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Most of Stanhoe may get fast broadband in 2018 if the second phase of the Better Broadband for Norfolk project (BBfN2) goes ahead as planned, the Parish Council heard at the end of last year.
At a Parish Council meeting on 10 November 2016, Karen O’Kane, BBfN Programme Director, explained that “fibre to the cabinet” (FttC) technology could provide connection speeds of up to around 24 Mbit/s from the Docking telephone exchange (see presentation slides below). Actual speeds would depend on the distance to the exchange.
For comparison, the best lines in Stanhoe currently support a bandwidth of around 5 Mbit/s, though many people have to make do with just 1–2 Mbit/s.
The rollout would be take place in two tranches during 2018, Ms O’Kane said. The first of these would cover 101 of the 178 Stanhoe houses currently served by the Docking exchange. The second tranche would cover a further 50 houses, subject to survey.
The remaining 28 houses on the Docking exchange might not be able to receive an upgrade at all, Ms O’Kane said, because they are too far from the exchange. These properties are in postcodes PE31 8PT, 8PU, 8PX, 8QD, 8QN, and 8QP (see the BBfN map).
Three houses currently served from the Syderstone exchange might get fibre broadband as a result of a separate upgrade in 2019.
Wireless and satellite as possible alternatives
Residents who are not scheduled for a fibre upgrade and who currently have broadband speeds below 2 Mbit/s may be eligible for a subsidy of up to £400 a year towards the cost of alernative broadband systems based on wireless or satellite. For more details, see this BBfN page.
The ITSwisp wireless system claims to cover Stanhoe already. Prices start at £19.99 a month, with uncapped access at 8 Mbit/s costing £31.99.
Another wireless provider is WiSpire, which broadcasts from church towers. WiSpire recently conducted a preliminary survey of Stanhoe, though we have no information on the results yet. WiSpire is owned jointly by the Diocese of Norwich and newspaper publisher Archant. Prices start at £15 a month (plus £200 installation fee) for 6 Mbit/s.
A third wireless provider approved under the subsidy scheme is Symmetris. This company currently operates only around Yarmouth, and – like WiSpire – would only be available in Stanhoe if it decided there was an economic case to install its own broadcasting equipment. This is only likely to happen if the BBfN fibre scheme falls through for any reason.
Satellite broadband is available through Heacham-based Rural Broadband. Prices start at £21.95 a month before subsidies.
What about that existing fibre line, then?
Back in early 2014, the sight of optical fibre cable going in down the Docking road made Stanhoe residents think they’d have fast broadband soon. For a short period in January 2015, even BT Openreach said we could actually order fibre. Alas, those who tried were quickly disappointed.
We knew the fibre was put in to serve Jack’s Lane wind farm, but since it passes through the cabinet at the junction of Docking Road and Parson’s Lane, it was tempting to feel that it would be easy to upgrade the cabinet to supply local properties,
After a grilling from Parish Council chair David Lord, BBfN have confirmed that the Jack’s Lane fibre is a “point to point” leased line that can’t be used for other purposes. BBfN says it is currently waiting for a price from BT for a fibre connection that we could use instead.
The BBfN presentation
Below are the slides from Karen O’Kane’s presentation in November.