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Superfast Broadband in Church Minshull

by Larry Bannon – 24th July 2013 @ 8:08am
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The Badger Inn was host to a small group of enthusiastic locals last night to meet with a representative from The Connecting Cheshire Partnership (CCP), Andrew Arditti.

After introducing himself, Andrew went on to give a laptop presentation about the Superfast Fibre Optic Broadband initiative that Cheshire East and West Councils are undertaking.
CCP recently let out a contract award to BT Openreach (the infrastructure arm of BT) to start of a 3 year project that will result in 96% of rural Cheshire premises being able to access a fibre optic broadband service by 2016.

They have commenced a period of detailed work with Openreach, to plan the deployment and begin the process of planning the 'how, where and when' with engineers surveying locations and analysing the best way to roll out the network and particularly to try and pre-empt problems.

Andrew advised that the majority of all households in Church Minshull community are connected directly to the telephone exchange at Muslin Row, with only one roadside cabinet being sited at Lea Green. He stated that when compared to other similar sized communities, Church Minshull is very unusual in having just one roadside cabinet.

He further stated that local Parish Councils can also play a key role in this process by not holding up the necessary planning, or road closure notices, that may be required to facilitate the roll-out, as resolving these issues has held up the deployment considerably elsewhere in the country. For example, the Church Minshull technical survey may highlight that more roadside cabinets are needed at strategic locations to fully service our spread out community.

The survey work will take some months and CCP should be in a position to announce which telephone exchanges will be included in the first stage of the roll-out around December 2013, with further announcements thereafter.

One of the key drivers that CCP considers, is the number of businesses, or SMEs, that will be reached with the new infrastructure and if they will move from the existing copper cable system (ADSL) to the new fibre optic system.

Equally, the residential community has also got to demonstrate a desire to want to switch to the new system. Andrew stated that only 8 households in Church Minshull had registered their interest on the Connecting Cheshire website and none of the 40+ businesses in our community.

So what do we need to do...?

CM Vision needs a working group to progress the broadband initiative for our community.

The working group needs to set up a strategic plan for:

  • Generating demand for registrations of our residents
  • Generating demand for registrations of our local businesses
  • With CCP develop a Broadband Plan, which will include a Business Support Programme; 1:1 support for residents who are not familiar with internet technology; sourcing expertise for technical matters; etc.
  • Appoint a Digital Champion that will be the point of contact for CCP, for liaison, communications and progress.

We will then need to keep up pressure on Andrew Arditti's team to place Church Minshull on the earliest roll-out listing possible.

Andrew also pointed out, that those residents whose current broadband contracts are coming up for renewal, might want to think twice before locking themselves into a further long term, slower ADSL package, when the Superfast Broadband option is on the horizon.

Overall, with regard to this initiative, this was a very positive and encouraging meeting for the Church Minshull community who need to capitalise on the situation by remaining fully motivated to move this forward. To this end volunteers are needed to help shoulder some of the effort, so please put your name forward for the CM Vision working group, to Kerry Bannon.

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