We asked BT at Director level in October for a quote to upgrade the broadband infrastructure on Howe Hill to modern standards – both to describe the technical approach and how much it would cost. This is really important to understand what is physically possible with the local infrastructure, who would benefit and how much money we might have to raise as a community. It could be an important template for other communities in the South Chilterns. BT and Openreach (who do the network and wires) have let us down – the work was due to report now – but today we learn that they seem not even to have started it.
In late October Peter Richardson of Howe Hill and (now) of Connect8 secured a meeting with Peter Cowen, BT’s ‘Regional Partnership Director for the South East’ who promised that he would:
‘use the services of a survey expert Colin Brooks from Openreach to produce a costed recommendation as to the best solution and to check out all existing infrastructure‘
Colin Brooks of Openreach (they do the cables/network and used to be part of BT) is their regional expert in ‘gap funding’ where the community pays for part of the infrastructure – Mr Brooks has done loads of projects for communities that won’t be subsidised and BT say isn’t commercially viable. They end up in a letter like this which sets out what BT would do and how much a community/council has to raise. We were led to believe that we would have the results in six weeks. This time has now passed and Peter Richardson chased Mr Cowen for an update who writes:
‘…I have also just spoken with Colin Brooks (Openreach lead) – who does have Howe Hill on the list to present full surveys and costings for … but he has just told me that it is not currently “in process”.’
I first contacted Openreach in September to try and work out our local options and now it’s nearly Xmas and we’ve got nowhere. Although my frustration with them has at least driven me to contact wireless providers who compete with BT – more on that soon.