Fringe Box



Campaigner Says Superfast Broadband Upgrade In Shere And Albury Is Causing ‘Unnecessary Mayhem’

Published on: 23 Mar, 2015
Updated on: 24 Mar, 2015

Most people in the Guildford area expect their internet connection to be reliable and fast. But those living in some of the rural areas just a few miles from the town centre are not so fortunate, despite ongoing work to upgrade their broadband connection.

Some are unable to get any faster service at all, including an estimated 42 properties in Hound House Lane at Shere and Lawbrook Lane near Peaslake.

Work in progress installing Superfast broadband. All pictures by Walter Wilcox.

Work in progress installing Superfast broadband. All pictures by Walter Wilcox.

Surrey County Council’s Superfast broadband scheme, a partnership it has with BT, is, according to its website, “extending the fibre broadband network to homes and businesses across the county where it isn’t economically viable for commercial companies to provide access”.

However, Walter Willcox, the founder of the Ewhurst and Surrey Hills Broadband group, who campaigns to improve the broadband service in the rural areas to the south east of Guildford, is not convinced that the upgrade work that has been taking place in Shere and Albury recently is up to much.

The ubiquitous green metal cabinets seen on our streets have a second fibre cabinet installed under the SCC scheme that enable some of us to have faster access to the internet through our computers.

Mr Willcox says that at the Shere exchange there are six green cabinets which distribute the telephone lines throughout the exchange area. He claims that four of them (the larger ones) have run out of capacity and suggests that it is down to the inadequate work carried out on them. That is, in layman’s terms, that BT is perhaps not installing the additional cabling and ducts that it is responsible for.


A new duct is laid above the scraped original.

He adds that SCC pays for one duct and one set of connecting cables, but BT does not pay for the rework before the initial 100-pair cable is full.

He said: “There is no way that Surrey County Council and BT are actually achieving 99% coverage in their Superfast Surrey area.”

In Albury, Mr Willcox points to a cabinet that was installed in November 2013, and was made available for service in March 2014. He says that after only seven months of service it became unavailable. However, he says that according to information he has found on the BT Wholesale availability checker website, it had become available again just recently on February 21 after a wait of five months, despite work on it being postponed on numerous occasions in between.

In his opinion, Mr Wilcox said: “BT’s contractors have been causing quite unnecessary mayhem for the second time to re-excavate the entire duct run (and possibly to damage the original duct) to add the second duct which should have been costed by BT into the original supply.”

He believes not enough is being spent by BT on manpower to make sure the upgrade work is completed on time. He added: “Given that BT never makes provision for anywhere near the number of lines in a cabinet, some places will require even more delay and expense to install a second cabinet if BT agree to pay for it.

Mr Willcox said he has learned that all four of the larger cabinets in Shere have lost service availability. “The Shere exchange cabinet 4 in Albury is now available again (after a five-month wait). Cabinet 1 in Gomshall returned after a brief absence. Cabinet 5 is still showing as to be available on March 25, but the earlier road works announced on the Elgin roadworks website were not completed and have not yet been rescheduled. So my guess is that there will be another postponement on March 24 until April 24.

“Meanwhile, Shere cabinet 6 at the top of Brook Hill which serves Farley Green has gone AWOL for the second time recently in early March and with a forecast availability date of April 8.”


Remedial work in Albury recently.

A spokesman for Surrey County Council said: “We have so far deployed fibre broadband to over 81,000 homes and will be doing another 3,500 by the end of the next month. This will make Surrey the best connected county in the country and will boost Surrey’s economy by around £30m per year.”

Mr Willcox responded by saying that “as each fibre cabinet is only supplied with 96 lines available under the SCC intervention scheme, it seems clear that the SCC claim is greatly exaggerated”.

He added: “This has been repeated in the debate in Parliament on March 4 (Hansard Column 346WH) where the Hon Edward Vaizey seemingly quite incredibly claimed ‘I am delighted that two million premises have received Superfast broadband as a result of the programme; I am delighted that 40,000 premises will get Superfast broadband this week, and that another 40,000 premises will get it next week’. In practical terms that would require 400 cabinets to be completed every week.”

A recent story on The Times’ website reported: “Millions of households still can’t receive even halfway decent broadband speeds despite regular assurances on the rollout of technology. The coalition committed to get Superfast broadband to 90% of households by the election this year and 95 per cent by 2017, but experts say it is likely that both deadlines will be missed by months or longer, even if the chancellor pledges more cash in the Budget. Moreover, that still leaves the final 5%, where there are only vague assurances of help, with no timetable for delivery.”

Many communities in the UK are seeking ways to get their areas connected. In Lancashire, farmers and villagers are laying fibre cables to every property themselves under a community project they have named Broadband for the Rural North.

Share This Post

Responses to Campaigner Says Superfast Broadband Upgrade In Shere And Albury Is Causing ‘Unnecessary Mayhem’

  1. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    March 24, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Very sadly I have to announce that indeed BT Wholesale have now postponed cabinet 5 in Shere yet again now to 22 April 2015.

    As an ever increasing number of cabinets reach their original installed capacity of just less than 100, the remedial workload is bound to increase. It could very well extend the unavailability times quite dramatically.

    So much for the Hon Edward Vaizey’s claim in the March 4 debate that 40,000 properties are obtaining a service every week or perhaps you prefer the more detailed recent SCC announcement version:-

    “Surrey County Council Deputy Leader Peter Martin said: “This roll out has been delivered at an amazing rate of nearly 200 homes and businesses per working day, transforming lives across the county, and making Surrey the best connected county in Britain.”

    Watch out on April 7 to see if Cabinet 6 at Brook Hill is postponed again too.

  2. David Cooper Reply

    March 26, 2015 at 12:11 am

    Had Surrey County Council been on top of their Superfast Surrey project they should have insisted on the second duct being installed at the first pass and paid for by BT if only to demonstrate that the project was managed in such a way to minimise further disruption and damage to the road surface.

    The National Audit Office report that the BT costs to the public purse have been exaggerated, so this degree of penny pinching by BT is hard to understand.

  3. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    April 8, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Shere exchange cabinet 6 which serves the Farley Green area was due to be upgraded by today, 8 April 2015. Sadly all we now observe is a further availability postponement now to 6 May 2015. It follows similar cases in Dunsfold cabinet 1, Elstead cabinet 1 as well as Caton Lancashire cabinet 1.

    It appears to me that the UK is being held to ransom by an organisation with insufficient resources and which contradicts statements made in the last Parliament, described above, and more locally by the SCC deputy leader Peter Martin.

  4. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    April 22, 2015 at 9:18 am

    I must record that Shere cabinet 6 in Farley Green became available between April 8 and April 19 according to the BT Wholesale checker website.

    Similarly, Shere cabinet 5 in Shere itself had an availability date of April 22 until yesterday April 21 when it became May 20. Today April 22 the cabinet is reported available to order VDSL “Superfast” services but seemingly without the roadworks which were postponed earlier this year.

    There is however a caveat on the BT Openreach “Where and when” website:

    Exchange name: Shere

    Status: Accepting orders

    Good news. Your serving cabinet is enabled for fibre broadband. Please note, in a minority of instances that doesn’t guarantee your availability. Contact your preferred communications provider for your home or business to order.

  5. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    April 29, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I observe today, April 29, that cabinet 5 is unavailable again with a promised availability date of May 27.

    Yet again the date is being delayed by another month every month since December 2014, (except for April 22 to 27).

  6. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    May 8, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Here is today’s posting on the site from 9 to 13 May in Shere which was first scheduled in February 2015.

    Location: opp 4 crossing cway on, GOMSHALL LANE…

    Description: Install 14m of 1 way poly duct in Carriageway, Install 15m of 1 way poly duct in Footway.

    Assuming that the works are not re-postponed yet again, there should be a fair chance that VDSL “Superfast” services will be available before BT’s forecast date of 27 May 2015.

  7. Chris Conder Reply

    May 9, 2015 at 11:42 am

    What a superfarce. And to think this is being replicated in every single county.

    What planet are they on?

  8. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    May 28, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Sadly Shere is now in its SIXTH MONTH WITHOUT AVAILABILITY. On the 27 May the date was re-postponed for yet another month to June 24. It is also some reflection on the integrity of the rural commercial monopoly apparently using such deceitful tactics.

    It reflects quite badly upon SCC and BDUK that they are not exercising sufficient due diligence leaving the monopoly to ride roughshod over those subsidising its operation.

  9. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    June 23, 2015 at 9:48 am

    You will, by now, not be surprised to learn that BT have postponed today (23 June 2015) the availability of VDSL services in Shere’s green cabinet (PCP 5) this time from 24 June 2015 to only 17 August 2015. Apart from a few days, using the BT Wholesale checker, this cabinet has been unavailable since last December.

    It appears to me to illustrate an organisation no longer sufficiently in control of current operations presumably due to stringent financial controls imposed by accountants. Yet presumably those same accountants are sanctioning vast expenditure on sports content. The situation seems farcical.

    Logic fails to enable me to understand why the BT Group chose to disrupt Shere from a Saturday through to Wednesday but only to install about half the new duct required.

    Given the cost of only a few pounds, why couldn’t BT afford to install the second duct when the first BDUK-subsidised duct was installed along with the new FTT Cabinet? After all, BT were being gifted many thousands by taxpayers.

    Furthermore, I believe there is evidence of significant over-charging by BT which, so far, BDUK have failed to explain, or adjust, at least in public.

    Perhaps all this really is commercially secret and confidential?

  10. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    July 5, 2015 at 9:43 am

    The following was observed on Sat 4 July 2015.

    BT obviously think they benefit by removing any availability date for Shere PCP 5 (AWOL in December 2014 & due by 17 August) as they’ve removed the forecast date and all mention of SuperFARCE FTTC from the table of services. The words below remain though (sic):-

    “FTTC is currently not available on this cabinet due to following reasons:- Capacity pla Your area is fibre enabled. Extra capacity is planned to allow order placement..”

  11. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    July 8, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Today 8 July 2015 I observe that the original notice has returned but with a revised availability date of 8 August 2015. As the date has been brought forward perhaps the BT planners have been shamed into a more realistic date. Surely even they can see being unavailable since December 2014 is totally unacceptable. All because BT accountants presumably couldn’t “afford” to pay for their duct to be installed along with the one paid for by SCC.

  12. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    July 26, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Today Sunday 26 July shows the third BT cabinet 5 scheduled roadworks in Shere this month evaporate.

    There is still just time to reschedule a fourth attempt before the promised new BT wholesale delivery date of the 5 August 2015. Otherwise we can expect that availability date will be postponed yet again then to September.

    Here’s the link from yesterday’s e-mail but there’s no sign of it today and there’s certainly been no site activity either since the first half of the road crossing re-excavation was completed on 9 May 2015.

    Perhaps BT Openreach and their contractors really are out of control?

  13. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 27, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    All is to be OK soon. According to the BBC: “The favoured [government] option for generating the money is to impose a levy on firms involved in rolling out broadband.

    “Such a levy would add around £1 a month to domestic broadband bills, said industry watchers.”

    So extra money to BT will fix your problems, maybe.

  14. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    August 11, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Continuing my usual saga concerning the lack of availability of Cabinet 5 In Shere which has now been postponed yet again.

    It beggars belief that BT can continue to postpone the additional duct installation work unchallenged by SCC that they should have included when the cabinet was installed. So far since 14 December 2014 the dates announced have been 7 January 2015, 11 February, 25 March, 22 April, 27 May, 24 June, 5 August, 17 August and now 2 September 2015.

    I also note cabinet 1 in Peaslake from the Abinger exchange continues its unavailability too now set for 2 September 2015.

    BT have been invited to comment but nothing has been received. Ed

  15. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    August 23, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    I must report that Shere cabinet 5 is now reporting availability again.

    However, there is no evidence that the road crossing started in May 2015 has been completed.

    I assume that BT have salvaged at least one spare port perhaps due to a line being ceased or by replacing a line card that had faulty ports.

    If so, it follows that the cabinet will become unavailable again shortly once the free ports have been consumed.

  16. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    August 31, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Sadly it appears that BT have been unable to support further connections at present in Shere as Cabinet 5 has been re-postponed once more now to 23 September 2015.

  17. Walter G M Willcox Reply

    September 11, 2015 at 7:51 am

    I am relieved to say that at long last BT seem to have rescheduled the required roadworks in Gomshall Lane near the telephone exchange entrance:

    Information for Road Users
    Gomshall Lane, Shere, Surrey
    Traffic lights, etc: Traffic control (give & take)Information for Operational Teams
    Highway Authority:
    Surrey County Council
    opp 4 crossing cway on, GOMSHALL LANE…
    Install 7m of 1 way poly duct in Carriageway…
    Permit status:
    Works ref:
    Current status:
    Advanced planning
    Work info last updated:
    13:39 on 08/09/2015
    Last updated on
    18:18 on 10/09/2015
    Data source:

    I very much hope it will not be cancelled and that BT’s contractors will actually arrive tomorrow (Saturday 12 September 2015).

    May I remind you that this cabinet 5 in Shere has been unavailable for new VDSL “Superfast” broadband orders almost continuously since mid December 2014.

    This is due to the fact that the original fibre cabinet installation only contained (as everywhere) a single 90mm grey duct when two ducts were quite obviously necessary on the rather long run with several bends. We have similar problems at present at least on Abinger cabinet 1 and Bramley cabinets 1 & 9, possibly amongst several others.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *