Filton (0117) to get BT superfast broadband in 2012


Broadband - photo by charmcitygavin (licence: cc-attr)

We’ve just heard that the Filton exchange, which serves 0117 numbers within Bradley Stoke, is to be upgraded to superfast fibre optic broadband in 2012.

BT press release:

BT today announced that more 25,000 more homes and businesses in Bristol and nearby towns will have access to super-fast fibre broadband by the end of next year at the latest.

Bitton, Filton, Nailsea and Winterbourne are the latest communities to benefit from BT’s £2.5 billion roll-out plans for super-fast broadband. They are among 14 communities in the South West and 156 across the UK included in today’s announcement.

Related links:

The Journal comments (on 8th April)

This is great news for residents in Bradley Stoke on 0117 phone numbers who have suffered with inadequate broadband speeds for so long. Sadly, the majority of us are on 01454 numbers (served from the Almondsbury exchange), so our campaign will go on until such a time as everyone is getting a service worthy of a developed country in the 21st century.

Given that recent statements from BT to the BBC and Bradley Stoke Town Council were adamant that some form of public subsidy would be necessary to solve Bradley Stoke’s broadband woes, it comes as some surprise to see Filton featuring in today’s rollout announcement. This really does make one wonder whether BT’s left arm knows what its right arm is doing.

To upgrade Filton, a large exchange almost fully covered by Virgin Media’s competing cable system, in preference to Almondsbury, where Virgin’s coverage is probably below 50% makes no economic sense. BT has clearly learned nothing from a similarly misguided strategy in Cardiff, where they are now very publicly wondering why the take-up rate for their Infinity product is so low.

Likewise, residents of Nailsea can already access a 100 Mbps service from Virgin, putting BT at a massive disadvantage as they start building their superfast broadband system in the town from scratch.

In terms of customer demand, BT’s own Race to Infinity survey gauged 11.2% support in Almondsbury but only 2.1% in Filton, 1.9% in Winterbourne and 0.9% in Nailsea. So much for the promise that BT would use the results of the competition to “plan where the roll-out goes next”.

We haven’t given up on the Almondsbury exchange, or on Virgin Media. The fight goes on – watch this space!

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  1. Whilst I’m pleased for the folks on the Filton exchange, this is really a slap in the face for all the folks who are stuck on the Almondsbury exchange, and all the hard-working folks who last year ran the campaign to get the Almondsbury exchange upgraded.

    I wonder if, being stuck between the 2 exchanges, we can opt to change from one to another?

  2. Terrible news for 01454 . This will delay 01454 number from getting any higher than what they get in Benghazi. 0117 were getting decent speeds anyways.

  3. Unbelievable. Utterly unbelievable.

    After all the pressure. After all of the votes. After all of the complaints. How can they do this? I’m running out of things to say about how utterly chronic BT is as business. They’re a disgrace. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Obvious demand but they continue to ignore that.

  4. Is there a known technical issue with the Almondsbury exchange that explains BTs approach?

    Every time I consider why BT has not upgraded Almondsbury, I just cannot understand their approach.

  5. @gyre

    No we can’t choose which we are connected to. I asked this question when I moved to BS 18 months ago and I was ordering my new phone line from BT as I had read up on the broadband issues before moving.

    BT told me that the engineer can’t select which exchange you are connected to and you just get what you’re given.

  6. @Simon Windsor

    BT have never said there is a technical issue – but if there is, if they came clean about it, at least we’d all stop moaning so much!

  7. Thats good ! might even make houses in the 0117 area easier to sell than those in 01454…. and even might effect the prices ! … a bit like being in the catchment area of a good school

  8. @Simon I asked BT’s spokesman Chris Orum this very question earlier today after he had sent me the press release. I’ll let you know when I hear back.

  9. It appears to me that BT’s press release is a little misleading. They are rolling out FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet, VDSL2+) for the Filton Exchange, rather than the far superior FTTH (Fibre To The Home). They are billing this as “superfast broadband”, but last time I checked the government classify superfast as a minimum of 25mbps. FTTC will typically give 20mbps, and that’s only if you’re close to the exchange. So expect to get more like 10mbps in Bradley Stoke (say, 1.2 MegaBytes/sec down stream).

    So don’t feel too upset if you’re on the 01454 exchange, you’re not missing out on much.

  10. Journal Editor to BT:
    Great news for Filton but why was it chosen in preference to Almondsbury, which demonstrated nearly five times more demand than Filton in the Race to Infinity competition?

    Chris Orum, BT spokesperson:
    There are lots of factors, both engineering/technical and commercial that dictate why exchanges are enabled ahead of others.
    I would be just guessing if I gave you a fuller explanation.

    Journal Editor to BT:
    I wouldn’t want you to guess, but any chance we could get some explanation from the people who know in BT? We are getting some very angry feedback from Almondsbury customers on our website and I’m sure they would appreciate a locality-specific response rather than a generic statement.

    Chris Orum, BT spokesperson:
    We are often asked this question and we don’t give any more precise information than I have provided above unfortunately.

  11. @Simon Fibre to the Cabinet means the speed is determined by the length of copper wire going from your home to the roadside cabinet (those little green boxes) and fibre is laid from the exchange to the cabinet. This means the distance to the exchange becomes irrelevant.

  12. Now is the time for Jack to deliver on his promises. If BT won’t upgrade the exchange, they should at least be made to shorten the line lengths to improve the speed.

  13. Sounds like upgrading any of the exchanges wont help the majority of people in Bradley Stoke. We need a Bradley Stoke Exchange. Maybe that will come when we become a city.

  14. @Miserable Surfer – I imagine installing an exchange is going to be millions of times more expensive that upgrading to FTTC. They added an exchange in North Swindon a few years back and it was a hugely expensive job.

    @gyre Amazingly, I’m getting just over 2meg at the moment. But the moment we get back to winter that’ll drop all the way back to 1-1.5meg.

    @Dean W – see above. It is never going to happen. Only option is FTTC.

    @Matt K – totally disagree. BT would have competition and a share of a market in Filton. In Bradley Stoke/Almondsbury they’d (in some areas) have no competition for high-speed broadband.

  15. Typical!

    Just shows the whole BT Infinity campaign was a big marketing ploy to raise awareness of it – local businesses and people effectively paid to market BT’s product. Unless you were one of the top 5 it meant nothing, BT have effectively taken your time and money and done a runner.

    @Chris K – if BT have no competition then they have no incentive to upgrade the exchange, they’ll still take our money because we have no choice.

  16. I still don’t understand why BRAND NEW streets in Bradley didn’t get Virgin Media cables laid in the ground before the tarmac was laid.

    I noticed that they’ve made a start building on the left over plot way up at the top of the town, near the station. No idea which council that comes under.
    Given all the efforts and emotion the town has displayed on this topic, can anyone from the council confirm whether the council now insists that developers work with Virgin Media BEFORE handing the roads over to the council?

    Perhaps that would just be too sensible?

    Also, I mentioned this some time ago, while VM may not be interested in laying new cable for us consumers, they did lay new cable to the secondary school recently. Don’t know how much their business grade costs, but that’s a one off installation which resulted in fibre going along Champs dur Marne (digging up the brand spanking tarmac and block paving) but not bothering to offer connection for the houses they inconvenienced as they passed. They really know how to rub it in!

  17. @Simon – in a way there is competition. I’m with Orange for landline and broadband – ultimately it still uses BT kit but at least they don’t get all the money and I don’t personally pay a penny to BT.

    Perhaps that’s why Bradley Stoke / Almondsbury is being overlooked – a lot of Orange employees on Orange broadband…BT decide they’ll therefore snub the area. Sounds silly but having dealt with some of the people at BT, that attitude wouldn’t surprise me.

  18. Chris K – you are obviously one of the lucky ones. I am in the “No Broadband” zone, where BT suggest they can give me 0.5MB. One of the major problems is that the route the line takes. I have been told that it comes down Bradley Stoke Way, before turning right along Webbs wood road and does a loop of the Bluebells (a Cabled street) before coming across the road to Marjoram and the roads in that area. If they just rerouted the line and cut across the roundabout, my line length would be significantly reduced, therefore improving the speeds.
    BTW St Marys School on Webbs Wood road also has Cable, so the challenge for Virgin would not be that great, and I suspect they would have a very high takeup.

  19. @Dean W – I’m on Juniper but after *a lot* of complaining to BT I’ve managed to get speeds up a tiny, tiny, tiny little bit. But it is very variable, and any change in the weather and it either drops or bumps up a bit. Be persistant (and firm) with them.

    @Jon – the reason Virgin didn’t cable the streets is because when the final tranche of houses was completed in Bradley Stoke they were still Telewest … and Telewest in financial strife.

    @Simon – take your point.

  20. I’m also on Juniper.

    For the first few years I maxed out at 512kbps. Then I removed the ring wire and used a far better filter. I also relocated my modem next to the BT master socket.

    That gives a very unsteady 1.5mbps, with lots of error correction going on.

    I then got my ISP to get BT in 3+ times, doing a “lift and shift” eventually to find a circuit to the exchange that wasn’t so unstable/noisy.

    Even now, I sometimes lose connectivity if an incoming call arrives.

    I now vary between 1.5mbps and 2.0mbps. Depends on the weather.

    Alternatively, using a 3g dongle from three, I can sometimes get 2.5mbps. But the latency is horrible (250ms+) and it isn’t really suitable for gaming. Only for bulk transfers.

  21. Hi

    Has anyone else noticed the irony of all the BT Fibre and Virgin Cable adverts on this site, when the vast majority of readers cannot get either service.

    Yet another example of both companies not knowing what they are doing.

  22. I recently noticed that the road I’m in (Saxon Way) has CATV ducts running along the pavement. A colleague of mine said that those were for telewest/ntl/virgin although there is no cable available in Saxon Way despite some of the surrounding post codes having it.

    I filled in one of the Virgin “spotter” online forms in the hope that there was perhaps cable that had been missed off the Virgin database in the various company merges. I received a commendably quick phone call from a Virgin representative but, although he was surprised that the ducting was in place, there was no cable, just an empty duct (I’m tempted to check whether this is the case!). When I asked whether there were any plans to cable the area especially considering the infrastructure is in place the answer was an emphatic no – they don’t have the money.

    Fast forward to lunchtime today and my excitement when I heard on the radio that parts of Bristol were to get BT Infinity only to be disappointed to discover that we’re going to be bracketed by two nearby exchanges. I struggle to follow the logic considering demand demonstrated by the Race to Infinity campaign as well as other local initiatives.

    Virgin seem to be happy with the status quo regarding Bradley Stoke (a shame considering what appears to be a superior service) and BT don’t want to know.

    What to do?

  23. I notice we’ve started to get a fair share of political candidates or their minions bugging us in the evenings.

    I’ve told each person that calls… I’ll vote for you if you can get me faster broadband.


  24. @DaveP that might hold up if Orange hadn’t given up the ISP game and handed all their kit over to BT :

    The only reasoning for BT’s attitude to BS32 I can think of is that they already have a large customer base with few alternatives. Why upgrade the exchange/dig up the roads to have those people continue to pay the same amount of money? BT don’t care how quick or slow the connection is as long as we all cough up.

  25. @Andy – yes Orange don’t now operate their own kit but you have the option of paying money directly to Orange rather than BT which presumably means BT will get less of it…

  26. I would be very interested to see the average download speeds of those on the Almondsbury exchange. If you can get above 2MB then you are above the minimum speed set out by the government.

    It seems the majority of us on BT lines down in the south struggle to get 1MB. Perhaps BT in their decision to roll out superfast broadband, have to consider the broadband not spots and slow spots first.

    The other thing to consider ; BT obviously want to roll out there on demand IP services to the masses. They want the largest target market, It makes more business sense that they would choose an exchange that serves more potential customers.

  27. Being a little sceptical…I would be interested to see if BT actualy do put this in in 2012. Companies always say they are going to do something then it gets put back, and put back etc. If they do put it in I will be upgrading straight away, trying to run a business with a speed of way less than a 1mB is an absolute joke.
    Its about time they gave us our own exchange in Bradley Stoke, I wonder if that would help?

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