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BT bad weather blues and community fibre: Broadband Rollout Roundup 13/07/2012

Maybe it’s the rain keeping BT Openreach engineers busy in their wellies fixing the network as it is, but it’s been another unexpectedly quiet week for growing Britain’s broadband connections.

A very quick Broadband Rollout Roundup for 13/07/2012, plus something special.

Five go faster with fibre

BT Openreach engineers tweeted the turn-on of superfast broadband in five exchanges this week, all in the western half of the UK.

From north to south, the lucky communities are Sefton Park in Liverpool, Kidderminster in Shropshire, Newport and Caerleon in Gwent, and Stoke Bishop in Bristol.

ISPs serving the lucky areas should be taking orders for fibre-to-the cabinet at up to 80Mbps very soon, and a few areas will also be enabled for fibre-to-the-premises at up to 330Mbps, although that’s not the sort of information BT Openreach lists publicly.

Community broadband high-fives

We’re big fans of community broadband schemes here at Recombu Digital, so it was a pleasure to discover a brace of local groups doing their own thing with fibre, wireless and 4G.

Cotswold Wireless network July 2012We’d like to say hello to Cotswold Broadband and Cotswold Wireless, who are giving the Chipping Norton set something do when they’re not at dinner parties colluding on ways to undermine British democracy (or shooting things, or looking after ex-police horses). The WiMAX tech of Cotswold Wireless – to be fair – has a much wider reach of up to 20km.

The flatlands of Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk are benefiting from two wireless ISPs. WiSpire, is using the churches in Norfolk villages to create a network of broadband hubs stemming from Norwich Cathedral. County Broadband has a similar remit with a wider variety of tall places in north Essex and south Suffolk.

CPEND in North Devon is community group with a clever idea to turn the 19th-century infrastructure legacy of a disused railway track into the backbone route of a fibre-optic network connecting several villages. The eight-mile spine will link up to 2,200 people and 100 businesses in Durweston, Stourpaine, Shillingstone, Child Okeford and Okeford Fitzpaine, with potential to add Manston, Hammoon and Fiddleford.

In the north of England, broadband start-up group Fibre GarDen got some publicity from local MP Tim Farron. With Cumbria’s county broadband plan seeing the departure of Fujitsu from the bidding process, he says it’s time to pour some money into schemes where the driving force is serving the community rather than corporate shareholders.

What strikes us about these projects is that they’re exactly the kind of Big Society schemes articulated by the Tories at the last election, but they’re going ahead without any help from ‘Call Me Dave’ Cameron.