Like many rural communities broadband speeds in Minstead are low with most properties experiencing less than 3Mb/s. There has been increasing concern in the community about this poor service. In July 2016 the BT cabinet at the top of the village by the A31 was updated to support Fibre-To-The-Cabinet (FTTC). This has given improved speeds in excess of 10Mb/s for those living within 1km of the cabinet but with little improvement for properties further away. The only option available to these less well served properties was to use one of the 4G services provided by the mobile phone networks.
DELIVERING ULTRAFAST BROADBAND (WAVE 2) TO MINSTEAD
The Hampshire Superfast Broadband scheme will provide Ultrafast Broadband to Minstead in the next 12 months, hopefully by April 2020. This will use Fibre to the Premises technology (FTTP) and will give connection speeds of up to 100 Mb/s, better than many inner-city locations. This scheme, known as Wave 2, will cover part of the village, about 100 properties, at no cost other than the monthly charge negotiated by individuals with their chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP).
The benefits of these sorts of speeds are becoming increasingly apparent. Those working from home will benefit immediately while initiatives such as on line medical consultations, children’s homework, and community safety monitoring all require good online access. Estate Agents report that fast broadband is now an important consideration for property purchasers and their valuations.
EXTENDING WAVE 2 – THE COMMUNITY FIBRE SCHEME
In order to try to provide these advantages to as much of the Village as possible, the Parish Council has negotiated an additional Community Fibre Scheme with BT Openreach and Hampshire County Council that extends the coverage to a further 73 properties but this will require additional funding from the community to proceed.
The cost of this scheme after a commercial contribution from BT Openreach is £213,396. If we act now (April 2019) we can secure match funding from Hampshire County Council for half this amount, leaving the community to raise a contribution of £106,698. This is an ‘all or nothing’ cost which benefits from some economies of scale. If we fail to reach the target the scheme will not proceed. If the scheme is successful then householders will be able to order a FTTP connection from one of the ISPs.
The Parish Council believes this is a unique and outstanding opportunity for the Village and is making every possible effort to raise the necessary funding. If in the end it fails then monies will be returned.
RAISING FUNDS FOR THE COMMUNITY FIBRE SCHEME
The Parish Council has written to all householders eligible for this scheme to ask if they are willing to contribute to the cost. These letters are being followed up by house to house visits or telephone calls by volunteers to answer any queries and to obtain as many firm commitments as possible. Time is short and we must have the funds in place by the dates shown on the Flow chart below.
The Parish Council has also written to those properties who will be getting Wave 2 to ask if any are willing to donate to this scheme for the benefit of the community and these letters will also be followed up with house to house visits or telephone calls.
Thanks to all who contributed or donated to the scheme the necessary funds have been raised.
We will keep in close contact with BT Openreach and keep you informed about progress on the project. We shall also now start work to try to bring FTTP to those other areas of Minstead Parish that have not yet been addressed.
UPDATE 6TH SEPTEMBER 2019
Thank you all for being so patient and we hope that this update will bring some encouragement.
You will have seen that Openreach and their contractors have been busy installing fibre for the Cadnam V35 (Minstead Wave2) part of their network, and we can say that effective connections have been made to and from the central distribution point in the middle of the village.
We have heard today that at least one Wave 2 customer has been offered FTTP as an option for their broadband so it looks as though some people could be live now.
Our information is that maybe as much as 40% of V35 (Wave2) structure could have already been upgraded to this stage, but we do not yet have an expected date for completion of the remaining 60%.
When, or if, we are notified of the addresses of the 40% that have gone live we shall let you know.
Our information regarding the Community Fibre Scheme is that “Openreach is working on the deployment plan and there may be some more news on this shortly. “
We hope that this information and evidence of progress is encouraging.
MINSTEAD COMMUNITY BROADBAND SCHEME UPDATE 28th JAN 2020
Following negotiations between Hampshire County Council and Openreach it has been agreed that the Minstead Community Broadband Scheme can be included within the fully funded HCC main scheme. This means that HCC will return the community contribution in full. Minstead PC will in turn ensure that all contributions are refunded to those who made them.
We are assured by HCC that the scheme will still proceed exactly as before. We cannot give anticipated dates for this at the moment due to a separate issue between Openreach, Forestry England, and Natural England regarding working on the New Forest designated areas (this is also delaying the full completion of wave 2). We hope to have news on this shortly as the various parties are meeting to resolve the situation.
MINSTEAD BROADBAND UPDATE 25TH JUNE 2020
We have been working hard over recent weeks to get an update on the state of the Fibre to the Premises Broadband build in Minstead. The latest information we have received from Hampshire Superfast Broadband is as below:
‘You are correct to note that Openreach is restricted across the New Forest because of difficulties encountered when trying to follow the rules that apply under various stakeholders’ jurisdiction.
Openreach is working with each of these stakeholders to resolve the issues and currently they are allowed to work on one project at a time with strict supervision. The build for Minstead parish is affected by this process but I can confirm that it remains part of our programme with an expected completion date before the end of 2020. Unfortunately whilst I can confirm HCC and Openreach commitment to completing the build as part of the programme I cannot at this stage give any dates when work will continue in the area as this is in the hands of various stakeholders and Openreach is being held to account for this at a national level by those interested parties.
As soon as we have details regarding a start date for your parish then I will be happy to share this with you.’
Openreach have confirmed this as well.
In plainer English this means that Openreach have not followed the correct working practices when working on designated sites (Sites of Special Scientific Interest). This has brought them into conflict with Natural England, Forestry England, and the Verderers. Hampshire County Council (HCC) have the contract with Openreach to deliver the broadband infrastructure and HCC are making every effort to resolve the situation. As we see it, these are the stakeholders.
This is not good news. The problem has been long running. Several attempts to resolve it have failed, and no progress has been made in six months. Given how vital broadband is in current circumstances for all aspects of life we would hope it would be given high priority. We will be contacting the stakeholders to make our feelings clear, and to encourage all involved to concentrate solely on how to move forward and deliver what has been promised as quickly as possible.
We will keep you up to date with further news – hopefully more positive than this painful update.
UPDATE 5TH OCTOBER 2020
This note from Councillors Bill Andrews and Richard Taylor outlines
the current state of Fibre to the Premises Broadband (FTTP) installation in Minstead at 5th October 2020.
We are very conscious that the parish needs to be kept up to date with the
situation regarding FTTP in Minstead. Openreach reached agreement with the various stakeholders to recommence operations in the New Forest in mid-August. To comply with the new agreement Openreach have to re-survey all of their planned installations and re-submit applications for work on the Forest to the Verderers, Natural England and sometimes others. This work is currently underway. We have met with Openreach and HCC on one site to try to help resolve local issues, and we are in frequent contact with them both, providing local information when needed. We do not have firm dates for when work will be done. Work to finish “Wave 2” (now known as “Cadnam V35”) will be completed first, and our former community
scheme some time later. There are some 20 schemes in a similar situation to us across the Forest.
We appreciate how frustrating this lack of certainty is and are actively
working with Hampshire County Council to try to move things forward.
We have received several questions about the gigabit voucher scheme. The
issues in Minstead are with implementation of existing plans, i.e. delivery of
installation, rather than finance. Those properties covered by the existing
schemes are not eligible for gigabit vouchers as they are currently part of a
fully funded scheme. Any new schemes could possibly be funded by gigabit vouchers, but they would need to go through the design and costing process before they could enter the build programme. They will therefore be consigned to the very back of the existing queue.
We hope this clarifies the situation a little and hope to be able to provide
further, more useful updates when appropriate.
COMMUNITY FIBRE SCHEME – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Since the launch of this scheme several questions have appeared on a regular basis. This is our attempt to answer them as clearly as possible. The answers are specific to the proposed Minstead Community Fibre scheme. If you need further information please email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com – lists of the properties included in Wave 2 and the Community Fibre Scheme are available on this website.
1) What type of connection will Wave 2, and the Community Fibre Scheme provide? – Fibre to the premises (FTTP). This means fibre optic connection direct to your home (you still need to agree a broadband contract with an ISP – see 7) below). FTTP is much faster and more reliable than existing connections in Minstead (100Mbs or more).
2) What is Wave 2? – Wave 2 is the final part of the Hampshire Superfast Broadband programme. This is a contract between Hampshire County Council (HCC) and Openreach using BDUK (broadband delivery UK) money. A cost per property limit is set that can be funded, the coverage goes up to the point where this limit is reached. Wave 2 happens with or without a Community Fibre scheme.
3) Who decides the extent of Wave 2? – Openreach, based on the commercial criteria in 1) above. We (the Parish Council) have no control over this.
4) What is the proposed Community Fibre Scheme? – This community fibre scheme is a mechanism to allow the community to make a contribution towards the cost of installing the fibre infrastructure. This allows coverage to extend further than Wave 2. This is an all or nothing deal – if the community raises the £106,698 contribution it will be matched by HCC, giving us a further £106,698 from HCC. If we don’t raise the money, the Community Fibre scheme will not happen. This match funding scheme is now closed for new proposals.
5) What determines the Community Fibre Scheme Coverage? – The extent of the Community Fibre Scheme is the result of a negotiation between Hampshire County Council and the Parish Council. This is a difficult balance of cost versus coverage in a dispersed rural area like Minstead. It has also proved a very slow process with changes taking many months to be costed. We believe we have reached a reasonable scheme – we have no time to ask for further changes if we are to secure the £106,698 HCC match funding.
6) Who will own the community fibre infrastructure after completion? – Openreach – it will be exactly the same as Wave 2 infrastructure.
7) Who can connect to the community fibre infrastructure after completion? – anyone within the coverage area can connect using any ISP – just like your existing broadband supply contracts (you will have to agree an FTTP broadband package).
8) Who should contribute? – We believe the vast majority of the contribution should come from those who will benefit directly – those covered by the Community Fibre Scheme. We also think that those lucky enough to be included in Wave 2 should consider contributing towards the total.
9) Why should I contribute? – this is an opportunity to extend FTTP to a significant part of Minstead. We need all the help we get to reach our £106,698 target – if we don’t get there the scheme fails and we lose a one-off opportunity to secure £106.698 in match funding from HCC. Remember that if the scheme fails no-one in the Community Fibre Scheme area will get FTTP! The deadline for us to pay HCC is May 9th so we need to have funds in our account before that.
10) What about those not in Wave 2 or the Community Fibre Scheme? – We are well aware that there are still many properties in Minstead not in either area. Some of these already have superfast broadband (24Mbs or better) and some have a much worse service. We are looking at opportunities for funding to help these properties and hope there may be news on this in the future.
11) What Connection Speed can I Expect from FTTP? – We are informed that the system being installed should provide gigabit speeds (1000Mbs) for everyone. We double checked this answer and that’s what HCC say. It is unlikely that ISPs will offer these speeds to start with, and a maximum of 300Mbs is a better assumption. They also say that FTTP does not suffer from contention (slowing down at busy times). However – one thing you have to be very careful of is what ISP you use and what contract you agree to. Openreach only deal with ISPs on a wholesale basis – it may well be that some ISPs will offer contracts that are cheaper but that these will slow down at busier times – the restriction will be the capacity they have bought from Openreach, and the ISP will install software that keeps the total speed within this. This will also apply to your speed guarantees from your ISP – in theory you choose the speed you want (faster is more expensive) and that is what you will get – but read the contract carefully. FTTP contracts are still pretty new and evolving fast – hopefully in 12 months time the market place will be more competitive.
12) When will the Work be Completed? – There is no guaranteed completion date written into the contract. Openreach expect to compete within 12 months is all we can say. Wave 2 is expected to complete by the end of this year.
Properties List Wave2 & Community Fibre Scheme