Telecommunications

Christopher Prentice, Chair of Ashbury Parish Council
stated:
A. the need to address some telecommunications and broadband issues from the Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) plan and implementation process as they relate to Ashbury Parish residents, and
B. that Pauline Smith as Chair of the Ashbury Neighbourhood Plan group would be organising the brief and monitoring of the work required.
The brief to address will inform you all of what has been happening so far in parts of the parish and provide details of current possibilities and plans for the future.

The activity will focus on the following:

1. Providing information to you all about the OCC funded contract awarded to Airband to install Broadband Services to some households in Kingstone Winslow.
2. Provide details of the possibilities for certain households in Ashbury and Idstone to have installed Airband Broadband Services.
3. Update residents on the 5G services and any mast installation.
4. Provide details of the national ending of ‘landline’ services and what actions may be necessary for Ashbury parish households to take.
5. I (Graham Turner) have been asked to lead the investigations in this area.

Here is my update so far:

Items 1 and 2: Airband and Broadband

Currently OpenReach (part of BT) provides fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and depending on how close houses are to their respective cabinets they can typically get a service ranging from 20 to 75Mbps. Many different companies, not just BT, offer a broadband service using this infrastructure and householder contracts are with those companies, not OpenReach. These services will continue to be available, so if what
you have meets your needs you do not need to make any changes.

Recently Airband were contracted by Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), as part of the Rural Broadband initiative, to provide a fibre to the premises (FTTP) service to a number of homes in Kingstone Winslow. You may have noticed the new telegraph poles that have appeared at various places in connection with this. FTTP can deliver very high speeds, typically 100 or 250Mbps, sometimes even 1Gbps.

As well as covering Kingstone Winslow, Airband have installed a fibre “backbone” in parts of Ashbury, and they may be able to provide an FTTP service to some houses in Ashbury. If they decide to proceed with an Ashbury deployment, then they would be looking for groups of people who are interested in signing up to their service so that they can claim the government funded vouchers* to pay for extending the network to these houses. (See below for how to proceed if you are interested)

The situation with Idstone is a bit more complicated, in that either a larger number of homes would need to take up the service to justify the costs of extending the fibre network, or Airband may offer a wireless solution.

Details of Airband’s service can be found  at AirBand with pricing for different speed options on the All Packages page.

How to proceed if you are interested in an Airband Broadband Service

The starting point for both Ashbury and Idstone is to get an idea of how many people would be interested in taking up the Airband service.
I am happy to act as a central point for people to contact and to let me know if they are interested in the Airband service, so that we can see whether there may be enough people, and thus vouchers*, in each area of Ashbury to potentially meet the costs for the infrastructure installations. It is important to note that Airband have said that any decision on whether to offer service will be taken on an individual house
by house basis. Therefore, any actual order to take the service would need to be arranged directly between individual householders and Airband.

*NOTE: It is ONLY the Broadband Service provider, and in this part of Oxfordshire, currently only Airband as the OCC contracted supplier, which can claim the nationally provided and allocated ‘vouchers’. These vouchers are used to fund the infrastructure installation works required for the Broadband Service provision.

Item 3: 5G service and mast installations

At present there are no further planning applications submitted for the installation of a 5G mast in Ashbury Parish.
We shall continue to look at any plans for 5G mobile telephony in this area and we will provide more information as it becomes available.

Item 4: Telephones

At the moment, telephone use in Ashbury is mainly a mixture of BT landlines and mobile phones, although some residents may be using their broadband connections for internet telephony, known as VoIP (Voice over IP). As was mentioned last month, the existing landline network is in the process of being turned off, and the current expectation is that Ashbury will have it turned off during
2024.

It is very important to stress that Ofcom have worked with BT to ensure that no one will be left without a “landline” telephone service.
If you only have a landline telephone service, and no broadband connection, then BT have to provide an equivalent service. To do this they will bring a broadband connection to your house (but you will not be charged extra for it) and install a unit that will allow your existing telephone to be plugged into it just as if it was connecting to the old service.

If you already have a broadband service, then BT will provide the conversion unit so that your existing landline telephone can continue to be used. In the near future we will be providing more information on this transition. For example, if you are classed as a ‘vulnerable user’ then there will be an opportunity to advise BT of that fact when they arrange to instal the new equipment. They will then
provide some additional equipment, so that your telephone will continue to operate even if there is a power failure.

If your landline is used for other services, such as fax or emergency signalling then these are likely to be affected by the change from the current telephone network. For emergency signalling you will need to contact your service provider to check that the equipment will still operate correctly. However, there is no need to panic, the changeover in Ashbury is expected to be during 2024, and the wrinkles will have been ironed out in the areas that transitioned before Ashbury.

Resources

I am in the process of creating an on-line repository of useful documents which can be accessed for reading at https://1drv.ms/u/s!AouskWXrMPcgfk8NaauvkZTQ6Rr_A?e=kHnrU7

As time goes on more and more information will be available here.

To make it easier to access the repository I will:
• put a post on the Ashbury (UK) Community News and Events Facebook page a clickable link, and
• send the details of the link in an email to be circulated via the Ashbury email managed by Margaret Smith.

Contact

If you want to contact me to raise any queries, to indicate potential interest in the Airband service or discuss progress on what is happening, then you can email me at graham@mltgnt.com or drop a note through my letter box at Claremont (opposite the village school). Graham Turner, February 2022