No joy for Bradley Stoke in first phase of SGC broadband rollout

Pucklechurch councillors celebrate the planned arrival of superfast broadband.

Hopes that Bradley Stoke might be amongst the first areas in South Gloucestershire to benefit from a programme of government investment in superfast broadband infrastructure were dashed last month when South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) announced that the rural communities of Pucklechurch and Wick have been chosen to receive the upgrade in the first phase of the project.

Bradley Stoke broadband users on 01454 numbers, served from the Almondsbury exchange, are now unlikely to see any improvement in connection speeds before summer 2014 at the earliest.

The problem of slow broadband speeds affects the approximately 4,000 homes in Bradley Stoke that aren’t covered by Virgin Media’s cable service, meaning that they are dependent on BT infrastructure, even if using a service from another telecoms provider such as TalkTalk or Sky.

Many local consumers experience speeds as low as 1Mbps (compared to the national average of around 9Mbps), meaning they are unable to use services like ‘catch up’ TV and movie streaming.

To compound the problem, few (if any) Bradley Stoke residents have so far benefited from BT’s self-financed upgrading of the Filton telephone exchange, announced in April 2011. The Journal understands that only one street cabinet in the town has so far been upgraded to provide the superfast service.

When we asked BT how many subscribers in Bradley Stoke were able to access the new service, the company declined to comment, saying the information was “commercially sensitive”.

BT’s own online broadband availability checker is currently quoting September 2013 as the projected availability date for its superfast service to 0117 numbers in south Bradley Stoke, although past experience suggests that this date could slip as it gets nearer.

Bradley Stoke town and district councillors have been campaigning for many years to see broadband services in the town improved, but have so far achieved very little.

In August 2010, a party of Bradley Stoke councillors joined local MP Jack Lopresti in a visit to Westminster to speak with Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, who promised to write to BT and Virgin Media.

Speaking at a recent committee meeting in Bradley Stoke, Cllr Brian Hopkinson said it was “disgusting” that nothing has been done to improve the situation.

Broadband Meeting.

Photo: Jack Lopresti MP and South Gloucestershire Councillors representing Bradley Stoke discuss the town’s broadband problems with Communications Minister Ed Vaizey in August 2010.

This article originally appeared in the July edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to all homes in Bradley Stoke.

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  1. Why don’t BT/SGC come clean and tell us the reason why somewhere as obvious as BS as a candidate for upgrade is not figuring on the list? Is there a technical reason that means it will require a bigger investment per head than places like Pucklechurch or Wick?
    Once again, having been part of the campaigning, I just cannot believe it – someone is having a laugh somewhere…..

  2. What a surprise! Not…. At the moment I’m ok with Talk Talk broadband as they have LLU on the exchange in which I’m getting between 4 – 6mbps, but I just wish sky had LLU on the exchange so I can have just one set standard bill.

    Hopefully fingers crossed we should have better broadband come next summer.

  3. This is really disappointing. We really are in the slow lane.

    If any local councilors want my vote at the next election, feel free to kick anybody and everybody to make fast broadband happen please.

  4. Instead of moaning about how disgusting it is that nothing has been done, perhaps Cllr Hopkinson might like to actually do something about it.

  5. Someone had to be first you that live in BS will just have to wait a bit longer ,it’s not the end of the world is it .

  6. So, all this waiting, but they have the time and money to open the BT office in Willow Brook Center that seemily doesn’t serve anyone? Epic Fail.

  7. Agree with Happy – someone had to be first and it’s just a shame it’s not me 🙂

    That said, it would be good if they could publish more information as to how they go about the planning process and how they decide which areas to do when. That way at least we’ll know it’s not just where a particular Councillor or BT employee happens to live.

  8. Methinks SGC have been taking incompetence lessons from Bristol council.

    They seem quite happy to take the £m’s in council tax every year from Bradley Stoke residents to pay for the less populated areas of the county.

  9. But we all had a jolly day out in London and a parliament photo op to make it look as if we are doing something.

    So Cllr Hopkinson, you were there, second from left. You must know what reply Ed Vaizey received from BT to his letter he promised to write. Care to share?

  10. Paul BS isn’t the only place that pays a high Council tax you make out BS doesn’t get anything .they do lots .
    We all have to wait some time or another for things to come our way .
    Why don’t you write to virgin and ask why they haven’t thought of getting new customers in BS by Cable seems they might have 4000 that might want to use their service

  11. What is the purpose of the BT office in Bradley Stoke? They already have offices in Aztec West.

    I have repeatedly asked BT, and now SGC why Bradley Stoke has not been upgraded whilst many smaller areas with much better broadband are and no one will answer the question.

    SGC’s answer:
    As soon as we know the next communities that will benefit from the rollout of superfast fibre broadband we will update our website pages.

    The order of the rollout is dictated by numerous factors, such as the location of the existing telecoms infrastructure and achieving the best possible coverage for the investment to ensure value for money for residents.

    Not exactly the answer to the question more a statement that BT haven’t told them how they are spending their money.

    The irony of this is that Almondsbury exchange was one of the first fibre connected exchanges in the country, and thanks to Bradley Stoke has some of the best infrastructure (ducting).

  12. Happy, I agree that the council tax argument is not a reason to prioritise Bradley Stoke, but

    1 – as the goal is to provide a universal 2Mbs, then the Abson (Pucklechurch/Wick) exchange should not be touched, the footprint of the exchange area is small, and the exchange is central and there is no issue with no/slow service.
    2 – the largest cluster of no/slow service in South Gloucestershire is central and south Bradley Stoke, and therefore it is reasonable to expect BT/SGC to prioritise this area, or give a very good reason why it cannot be done now.

    Repeated attempts have been made to get Virgin to complete Bradley Stoke Central and South and all have resulted in Virgin saying NO. I believe Virgin are waiting for BT to lower their prices so they can use their ducting to access these properties.

    Ofcom have forced to BT to lower their prices twice, but still no announcement from Virgin despite some trials a few years ago.

  13. Not sure why Virgin keep missing a great deal out of this 4000 homes that could amount to 4000 customers ,that kind of thing isn’t to be sniff at .

  14. BT take no notice of Bradley Stoke AGAIN!
    Yet Virgin should really cable the rest of Bradley Stoke – ££££ missing the opportunity to take BT’s customers!

  15. I am not sure about all streets but my street has CableTV and BT manhole covers very close.

    The cost of connecting the two and ‘blowing/pushing’ Virgin cables to each customer house along BT duct cannot be that expensive, compared with the revenue stream.

    I hope Virgin’s new owners see the opportunity, unlike the previous lot who where happy to not to expand the customer base.

  16. Apparently Virgin Media done a recent Survey for BS and not a lot of people were interested…. However I have not seen any Survey asking if I wanted it?? I would of said 100% yes!!

  17. I have seen Virgin Media are going some work – well contractors om behalf on Virgin Media next to Willow Brook Centre……….

  18. So it seems from some comments on here The people of BS didn’t want Virgin then so why are the moaning now if they had said yes in the first place then maybe you would all be able to have a good Broadband service like everyone else I and around SG

  19. What comments are negative about Virgin here?

    I had United Artist/Telewest for 7 years when living in Bradley Stoke North, but moved to Bradley Stoke Central (Cornfield Close) around 1998 and despite assurances from Telewest and the builders that cable would be soon available, 15 years on is still hasn’t been deployed despite CableTV service ducts in every street.

    These where probably built by BSDC, but would allow cable services to be deployed to the rest of Bradley Stoke, if they where prepared to spend the money.

    If Virgin did survey the area and received a negative response I am left wandering where and how this survey was done.

    Finally, anyone who can provide a fixed price reliable service of 25+MBs will have my contract, even if it is low latency 4G service.

  20. I would happily move to Virgin Media to be honest – I would love to have fast speed now really – BT are just taking there time and don’t care!!

  21. I do feel for those of you that can’t get a good speed with your broadband I have a good service with my Virgin Media 100 MBs
    As like Simon I have been with this Cable service from day 1 when it started out as United Artist then Telewest now Virgin that is well over 25 years and I have had no plans to change to anything else .
    I can’t for the life of me see why the people of BS didn’t want Virgin in this Survey something smells funny about this as a lot of people have been saying they knew nothing of it ???!!!!!

  22. Absolute rubbish – there has been no Virgin Survey, someone from Virgin state some hard facts to the contrary? The BT Broadband survey in 2010 tells a different story about the demand for these services.

    I have also emailed Virgin myself a couple of times and had a running argument with them stating that the ducts were already there in my street. When it was obvious that this blew their “it would be too expensive to cable the rest of Bradley Stoke” they stopped responding!

  23. Ok so they put an advert in the local press, which probably refers to the “cable my street” campaign. But how ridiculous is that, half of Bradley Stoke already has cable, so of course they wont be interested! That means that only the people who haven’t got it would have had to see the advert approx 3 yrs ago! The whole point is that the people who live in the roads without any existing cable, who have no capable service provider (BT), would surely would have said yes. This is backed up by the BT “proper” survey in 2010.

    Anyway can you really believe the proficiency of a company that takes nearly two years to respond to a letter from the local council, as it states in the letter back to the Bradley Stoke council, to work out the business case of cabling “captive market streets” who have no other alternatives!

    As Simon has mentioned before, a lot of the roads that aren’t cabled already have ducts , it couldn’t be any cheaper to cable these streets as opposed to other areas where they would have to dig! This is what they and us cant seem to understand?

  24. Shaun,

    They did much more than put an ad in the local press.

    The fore-runner to this site (if ed doesn’t mind me couching in these terms!) ran a rather extensive campaign.

    Annoyingly, Virgin did not state what the goalposts were at the outset.

    We got hundreds of names, but then found the firm was looking for frankly ridiculous levels of demand.

    It’s a shame but I can’t ever see Virgin happening. We need to concentrate on South Glos Council. It’s in their hands now.

  25. I have always suspected that this issue is to do with the way that housing estates were built in the 80s.

    As we know many of us here are directly connected to the exchange as this was the easy way for builders to provide a telephone line on major house projects back then, but the other thing that is relevant is that Adsl (legacy) technology and VDSL technology (BT fibre) require a full copper line to achieve the best possible connection.

    I have read many an article that suggests that if the last run into the property from the connection points are aluminium then this introduces a great deal of noise on the line and will significantly increase line attenuation meaning much lower speeds.

    This seems to be common practice in 80s house builds, and why not? Broadband or even the Internet didn’t exist when our houses were being built, and the only obligation from the builder was to provide a telephone line, and using alluminium was obviously cheaper than copper but it can still deliver a perfect telephone service.

    Now fast forward to today and we find that our community has extremely poor broadband speeds, even when some of us in the north don’t live that far from the almondsbury exchange.

    Could it be that these issues are caused by the aluminium in our lines? and could it then be that BT will not enable fibre services under the standard openreach roll out because they know that they cannot provide the minimum service of 15mb to the majority of homes in Bradley Stoke?

    Too see evidence of this Do a google search for ‘superslow broadband comes to Surrey’ and click the third link half way down the page click the link for ‘BT refused to replace a length of aluminium cable‘ this forum example shows the trouble you can have if part of your line is aluminium.

  26. I don’t think that there is any aluminium in Bradley Stoke telephone system.

    When Bradley Stoke was build, a percentage of all house prices was contributed to BSDC to provide infrastructure. What BT did with their share I have no idea, hindsight suggests they should have built an exchange, but the fragmented building of Bradley Stoke in North and South meant it was probably cheaper to connect each development to an existing exchange.

    I have no idea why EO lines are so prevalent for Filton/Winterbourne users over Almondsbury.

    Finally, Margaret Hodge at last weeks Parliamentary Public Accounts meeting on Broadband accused BT of not investing in areas with lucrative business areas where they have signifcant leased line revenues. This, if true could explain BT’s reluctance to FTTC enable Almondsbury exchange with Aztec West and Bradley Stoke Office Parks .

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