Superfast broadband for the Cholesbury exchange

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From the end of September 2015 through to March 2016 Superfast Broadband is due to be rolled out for those who are within the Cholesbury Exchange area. The rollout is phased across four cabinets and also an Exchange Only Line. As and when cabinets or the Exchange Only Line go live we will indicate this here:

Source of supply LocationsGo live dateComments
Cabinet 1Cholesbury and part of Wigginton22 Dec 2015Plenty of capacity
Cabinet 2Bellingdon and Asheridge1 OctoberCapacity still available
Cabinet 3 Buckland Common and St Leonards1 OctoberCapacity still available
Cabinet 4Hawridge and Heath End30 DecemberPlenty of capacity
Exchange only All Rays Hill, Braziers End16 Mar 2016See Q7 of the FAQ

Refer to this table of postcodes to see which cabinet serves your address, or if you are on an Exchange Only line.

Please note it will then be up to those wanting to upgrade to the improved services, or subscribe for the first time to contact broadband providers (ISPs). ISPs will be able to confirm to existing or potential customers whether they can provide a SfBb service. You should shop around for the best deals.

For further details about applying for services see the Broadband-Q-and-A.pdf

Cholesbury Exchange upgraded to ADSL2+ broadband on 16 March 2016 – see further details below.

There is further information about the rollout programme below.

For those interested the image shows the inside of the Hawridge DSLAM cabinet during its commissioning.

If you have any questions you can contact the Cholesbury Exchange Superfast Broadband Working Group Tel:758890.


Cholesbury exchange area

What is Superfast Broadband?

Superfast Broadband (SfBb) offers significantly increased download speeds compared to ADSLmax which delivers broadband services from the local telephone exchange. SfBb is supplied via fibre optic cable, bypassing the exchange, and instead connects to existing roadside cabinets called PCPs via a new cabinet located adjacent to it called a DSLAM. From there it uses the existing usually copper cable to distribute to individual premises. This mode of delivery is known as Fibre-To-The-Cabinet (FTTC). Occasionally SfBb may be installed all the way to a property, which is called Fibre-To-The-Property (FTTP). Once SfBb is installed and commissioned subscribers would be free to choose from any of the ISPs offering SfBb services.

What improvements can we expect?

The download speed attainable via SfBb is theoretically up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of close to 20Mbps. In reality, the actual speed attainable is affected by the overall length and the condition of the copper cable. The other improvement over existing broadband experience will be increases in service reliability with far fewer ‘drop-outs’ and downtime. The Working Group have been advised that a significant majority of premises in the Cholesbury exchange area will be able to access a broadband service at superfast broadband speeds of between 24Mbps and 76Mbps. For most of the remainder of households the speed will be in the range 15-24Mbps. Somewhere around 1 to 1.2km from the DSLAM cabinet the realistic speeds attainable will fall below 15Mbps. Even properties up to 1.75km from their cabinet should experience speed improvement but as they cannot being classified as ‘superfast broadband’ they may not be able to subscribe to superfast broadband products. (See Superfast Extension Programme section below).

Cholesbury Exchange

There are just over 700 properties served by the Cholesbury exchange and broadband services are connected via copper cables to one of four green roadside cabinets, known also as PCPs (see map below). From there individual premises are connected by underground and overhead, copper, or sometimes, aluminium cables. For just a few properties near the Cholesbury Exchange building the services are distributed directly to properties via an ‘exchange only’ line. You can check which cabinet you are connected to via

Distribution of green cabinets (PCPs) from the Cholesbury exchange

What is ADSL2+ Broadband?

In 2003 the Cholesbury exchange was enabled for broadband when ADSL broadband services were installed. This was subsequently upgraded to ADSLmax in 2006 which until this year has been the current service that provides broadband. ADSLmax theoretically provides download speeds of up to 8Mbps. In reality, the maximum speed of between 5-6Mbps might be attained for properties near to the exchange. However, the speed rapidly drops off as the distance increases from the exchange and for properties further away speeds can currently fall to less than 2Mbps and due to the length and condition of cables and competition for bandwidth between broadband users at times below 1Mbps. ADSLmax is being replaced by ADSL 2+ which with a maximum speed of 25Mbps. Most exchanges have already been upgraded and along with a number of rural exchanges, Cholesbury is part of the latest phase of upgrading to ADSL2+.

The Cholesbury Exchange upgrade from ADSLmax to ADSL2+ finally took place on 16 March 2016. BT had announced that an upgrade to the ADSL service on the Cholesbury Exchange would take place during Summer 2015 however the upgrading was delayed for until the first quarter of 2016 coinciding with activation of the FTTP service for those on the Exchange Only line. To benefit from ADSL2+ no action is necessary as the service is automatically available.

Pros and Cons of ADSL2+ vs. FTTC

ADSL2+ offers access to broadband over a considerably greater distance from the Exchange than ADSLmax. Though the launch of FTT(x) in late 2015 has provided the opportunity for faster, more reliable broadband for most properties connected to the Cholesbury Exchange, for those properties furthest from roadside cabinets and therefore unable to get FTT(x) broadband, ADSL2+ may still offer the preferred option. Additionally, for those closer to the Exchange but not wanting the faster speeds offered by FTTC broadband, ADSL2+ might also provide a more cost-effective option.

Superfast Extension Programme (SEP)

In July 2014 to bring improved broadband services to those unable to receive SfBb Bucks Business First (BBA) launched a follow up project, the Superfast Extension Programme, using funding from government (£6.63m) and match funding from Chiltern District Council and BBA. Under this scheme Bucks Business First will be tendering in 2015 for broadband infrastructure providers to increase overall SfBb availability in Bucks from 91 towards 95% of households.

May 2015 – Hertfordshire rollout for post codes on the Cholesbury exchange is scheduled for 2017 this new project will focus on; exchange areas not already included in the current SfBb project and, in SfBb enabled exchange areas, those premises furthest from the DSLAM unable to benefit much if anything from the SfBb upgrade.

July 2015 – BBF have confirmed that BT Openreach will be entering into discussions with Chiltern DC who have allocated £100k to the fund which in principle will be matched by funds allocated via BBA. BTs contribution will be dependent on their assessment of potential ROI deriving from the SEP project.

October – 2015 Herts published their provisional schedule and post codes, confirming that those included that relate to the Cholesbury Exchange would be rolled out from July 2017 – HP23 6BF; HP23 6JE; HP23 6JF; HP23 6JG; HP23 6JN; HP23 6JW; and HP4 3UD.

Once the roll out for the Cholesbury exchange is complete the SFBB Working Group will identify those outlying post code locations including those in the RExchange area / Cholesbury-cum-St Leonards Parish that cannot access FTTC broadband and push for them to be included in the Bucks and Herts Superfast Extension Programme.

What is the story so far?

March 2016
The FTTP broadband service goes live for 35 properties connected via the Exchange Only line. The ADSL2+ upgrade to Cholesbury Exchange is completed.

December 2015
The two remaining cabinets covering Cholesbury (Cab 1) and Hawridge / Heath End (Cab 4) go live at the end of December.

October 2015
On 1st October the SFBB service went live, exactly two years on from the launch of the Cholesbury SFBB campaign. The first two Cabinets to go live are: Bellingdon / Asheridge (Cab 2) and Buckland Common / St Leonards (Cab 3). Implementation dates for Cabs 1 and 4 are still to be announced.

July – September
During this period BT ‘de-silted’ and then have been ‘blowing’ fibre along ducting that runs beneath road verges to be connected up with the four Sfbb cabinets, located in/ serving: Cholesbury, Hawridge, Buckland Common/ St Leonards and Bellingdon.

Delays occurred to the installation of SFBB at Hawridge and Cholesbury due to electricity supply problems. A revised date of implementation is still awaited. Meanwhile work on the installations at Bellingdon and Buckland Common is close to completion with both cabinets reported to be ready to go live in early-mid October.

The ADSL2+ service due in July appears to have been delayed to later this year.

March to June 2015 – underground installation of fibre takes place which in due course would connect each of the new roadside cabinets, called DSLAMs, with the national fibre spine at Berkhamsted. One DSLAM will be located adjacent to each of the four existing telephone cabinets in Bellingdon (Bank Green), Cholesbury(opp. village hall), Hawridge (near school) and Buckland Common (for St Leonards too) These connect to households via underground and overhead copper cables from the telephone network. (See map above)

February 2015 – BT announces that it is upgrading the Cholesbury exchange as part of a separate programme transferring from ADSL to ADSL2+ technology. ADSL2+ provides a potentially faster and more reliable broadband services.

December 2014 to February 2015 – upgrading of the Cholesbury exchange started with engineering surveys, including on-site visits Discussions held with BT Openreach about speedy processing of wayleaves and easements.

Mid-November 2014 – four weeks ahead of schedule – engineering surveys commenced to determine the location of the new SfBb cabinets known as DSLAMs and the routing of utility services. The investigation and planning to bring the fibre optic cabling to the villages is also underway. One DSLAM will be located adjacent to each of the four existing PCP telephone cabinets, designed originally to connect households via underground and overhead copper cables to the telephone network. Further work will be needed between October 2015 and March 2016 to connect properties with ‘exchange only’ lines and maybe also to overcome specific engineering issues in certain locations.

July 2014 Confirmation that the Cholesbury Exchange area would be included in the Sfbb project and work would take place between March and September 2015.

19th March 2014 – News received that our bid for a Government grant to fund the roll out of Superfast Broadband for the Cholesbury Exchange area has been successful. It is one of just seven such projects in the UK to gain approval under this particular round of the scheme. The grant awarded will top-up the financial contribution already confirmed by BT meaning that 100% of the finance required to enable installation of SFBB has now been secured.

February 2014 – A bid application was put together with BBF and submitted alongside bids for another exchange area in north Bucks to DeFRA.

January 2014 – As part of the bid application, 22 case studies were included, describing how the current unreliable broadband service was impacting on local businesses and why SfBb is essential for the residents and the local business economy.

November and December 2013 – Responding to an article in Hilltop News, a leafleting and email campaign during, over 50% of the 700 plus subscribers registered their interest in SfBb.

October 2013 – The Parish Council lobbying however paid dividends as in the community was invited by BBF to participate in a parallel bid for a grant from the Rural Community Broadband Fund administered by DeFRA. If successful BT Openreach would schedule the rollout of SfBb alongside the larger-scale programme.

The bid application process involved BT Openreach undertaking a further financial and engineering assessment of the Cholesbury Exchange area, and most importantly the local community demonstrating strong enthusiasm for SfBb. The Parish Council formed a Superfast Broadband Working Group comprising residents in the Cholesbury Exchange Area to set about generating a community appetite for SfBb to be expressed through online registrations of interest.

June 2013 – Bucks Business First and its Herts equivalent announced it had been successful in bidding for funds from the Government’s BDUK programme and had signed a contract with BT Openreach to increase SfBb coverage from around 70% up to 90% in rural areas across the two counties. As the Cholesbury Exchange serves a much larger than average number of small villages, hamlets and homesteads, and has a legacy of older technology compared to other rural communities, it was not totally surprising that the county-wide engineering survey ranked the Cholesbury Exchange area in the final 10% of ‘hard-to-reach’ areas and it was not included in the roll-out plan.

From 2010, Cholesbury-cum-St Leonards Parish Council lobbied to have the Cholesbury Exchange area included in programmes to increase SfBb coverage in rural areas of Bucks being developed by Bucks Business First (BBF), the economic development arm of Bucks CC. With broadband speeds well below 2 Mbps for many local users and also frequent ‘drop outs’ due to failing infrastructure on the Cholesbury Exchange it has become the cause of increasing annoyance to local residents and businesses.