Broadband in Minstead

BACKGROUND

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.

JUNE 2019

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.

MINSTEAD COMMUNITY FIBRE BROADBAND SCHEME

 

FLOWCHART (click to enlarge)

               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 richardtaylorpc@gmail.com or minsteadchairman@gmail.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.

BACKGROUND DOCUMENTS

Presentation to Minstead Annual Parish Meeting 20th March 2019 (View as .pdf)

Properties List Wave2 & Community Fibre Scheme