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Independent advice on broadband

Don't know what to believe about broadband plans for the Blackdown Hills?
Here's an independent assessment from broadband campaigner and Upottery parish councillor Graham Long, who has been rattling\
the cages of Government and BT for the past three years

AUGUST 2016: The Gigaclear sales team have been visiting properties in Upottery, Rawridge and Yarcombe now for nearly 6 weeks and as of yesterday, this area had reached 70% of the number of orders required for work on connecting people to start. I met the Gigaclear team yesterday and they are expecting to reach 100% w/c Aug 29. 

In the next area, Smeatharpe, Churchstanton and Stapley, orders are at 25% of target, but the sales team will not start visiting properties here until Upottery/Rawridge/Yarcombe has reached 100%. I am confident it will roll out much as Gigaclear has planned with up to 1,000Mbps being available to the 2,000 properties in the five target areas by August 2017.

Once an area reaches 100% it will take approx 3 months to lay the cables and connect the first properties. Once the first area gets connected things should move faster because Gigaclear will lay in a 1,000Mbps fibre line to Upottery Manor Rooms and hold an open day for anyone to bring their own device along and see what 50, 100, 500 and 1,000Mbps looks like. Some people & businesses in Upottery have already ordered 1,000Mbps.

If you want to check progress in Upottery/Rawridge/Yarcombe, enter postcode EX149PN into the Gigaclear availability checker:http://www.gigaclear.com/postcode-checker/ and select any property on the list.
To check progress in Smeatharpe/Churchstanton/Stapley use postcode EX149RF.

I recommend that everyone use the postcode checker to see if they are included in the Gigaclear programme and if they are, to place an order as soon as they can. NB If you have recently renewed your ISP contract and got locked into a 12, 18 or 24 month contract, don't worry, nobody will end up paying two suppliers because if Gigaclear lay the fibre cable to your property boundary before your contract expires, Gigaclear will not expect you to switch to them (and start paying them) until your existing contract expires. 

It is however important to place the order (which involves supplying direct debit details) because it is the number of confirmed orders that enables them to call on the £2M of investment they are putting into this programme.
CDS vouchers cannot be used to fund any part of the Gigaclear connection because it is an entirely commercial venture, funded by companies including Prudential Insurance and Neil Woodford Venture Capital.

I do however recommend every one who is eligible to get a CDS Voucher Code. Codes will be available until November this year but will not have to be used until March 2017. Only the suppliers listed on the CDS website will accept the vouchers in our area, only fixed wireless and satellite packages are available which bear not comparison to Gigaclears fibre direct to the home.

For people outside the Gigaclear area the vouchers may offer a stop gap solution until whoever wins the CDS Phase 2 contracts published two weeks ago (for the third time!). Gigaclear will almost certainly bid for those contracts and I only hope CDS have enough common sense to sign them up. We will have to wait until January 2017 to find out who has won one or more of the six contracts covering six different areas of Devon & Somerset.

There are active discussions taking place on the CDS and Gigaclear programmes on the two facebook groups:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/upottery/
and
https://www.facebook.com/groups/fast.rural.broadband/
I recommend checking in with these groups.


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