Tag Archive 'Guernsey'

Sep 22 2008

Where To Drink Coffee In Guernsey

Published by under General

Being an IT contractor means that when I’m not working at a clients site I have to find my own space to work. Luckily, having a laptop with full software development environment on it (VS2008, SharePoint & CRM) means that I can work pretty much where ever I like.

When I’m in Jersey I like to work out of my employers office. There are lots of people around so you get to hear the latest news, they have a great coffee machine and it’s a generally relaxed atmosphere.

The same can’t be said for the Guernsey office. It tends to be just me there, so it’s very quiet, and there isn’t a coffee machine (yet). As a result I tend to spend a lot of time working out of cafes. I have three regular places that I go to get my coffee fix: Christies, Woodies and Pelican.

Which one I choose depends on my computing requirements. If I’m going to be there a while and/or need power for my laptop I tend to go to Christies. The coffee is of adequate quality (although they don’t have flavour syrups) and the tables by the power sockets are usually free early to mid morning. The down side of Christies is that it’s not the cheapest and wifi has to be hijacked from Moores hotel opposite and keeps dropping out – not very good of screencasts.

If I’m going to be less than an hour and don’t need power then I’ll head to the Pelican cafe. They have free wireless, good coffee with syrups (hmmm… vanilla!) and the foods tastes good at a reasonable price. I’ve been a regular at the Pelican for quite a few years now, I used to get breakfast their before school on occasions but their lack of power sockets is letting them down.

By far the best for coffee is Woodies. They have a loyalty card scheme – buy 10, get the 11th free. If you have special requirements they’re more than happy to cater for you (small cappuccino, extra shot, extra froth, easy on the milk!). They have a really nice seating area down stairs with power sockets but AFAIK they don’t have wifi. I tend to go to Woodies if I’m heading to the office.

Other place you might consider for coffee are: All in Black – lots of stairs to walk up, unknown on the wifi or power sockets front, Dix Neuf – nice enough by the far end of town to the office, pot luck as to whether they seat you near a power socket and unknown on the wifi front.

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Jun 20 2008

Errors In Google Maps For Guernsey

Published by under Technology

I’ve just been playing with Google Maps for Guernsey again and I’ve noticed a few discrepancies.  Firstly, Google doesn’t seem to have any information regarding one-way roads in Guernsey.  This means that although the driving directions will give you the shortest route, the route may take you the wrong way down a one way road.  This is quite significant around St Peter Port where the roads are narrow and twisting and, if you’re not familiar with it, not being able to follow directions can get you hopelessly lost.

Another, possibly more significant error, is that there is at least one missing road, possibly more:

View Larger Map

Strangely, Yahoo Maps has got both the missing road and the one-way information. Yahoo it seems is using Navteq sourced data whereas Google is using data from Tele Atlas. I’ve just submitted the information to Tele Atlas about the missing road, but I’m damned if I’m going to submit all the missing roads corrections.

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Jun 02 2008

Guernsey Roads in Google Maps

Published by under Guernsey News

In the last few days Google has added roads to Guernsey.  It appears that they have got the data from Guernsey Digimap, as there appears to be better coverage that from any of the GPS device manufacturers I have seen.

If it is the case that the data was provided by Digimap then it may mean that we may be getting higher resolution images.  I know Digimap offered images to Google in the past but might they have just accepted the offer?

Two points to note about the roads:

  1. Some of the roads are tracks that are closed to traffic (much to my annoyance).
  2. In the map and terrain views the coast line is very rough.
  3. Searching for a road name in Guernsey you need to search for: “road name, parish, Guernsey” or “road name, parish” otherwise it doesn’t find it.

The route finding appears to work quite well, although with local knowledge of traffic and junction layouts mean I wouldn’t necessarily choose the route Google suggests.  It is, however, more than adequate for visitors.

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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 21 2008

Guernsey Election

Published by under Guernsey News

This Wednesday is election day for the Guernsey States of Deliberation – the government of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.  This year I’ve been following the election process more closely than I have in the past.  Partly because I think the current States have done such a terrible job and secondly because I think the next sitting of the States will have some difficult decision to make.

For the last election I was living with my parents in the Vale.  I knew of most of the candidates that were standing for election and I had a fairly good idea of what they were standing for.  This time, however, I’m living in St Martins and haven’t heard of many of the candidates before, so I have been reading their manifestos.  I meant to go to the area hustings meetings – where members of the parish get to question the candidates – but unfortunately it clashed with another meeting.

Being new to the area, I was looking forward to being able to speak to the candidates as they went door-to-door trying to solicit votes.  Unfortunately we have only had one candidate coming to the door and that was only to drop a manifesto through the letter box.  In this respect I am rather disappointed with the candidates.

Also, reading the manifestos I get the feeling that none of the candidates are willing to stick their neck out and say what they think really needs to be done.   All of them acknowledge that waste management, education, transport and health all need address but none are making any proposals as to what could be done.

One candidate in particular includes a list of the various sections of the States they have served whilst previously elected.  While this may look impression to the casual reader, it just cries out to me saying “I’ve got no area of expertise so I go where I’m told to” and that really doesn’t inspire me to vote for them.

I think I have come up with a short list of people I am willing to vote for on Wednesday.  One thing is certain though, I’m not going to be using all my votes.  I believe I have six votes I can use but I suspect I may use only three of them.

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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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