Broadband upgrade could be imminent for some on 0117 numbers

Telephone cabinets near the junction of Baileys Court Road and Ellan Hay Road.

More than two years after BT’s announcement that the Filton telephone exchange was being upgraded to provide fibre optic broadband, subscribers in one part of south Bradley Stoke may soon be able to order the new service.

Indications are that the long wait could soon be over for properties served by one particular roadside telephone cabinet (no. 44) near the junction of Baileys Court Road and Ellan Hay Road.

Notice on the website.

The news comes not from BT, who have been consistently tight-lipped about their rollout plans, citing issues of “commercial confidentiality”, but from a Journal reader who spotted an update on the website.

According to information placed on that website by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), BT is due to commence work to install a NGA (Next Generation Access) cabinet at the site on 6th August.

Hopes that an upgrade for at least a few hundred homes might be imminent are strengthened by the observation that BT’s broadband availability checker is still showing a projected availability date of 30th September for fibre broadband at properties served from this cabinet. This date has previously been slipped at quarterly intervals, but it did not slip at the end of June, suggesting that the date now shown might at last be realistic.

The upgrade of the network served by the Filton exchange is part of BT’s commercial rollout which is due to reach two-thirds of homes in the country by spring next year.

Telephone cabinet in Stean Bridge Road, Bradley Stoke.

According to a statement obtained from BT by The Journal, 14,000 of the 18,700 properties served by the Filton exchange had access to superfast broadband by June 2013. However, in Bradley Stoke, only one street cabinet (in Stean Bridge Road, an area that already has access to superfast broadband via the Virgin Media cable network) is understood to have so far been upgraded.

It is a widely held belief that BT has concentrated its efforts on installing fibre in areas already served by Virgin Media, enabling it to win over new customers rather than getting its own existing  customers to upgrade, which might be less profitable. It has also been suggested that BT has delayed its move into non-Virgin areas in order to maximise the amount of subsidy it can attract from the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) state-aided investment programme.

Subscribers on 01454 numbers are served from the Almondsbury telephone exchange, which has been included in the BDUK programme that is being managed locally by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC). The district council is investing £2.2m of local taxpayers’ money along with £710k from the government to improve broadband speeds across its area.

Around 18% of premises in the SGC area are eligible for state aid investment and the council is aiming to bring at least two-thirds of these up to superfast (>24Mbps) speeds by March 2015. This date was initially announced as March 2015, then slipped to March 2016 (with the excuse of delays caused by EU bureaucracy) but has now been restored to March 2015. The remaining one-third are guaranteed a minimum speed of 2Mbps, but may have to wait until March 2016 to receive it.

The Almondsbury exchange was overlooked in the first phase of SGC’s broadband improvement programme, announced in June, but a statement recently provided to Bradley Stoke Town Council promises that a “specific update on Bradley Stoke” will be published in September. Any resultant implementation of superfast broadband for subscribers on 01454 numbers is unlikely to be realised before summer 2014.

Around half the 8,650 properties in Bradley Stoke have access to superfast broadband via the Virgin Media cable network. The remainder are dependent on BT’s network, with around 2,000 of these unable to get connection speeds above 2Mbps, due to their distance from the exchange. The BBC recently reported that the average broadband speed in the UK is now 12Mbps, a development which leaves Bradley Stoke languishing in a so-called “digital ghetto”, a term normally reserved for sparsely populated rural areas.

Is your property served by cabinet 44? For future reference (as further upgrades are announced), we’d like to build up a database of which cabinets serve which streets in Bradley Stoke. Please help us by entering your phone number into the BT broadband availability checker to find out the number of the cabinet that serves your street and posting the street name, postcode and cabinet number as a comment on this story.

[Ed:  Thanks to Giles Ogram for spotting the announcement on]

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  1. Great news! I already knew that I was served by cab 44 and had been checking to see if the availability date had slipped. I wonder when I will be able to order Infinity?

  2. Foxcroft Close (BS32 8BJ) doesn’t have a cabinet number according to this tool, it just says that the exchange is Filton.

    Incidentally, the cabinet at the end of Pursey Drive, opposite the Bailey’s Court Inn was replaced a few months ago. I don’t know if this belongs to BT or Virgin though.

  3. @Steve
    The grey one one the corner? That’s a Virgin cabinet. It was probably replaced because the door kept disappearing from the old one.

  4. Juniper Way, BS32 0ED
    Cabinet 35 / Almondsbury / 01454

    Currently sobbing that people a few hundred yards away will be able to get Infinity, but not me.

  5. If the BT checker doesn’t give a cabinet number, it probably means you’re on an “exchange only” line. That probably isn’t good news because you won’t benefit from the cabinet upgrades. Unless anyone knows different?

  6. @Editor
    No cabinet number does mean that you are on an Exchange Only line and will not benefit from this round of cabinet upgrades. It will take a new technology (or retrospective cabinet install) to improve broadband speed.

    At least Foxcroft Close has Virgin Media.

    I agree but that is the way BT built their network. What speed do you get served by Almondsbury Exchange? I know those in Juniper served by Filton Exchange (i.e. those on cabinet 44) struggled to get 2meg.

  7. My god why do people have to make do in this modern world of technology a speed of 2meg when people like myself have a 80/100meg speed and I live not far from these people that cant be right .
    Virgin need to get on board NOW they are missing a great opportunity to make money .

  8. @Richard A
    Struggled up until past 18 months to get 2mbps – but it’s marginally improved now to around 2.5mbps. Still not really that good for streaming. Low quality at times, and buffering.

  9. Why can’t they just run a cable from cabinet 44 to number 35 and boost the whole area around Juniper Way?

    I believe Virgin are really close as well because they had to serve St Mary’s school.

    This area of Bradley Stoke must be a quick and profitable win.

  10. @Happy. 2Meg would be an improvement 😛 I’m lucky to get over 1Meg at the back end of Coriander Drive.

    Like the number of comments made, I still find it intriguing how the economic cases can be such that it is more viable to roll out in other areas of the UK rather than an area known to be poorly served where take up for a better service must be over the norm than would be seen in most areas.

    I can only assume for Virgin it is their backhaul and local infrastructure sizing which must be creaking (I do hear plenty of storeis regarding poor service and problems for existing customers) and perhaps they need more than a normal new local infrastructure deployment that they’d implement for the majority of new rollouts making other areas more attractive. That or they have no money for any roll outs anywhere and are only trying to expand their current system to maintain customers for fear of losing them and having no new customer base because they’ve not expanded their footprint.

    BT I feel are just trying to pull in more money and the cynical view is to try and grab the virgin customers as new accounts rather than an upgrade for existing customers; it’d be interesting to know how many people actually signed up to FTTC services on the one cabinet that was installed. They also know they are in a good position for the BDUK funding so they won’t want to plan in any areas which will impact that possible funding stream.

    It does look like I’m going to be one of the lucky ones who should be able to order a FTTC service off Cab44 shortly but I must admit I currently have a preference for getting a service from any FTTC provider other than BT just so they only get the Openreach element of my cash. I’m not sure though how quickly other ISP services become available from new cabinet installs and having sufferred with such slow speeds I’m not sure how long I would want to (or could force myself to) wait if I knew a faster service was available.

  11. @Happy, My family and I would love to be able to “make do with 2Mbps”. Currently struggling with 1Mbps (on a good day) in central Bradley Stoke.

  12. What frustrates me the most about the rollout of FTTC in South Gloucestershire is that SGC and BT don’t seem to be rolling it out in an order based on where the need is greatest. Broadband users in Pucklechurch could already get connection speeds of at least 6Mbps – a speed I can only dream of (I get about 1.5Mbps on a good day), so why on earth prioritise that area over Bradley Stoke?

    From the statement released by BSTC it seems the priority order is being based simply on which areas are easiest to convert rather than which has the greatest need. This seems completely illogical to me and it dismays me that SGC have agreed to it. As Bradley Stoke is going to be tricky to convert, they are leaving it until last it seems. Let’s hope the budget hasn’t run out by then else we’ll never get it!

  13. Juniper Way/01454/cabinet 35. Echo what other 01454 folks say above. So hoping that we get an upgrade in the next year. Sigh.

    Getting around 3mbps which is *just* about good enough for 1 channel of netflix. Too bad if anything else is happening on the net at the same time tho.

    Don’t have major congestion problems at peak times, as I’m on plusnet with the option that gives me priority on all streams.

    — gyre —

  14. @DaveW – “I can only assume for Virgin it is their backhaul and local infrastructure sizing which must be creaking (I do hear plenty of storeis regarding poor service and problems for existing customers)”

    It’s well known that Virgins network is oversubscribed in some parts of Bristol. I remember last year having problems with speed and reliability. In fact there is a 146 page forum post on the very subject –

    Myself and my brother live off Stean Bridge Road. Both have had Virgin for years; he recently switched to Sky fibre package and has been very happy with this. Makes perfect sense for BT to roll out FTTC in areas where Virgin Media cover to poach customers from them.

  15. @Happy
    I’m under the impression that the costs of ducting, cabinet and network upgrades far outweigh any profit that Virgin are likely to make in the short to medium term; that’s why they are concentrating on getting more money out of existing customers. For businesses they charge for the full cost of the install (ducting and network upgrades, etc) to have service provided. I don’t know many who would be prepared to pay anything other than a token install charge rather than the real costs. I know this isn’t right but I blame the builders who didn’t ensure we had a cable provision to our homes as well as the BT phone provision.

    I sympathise with your slow speed. At my end of Juniper served by Filton I get under 2meg. I always have to download from iPlayer first before watching and it always takes longer to download than the length of show.

    I’ve read that BT have connected existing cabinets serving voice from one exchange to a different (enabled) exchange for FTTC. Fingers crossed they’ll do that with Almondbury cab 35 as it is really south in Bradley Stoke, parallel with a couple of cabs served by Filton exchange. I suspect they won’t as they want BDUK money to enable Almondbury.
    St Mary’s school does have a Virgin connection but it will be a Business LAN extension circuit. All Virgin (Business) have done is to dig a duct from their nearest cab in Ellen Hay Road to the school to enable them to feed a fibre to the school. The same happened in central Bradley Stoke when Virgin provided service to BSCS. Here they passed many homes on Champs-sur-Marne but were not interested in providing domestic service.

    While we may hate paying BT all of our money. I’ve found when it comes to faults being a BT Retail customer does help. I know it shouldn’t but it does.

  16. @Richard A
    My broadband was that bad until very recently. An interesting interim solution might be Three – my signal on my iPhone has been going nuts the past few days, but I’ve also got a few speed tests beyond 12 Mbps. I can only assume they are upgrading the local masts for their 3.5G service. If you have iPhone or Droid with tethering it might just be a good stop-gap measure.

  17. @Richard A

    If Virgin where to poll a street, and depending on response offer connection at a fixed cost, I think many people would take this up.

    As an example, Bradley Stoke is covered with CableTV manhole covers to allow Virgin to access/maintain their network, and these are usually very close to BT manhole covers.

    The actual cost of cabling up Bradley Stoke, using BT’s duct system would not be prohibitive, the main sticking point is the use of BTs ducting network, and the monthly cost Virgin would face in using it.

    However, I think Virgin will be looking to expand its network using BTs FTTc/p network.

  18. @Toxeth – In the next three months Three UK will roll out LTE (with no extra cost to existing subscribers) and if you have an LTE mobile wth the One plan contract (all you can eat data) you can tether it to all your devices.

    4G LTE should mean 20-30mb speeds.

    Not saying this is an ideal solution but it’s better than the crap we have been getting from BT ADSL lines!

  19. Should do. The Ericsson team responsible for Three’s rollout are based in Aztech West (Ericsson have the Three and EE 4G contracts support).

  20. Driving to work today and there appears to be some activity by cabinet 44. SGC and a contractors truck with what appeared to be a concrete base for a cabinet.

  21. Well the new green cabinet has arrived. No options yet to order but should be able to do so by end of September.

  22. Finally getting an openreach engineer to come out and look at my line.
    After more than five years of just 1MB fixed line broadband,I have found a service provider who are committed to getting me between 4-8 MB!
    They assure me that I am only 3km from the exchange in FILTON and that I should be getting much better speeds. Well if they want to send an openreach engineer, I’m certainly not going to stand in their way, perhaps I can get an answer of why broadband is so slow in the south of BS!

  23. Mine says exchange almondsbury too- does this mean its never gonna get better?? Slowest broadband but also most expensive. It’s so wrong. Cant even think of watching bbc iplayer!

  24. On at

    Dates: 19th – 21st August

    Location : Winterbourne Road, from junction with Orpheus Avenue to junction with Great Stoke Way (1350mts)

    Description : Openreach access to cable chambers to install new, high speed fibre cable to local cabinets. Signing and guarding only with work only taking place outside of traffic sensitive times.

  25. Any idea which cabinets this work on Winterbourne Road/Orpheus Avenue will serve? I’m on Cabinet 34 and really in need of the upgrade to proper broadband as opposed to the 2.5Meg I currently get.

    Thanks for any further info.

  26. I’m on cabint 44. Since the engineers started work there on the 9th of August my broadband speed has dropped from 2.2Meg to 0.25Meg.
    We have an engineer coming to the house tomorrow to check the line.
    I notice there are engineers working in cabinet 44 again today.

  27. This morning I spoke to the two Openreach engineers working on Cabinet 44. They explained their job was to install the copper between the existing left hand cab and the new fibre cab. They advised this would be done by the end of the week. Other engineers would be tasked with pulling the fibre to the new fibre cab. Also Western Power Distribution need to install power in the fibre cab.
    The most interesting comment was that provision for only 105 fibre broadband connections was being installed day one. I cannot believe so few of us have registered an interest.

  28. Looks like we’ll be waiting until October.


    Start: 26 Sep
    End: 04 Oct

    Low impact, delays unlikely
    Location : Adjacent Baileys Court Road East substation
    Description : 1 joint hole in grass verge for new supply to BT Openreach cabinet
    Current status: Planned work about to start
    Traffic lights, etc: None/signing only

  29. @DaveW
    Good spot. Typical, BT (ahead of schedule) haved finished installing their kit and we have a month’s wait for Western Power Distribution. Still it may be finished by the 30 Sept go live date. Perhaps we are just getting a little too excited when we saw the Openreach engineers over the last two weeks.

  30. Well FINALLY.

    South Glos using BDUK cash to bring fibre to Bradley Stoke for summer 2014.

    Only about 2 or 3 years too late.

  31. I suspect the final piece of the puzzle now will be the optic wavelength back to the exchange in Filton.

    I wonder how long it will take them to pull through 15km of optic cable through there underground network.

    Still! It will be a nice early Christmas present if, it’s here before Christmas that is 🙂

  32. @Mark E – I agree that it is a right cock up that there has been a delay installing power to the fibre cab but I can’t imagine there will be even more delays. BT Wholesale won’t want any more delays as they will want to sell services to recoup their outlay in fibre enabling cab 44.
    @Jordan – I don’t expect the fibre connection to delay go live. When I spoke to engineers back in August the fibre tube (difficult part of install) was already in place ready for the fibre to be blown (easier part of install). Also I am not sure where your 15km distance is from. BT always blow from their nearest point of presence (POP). I was told that this was only 1.5km away. This week I have noticed lots of BT fibre activity on the corner of the Hatchet Road / Winterbourne Road. Perhaps this is the location of the POP?

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