Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Indicative Costs

This chart provides an indicative cost comparison of the various high speed options discussed previously.  Note that they are rough guides!   What is presented is a three year cost that includes 36 monthly charges and all setup fees.

Two costs are shown for the Infinity (e.g.Fibre) option that is currently not available to Temple residents.  The first of the two lines includes the landline rental and the second does not.   If you do not need a landline then you should use the first line for your cost comparison.   If you need a landline, and would be paying for one in any case, then the second line should be used.

Interestingly the cost for the EE option, at the 25gb level, is more economical than the Infinity option (assuming that you don't need a landline).   If you need a landline then Infinity is the cheapest option by far.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Broadband Topology and Speeds

The  map and the below charts illustrate the broadband topology and speeds for our area.  

It is obvious from the map that Temple has been badly done to especially compared to our two closest neighbors! I am told this will never change but if we could have the option of connecting to the same cabinet as either Bisham or Hurley (!!!) it seems that our situation would be MUCH improved.

Update of 5/8/2014:  Not that we would ever be able to connect to another exchange but even if we could some further research into speeds predicted for homes just north of us in Bisham leads me to conclude that we would not profit from being connected to their cabinet.  I am not exactly sure where their cabinet is located but I suspect it is pretty far north.   I could be completely wrong but it does not really matter given BT policy and, frankly, likely costs for any interconnect.

Bisham on the Marlow Exchange - Cabinet 19 and getting 10-25Mpbs

Temple on the Littlewick Green  Exchange - Cabinet 9 and getting 1-3.5Mpbs

Hurley on the Littlewick Green  Exchange - Cabinet 7 and getting 29-60Mpbs

Burchetts Green on the Littlewick Green  Exchange - Cabinet 9 and getting 4.5-11.5Mpbs

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Template Letter to RBWM Councilor (or to MP May)

Dear Sir,
My wife and I live in Temple near Marlow and we are quite concerned about the extremely slow speed of our Internet connection.   The speeds we get range from 1Mbps to 2.5Mpbs with the higher speeds only being on a good day.   These speeds make it all but impossible to use the Internet for purposes such as using Skype for video calls or the streaming of video.  In some cases it makes it difficult or impossible to work from home., the standard for testing Internet Speeds, rates gives us an "F" mark compared to the rest of the UK where average speeds are nearly ten times what we have in Temple.

Until recently we were hoping that this was a temporary issue given an expected arrival of high speed Fibre broadband (e.g. Infinity from BT).   Unfortunately we have recently learned that an upgrade of our cabinet is deemed as uneconomic by BT Openreach.  Given this we will not be connected to the high speed network without help from government funding.  I have further learned that the cabinet that serves us (Cabinet 9 from the Littlewick Green Exchange) is not even in the queue for future government funding.     

There is a chance that we might be included in further rollouts as the government hopes to hit the 95% coverage target by 2017 but this will not be a certainty without action.

There are one hundred homes in our village that are being left off of the internet super highway.   This is not only impacting our day to day life but we fear it could have a negative impact on our home values as good Internet connectivity has now become a buyer criteria.

Anything that you can do to help us gain funding from the BDUK program would be greatly appreciated.   Since there is additional funding being allocated by Berkshire, with some assigned directly to our Burough, your support for Temple is critical!


Registration Statistics

As of July 20th, 2014:

SL71SA - Temple Lane 32 1 3%
SL71SG - Island Left 23 9 39%
SL71SQ - Island Right 39 15 38%
SL71SB - Bradenham Lane 4 1 25%

98 26 27%

Against Goal of 80%


Working with SuperFastBerkshire

Questions pending Colin's return to the office:

First, when will decision making happen for the next round, and then, when would the changes for that round be implemented?

Second, can you tell me why our cabinet has not been included in funding to date?   Is it because of a paucity of registrations and if so how many would it take to help us to influence the next round.

Third, can you tell me where
Marlow Cabinet 19, that serves our neighboring village Bisham, is located?

Fourth, we have come to understand, via a conversation with someone at BT, that our cabinet is at the intersection of Henley Road and Hurley High Street.   If this is the case it does not seem to make sense that Burchetts Green would share that cabinet with us given the geography.  Can the population served by cabinet 9 be verified.

Fifth, are there other alternatives that could be considered for Temple?  I understand that BDUK is not restricted to just upgrading cabinets in place and I was wondering what other alternatives that could be funded?   Could this include connecting us to Marlow via Bisham, or to the cabinet in Hurley, if this were less expensive?    In the case of Bisham there was some existing infrastructure that could be leveraged (we get our power from lines that come from Bisham where they have superfast Internet connected to Marlow)?   In the case of cabinet 7 in Hurley, there is only a distance of a couple hundred yards that would need to be trenched that could allow us to be connected to that already upgraded cabinet.  How is the process of looking at alternatives conducted? 

Sixth, related to the above, we have been told that for precedence reasons that BT Openreach will NEVER move people from one cabinet to another.   If one of the above alternatives were truly the most cost effective would it not be possible to encourage BT to do the right thing?

Seventh, We are going to do another round of flyers through Temple.  Once this is done would I be able to get access to the list of registrations from our village so we can target the folks that have not yet registered and leave the folks that have alone?

Eight, can we get maps of the users connected to Cabinet 9 per the one that I have from Marlow?  Also Cabinet 7 if possible?

Marlow Exchange Cabinet 19 


Alternatives to Fibre

The below narrative was prepared by a resident of Temple Mill Island and is presented here with only minor modifications as it was already a very thorough job of identifying alternatives:

Mobile Broadband

In the same way as you can use Data on your Mobile Phone, providers can also supply a dedicated device in the home to give Wifi to other PCs, iPads etc. The device is similar in size to a mobile phone without a screen or keypad and creates a home Hotspot, like in cafes and airports.

3G phone signal is only a little better (2 to 4Mpbs) than the Standard Broadband we have here so must be discounted as not worth the extra expense.

4G phone signal becomes more widely available and the first company and still the biggest company providing it is EE [Orange and T-Mobile].   It is at least six times as fast as 3G and our Standard Broadband.

The portable Wifi Device costs up to £60 depending on the tariff chosen and is free with a 25GB monthly plan costing £30 per month. Different Plans are available including Pay As You Go.

A further advantage of the Device is that it is truly portable. You can take it on holiday with you in the UK to be able to continue using your iPad etc.

EE say 4G is available on The Island to quite a good strength but better outdoors than inside the home. Positioning the Device near a window may be all that is needed.

We need someone in Temple interested in the scheme to buy it on a buy-or-return trial and report back to us.

and click on 4GEE+ Monthly Plan.

A more powerful static 4G Wifi box can be fitted inside the home wired to the mains and would cost about £150 installed.  It has an outside aerial similar to a car aerial. One aerial could service several homes and on the Island our TV Engineer would fit them (subject to Island approval) for about £150 inclusive. This latter system comes under the title of LTE and is marketed by EE as 4GEE Home. The only difference from the portable device is much improved signal strength but no portability.

A good option, currently probably the best option.  [Editorial comment:  Mobile networks can be quite variable in terms of the speed delivered as there is only so much bandwidth available between the user and antennas.   I suspect that even if coverage in Temple is good that we could see pretty wide speed variability.   More a concern if a lot of people start using the service so still a great option (if it works here) for the short term.


Recommended by the Islands TV Engineer, Broadband is received by a Satellite Dish but that cannot be a communal dish like the Sky Dishes the Island has at present. The dishes would have to be fitted to each property as they point to a different satellite from Sky. Unlikely to be acceptable on the Island for aesthetic reasons but an option outside the Island.

The Temple Mill Island TV Engineer uses tooway and a 25GB Plan is £40 per month. Installation costs £275 for the equipment which can instead be rented at £5 per month. £100 installation and £50 Set-Up fee. Reduction of £25 when two or more properties are set up at the same time and a £25 referral commission on introductions which we could roll out two properties at a time!   Download speeds in the range of 20Mpbs are advertized.

A working option off the Island, but probably unacceptable on the Island because of the satellite dishes.

Village Networks

Available at Bisham, one of many in the Buckinghamshire and Berkshire countryside.
It is a repeater mast rather than a satellite dish reception and again each property would have to have a Receiver on the outside wall. A much smaller square unit about like a cereal packet. But still aesthetically poor. There have been poor reviews of reception and after sales.

£222 Set-Up and £30 give unlimited capacity but speed probably of only about 6MBPS.

Not a great option

White Space UHF Bandspace

When Freeview TV went Digital, considerable UHF Analogue TV frequency bands were released and offered to highest bidder ISP providers. None as yet taken as far I can ascertain.

Working rather like 4G Mobile Broadband but from a conventional aerial like a TV aerial.

Not currently an option.


If you need faster speed now, then look into the EE 4G Home Wifi deal. If it proves inadequate, EE will refund and cancel within 14 days.

Editorial Comment from the Blogger

If you are a heavy user of the Internet as I am (or if you would be if it were faster!) the EE option is somewhat expensive.   I am a bit of an exception in terms of usage as I work from home in the technology space and my wife and I also watch a lot of downloaded TV shows and movies.  We use well over 50gb of bandwidth a month.   On EE a 50gb plan would be 50 quid per month compared to 39 for BT Infinity (Fibre) but for an unlimited plan.   Note that 39 pounds also includes the line rental charge.  If you discount that the charge the Broadband cost alone is 23 pounds per month with unlimited usage (half the cost of 50gb on EE).

My bottom line is that I agree with the author of the above that EE, if it works in Temple, is a great short term option though it is more expensive than a ground based solution which I think that we still need and should still push to get for the community. 

Further research by the author of the above study has made it clear that the EE signal is not strong enough on the Island to allow it to be an alternative.   Further experimentation would be needed to prove this but the EE signal might only be useable at the very end of Temple that is closest to the antenna which is believed to be at the Bisham Roundabout.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Unfulfilled Promise of Fibre

Across the country exchanges and the cabinets that serve the customer base are being upgraded to replace copper wire with fibre optic cable.   The technology is called FTTC, which stands for Fibre to the Cabinet, and it simply cuts out some of the slow bits of wire between the exchange and a cabinet and replaces them with super fast optical fibre.   The slower wire is still used, however, to connect homes and businesses to the cabinet.  Speed gains, however, can be dramatic depending on how close you are to a cabinet.

Bisham has been upgraded and is getting speeds from 18 to 25Mpbs.   Hurley is getting even better speeds of 38 to 55Mpbs indicating that they probably have a cabinet in the village!   I would assume that we could be somewhere in the lower end of that range if we ever got upgraded.   That is a big improvement from our current speeds of 1Mpbs to 3.5Mpbs!

Unfortunately BT Openreach has decided that it is not economical to upgrade the cabinet (number 9)  that connects us to our exchange at Littlewick Green.    I am not clear who else is on this cabinet.

Perhaps even more unfortunately, Temple has also not been considered, at least as of yet, for government funding via the BDUK (Broadband Delivery United Kingdom) program.  This program is intended to help bring super fast internet to areas, like ours, that would otherwise not be served.  There is additional funding being planned and this is why it is so crucial that everyone in Temple register their interest on the SuperFastBerkshire website, and, if possible, also express their concerns to our local councilors for RBWM.

Temple will definitely not be served without us making some noise!

It should be noted that a representative of the Island approached BT about the costs of upgrading to Fibre.  They were told that if we paid 54 thousand pounds AND had a sufficient number of residents sign up for Infinity, that we could have our own cabinet.   Obviously this is not acceptable.

The Current, Sad, Situation

The very slow Internet access that we currently have available in Temple is called ADSL.  This stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line which is a long way of saying that we get our Internet connection through our phone line courtesy of BT, Virgin, Talk-Talk or a number of other providers.   There are some alternatives to using a phone lines (discussed in another article) but none are as easy, fast, or cheap as ADSL.

The telephone line that comes into our homes originates at an exchange.   The exchange is connected to a number of cabinets each of which serves a group of homes and businesses.  We are on the Littlewick Green exchange which is about four miles away from us over on the A4.  Interestingly the closest exchange to us is in Marlow and is only two miles away.  Bisham is served by the Marlow exchange.  More about this in the next article.

The cabinet that we are connected to is #9 from the Littlewick Green exchange.   This cabinet is located at the Henley Roundabout and is a couple miles away from us.

The distances that I mention above are very important when it comes to the speed of our ADSL connection.   The further a signal has to travel from the exchange the more it becomes attenuated, or degraded.   We are about three miles from the Littlewick Green exchange but by the time the phone line leaves the exchange, travels to the cabinet, and finally reaches us it has actually traveled somewhere between four and five miles (based on the speed we are seeing).   Five miles is the edge of what is even possible.   In other words, we are at the end of the line, and this is why our Internet connection speed is so very, very bad with a speed that ranges from 1Mbps to 3Mbps (on the very best of days).

By contrast, if we lived in Bisham, our speed would range from 8.5 to 12Mbps indicating a wire traveled distance from the Marlow exchange of between 2.5 and three miles.  We could also choose a Fibre connection and be getting 18 to 25Mbps!  See this page for more on speeds around us.

Next Article:  The Unfulfilled Promise of Fibre

Friday, July 18, 2014

Temple Needs Superfast Internet!

If you are a regular user of the Internet then you know just how bad the connection quality is here in Temple!   We have some of the slowest Internet access in the country for those people with a "so called" broadband connection.  The Internet Speed Checker,  the de-facto standard for checking internet speeds, gives Temple an "F" grade for speed when compared to the rest of the UK (average speed for the UK is 25Mbps compared to our 2-3Mbps).

This is an important issue even if you don’t use the Internet or are happy with it’s speed.   High speed internet access is increasingly a factor for home buyers and can have an impact on a potential sale.   Rightmove has even added a speed check page to their website to meet the needs of buyers. 

What can be done?   Our only hope is likely to be the government program that is bringing high speed internet to outlying areas (Broadband Delivery UK or BDUK).   A new phase of this program has been announced and RBWM hopes to be able to participate.  In order to have any chance of qualifying for funds we need to register as many residences as possible on the following website:

If you have not done this already please do so now as it really is our only hope for improvement.  At the present time 27% of us have registered with most of those on the Island.  Only two residences outside of the Island are on the list.

Thank you if you are already registered and thanks in advance for registering now if you had not already.

If you are wondering what else you can do then please consider writing to our representatives in the Borough to express your concerns, to reinforce the importance of this issue, and to ask for support in gaining BDUK funding.  There is a template of a letter that could be used here.

Councillor Richard Kellaway

Somerley, Startins Lane, Cookham Dean, SL6 9TS

By Tel: 01628 482605

Councillor David Burbage MBE

The Leader's Office, Town Hall, St Ives Road
Maidenhead, SL6 1RF

By Tel:  01628 796322

Our local parish is led by Mrs Mandy Robson Brown and she is supportive of our campaign.  You may want to copy her on correspondence to the above so she is aware of your feelings.

Mrs A.M.Robson Brown
Bisham Parish Council
Hocket Hill, Cookham Dean, Maidenhead, SL6 9UF
Tel: 01628 628485

Next Article: The Current, Sad, Situation