What CDS say about Upottery parish

On September 4, 2014, six questions were sent to Connecting Devon & Somerset, following feedback by DCC Cllr Andrew Leadbetter at Upottery Parish Council's August meeting. On October 3, 2014, Keri Denton of CDS responded to these questions, as shown below. (The website editor has also added a commentary of the CDS response to each question). The questions refer to "anomalies" on the CDS maps published at the beginning of August 2014 and to help the reader, the map below also shows the locations of telephone exchanges which serve the area, overlaid on the CDS fibre broadband map:

Map key: Grey = Out of Programme: Blue = Under Evaluation: Orange = Coming Soon

Question 1: Why are areas far from the exchange serving them being evaluated for fast broadband (blue) when areas closer to an exchange are designated “Out of Programme” (grey). The properties in the blue (under evaluation) area between the villages of Smeatharpe and Upottery, (which includes a part of Smeatharpe airfield, where there are no properties) are fed by telephone cables from the Upottery exchange (They are 01404 numbers). Why are properties in this area, which are connected to the Upottery exchange at the end of long lines, being evaluated for Superfast Broadband when properties much closer to the Upottery exchange, including the whole of Upottery village, declared "Out of Programme"?

CDS response: Please be aware that the CDS map is drawn at a postcode level as explained in the caveats. This means that, in theory, only one property in a postcode needs to be “Under Evaluation” for the whole postcode to show as under evaluation. Some, especially rural postcodes, can be large or of an odd shape so there are limitations on what can be inferred from the map. We do say that the map should be taken as a guide and not viewed as a definitive answer to present or future coverage

Commentary on CDS response to Q1: Postcodes are used by CDS & BT in deployment planning for superfast broadband, but doing so creates large inaccuracies in the information and maps provided to the public. This means that the public gets very little useful information about who will get what and when from the maps and enables CDS and BT to operate without public scrutiny. This is done despite the fact that BT know exactly where every telephone line is, as is demonstrated on the BT website where you can interrogate the BT system to find what level of ADSL/VDSL service is provided to a specific telephone number. (See BT ADSL Line Status Checker and note that when you use this BT service, the system adds the following comment to the result: “Note: Please note that postcode and address check results are indicative only. Most accurate results can be obtained from a telephone number check.” )

Question 2: Why are areas, (which are mostly fields), around Smeatharpe village being evaluated for fast broadband while the village of Smeatharpe itself is “Out of Programme”. Smeatharpe village is carefully excluded from the blue area between Smeatharpe village and the B3170. This blue area and Smeatharpe village are all connected to the Churchstanton exchange (01823 numbers) which has 464 lines and which also feeds a "green cabinet" in the centre of Churchinford village. If this blue area is designated as "Under evaluation", why is Smeatharpe village, which is the same distance from the Churchstanton exchange and the green cabinet in the centre of Churchinford village, designated "Out of Programme"?

CDS response: Bearing in mind the explanation given at 1., our evaluation plans are based upon our network topography. If we are evaluating the area served by a cabinet or other proposed network structure, then those areas will blue but if a community isn’t attached to that cabinet then it won’t be blue.

Commentary on CDS response to Q2: If CDS/BT designate an area as “Under evaluation” it will be surveyed for fast broadband even if there are few or no people living there. This will be done even if there is a village nearby which has lots of broadband customers but CDS/BT have decided that that village is out of the programme and will not be evaluated. This is unacceptable to the tax payers in these areas who are paying for fibre broadband to be provided in other areas, whilst they will get no broadband benefit from the taxes they pay.

Question 3: Why is an isolated area beside the A30 being evaluated for fast broadband while villages in the parish connected via the green cabinet in Upottery, “Out of Programme”. Rawridge and Upottery villages are connected to the Upottery exchange and both villages, together with the area around the Upottery exchange are designated "Out of Programme". One small area alongside the A30, south of Upottery village is shown as blue, "Under Evaluation". This area contains one farm which is fed from the "green cabinet" in the centre of Upottery village. Why is this area under evaluation when the two nearby villages of Upottery and Rawridge are designated "Out of Programme"?

CDS Response: I can confirm that this area is under evaluation within the Connecting Devon and Somerset Programme and will be surveyed. However I cannot confirm which, if any, technology they will benefit from until after the survey, and therefore speed improvement.

Commentary on CDS Response to Q3: Despite the fact that the blue “under evaluation” area alongside the A30, must be connected to the cabinet in Upottery or the Upottery exchange by cables running through “Out of programme areas”, CDS & BT will survey this island of blue whilst ignoring the larger population of broadband customers in the nearby areas and villages. This is a truly bizarre response from CDS. The reference to the “technology they will benefit from” is a get out comment implying that BT may provide some form of radio based broadband connection to the island of blue....why? CDS do not seem to have the courage to admit that this island of blue is a mistake.

Question 4; Why are properties further away from on exchange or cabinet being evaluated while villages in Upottery parish closer to a cabinet are left “Out of Programme”. The villages of Luppitt and Beacon, fed by the Luppitt exchange, (which is in Dunkeswell) are smaller than the villages of Upottery and Rawridge. Upottery and Rawridge, fed by the Upottery exchange, are closer to the Upottery exchange which feeds them, than is Luppitt and Beacon to the Luppitt exchange which feeds them, Upottery village being fed from a "green cabinet" in the centre of the village. Why are the smaller villages of Luppitt and Beacon, which are further from the exchange which feeds them, designated as orange, "Coming Soon" whilst the larger villages of Upottery and Rawridge, which are closer to the Upottery exchange feeding them, designated "Out of Programme"?

CDS Response: The cost of serving an area isn’t wholly a function of settlement size or distance from the serving exchange it also depends on the existing network topography and the ease of putting in a new network.

Commentary on CDS response to Q4: CDS seem to think that nobody but BT knows where BT’s cables run, but we do. The cabinet on Luppitt Common that serves Luppitt and Beacon ARE further away from the properties they serve than is the cabinet in the middle of Upottery that serves Upottery and Rawridge. The population of Upottery and Rawridge is bigger that the population of Luppitt and Beacon, so something else must be determining CDS/BT’s decision to survey Luppitt & Beacon, but not Upottery and Rawridge. Is it to serve a particular customer? Would it cost CDS/BT more than they are prepared to pay (and hence not make BT enough profit) to enable Upottery exchange to support fibre broadband? The people of Upottery and Rawridge are not allowed to know why and are not being fairly treated by CDS and Devon & Somerset County Councils (on whose behalf CDS operates)!

Question 5: Why are more remote locations than the villages in Upottery parish being evaluated for fast broadband. Upottery parish which comprises the villages of Smeatharpe, Upottery and Rawridge straddles the A30 and A303, the Upottery exchange (which has 429 lines and was moved and rebuilt less than 10 years ago) being on one side of the A30/A303, Rawridge and Upottery being on the other, with a cable duct running under the A30/A303 from the Upottery exchange to a "green cabinet" in the centre of Upottery village. Upottery and Rawridge are designated "Out of Programme". The A30/A303 is the second most important trunk route into the South West, with improvements to the road due to be announced by the government in the Autumn. Since the A30/A303 runs through Upottery parish it can hardly be described as "geographically remote". The FAQ page on the CD&S website justifies designating areas as "Out of Programme" with the words "Some locations are so geographically remote that Superfast Broadband will not be achievable due to technical reasons and or prohibitive costs". The CD&S map shows the much more remote village of Princetown in the middle of Dartmoor, which has an exchange with only 376 lines as "Under Evaluation". Please explain why Upottery Parish is considered to be more remote by CD&S than is Princetown in the middle of Dartmoor?

CDS response: Please refer to the answer given in 4 above.

Commentary on CDS response to Q5: As with the answer to question 4, the people of Upottery parish are not allowed to know why their taxes are not providing the same services that much more remote locations will get paid for by taxation. CDS has created a system that shields them from public scrutiny and they make it clear that they will resist all attempts for that information to be made public.....This is blatant misuse of the BT monopoly position, is mismanagement of public funds and is antidemocratic. In some other countries this would not be tolerated.

Question 6: Why does it cost so much to get fibre broadband to Upottery parrish? Cllr Andrew Leadbetter has stated publicly that it "would cost £500,000 to get fibre broadband to Upottery parish". This would suggest that it costs BT £330,000 per mile to blow fibre the one and a half miles down the existing duct between the Upottery exchange and the "green cabinet" in the centre of Upottery village. The recently announced 64 Tbps fibre cable that will be laid under the Pacific Ocean between the USA and Japan is only costing £28,000 per mile. (See pacific cable) Please provide a detailed breakdown of the suspiciously round £500,000 figure quoted by Cllr Andrew Leadbetter.

CDS response: There are other costs associated with installing FTTC or FTTP to an area, not just blowing the fibre. While BT shares it costs openly with the local authorities so that value for money can be monitored, for commercial reasons we do not make these public.

Commentary on CDS response to Q6: It is clear that the £500k figure was picked out of thin air as a big number to make it appear that people in Upottery parish would soak up too much public money for fibre broadband to be brought to the parish. Having demonstrated that smaller populations, much more remote than Upottery are still being funded by CDS, this response is a rude “go away..we will not tell you” to all of us in the parish. We will not go away and we will take every opportunity to extract real rather than made up information from this secretive and unaccountable organisation.

If you have questions or comments on anything on this page, please email the Editor at upotterywebsite@gmail.com

Readers of this page may also wish to read: Are there alternatives to fibre broadband?