be known until early 2011.

Separately Suffolk County Council has also been under pressure from businesses to improve the service.  Through the organisation Choose Suffolk (promoters of Suffolk as a business destination) they favour the “fibre to premises” solution which will not happen for at least a couple of years or when they can find the millions of pounds necessary.

What next?

Mid Suffolk are now waiting to see if the funding bid succeeds while also working at a county level to see if there can be an integrated solution.

We have made some good progress in getting access to funding.  What we don’t yet have is a firm plan for how best to use whatever money we might get.  I therefore think that the best next step is to form a group of people who can examine all the possible options.  If you are interested in being part of this group, please let me know.

Anything else?

BT has launched a “nationwide survey” to map demand for fibre broadband in the UK.  Following input from the public at www.bt.com/racetoinfinity the data gathered will influence BT’s plans and they will upgrade the five exchanges with the highest demand.  At least 1000 people from each exchange must register for that exchange to have a chance.

We need as many people in the Stowmarket exchange to register so we can send another message to BT that we need some investment here.  Please register if you can.

 

Issues with broadband access

I have just sent out a survey on broadband access in my local area to the residents of Haughley, Haughley Green and Old Newton. While most local residents don’t consider that they live in a “remote” rural area, they have long suffered from very poor broadband access.

The survey is designed to get detailed information on actual demand, likely levels of usage and price in order to help us in discussions with local government, BT and other local providers.  This initiative goes one step further than the Erebus survey that many residents completed.  The Erebus survey (www.erebusonline.org.uk) asked individuals across the east of England to register demand for next generation broadband services and many residents completed this.

The fact than many people in Haughley, Haughley Green and Old Newton don’t have access to broadband is becoming an increasingly serious issue. More key services, such as on-line banking, education and also local council are assuming that people have fast, reliable connections, and there is a danger that those without it will be seriously disadvantaged.

We have been actively campaigning to keep this important issue in the spotlight, meeting with both BT and other local providers to explore all the possibilities.  We hope that a solution, where everyone in this area is connected to fast broadband without having to pay higher costs, is within our reach.


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