You may remember in 2016 we ran a blog tracking the somewhat tortuous progress of providing FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) Broadband to this area.  The page is shown here

Well now we have to start again, because it appears that the service in many areas is still very much lacking.  As an example we are focussing on Shilstone Lane - EX20 2HX.  The story so far is below:

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Shilstone Lane is over ¾ mile long (>1200 Metres) and is exclusively covered by post code EX20 2HX.

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) list 39 properties in this area under their “where and when” checker. OF these 4 can have superfast broadband, those nearest the cabinet, which is some way out of the village. There is one (Browne’s Chocolates) at the other end of the lane which is also shown as available - this must be an error.

Airband claim to cover 10 of the properties.  However, with their alleged recent discovery that there are trees on Dartmoor it seems that many, if not all, of these properties cannot be covered.

The remainder are classified as “Out of Programme - Potential Uplift”.  Many of the properties are receiving very slow service.  Some are even paying for “superfast” broadband and getting about 5 mbit/sec in the evening.  So 89% (34 out of 38) of the postcode are not able to get the service which is advertised on the BT cabinet.

The parish council and parishioners have met with BT and Airband on numerous occasions, but despite a helpful manner, no written replies were received and nothing has been done.

So it is time to take further action and escalate matters.

14th August 2017 First, at his invitation,  a letter was written to Matt Barrow of CDS see here . It included an Annex detailing all the communication so far: plans for a further cabinet which were abandoned, discussions about Airband availability which resulted in no action, and a vague mention of possibilities of funding beyond phase II as a result of money returned from BT, but with no visible methodology or action.

20th September 2017  The matter was discussed at the Throwleigh Parish Council meeting and the clerk was asked to pursue further since no reply had been received from Matt Barrow.


6th Ocober 2017.  After writing to Mel Stride our MP the following reply was received (line spaces removed for web publication).

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From: STRIDE, Mel [mailto:mel.stride.mp@parliament.uk]

Sent: 06 October 2017 13:57

Subject: Throwleigh broadband

Dear Julie,

Thank you for your letter on broadband in the parish

 I have written to Connecting Devon and Somerset to ask whether it has a response to your letter of 14 August.  Additionally, I have asked in particular for advice on the impact of a new cabinet, whether there is an up-to-date map of provision and what advice is available to those not currently receiving superfast broadband.

 As soon as I have a response I will be in touch and I will then be happy to make further enquiries as appropriate.

 In the meantime, do let me know if you have any further concerns.

 With best wishes,

 Mel

 Rt Hon. Mel Stride MP

Member of Parliament for Central Devon

Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

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9th November 2017  - after chasing we got this:

Dear Julie,

 

Thank you for your email. I apologise for not being in touch before now.

 

I contacted Matt Barrow at CDS on Monday. He apologised for the delay in the implementation of a faster broadband connection and advised that CDS have been in discussion with providers but progress waits on BDUK’s announcement for Phase 2 on the 14th November. I am sorry not to be able to provide a more concrete response but please be assured that I continue to make enquiries with CDS and will let you know of any further updates I receive.

 

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

 

With best wishes,

Mel

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So what was the announcement on 14th November - well nobody knew and we couldn’t find out.  So after a number of phone calls - yup - you guessed it - we have another meeting with Matt Barrow on 8th December in response to Matt’s email which said “ I have been working on a variety of ideas that may benefit Throwleigh – difficult to give you any detail just now, but I would hope to be able to share them with you next week.”

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27th March 2018

It’s been a long time reporting because, naively, we thought something was happening and we were waiting to report it.  Julie Macey and Kim Warwick-Oliver had a good meeting with Matt Barrow in which he indicated there was a lot happening.  He referred to BT making plans for fibre to the premises and contributing £750 per order to defray the costs plus £100 per property passed.  This, coupled with a potential £500 CDS allowance, could make fibre viable.  He also referred to a mysterious new service from AirBand which would solve all the problems of trees on Dartmoor.  He later agreed to come and address the parish council in January 2018

The January address didn’t happen, ‘cos his car broke down.  But he did email on 23rd January indicating that Airband had been surveying Shilstone Lane as a possible “White Space” service (this uses the old UHF frequencies from the closed down TV service), and they were looking for two triallists to test the service free.  Kim wrote back volunteering Julie Macey and Peter Gilbert, two people who were suffering substandard broadband (less than 5 Mbits/sec).

Since then, yup you guessed it, nothing.  No contact, no replies, no answers to texts, emails, messages left and voicemails.

Now we see that the status of some of the properties on EX20 2HX has changed from “We're Working On It” to

“Commercial Area – According to our records your property is either currently, or planned to be, covered through private sector providers by the end of 2019. As such, we are not able to invest public money in your area under European Commission State Aid rules.”  Whatever that is meant to mean!  As usual we seem to have no idea what is going on and no way to find out.

23rd April 2018

A consultation was issued on 27th March along with an audit report which was critical of CDS’s communication (among other things).  So the parish council has used the opportunity to point out the database errors and ask for them to be corrected , otherwise we would, apparently, have been excluded from further BT funds being spent in improving our broadband.  A petition was also sent from almost everyone in EX20 2HX.  The parish council letter can be seen HERE.  Kim also wrote to CDS personally - that letter can be seen HERE.

7th June 2018

Wonders will never cease - Kim actually got a reply from the CDS team.  Even better they agreed with him!!  Much of the email was full of caveats but the main point is they said “Please note, we are in the process of completing maintenance updates on our website which explains the inaccuracy surrounding the result of your 'When & Where Checker' response. Once these updates are complete, the result of your 'When & Where Checker' response should return to it's former state (i.e. We're working on it...)”  Which, joy of joys, means we shall be back to where we were in December 2017 - but importantly, confirms we ARE eligible for subsidy.

Kim immediately replied thanking them for “the courtesy of an answer” and pointing out that Throwleigh Parish Council had also written concerning the whole of EX20 2HX and EX20 2HY and could they please reply before the Council’s  next meeting on 9th July 2018.  We await CDS’s next move.






















 













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When will Throwleigh get “Superfast Broadband”?