Thursday, 22 August 2013

Update: Superfast Broadband Availability for Warrington Chapelford

I live on a very large, brand new, housing estate called Chapelford in Warrington, Cheshire, and the ageing telephone exchange serving this area for phone and data has resolutely stayed in a "Not Currently in (Fibre) Rollout Plans" status.

After investigating with the local council and BT, it became clear that BT did not see this Westwood Exchange  as economically viable for upgrade, even though it supports more than 2000 residential premises. This meant that the thousands of properties served by this exchange would not be able to benefit from modern internet access speeds that Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) would bring. Indeed, as the majority of households on the Chapelford estate are quite far from the Westwood Exchange, many households were only achieving speeds of 2-6 Mbps, which is far below the UK average of 11Mbps.

In July, I posted about the £28.5m funding agreed in April this year through the "Connecting Cheshire" partnership for BT. This was specifically to focus on  providing superfast broadband (SFB) to the areas of Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Chester, Warrington and Halton that were not currently in the rollout plans. Many of the places within these areas of Cheshire are quite rural, so it was no great surprise that BT were sitting on their hands (commercially) and waiting for the government (us) and the EU (us) to put hands in pockets and provide funding for BT to invest in these areas (and then get the ongoing year on year profits from such investment...).

The news that Connecting Cheshire partnership had struck a deal with BT meant that we were likely to finally have the Westwood Exchange upgraded within the next year or two, which, although still some time away, at least presented some light at the end of the very slow tunnel.

Today, I checked back on the Openreach site and to my delight the Westwood Exchange is now marked as "Under Evaluation", which means that we're finally on the way to FTTC/FTTP broadband. Check back for updates, but it could mean that over the next few months it is confirmed from Openreach that Westwood will be included within the first phase early in 2014...fingers crossed.