Tag Archive 'broadband'

May 30 2008

C&W Power Surges

Published by under General

In just two weeks C&W in Guernsey, the only supplier of telecoms infrastructure on the island, has suffered from power surges in their equipment that has, as a minimum, affected broadband users and possibly damaged users equipment.   The first surge may have taken engineers several days to rectify the problems.  The second surge, last night, was fixed by engineers working overnight.

What is surprising about this is that C&W equipment is being so easily knocked-out by power surges.  Surely they must be using some form of UPS and it would seem ludicrous to me to us a UPS that doesn’t offer surge protection… unless of course they are trying to cut costs in order to make more profit.

[Disclaimer:  I may be a little biased as I still haven't received my long awaited broadband upgrade]

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Apr 29 2008

Broadband Upgrade – Prices Published

Published by under General

So, I was a little out with my estimates in one of my previous posts.  Cable & Wireless has finally published the prices of their (still to be) upgraded broadband service. The good news is that the prices are lower than I thought it would be:

2Mb:  £24.99

4Mb:  £49.99

8Mb:  £79.99

The bad news is that this is still far more expensive that offerings from the UK.  Also, the standard that the Guernsey is being upgraded to should be able to support 8Mb download and 1Mb upload, however the 8Mb Pro service has an upload limit of 768Kb.  I make that 25% below what it could be.

I’m sure lots of people will be saying “better late than never” but is this really enough of an offering to keep us competitive in the current digital climate?  I wonder what the (not so) wonderful OUR has to say about it?

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Apr 22 2008

Broadband Upgrade – 6th May

Published by under Guernsey News,Technology

Could it possibly be that Cable & Wireless are almost ready to roll out the long awaited and delayed broadband upgrade in Guernsey?

Last week I heard from an insider at Cable & Wireless that they are due to be finished internal testing some time this week.  Today I have just received an email from a friend sent to him by C&W saying:

There will be a short break in service for all High Speed Internet Pro users from 5am on the 6th May 2008. The outage is expected to last less than one hour.

If this is the case we can look forward to a blindingly [not very] fast broadband service.  I must say that I’m not overly confident that either this will be the upgrade or, if it is, that the downtime will be limited to one hour.

I have heard from an inside source that the equipment that they have bought in to  facilitate the upgrade isn’t all it was meant to be and that maybe they are regretting buying it.  If this is the case I’m guessing (from the way the person spoke about it) that we can expect the reliability of broadband in the island to go down hill once the upgrade has been rolled out.


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Apr 13 2008

Broadband upgrade – a bit of context

Published by under Guernsey News,Technology

Following on from my previous blog post, about the continuing delays with the broadband upgrade in Guernsey, I have just received an email from C&W in which they give a bit of context about the upgrade, why they have made some of the choices they have and a bit of background of the commitment from C&W to the telecoms infrastructure of the island.

With regard to your technical questions, you are correct that the new faster services will be based on the ADSL standard.  Rather than being an out of date technology, in our experience standard ADSL is far less susceptible to noise and interference than either ADSL 2 or ADSL 2+ at speeds of up to 8Mb/s.  Both ADSL2 and ADSL 2+ are also extremely prone to problems arising from variations in wiring quality, and for these reasons we have opted to use standard ADSL as it offers a more stable service.  However the equipment that we have now installed is capable of supporting both ADSL2 and ADSL2+ in future.

It’s good to know that at some undetermined point in the future we might possibly get ADSL2 or ADSL2+.  However, my personal opinion is that I would rather have 12Mb/s or 24Mb/s that is occasionally dropped to a lower speed because of quality.   Is your average home user really going to know that they’re not getting full speed.  As a result of contention ratios you’re not always going to be getting 8Mb/s on ADSL anyway, so does it really matter?

The current project is a proactive £2.5 million investment by Cable & Wireless, as part of our ongoing plan to provide faster broadband services in the Bailiwick. That level of investment hopefully provides you with some idea of the scale of cost involved in providing broadband services in a market of just 24,000 households.  Comparisons with the UK, where the market is a 1,000 times larger, are often misleading. 

I’m not going to argue that these numbers sound impressive but I wonder how they stack up against the C&W annual profits?  And what is the annual investment per-capita in Guernsey compared with the UK?  I’ve no doubt that there are economies of scale coming into play but it would be interesting to find out.

The entry level price for broadband in Guernsey is just £14.99, and when you also consider that many UK broadband services require a standard BT line, which is around 50% more expensive than the local exchange line rental (£7.99 per month compared to £12.50 per month), then hopefully you can begin to see the overall cost this into context. 

These numbers are a little miss-leading.  For entry level broadband from BT is £15.99 (not including any current offers) but if you bring the C&W entry level plan up to the same level as the BT one it shifts the Guernsey one up to £19.49.  Also, the line rental from BT is £10.50 and not £12.50.   With these numbers I make it £26.49 for 8Mb/s from BT and £26.99 for 1Mb/s from C&W – I know which I would prefer!

Since 2001 Cable & Wireless has invested more than £35 million into capital projects in Guernsey as part of our commitment to improving the Bailiwick’s telecommunications infrastructure.  

Would C&W care to share with us what this money has been spent on?  Also, what real effects of this can the average end customer see?  Because to be quite honest all I can see is that I’ve still just got a basic landline, a plain old 2.5G mobile phone and I’m still stuck in the dark ages with 1Mb/s broadband.  I fail to see where the £35 million has been of benefit to me.

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Apr 11 2008

Broadband Upgrade Still A Month Away

Published by under Guernsey News,Technology

Yesterday C&W release a notice on their website saying that they are entering the final phase of testing the broadband upgrade in the island and that this should be complete within four weeks.

This upgrade will bring the whole island up the the old-school ADSL (8Mbit up / 1Mb down) standard.  None of this fancy-pants ADSL2 or ADSL2+ wizardry.

I emailed C&W several days asking about what was happening at C&W regarding the upgrade but he has so far declined to respond.  I think that may be due to the fact that I questioned why the upgraded speeds would be so low and why we wouldn’t be getting ADSL2 or ADSL2+ speeds, and wondering if maybe C&W was abusing it’s monopoly position to make sure that they can get the maximum profit from a minimum investment.

After minimal research (and a lot of guessing and estimation) I figure

the pricing of broadband will look something like this:

  • 2Mb – £24.99/Month
  • 2Mb Premium – £49.99/Month
  • 4Mb Premium – £79.99/Month
  • 8Mb Premium – £99.99/Month

Oh well, here’s me hoping I’ll get included in the upgraded speed trial.

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Apr 02 2008

Higher Price Equals Longer Delays

Published by under Guernsey News,Technology

According to their website>, Cable & Wireless is working on a £2.5million upgrade of the broadband infrastructure in Guernsey that will allow customers within 2.5 kilometres of exchanges being able to get broadband at up to 8Mb – although this is still slow compared with other western countries.  News of an upgrade to 2Mb and the timescale for completion first emerged back on 31st October 2007 with a news item on their website:

A rolling programme of work will begin in December, and by March next year most local households should be able to get speeds of up to two megabits per second (2Mb).

This good news was then re-confirmed on 8th November with the same timescale:

Homes and businesses around the island will enjoy the new broadband speeds on a rolling basis from December 2007 onwards as Cable & Wireless completes engineering work on its local exchange. It is hoped that the whole island will have access to faster broadband by March 2008.

This would seem to indicate that everything has been planned and is on schedule.  Then, on 19th December the issued the follow update:

Work has already begun at the St Martin exchange, as well as in Alderney and Sark. Customers connected to these exchanges – those with phone numbers that begin with 23, 82 or 83 – will be the first to receive the improved broadband services. That work is scheduled for completion by the end of December.

In order to ensure the reliability of broadband services over the Christmas period, Cable & Wireless has decided that the switch over to the new higher speed services in the first areas will take place on January 9th 2008. All ISPs have been advised of the schedule.

They also included a roll out timescale for the whole of the island (by telephone number):

20xxxx St Sampson By 31/03/08
23xxxx St Martin 09/01/08
24xxxx St Sampson By 31/03/08
25xxxx Castel By 31/03/08
26xxxx St Peter By 31/03/08
7xxxxx Central By 31/03/08
82xxxx Alderney 09/01/08
83xxxx Sark 09/01/08

Excellent news!  I’m in the St Martin area and less than 1km from the exchange so I’m in the first area to get the upgrade.  However, it seems we weren’t being told the full picture.  The first signs of problems occurred on 9th January when I should have been upgraded to 2Mb…. but wasn’t.  On the day Cable & Wireless issued the following announcement:

Cable & Wireless engineers are currently working to resolve a small number of technical issues that have arisen during this major upgrade. This has meant a slight delay to start of the planned roll-out, however the full island-wide upgrade it is still expected to be complete by 31st March 2008.

“A small number of technical issues”?  Sounds like a but of an understatement to me but then what do I know about these things?  On the 2nd March after nearly two months with no updates on progress of the project I decided to email Cable & Wireless to find out how things were going and to inform them of my disappointment in the extortionate amount their customers have to pay for a measly 1Mb service (£25 + line rental!!!).  Their reply was:

The majority of the work involved in enabling the upgrade requires the
physical reconection of about 15,000 individual lines onto new network
equipment in all exchange areas, and it is this work which required the
longer project timescales extending into March.

Therefore, while we have postponed the bandwidth upgrade for St Martins,
the physical work migrating lines has continued in this and other areas.
We therefore anticipate that when we are in a position to roll out the
upgraded line speeds, these will now be made available in all exchange
areas within a relatively short timescale.

This would seem to indicate to me that the hardware in the exchanges has had to be replace as it simply wasn’t up to scratch as it hadn’t been touched since Cable & Wireless bought Guernsey Telecom from the States of Guernsey – I can’t remember exactly when that was as the Cable & Wireless website incorrectly states “We were here right from the start of telephone services in the Bailiwick in 1898.”

With the deadline looming, Cable & Wireless finally made another announcement on 20th March:

Equipment has been fully installed to enable the upgrade of Guernsey’s broadband network.

The initial work to upgrade equipment at the exchanges has been completed successfully. However the final activation of the upgraded service will only take place once we are certain that there will be no impact to our customers’ experience. We hope to reach this point in the next few weeks.

Well, the end of March has been and gone and still there is no sign of a speed increase or any news as to when it might happen.  I dare say it will be another month or so before we finally see increase in broadband speeds.  What is more important, I believe, is why Cable & Wireless are spending £2.5millon on a upgrade that will only allow broadband speeds of up to 8Mb?  Bulldog Broadband (C&W broadband in the UK) is offering 16Mb broadband (unlimited) at £25 – that’s the same price as I’m paying for 1Mb.  Sweden (top for broadband in Europe) offers 24Mb over copper and 100Mb or even 1000Mb over fibre.

Sometimes it feels like this island is being held to ransom by Cable & Wireless, and they wonder why they have been refused a 3G Mobile license.

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