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Broadband and the Southwark Exchange

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Monday 12 February 2018 6.01pm
Hi all,

I am at my wit's end. We lovely residents of SE1 are being shortchanged as BT OpenReach will not upgrade our local boxes (the green boxes you see about / or ones with the lovely paintings on them) to fibre as they say there is no 'Demand in the area'. Yet happily they upgrade those further out in suburbia.

We are not allowed to contact BT OpenReach directly to complain as they only have to speak to the providers. (if this is not the case - please let me know who I can write to). The public is forced to go through to our providers (BT, Virgin, or Sky) who don't bother to put on the pressure to upgrade the infrastructure which has been promised.

There is only a website to register interest but again that is promptly ignored. The Southwark Exchange is Fiber Enabled but it is of little use if the boxes that bring high-speed internet into our homes aren't upgraded.

Is it worth engaging Neil Coyle? Given that most of the rest of central London has speeds of 70MBPS and lucky SE1 is getting 10 at best? Any other means the forum can suggest to get this rectified?
Monday 12 February 2018 6.02pm
Southwark exchange is enabled. I suspect, like me, you have an exchange only line which means you get painfully slow speeds. It's rubbish, I know.
Monday 12 February 2018 9.31pm
Yes, the Southwark Exchange is enabled, however if OpenReach don't upgrade the green boxes in the street - having an enabled exchange is pointless. Someone has to put a poker up OpenReach to do this. However, trying to work out how best do so as the general public are unable to contact them directly outside of a useless 'register your interest website'. As SE1 isn't considered worthy enough - all we have a chance to do is try and highlight the issue. Hense, why I was considering speaking both to Neil Coyle and also the local councillors. However, trying to work out other ways to bring this inconsistency to light
Monday 12 February 2018 10.24pm
Like Gavin, I suspect you, like us, are on an Exchange Only Line. that means your line goes straight to the exchange. That means that there is no green box to upgrade and you get dreadful service with short shrift from BT/Openreach when it comes to information about any plan for improvement.

Frustratingly, this issue affects people who can actually see into the windows of Southwark exchange! So near, but the kit cannot be put into the exchange without potentially interfering with ordinary analogue telephone lines. Hence, it could only be installed in new green boxes that were installed at least a few metres away from existing ones, which provided a handy break in the cable away from the exchange where they could intercept the line with a fibre VDSL box to provide what is known as Fibre To The Cabinet AKA FTTC.

You will note that they do not upgrade the box itself. They have to install another green box and it has to be a specific distance away. This, however, minimised the amount of actual digging up needed per home/premises, which made it cheap. They could pull the fibre to the existing box, install the new one, take that fibre to the new one and patch it all back together. The alternative is digging up the pavements where the cables are not in ducts to every house/premises. That is expensive.

The problem, in London especially, was there is no coherent plan or, at least, wasn’t even the whisp of a public thought of (or, more importantly in London, no funding) for one, until last week when they did announce something new.

Their announcement was that they are to start doing something other than installing already outdated new green boxes, where there were none before, to get round the Exchange Only Line issue, which has been their formal tactic to date in urban areas. This was a bit like installing a new steam engine to provide you with domestic lighting.

Instead, their new plan is to install “fibre first”. By that they mean they will be installing fibre all the way to your home, which is also known as Fibre To The Premises AKA FTTP. That will mean that you should get 1 Gigabit way ahead of their other customers, who already have FTTC.

They say they are going to do this to 3 meeellion premises in the next 3 years. When or whether you, I or Gavin are getting on the list to be upgraded in this way is something no one knows right now and that includes BT, who at present don’t even have enough engineers to do this. Hence they also announced their plan to train thousands of them this year.

This means there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it is not clear just how far away the light is yet... literally, in the case of fibre.
Monday 12 February 2018 10.30pm
Thoroughly interesting post, I had no idea of those plans. Many thanks.
Tuesday 13 February 2018 8.47am
Hi Boroughbloke

That is a great and very helpful post. I hope you and Gavin do get the straight to fibre from the exchange soon - at least as you say, there is some light for you.

Sadly I am not on an exchange only line (I am on a green box - box 28 to be specific). The OpenReach website is kind enough to tell me that much - however outside of that "There are no plans for your area". I have been 'registering my interest (and that of my building) for 3 years now.

My green box is on the brick wall behind the Shell Petrol Garage on SBR. There was an OpenReach engineer nearby recently so I had the chance to grill him on it. I was told there was little that could be done, however there are already 2 green boxes there so I guess a third box would have to be installed. Ironically I think the second green box is for Business Customers (who do get Fibre) - which would be even more galling. Given they are 3m apart.
Tuesday 13 February 2018 9.15am
Thanks BB - let's hope it's sooner rather than later!
Tuesday 13 February 2018 12.38pm
You are still in the same boat regardless. That's to say BT's plan is now to never upgrade the green box, but to go straight to FTTP. How long they take to reach you is another matter.
Tuesday 13 February 2018 1.54pm
I sent all the heads of Openreach a letter shaming them over a similar matter there are ways to apply pressure
Does the checker say your on an EO line?
Tuesday 13 February 2018 1.56pm
Plus Southwark exchange is offering FOD fibre on demand
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