Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Latest from Superfast Berkshire

Here is the latest update from the team at Superfast Berkshire:

I have spoken to Call Flow this afternoon with the latest position for the extension of coverage in Temple.

As you know, the PCP has been installed but Call Flow are still waiting for a date and plan of when the cabling will be completed. This involves moving people from Cabinet 9 to the nearly installed cabinet near Temple and requires some replacement of existing aluminium cables. All of this is good news as it will enable faster broadband speeds when in place but it is very disappointing that BT are still holding Temple back from getting faster broadband.

I understand that the MD at Call Flow is in discussion with his counterpart at BT Openreach and that we should have a plan shortly. It remains to be seen what the plan will say !! At this point, I suggest that writing letters to BT is unlikely to achieve any improvement on timescales as they are close to getting an answer. Keep your powder dry.

Call Flow have an agreement in principle for one wayleave and are still in discussion for the other. Until BT complete (or plan to complete) the cabling for the new cabinet, Call Flow will not commit both cost and resource to signing the wayleaves in case BT do not deliver. If this happens, then Call Flow will need to investigate other alternatives that may renders these wayleaves redundant and therefore potentially will be incurring a sunk cost. I believe that Call Flow are working as fast as they are able to do, escalating the issues to the top of the tree and identifying contingency plans where practical should they need to go another route.

I appreciate this is frustrating if you live in Temple but Call Flow are going more than the extra mile to bring you faster broadband and you can see why others (e.g. BT) have not delivered this to date.

Here is my response to Superfast Berkshire:

Thanks for the detailed response.  

Everything you say is pretty much as I suspected and/or feared...hence my frustration and impatience!  I am sure that Call Flow are doing their bit and am worried that we will be at the back of the queue for attention from BT, or even worse, that they will decide they have more profitable fish to fry elsewhere and leave us in the lurch.   Given this possibility it makes sense as to why Call Flow would not be proceeding in parallel to a path that might not exist.  

I will hope for the best and will keep our powder dry but if BT try to bail on us it seems like asking our councilor and MP for some help would be appropriate.  I know that our MP has her hands full but I suspect there is someone in her office that could write a letter for us!

On a positive note (or at least one that I think is positive)...there was a crew of subcontractors from Openreach working on putting in the physical conduit between the old lines and the new cabinet.   They did not have an answer when asked about next steps.   

Thanks again for your continued support and for your patience with this impatient representative of Temple.

So, we are now in the hands of one of the slowest moving of corporate bureaucracies in the United Kingdom.  I am not saying that we would have a different result if Openreach were an independent company but it could not be worse and I suspect they would be much faster to respond to their customer base.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Another Update - Another Delay

I guess there is good news and bad news.  The good news is that a cabinet has been installed just off Temple Lane to serve the community.   The bad news is the content of the below communications received from Call Flow:

The latest update I have is that while Openreach have erected a new cabinet that will enable the works, they have also advised that they are struggling to get the cables connected into the cabinet, as some older ones need replacing to comply with their planning rules. We have this escalated to senior levels within Openreach, and are awaiting them to confirm when the required cabling works will be completed. Until Openreach have completed these works, we are unable to move the project forward.  We have opened discussions with all relevant landowners for preferred placement of our equipment, which are encouraging but not committed. Until Openreach have completed their side of the works, we are unable to commit to the preferred wayleaves.
Unfortunately we are still currently reliant on Openreach to confirm when these works, and the overall project will be concluded. At this point in time we would hope that it will still be before the end of the year.

So once again our upgrade is in the hands of Openreach who, as best I can tell, have been the primary reason behind delays from the original promise date of June, to September, then to December, and now to who know when.  I know that the above says that there is still a "hope" for December but I am finding that to be a little optimistic based on performance to date.

The other element of the update from Call Flow that bothers me is the reference to Call Flow not being able to complete the work on connecting out cabinet to the network until Openreach has done their work.  Why not do this in parallel to Openreach's work so we can be connected sooner than will otherwise be the case?

In any case, the bigger issue is Openreach and I feel as though it might be time to reach out to our counselor and to the office of our MP to ask for their support in putting some pressure on them.   My strategy would be to write a letter to the CEO of Openreach with copies to the offices of our elected representatives.  I would then forward their copies under a cover letter asking if they could support our request for priority from Openreach.  

I have no idea if the above will be effective or if I am being Don Quixote but at this point I feel that anything is worth an effort.   I am waiting to hear a status from Superfast Berkshire prior to writing these letters.  It would be nice to know where we stood in the queue with Openreach.

An editorial note.  It might also be nice if Openreach were its own corporate entity as opposed to part of the monstrosity that is BT.  A company that is supposed to be providing open service for the network that is shared by all network providers while being owned by the largest player does not seem to be in the public's interest for competitive fair play.