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vital? Thinking of switching to
If the answer is yes please read my special article about
rural fibre reliability if a broadband connection is essential to you
or your business.
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(We are not even in the centre of the village!)
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14th APRIL 2017
- HORSTED KEYNES AND DANE HILL FIBRE BROADBAND FINALLY RESTORED
It took a lot of behind the scenes complaining, and
we understand a spare part being "borrowed" from another exchange, but
at noon today the village finally got its broadband back! BT Openreach
had been putting the advertised repair time back but at last villagers
can get to work sending emails and browsing. This fault, which
affected almost 1000 local homes for two days, does show how far we
are from civilisation as mobile phones and especially mobile broadband
simply does not work reliably in his area.
A WARNING ABOUT
RURAL LIVING AND FIBRE BROADBAND
As some of you will know I have qualifications
in electronics so feel able to comment on matters technical. I am also
a villager and am aware that this can bring with it protracted
problems such as power
cuts which sometimes affect the "other half" of the village meaning
that your lights keep burning while your neighbours shiver in the
darkness. Our power cuts frequently exceed 10 hours or more.
As the telephone cabinet boundaries do not coincide
with the electricity supplies a problem might occur if the power is cut off from
your fibre broadband street cabinet while your house or business remained connected to
the mains or equally if you run a generator during a power cut.
For example the Openreach cabinet that provides fibre broadband to much of Hamsland, Challoners and Lewes Road gets its electricity from the
Haywards Heath direction - this is opposite to where these roads get
their electricity supply from. Some parts of The Green and Church Road
get their electricity from the cabinet that is powered from the
Uckfield direction, while Westfield House has it's own mains
generators, again this is simply asking for trouble!
That is the reason for this article, to explain and
warn about something that you may have not thought of. Until now as long as you had
electricity, or a generator, you have been able to connect to the internet with your adsl modem. With Fibre this ain't necessarily so any more! Please let
me explain further.
With adsl your modem is connected direct to
the Dane Hill telephone exchange which not only has a 48 hour battery
supply, it also has back up diesel generators and at least 2 weeks of
fuel. This is specified by OFCOM for all rural exchanges and is enough to keep local phones (and adsl) working in almost all
When you switch to fibre broadband you need to
communicate with the exchange via one of the new green cabinets which have
inside them what to all
intents and purposes is a bank of four small computers that change the
copper signal from your home into a fibre data signal to go the rest of the
way to the exchange. These green cabinet "computers"
naturally need electricity to work. The designers did at least think
of power cuts in their design but then thought of cities like London where the power
seldom goes off for more than a few hours at most. So there is a
12 Volt battery
at the bottom of each green cabinet which in normal circumstances can
run the connections under average usage for between 4 and 6 hours,
but certainly not more* - mostly dependant on cabinet temperature. And I am
reminded by a correspondent that this capacity is when the batteries are
brand new, just like your laptop battery they naturally
deteriorate over time which is why an Openreach engineer comes out
every 6 months and switches off the electricity supply to the cabinet.
If it keeps working for a few minutes he moves onto the next cabinet,
hardly an exhaustive test!
There IS an external port to attach a fully charged
battery or more likely a portable generator if power
can't be restored immediately but can you honestly expect Openreach to
have dozens of generators, the manpower to deploy them as well as the
petrol to keep them working if the outage is a long one? And get them
within 6 hours? Perhaps I am pessimistic, perhaps a realist!
On top of this thieves have discovered that they
can pinch the batteries - which are an expensive type - without
immediately affecting service. Rather like taking the battery out of
your laptop which continues running without its battery until you come to try and restart
it. If the power were to go off on a cabinet with its batteries stolen the fibre connection will drop out
immediately - and then stay out
- until the batteries are
replaced by an Openreach man in a van. A day, week or month later.
After the batteries run down you will lose ALL broadband
connection, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it and worse
still your connection will not be restored until the cabinet has
warmed up and the batteries have recharged to 80% which in cold
weather can take up to 36 hours - although it's usually 12 hours or less. So this quite simply means that in a
rural area a protracted power cut - or series of power cuts such as we
suffered a Christmas or two back - could mean no fibre broadband service for
several days. Remember around here we all share the same
infrastructure, it does not matter which ISP you use.
Please note that your telephone service will stay
connected just like now as this still gets all its electricity from
the exchange, fibre and telephone, are entirely separate. This explains why the green cabinets
that you see everywhere are arranged in pairs!
I have not seen the above warning clearly explained
in many places on the internet so the only thing that I can suggest is
that if you are a business or simply must stay in touch and happen to have a spare
phone line you
consider keeping this on adsl so that you can keep the emails and a
basic internet connection working
under almost all circumstances. Some people use their burglar alarm
line for this purpose.
If you are on a single line then I could suggest you keep
the number of a low speed dial-up internet service to hand - then at least with your laptop
you would be able to send a very slow email if hard weather strikes.
Unfortunately I have been checking around lately and have not been
able to confirm if any companies still offer a dial up PAYG service in this
country. Several advertise that they do but when contacted they either
do not respond or say they no longer provide any sort of dial up
support. It seems that with dial up services
so thin on the ground you'd have to use 3G to maintain connection - trouble
is the village has very poor 3G service!
Please see here for local coverage maps.
Therefore if continuous internet connection is
absolutely vital a second phone line with adsl is the only way to guarantee
connectivity. This can be had for about £180 a year if paid annually
plus a free or very cheap low usage adsl connection - you'd only use it in
an emergency of course. Worth thinking about in your emergency plan?
p.s. When the new fibre cabinets are up and running
you may see a large silver bolt or padlock on them. PLEASE get in the habit
of quickly glancing to see if the cabinet is bolted shut when you drive past
and if not tell BT IMMEDIATELY. This will give Openreach a chance to check
them out and replace any stolen batteries before a power cut strikes. 150 is the free number to dial.
NOT call the police on 999 or 101 as they are reported to be
disinterested in the extreme and will just tell you to ring BT. Report
"possible equipment criminal damage" and BT usually answer and come
out immediately, even in the middle of the night, as there will be exposed mains electricity
so it's a health and safety issue. If
in doubt please email us and we will be happy to check it out and report
*We have found some
obscure but very interesting data about the power consumption of green
cabinets provided by Openreach themselves when trying to avoid having
electricity meters fitted inside each one. This boils down to the
average cabinet using about 170Watts per hour. At 12Volts this equates
to roughly 14Amps. The batteries are about 80Amphours and some charge is
always left to prevent damage by frost. Simple Ohms law does the rest
and shows that 4 - 5 hours is a best estimate before your fibre
broadband goes off.
FEBRUARY 2017 VILLAGE
BROADBAND SPEED INCREASE
Credit where it's due and let's face it BT don't
get that much good press these days but we have noticed a marked speed
improvement for those connected to Cabinet 2 (that's the one opposite
the old Post Office). Villagers on the fastest tiers were getting a
good speed connection of perhaps 40Meg in January but recent testing
has shown that local speeds have increased by at least 10%. Our rather
high end connection was at about 60Meg (see above) but now gives us an
average download in the 70Meg range - that's as high as theoretically
possible - so given we are 200 metres from the cabinet we are not sure
if BT are testing some new equipment but the speed is repeated
whichever test system we use and is a "real world" figure as downloads
are markedly quicker.
So we ask other villagers to perform a speed test
using the site of their choice and let us know their results.
Interestingly we also notice that some local users are recording very
low speed although they are on a fibre connection. We wonder if they
are testing with a wireless connection, these always show much lower
than a wired test.
WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU MUST REMAIN CAREFUL
Many experienced computer users know about this
scam, it has been going on for 4 or 5 years and we thought it was
dying out but recently it has made a come back, and unfortunately
there are still many who are caught out. A villager has just lost
their entire computer contents and have had to renew all their bank
and credit cards, so here is an article written simply for the less
knowledgeable users to act as a warning.
Please note this scam is almost always performed by people from India
and Pakistan. This article is not against any particular race or
religion but it is they who are doing it so if the cap fits!
HOW THE SCAM WORKS
You receive a phone call. The call may sound a bit
"odd" or unclear, rather like a poor quality service call. This is
because the scammers are using what is known as an IP telephone line
so that they can't be traced, the number on your phone display will
almost certainly be fake, show as overseas or simply unobtainable. The
caller WILL have a thick accent and may
not have a full command of English, this should be your first warning.
The jobs are often taken by people who have failed in their secondary
education, again not insulting, just a fact. Believe it or not the job
of working in these call centres isseen as quite an attractive. The
callers have absolutely no scruples about tricking people who they see
as "rich" out of money! I asked one girl if her mother was proud of
her, "Certainly" she replied, "I feed my entire family".
The scammers say they are from Microsoft in the UK
or the USA and they are ringing you as a service because your computer
is reporting "on the Microsoft servers" that it has many viruses or
problems and Microsoft want to help you with the problem. n.b. This is
absolute nonsense, Microsoft NEVER EVER
ring you to help you like this, NEVER.
And Microsoft have better things to do than monitor every computer in
the world, can you imagine?!! Anyway, please read on, it's a clever
scam with lots of social engineering.
The scammer uses lots of frightening words like
"driver corruption", "viruses", stealing data *which is precisely what
they are trying to do!) etc., and says
that you computer is so badly affected that you risk losing all your
data, all your banking, all you work. In other words they are out to
frighten you, and you SHOULD be
frightened as if the scam goes the way the scammers want that is
exactly what WILL happen. They are very good at frightening and
psychology especially if you are an inexperienced computer user. They like to
pick on older people and women at home alone. I was in the home of a
villager fixing a network problem when they happened to receive one of
these calls. I tried my best to explain to the villager that it was a
scam. The villager did not believe ME. So beware even if a REAL
engineer is in your home these scammers have real persistence!!!
After a lot of waffle where they find out lots
about you including what you do for a living (i.e. how much money you
are worth and what they are
likely to find on your computer) the scammer asks you to press a
certain keyboard combination that almost nobody uses in normal life.
***If anyone asks you to do the following STOP
and remember the website you are reading now*** They tell you to "Press the Windows key" or the "Windows flag" and at the
same time press the "R" button. Again if told to do this
STOP. The Windows Key in the one bottom
left of your keyboard with 4 small squares on it - when did you last
use that key? If you are asked to press it by anybody you don't know you can bet it
will be for a scam,
nobody uses this key combination these days.
Anyway after pressing the Windows key and the "R"
key a box opens. It's called the "Run box". I can't tell you exactly
what the scammers get you to type next in the run box but it will lead
you to a web site where they give you a code number which permits them
to take over your computer. It might lead you
to Team Viewer or one of 20 other web sites. Almost all are genuine
free services that are very useful if you know what you are doing.
They enable a remote engineer (or of course in our case the scammer)
to "take over" your computer and run a fake virus scan to "prove" that
you have viruses. More details later if you want to try it.
All the scammers are actually doing is asking you
to go on line and then go to a certain web site but doing it this
again looks technical and confuses less experienced users. They also
almost never say the web address out loud they spell it letter by letter, "w
for walrus", "p for petrol", "c for cup" etc., etc. After all
if they just said Open Chrome and go to "www.scamcentral.com" you
might well smell a rat!
At the end of this section I am going to show
you exactly what the scammers get you to do. There is no risk and you
might find it interesting as I won't go far enough to do anything bad.
Obviously ignore the end part is you are worried but I am in the
village - not in India - so I think you can trust me!
Once you have downloaded the software that the site
offers you - and you will have to ignore many warning messages to do
so - the scammer can move your mouse and proceed to "show" you the
viruses on your computer. Unfortunately in allowing what
looks like innocuous access the scammer can also look at any file on
your computer, look at your bank password, steal all your information
and phone numbers etc. and eventually after taking what they want
irreversibly lock up your computer so it never works again until or
unless you completely reinstall the operating system. Normally 2 or 3
people from the scam centre work on your computer at the same time - you of course only
know about one of them.
Incidentally on the way and to keep you busy while
they raid your computer another scammer will probably try to sell you
an expensive and totally unneeded anti virus programme and computer
repair service. Cost? Up to £500! And people pay - if they do the
scammers also raid their credit card too. After all you are on the
phone to them they will have stopped your emails so you don't get
any warnings from your bank etc.
Neat, nasty and illegal! Why don't the police do
something about it? Because firstly you need to know where the offence
was committed and the police if some countries can be bought rather
That in a nutshell is what the Microsoft Scam is
all about. I warn you to put the phone down if you get an unsolicited
call like this.
Now though I though I would show you some of the
things that the scammers do - none can harm your computer as I won't
take you that far, but if you are at all worried please ignore this
section, or try it on an old machine perhaps.
Let's assume that the scammers have taken over your
computer what they do first is type this...
You too can type cmd with no risk whatsoever - you write it into the
box that the start button brings up usually where it says Search. Now
you will see what looks like an old fashioned white on black box made
for engineers where you can get to the nitty gritty of your computer.
If you get in a panic just close the box by clicking on the red cross
top right of the window - just like any other programme. This will
close the frame and do no damage whatsoever.
first thing they do is perform a fake scan to give you something to
look at, delay things and give the scammer time to type (often in
flashing red) "VIRUSES FOUND" etc. You don't actually see what they
have typed until the scan has finished so the scammer can be very
inventive if they have time. Incidentally the time it takes to
complete the scan also indicates how fast and expensive the computer
is - another clue if the owner is worth a lot of money. Remember
scamming is a proper business that makes the business owners quite
literally hundreds of thousands of dollars each day! I have heard that
some companies have 1000 employees, on 5 year contracts with health
Next try typing in the same cmd box
EVENTVWR. After ten seconds or so you will get a page of information
shown, be patient. On the left click Administrative Events.
Frightening, isn't it! We can actually blame Microsoft for showing all
these "errors", let me try and explain - I'll do my best anyway! As
you may know Windows isn't one computer programme it's lots of
computer programmes that only run when you need them. For example it
would be silly and would tie up your processor to have the printer
programme running when you are not actually printing a document. Silly
to run the web cam when you don't need it, etc., etc., etc. So Windows
sometimes sees the fact that a part is not running as an error. HUGE
mistake in my opinion but all this was written in the days before
there were any computers on the sub-continent, let alone Indian
scammers out to screw money out of you.
use the fact that some parts of Windows are not running to mislead you
on other scans too. Rest assured that if Windows needs a part of its
programme to run then it will run it when needed!
Some computer users who know a little bit about machines may challenge
the scammer to prove they are from Microsoft by simply asking for the
registered number of their machine. In other words that 25 digit
number that you are occasionally asked for when updating your
computer. Of course you won't have that immediately to hand so the
scammers are ready for this! In the cmd window type ASSOC. A short
scan will take place and there is a number displayed at the end of
this. The scammer will tell you that THIS is your Windows registered
number and will quote it to you. The number is NOT your number and is
NOT unique. In fact almost every Windows computer will show the same
number! Don't be fooled!
If the scammers have
finished with you they have one very dirty trick to finish off their
endeavours, they tie up your computer by putting a secret password
onto your hard drive. They then ring off and block your phone number.
This effectively means that your computer is totally unusable and the
only way to get it going again is to reinstall the operating system
21 MARCH 2016 - ADSL (NON-FIBRE)
SPEED AND CONNECTIVITY ISSUES IN THE VILLAGE
Some users of the older technology, non-fibre ADSL
internet are experiencing a weird problems with their connections.
At HorstedKeynes.Com we have two lines. One is fibre which is working
fine but our second back up line still uses adsl. The speed on here
has reduced from a normal 8Meg to just over 2Meg.
We have raised an "issue" with BT and the issue is
still open, but users of other internet providers are not being
allowed to raise an issue without being told that they may be charged
if no fault is found. Given that the fault seems to be intermittent
and is usually worse in the evenings it seems this might be a problem!
Others are finding that their connections drop out
with monotonous regularity.
If YOU are experiencing problems please contact
your ISP. Even if they don't escalate the issue the problem will at
least be logged.
ALL users can also perform a speed test using the
http://speedtest.btwholesale.com/ website. If you then perform a
second level test the results are automatically listed on the BT
Openreach servers. Costs nothing and helps your neighbours!
p.s. If your speed is really slow the
BT Speedtester may go to level three which requires that you alter
settings in your router before it starts. If you are not 100%
confident we would advise against doing this as you may end up with no
connection at all. It's obviously fine to do this if your ISP are
talking you through the procedure on the phone.
If YOU are experiencing any sort of speed issue
whether adsl or fibre please do get in touch with us. If we begin to
see a pattern then we can warn and advise other villagers who might be
able to use the information to get their ISP to contact Openreach. As
we have said before working together we can help each other stay in
touch at the best speeds available in our area.
This article in course of completion
JANUARY 2016 - THREE MONTHS IN, HOW IS
YOUR FIBRE SPEED DOING?
We have had reports - and indeed we had begun to
notice ourselves - that local fibre broadband speeds seem to be
It's easy to forget your fibre modem, it sits there
day after day for the most part just working - unless the village gets
a power cut that is! Best recommendation is to reboot your modem every
few weeks as this makes the BT green box reset and renegotiate your
connection status. Once a month is ok, once a fortnight is better.
In our case we had not realised it but our download
speed had dropped from over 70Meg when first installed after the bugs
were ironed out, to just 20Meg; interestingly our upload speed stayed
the same. The fact that it took us so long to notice did make us wonder whether we needed to have paid so much
for the premium speed product when we first ordered, but hey ho!
After we rebooted we noticed that we were only
downloading at about 50Meg and this decrease does seem to be quite
common as the local fibres are getting rather congested. So we do
suggest that you check your speed and then give your fibre modem -
that is the last link in the chain, the box that connects to the BT
master socket - at least 30 minutes rest by unplugging the mains.
Leave all other connections alone.
After this do another speed test and please let us
know if this has helped.
OCTOBER 15th - SOME
Openreach ENGINEERS ARE GOOD GUYS
After hearing from correspondents who only complain
about their fibre installations can we offer a quick thank you to the
engineer who spent the better part of two hours sorting out the
problems that we have had since our fibre was installed here at
horstedkeynes.com. We now download at over 70Meg and more importantly
for both you and us upload at 18Meg after our fibre modem was replaced
and our line rebalanced.
The problem started off as a classic confrontation
between our ISP who blamed the telephone line and Openreach who blamed
our ISP for throttling our connection!
Well it took someone who was prepared to take their
time and eliminate everything else to discover that our Openreach
modem "which never go wrong" had in fact got an intermittent fault!
Our grateful thanks to the engineer concerned, he
arrived on time and took his time. It's a pity that the modems are not
available to purchase as we believe in having a spare of everything
important "in stock".
Just one thing, it does seem to us that the
BT/Openreach system which allocates the next engineer to a job
wherever they happen to be at the time must waste an awful lot of time
in driving and fuel. Our engineer today came from their last job near
Maidstone, but others have come from as far as east Kent and
Shoreham-by-sea. This does seem an odd system but perhaps it makes
sense to the "money men".
TUESDAY 6th -
FIBRE INSTALLATIONS PROGRESSING RAPIDLY BUT STILL A FEW CANCELLED
May we thank the villagers who have reported
their fibre installation experiences - both good and bad - to us.
Seems that we are getting the speeds that were promised but it's worth
remembering that we all share just a few fibres so speed reductions at
busy times are to be expected. Your contract should state an expected
normal minimum speed - often 35Meg on an 80Meg connection. If you
regularly don't get it - complain! There are things that can be done
if enough people moan such as blowing a couple of extra fibres into
We were very surprised to learn that some villagers
who have paid for the expensive fastest connection have not received
their promised engineer visit and have been told to continue using
their existing plug in filters. We think this is to be deplored and is
asking for problems in the long run. You may well have to pay if the
problem is seen as being at "your" end in say a years time! If you are
contacted by an Openreach engineer and he or she tells you that you
don't need a new face plate may we suggest that you politely disagree
with them. Frankly they are just being lazy.
We mentioned a week or so ago that BT/Openreach
were not honouring some fibre order dates. It would be a good idea for all
villagers with an outstanding order to check that it is still open.
This is for ALL orders remember, whichever supplier it's with as
BT/Openreach are the final link in the chain and it is they who will
perform the final setup and physically swap your phone line over to
digital fibre. If you are using one of the more expensive suppliers
the Openreach engineer will also bring you your fibre modem.
Even your router
arriving is no guarantee of the date being honoured. One of our orders
a week ago, then to another villager on Monday and now one more today! We
have not yet heard of anyone being left without an internet or phone connection
but it has happened elsewhere when things go wrong.
Herewith one tale of woe from a villager on Cabinet
1 - this is the cabinet on the corner of Dane Hill Lane...
Order placed 28th August, scheduled for
completion on the 18th September; 16th September received the
Business Hub as expected.
At around 3pm on the 18th I enquired as to the progress, as I
had had no welcome email ahead of the connection that day, only
to find that BT had cancelled my order without any form of
Re-ordered by BT, with a new connection date of the 5th October.
A second Hub arrived yesterday !
I now find on-line that this has been "Delayed", and I have yet
another order reference, magically loaded by BT dated the 28th
September with yet another completion date, this time 12th
It would be really helpful to other villagers if
you let us know if your order goes through on time and also, if you
are able, a note of your new up and down connection speed. Here are a
few that we have received.
APPROXIMATE SPEED (DOWN/UP)
This is just for
information, it's not a competition, but does show how the quality
of telephone lines (and if you have a proper wall box) can
dramatically affect your fibre broadband speed. Some of these
speeds are from people complaining so you may be seeing a biased
result. It seems that most villagers have gone for the high speed
80/20 product - some might see that as a waste of money and should
be most carefully considered by those who live a fair distance
from the cabinets. If you don't do a lot of uploading then 40Meg
should be ample for most people. If you live more than half a mile
or so from the cabinet it's really a no brainer to pay for the
possible that some properties in Dane Hill Lane have been denied
service as their phones are connected directly to the telephone
exchange and not via a green cabinet. For technical reasons these
conditions make fibre more difficult - but certainly not
impossible - to supply.
Lewes Road - middle
Wyatts Lane - round bend
Station Road - Martindale area
42/12 (Poor -
we have suggested this is investigated)
If either speedtester says we
have removed a backlink we have NOT!
One or other of the above speed testers
should work and have been set up like this so that you can test your local broadband speed
as accurately as possible. You can also use the official BTWholesale tester
(whichever ISP you use) but this is a little more complicated.
The old Horsted Keynes exchange looked just like this. It
was located in the corner of the field behind the old Police House. The
foundations still exist. Do you have a photo of the Horsted Keynes
OLD TELEPHONE EXCHANGE
With all this talk of high speed fibre it's easy to
forget the past and many villagers do not know that Horsted Keynes used
to have its very own small telephone exchange!
Located in the field behind the old Police House this
RAX Rural Automatic Exchange had facilities for 40 subscribers. It
held batteries and racks of equipment and was used for nearly 30 years
when automation first came to the area. An engineer used to bicycle over
once a week to check the specific gravity of the batteries. In those days you could only
dial local calls; in fact as far as Glyndebourne, but not
to Eastbourne and Saltdean but not Brighton. You could dial Tunbridge Wells
numbers though. Telephone areas always were a mystery! Any further and you
dialled O for the operator which cost more - unless you knew the secret codes
which connected but the call was sometimes quiet. A form of
phone hacking in 1936!
A very kind correspondent sent me this picture of an
identical exchange building, just before it fell down - they were all of
a similar design. If he would kindly remind me of his name I would be
delighted to give him a credit here.
SEPTEMBER 23rd - HISTORY
IS MADE - BOTH
HORSTED KEYNES CABINETS COMMISSIONED
FIBRE GENERALLY AVAILABLE BUT SOME HOMES DENIED UPGRADE
EXTRA CAPACITY AND MORE FIBRE ALREADY ORDERED.
The broadband checker now shows both village
cabinets as "accepting orders" and villagers are clammering
to get hold of the maximum 288 lines available on the new green cabinet
opposite the old Post Office. Each green cabinet will really connect
to 276 subscribers, 12 lines are reserved but can be released in an
The other cabinet on the corner of Dane Hill Lane covers a much
smaller area and will never be over subscribed. Orders with BT are now
extending to the middle of October, but those
with the smaller and more expensive ISPs seem to be going through
rather sooner than this, perhaps they have some reserved appointments?
We have received reports of some orders stalling. No doubt it will all
work out eventually.
UPDATE 27th SEPTEMBER
Very surprisingly demand seems to have slowed down if the availability
of installation appointments are to be believed. Earlier there were no
appointments available until the third week in October, now October
11th seems to be free! This may be due to the extra in cabinet
equipment or Openreach allocating some more engineers. Either way
expect to see Openreach vans buzzing about all over the village for
the next few weeks!
If you get an appointment it's worth keeping an eye
on it as at least one subscriber had theirs cancelled without being
told about it.
PLEASE also do heed our warnings about using
plug in filters with fibre. If your speed is not what you expected
after it's installed get in touch with us and we may well be able to help.
The green cabinet opposite the old Post Office has two boards already fitted giving
immediate fibre access for 144 subscribers and with a small upgrade
(already actioned) there is room for an absolute maximum of 288 lines.
The last dozen lines are usually reserved for special cases such as
doctors, Post Offices, important businesses and that sort of thing.
We would suggest that villagers wanting fibre don't
wait too long before putting in their orders as it does seem that this
central cabinet - which incidentally serves all the way to the
Bluebell Railway station - is going to be very well subscribed indeed! An
extra fibre or probably fibres has already been ordered and should be blown into the
existing trunking soon. This can be used for the second
half of the cabinet and just possibly for Fibre To The Premises
although we think this unlikely in the short term.
We would greatly appreciate hearing the experiences
of people who are located well outside the village and who want to
upgrade as we know of subscribers who are not being allowed to order
because they are "too far away" when in our humble opinion they are
not. Take for example a property that is actually passed by the fibre
on Dane Hill Lane, this received a flat NO when it tried to upgrade!
Dane Hill Lane is little over a mile long with a green cabinet at each
end, and fibre is supposed to travel at least two miles - most odd!
With help we might be able to construct a map to
give those who live outside the village an idea of whether they can
upgrade or not.
We did get one thing wrong and that was where we
said that fibre to the premises (FTTP) would be available from the
start. It seems that this is not to be as fibre to the premises
requires a second dedicated fibre when demand is high and Openreach planners will not be
able to allocate their only spare until they know
how popular the two village cabinets will be. We understand that after
a very busy start orders on Cabinet 1 have dropped right back,
possibly due to people at that end of the village finding that their adsl
now connects at far more reasonable speeds after recent exchange
improvements and the new fibre backhaul from Dane Hill exchange to the
outside world. Some are seeing 12Meg down and 2Meg up on their
existing BT adsl - all for no extra money, while the usual "lucky few"
are seeing 16Meg down using adsl in Dane Hill itself. For many people
this is completely adequate so they are not bothering to upgrade. The
further you get from the exchange the less this improvement affect
properties which puts more of a strain on the central cabinet.
Subscribers in Fletching are being allowed to order Fibre To The
Premises, in one case we have been told that 14 new telephone poles
are being erected (or updated) just to serve one property with fibre.
Some ISPs will supply FTTP for a nominal installation cost while
others charge thousands of pounds. Certainly a case of shopping around
especially when you think that you can change provider as soon as your
minimum contract period expires and the fibre stays where it is as
it's owned by Openreach. (Hint ;-)
SEPTEMBER 18th 2015
OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! "Cabinet 2 has now been passed to Openreach’s commissioning
We are overjoyed to officially announce that
Cabinet 2 has had its connection problems rectified and is in the
process of being commissioned. According to Openreach this can take up
to 2 weeks, so let's keep an eye on the availability checker. Cabinet
1 actually went through in just 6 days!
It's been a long haul but let's all hope that at
last the bulk of Horsted Keynes village can have full speed two way
access to the internet very soon.
Here is the email received from West Sussex Better
can confirm that the engineering works to enable Danehill cabinet 2
are now complete. The cabinet has now been passed to Openreach’s
commissioning team. All being well, the cabinet will then be released
to internet service providers within two weeks. Please advise your
readers to use the postcode checker on our
You webmaster can't get the above link to go to an
active Postcode checker when using Chrome. If using Internet Explorer
then it is necessary to accept cookies and then click on the resulting
CABINET 2 FIBRE UPDATE
The contractors were far less forthcoming than they
have been in the past, but I can confirm that just over 1km of fibre
was completely replaced today. Using the official Openreach price list
this replacement will have cost just over £4000. As well as this the route has been
slightly revised meaning that one or two fewer joints will be
required. Cabinet 2 is now 2,900 route metres from the exchange with just 2
joints in the fibre - rather good actually.
I can't confirm with certainty but believe that
Cabinet 2 can "now see the light" all the way to and from Dane Hill exchange!
If this is so then can activation be that far away?
To satisfy those
who just don't believe there is already a bundle of four optical fibres under their
feet, and 12 fibres at the top of the village, I have uploaded a short video that I took of the fibre re-blowing
operation from earlier today. I hope you find it interesting despite
it having been taken with a simple stills camera.
SEPTEMBER 15th - CABINET 2 TURNS INTO A JOKER!
DAMAGED FIBRE REQUIRE COMPLETE "REBLOW"!
Whilst the contractors who actually put the fibre
into Cabinet 2 were factually correct - there WAS a physical fibre
connection to the cabinet - they failed to mention one important fact -
that no light was getting through from the exchange! This explains my
exclusive update below when I revealed that a BT engineer visit would
be required before commissioning could begin. So with that information
to hand all my notes about immanent
activation go right out of the door!
You can therefore perhaps imagine my surprise when
on Tuesday morning I found two BT (yes real proper senior BT fibre engineers)
in Danehill Lane trying to find a faulty fibre connection. Their
equipment told them the fault was located 800 metres from the Cabinet
2 and common sense told them this was a good place to look! The
trouble was they had been working to the old plans which showed the
fibre going direct from Cabinet 2 towards Cabinet 1 and then on to Dane Hill but
as older readers of the website will know BT decided in their wisdom to
reroute the fibre via a circuitous route which I have been asked
to not reveal in detail - hence a few edits further down the page.
It was in fact doubly fortunate that I was about as
the engineers, good as they were,
had no idea where the fibre actually ran underground! You can't use a
beeper metal detector to detect optical fibre of course. A quick trip in
my car to trace out the route that I had watched going in and they soon found where some of the
several problems lay. At least BT engineers seem to want to get
the job done properly - 'nuf said!
UPDATE - It now
seems the fibre is physically damaged underground and will require
total replacement. Fortunately I am told that BT really want this job
completed quickly so the contractors have been booked to return and do
the job properly tomorrow (Wednesday, 16th September). Rest assured your scribe
will be out to check. ;-) This means that providing the outer tube
isn't damaged, a further weeks delay can be expected
before activation of Cabinet 2, Horsted Keynes. If the outer tube needed
replacement as well then that extra delay would be even longer. :-(
Is there a BT Company Director living in the village?
;-) As I
mentioned some way down the page this job does seem to have been
getting priority all the way through - not that I am complaining of
course - just wondered why? p.s. Perhaps the priority is now running a
SEPTEMBER 11th - ALL
VILLAGE CABINETS TO BE PHYSICALLY CONNECTED TODAY - ACTIVATION EXPECTED NEXT
WEEK - PERHAPS!
We have received a firm assurance - from the
contractor actually doing the job - that all cabinets in the
Horsted Keynes village area will be connected to fibre today. The last
fibre connection to Cabinet 2 (opposite the old Post Office) went through
this morning and the final joints were hopefully being made
After this automatic software should take over and
a test sequence initiated. If this is passed - it usually is - then we
can expect to see the web site offering "Accepting Orders" later next
week. It's really quite amazing how automated the system is!
UPDATE We have
just learned that Cabinet 2 will require an engineer visit before
testing can begin. Looks like a further week to wait for the "unlucky"
corner of the village!
So far the few people who have been connected in
Horsted Keynes village are
reporting above standard speeds which is only to be expected as they
will not be sharing their service with many others. Once the entire
village is connected speeds can be expected to revert to advertised.
SEPTEMBER 10th - CABINET
2 PUT BACK TO "UNDER REVIEW" BUT THE FIBRE GETS RECONNECTED!
I must say (this is your webmaster writing) that BT
/ Openreach never ceases to amaze me as when I checked their site this morning I was
confronted with something that made my shiver - Cabinet 2 has been put
back! Let me explain..
I was really disheartened when I looked at the
Openreach web site today as I had been expecting to see that it was
Taking Orders and I could confirm my long outstanding FTTC order but
the weekly update actually showed that the activation had been put
back and now read "Under Review" which can lead to delays of several
quarters up to a full year. Imagine my amazement then when I passed
the cabinet and found an engineer actually connecting the real actual
fibre to the cabinet! You can see a picture of the very fibre that we
will use at the top of this page - it's the actual offcut from the cabinet!
Apparently they had to reroute the fibre which
partially explains the delays to activation. The fibre that was
already installed did not meet specifications so had to be reblown via
a different route. I stood and watched as the final piece of fibre was
blown the almost 1 km towards Cabinet
1 in Birchgrove Road. This took nearly one hour! I am not sure if the
fibre will stop and be joined on there or will continue down the
existing route to Dane Hill exchange. Given the high take up in that
part of the village I would guess that the latter will take place. The
original route for the cable was the far more direct one along the
Green but this was found to be blocked, hence the long diversion and the
delay. The upside is that villagers in the Wyats Lane area could now
order a faster service - at a price, unless BT/Openreach decide to
install a new cabinet around there which is entirely possible given
our population density!
I am in the process of uploading - slowly of course
thanks to our adsl connection - some pictures of the fibre blowing operation which is indeed both quick and easy,
the contractor just sits in his van drinking coffee while the
installation takes care of itself! It's probably not that easy, and I
am no doubt doing hard working contractors a disservice, but when you
think how they used to put in telephone cables in the past with gangs
of workmen sweating away, life these days does seem rather easier.
If anyone has firm news of activation please do get
in touch, as it's pretty galling to have near neighbours able to
connect at 60Meg when all we can get is 3Meg. Still things do seem to be
going in the right direction!
"Blowing the fibre into
The Openreach contractors - who incidentally also
work for Virgin - were hard at work on 10th September 2015 installing
the actual fibre into the ready installed pipes to provide a
connection for Horsted Keynes Cabinet 2 today. Here are a few pictures
to explain the process.
The fibre is in a huge drum inside the van. The fibre
can run for up to several km without needing a booster amplifier.
Please keep an eye on your cabinet - if it's open tell BT immediately!
The fibre snakes inside a protective tube from the van and into the cabinet.
Then straight into the tube that goes underground and along to the
Inside the cabinet itself the fibre can be seen
entering the pre installed tube bottom left. Look closely and you can
see there is room for up to 4 fibre pairs. Each will later be connected to the left hand
side of the cabinet where the fibre to copper adapters sit.
This machine provides a very high 200psi blast of air
which pushes the fibre down the pipe. I'm told the
engineers once tried to use one to inflate a flat tyre which
immediately exploded, so it's pretty powerful! The fibre has a rough
outer surface to catch the air.
Inside the van: Air enters via the blue pipe on the left, fibre goes in
at the side, both come out the tube on the right hand side of the
combining machine! Neat! I watched very this machine push the fibre
well over 1 km along a pipe.
The fibre itself with a rough surface so that it can be
blown along. Containing 4 optical strands each
able to carry several dozen internet connections up to several km
depending on route and the number of joints. There's .3dBloss per
joint and .6dB each end.
SEPTEMBER 7th - FINAL
CABINET TO BE ACTIVATED THIS WEEK?
With thanks to Freddie Butler we understand from
West Sussex Better Connected that the delay in activating the cabinet
opposite the old Post Office (that's "Cabinet 2") was caused by a cable run becoming blocked
which we further understand is in the process of being repaired over
the next 24 hours.
This being so the cabinet can be expected to enter
the "commissioning phase" later this week.
Please remember this information is passed on in
good faith and we don't guarantee that it will happen as above, but
wouldn't it be great if it did! ;-) Please also remember that the two
web sites that we commonly use to check fibre availability can take
some time to update and reflect the current status.
If you see Openreach at work an email to us would
be greatly appreciated. More firm news as soon as we get it.
AUGUST 28th - FIBRE NOW
AVAILABLE IN TOP PART OF THE VILLAGE!
If you get your phone signal from the cabinet at
the top of the village then you NOW can place your order for fibre.
Activation is expected to be in 3 weeks time - the third week of
September 2015. Those of us in the main part of the village will have
to wait until our cabinet is activated when we will be at the end of
the queue behind you lucky lot!
We have been told that some of the cheaper ISPs
will not take orders until later next week, until then it's BT or
nothing but as activation is a few weeks away this may not make much
We would like to thank the village residents who told us of the latest update and would be MOST GRATEFUL to hear of actual speeds achieved once you get your service installed and working. Please let us know which speed you ordered - either 40/10 or 80/20 - and particularly whether you had an engineer installation or are still using filters on each phone socket.
AUGUST 24th - NOW THE
FIBRE "PIPE" IS GOING IN!
It's all go on the Horsted Keynes fibre front as on
a wet and miserable August Monday, and just a couple of days after our exchange
was flagged as being "enabled for broadband", engineers started to
install the "pipe", the final job before the actual fibre is
and our village is dragged into the fast digital age!
Our exclusive photo shows an engineer feeding the
pipe towards an access shaft located further down Lewes Road. It seems
the plan is to encircle the village with fibre so if you are rich
enough, or your company will foot the bill, Fibre to the
Premises may be a real possibility in some parts! Unfortunately the
fibre itself does not seem to be going down the hill towards the church which
means residents living here would have to pay for a dedicated feed
from the centre of the village (at £6 a metre) for Fibre to the
Premises or put up with
"standard" fibre speeds of 36/10 or 72/20 Meg. It's all a bit better
than the present 5Meg anyway!
Fibre to the Premises is a bit unfair in some ways
as the first person to order it will often have to pay for the fibre
to be installed all the way to their house (doh!) but the next people
to order can "hijack" that fibre and share it for themselves making
their installation much cheaper. A way round this is to sell the
advantages to your neighbours and share the initial costs. Having said
that some ISPs will subsidise the extra fibre costs - it really pays
to shop around if you want a truly fast internet connection.
More news as we get it but an educated informer
suggests that no fibre will go in until all the pipes are laid. So
it's still looking to be the end of September for the cabinet in the
centre of the village to be activated (plus
another two or three weeks for the actual installation) which is what
some of us were told 3 years ago!
AUGUST 12th - WORK
COMPLETED CLEARING OUT THE PIPES - NOW ALL WE NEED IS THE FIBRE!
Traffic lights mark the start of
work to install the new fibre cable. On the right under the road, the cable that
you can see is the analogue connection that presently carries all
telephone and internet calls from Horsted Keynes to Dane Hill
telephone exchange. These ducts were first installed before the
Second World War to connect the small Horsted Keynes automatic telephone
exchange (which was in the field behind the Police House) to the
area exchange in Tunbridge Wells.
It didn't take as long as expected and apart from a
short 3 metre section next to the green cabinet on the corner of Dane
Hill Lane the way is now clear for the fibre team to blow the new
optical fibre cable along the road - to bring Horsted Keynes into the
fast modern connected world! Apparently the short blockage is not likely
to cause a problem for the installation team - we hope! You might be
interested to know that each fibre cabinet costs BT/Openreach £26,500!
That's in its basic state with room for another 5 or so cards to be
added later if fibre broadband demand requires it.
Rumours are (we don't like repeating rumours, but we
got this from the workmen) the fibre team should be about sometime in
the middle of September - we hope!
Using a glorified "Dyno Rod"
type of borer the men remove decades of mud and muck from the old by
ducting. Most of the damage is caused by small furry animals, but as
you can see the construction methods were quite solid in the 1930s..
JULY 2015 - A BIT LIKE
BILLY NO MATES ALL POWERED UP AND NOBODY TO TALK TO
The two Horsted
Keynes fibre broadband cabinets powered and ready, but waiting for
their fibre connections to make them work.
So here they are almost 8 months after Openreach
promised activation "within the next 6 months", a bit like "Billy no
mates", stand the two Horsted Keynes fibre street cabinets. They are
connected to the mains power (you can hear them gently humming away if
you put an ear close to them), and they could be connected to your home
phone line in a few minutes but going the other way there is no fibre
connection to the outside world.
How much longer will the village have to wait for the
"big switch on"? At HorstedKeynes.Com we receive many emails, often
offering the latest activation rumours, but we do not want to raise
false hopes so don't pass them on unless substantiated or we see actual
work on the ground. We have contacted Openreach who just give us the
"Company line" which is they cannot predict when (or IF!) a fibre
service will be available in our area. (That's because they are looking
at a computer screen that does not even show the green cabinets as being
in situ!) Obviously the web site still says "within 6 months" but that
expired several months ago.
It's all quite odd as when we spoke to the engineers
who installed the green cabinets they told us that our area had for some
reason suddenly been given absolute top priority and they had been told
that they had to finish their part of the installation that week - which
to give them credit they did! Except for a small amount of extra work to
attend to a collapsed culvert off the main fibre route in Lewes Road -
this was attended to a couple of weeks ago.
So why the delay?
We don't need to give you the reasons why we NEED a
fast connection in this area, so we will. ;-) Thanks to a previous ill
informed campaign details here, we still have
little to no mobile phone reception in many parts of the Parish. If that
mobile mast had been built it would by now have been upgraded and have a
fibre connection - all paid for by the mobile operators - and the
village would have used this same fibre and had it's fast broadband
service installed several years ago. Now we will have to wait for fibre
to come via Openreach so that the mobile companies can think of
installing their new local 4G boxes to address the poor signal issue -
There are local small and home businesses that have
to upload large files - or even just home YouTube files. The only way to
do this at present is to tie up the family broadband for 24 hours - and
hope it doesn't crash, or physically drive with a memory stick to
another area and use either a friend or host network - one business does
precisely this several times each week when they sit outside a friendly
house with a laptop at midnight! What a waste of fuel - and sleep! We
could go on but you get the idea why fast broadband is nowadays
Please, if you get any FIRM facts or you actually see
the light blue BT or Openreach barriers in our area don't hesitate to
contact us here. Even take a picture if you want to be famous. We will
go out and see what work is going on - there have already been a couple
of false alarms. Openreach are a seven days a week company so work may
well start on a weekend.
completeness a photo of the third street cabinet in Danehill - with the old
analogue cabinet behind. The photo on the right shows a rapidly fading mark on Danehill Lane,
Horsted Keynes, to help the fibre installation crew find the
ready and waiting underground ducting.
2015 - DANEHILL / HORSTED KEYNES FIBRE UPDATE - ALL STREET CABINETS
NOW READY - WE ARE JUST WAITING FOR THE FIBRE!
The new No2 fibre cabinet has been installed on the green
opposite the Post Office. The work on the other side of the road to
provide electric power to the box from the electricity pole has also
Two fibre optic cabinets have now been installed in
Horsted Keynes village and the third in Dane Hill village. No1 is on the junction of Birchgrove Road and
DaneHill Lane. Cabinet 2
is located opposite the Post Office, both have electric power
connected and are now wired up to the old copper BT network. Together
with the third cabinet which is located near the club in Dane Hill this
makes that part of the DaneHill Exchange fibre job complete. This sounds
good of course (and it is) but the essential, and very expensive, fibre
connection to the outside world is still missing from all street
cabinets in our area. Each cabinet costs £26,500 in its basic state
where it can serve 50 or so lines. IF fibre demand requires it adding
extra cards can enable each cabinet to serve just over 250 premises. At
the end of March 2017 there were 77,033 active cabinet in the UK. That's
room for 19 million subscribers!
So next the "fibre blower" squad will come along and
hopefully complete the 2mile job of running a fibre optic cable from the DaneHill
exchange to our village in one day! Yes we find that amazing too, but
apparently BT have got the work down to a fine art as they blow the
fibre along existing underground ducts. Now IF the ducts are clear we
are told that this is a simple job, but if there have been any collapses
over the years - and remember some of the ducts were installed in the
1930s - then this is when the fun and delays can easily begin.
Apparently it can require County Council permission to dig up the
affected section of road which can quite literally take months. Perhaps
the Rector could have a quiet word during his next service! Otherwise it
could be next week or it could be next year
before fibre is active on all cabinets in our area.
We have been reading on line how unreliable were the
Openreach predictions of when a certain area was to be "fibred" and if
you look on line you will still see that there is a 6 month wait for
Horsted Keynes to be brought into the modern world. As we wrote last
time - at least things are now seen to be moving along!
To explain wiring a little more. Before any
installations can begin every telephone wire had to be physically
from the existing green cabinet to the new larger powered cabinet. This
is whether you order fibre or not. The old green cabinets could then be removed
but are often left in situ to provide the legal requirement of a 999
emergency service. In some cases the new fibre cabinets are later moved
to where the old cabinet was. There may be a short break in your phone service while the move happens
- usually just a few minutes. If and when you order fibre then on
installation day an engineer will need to visit your home to replace the
faceplate on your BT Master Socket or "BT box". The new faceplate looks like this.
If you don't have a Master Socket (and there are now just a handful of
homes without one) then you will face an additional charge of £200 for
its installation. There was a free amnesty a few years ago so if you
missed this then hard luck, sorry. Don't worry, 99% of people have some
sort of socket even if they don't know where it is!
The new fibre faceplate already installed chez
HorstedKeynes.Com (they are backwards compatible). Top connection goes
to your fibre router and the lower to your existing phones. You can then
remove all the old filters in your home.
Some cheaper ISPs still expect you to use self installed filters when
you go to fibre - just like those you use now for adsl - but you gets what you pays for,
make no mistake, plug in filters are slower!
After replacing the faceplate the installation engineer
then visits the new cabinet and physically moves the end of your
telephone wire to a new position which intercepts the broadband signals,
digitises them on a small board then sends them off along the new fibre
optic cables. After setting up your new fibre router you suddenly find yourself in the new faster modern
As soon as any cabinet is activated the Openreach system will
signal to ISPs that orders are being accepted and we will all be able to order fibre
optic broadband from our favourite supplier! Please be aware that there is a lead time of several
weeks before the Openreach web site actually says that orders are being
accepted so it might be worth trying to order early. If you find that
you are able to order then please let us know so that we can inform the rest of
the village. You won't lose anything by "letting the cat out of the
bag" as your order will still take priority. broadband - at-
horstedkeynes.com is the easiest way to get in touch with us.
What "Real World" speed can I expect?
With Fibre To The Cabinet there are two speeds
available. One is up to 38meg download speed and the other
up to 76meg. Now the up to is extremely important as your
distance from the cabinet will greatly affect your maximum
available speed. In fact the lucky few who can see the new cabinet will
be the only people who can get the really fastest connections and if
they are game players the shortest "pings". Cable
lengths are extremely important and affect fibre speed enormously. For example
if you live just 500 metres away then you maximum available speed will
drop to about 45meg and if at the end of Hamsland for example then 28meg will be more
likely. Beyond here, say at the bottom end of Wyatt's Lane then 20meg is
a reasonable expectation. Some people will be too far away to get any
fast fibre connection at all. These are cable distances remember not
as the crow flies! It's still a lot better than adsl but worth
remembering if you were thinking of uploading video or ordering the more expensive product.
Some ISPs may promise a speed and then be unable to deliver it. Remember
you are now guaranteed your predicted speed or you can cite Ofcom then cancel and get a
If you need a really fast connection (perhaps for
business use) then in theory you could order a Fibre To The Premises
installation, which is believe it or not, a fibre run all the way from
the cabinet to your home or premises. This gives you a 300meg down and
30meg up connection, or rather it did, as BT have stopped providing this
service for now. The reasons seem to be that it was too popular and
taking up too many resources, despite costing £750 plus £3 a metre from
box to home - so nearly £7000 if you are 2km away. Oh then another £80
or so per month rental. Still some people in Horsted Keynes are very
Once the system is up and running we would greatly
appreciate hearing your real world experiences - particularly your
actual speed test results. There are several
techniques - for example an extended wi-fi network with dedicated yagi
aerials - that can be tried to get faster signals to outlying areas once
fibre is generally available. So don't despair if BT say you are too
far away from the cabinet to join in the party.
JANUARY 2015 UPDATE -
HORSTED KEYNES VILLAGE FIBRE "WITHIN 6 MONTHS" - OFFICIAL!
We are sorry that this site has been not been updated lately due to
your webmaster's poor health but thought that you would want to know
that the BT web site now confirms that the cabinet in Horsted Keynes
village will be "fibred" within the next 6 months. That would be by June
BT are not yet accepting orders but when a date is given this is
usually a good sign that the work has been "ordered" and as long as we
don't get a protracted period of poor weather we should soon see
temporary traffic lights on the road between Dane Hill and Horsted
Keynes while the team hang a fibre cable along the road.
Then the green cabinet opposite the Post Office will need replacing
with a newer model complete with a mains power supply. Fortunately the
newer style fibre cabinets are almost the same size as the present one,
planning rules also mean that Openreach can go ahead with this work
All in all it looks as though we may all get super fast (well 35Meg
anyway) broadband by the middle of the summer!
By the way if you are happy with your present broadband speed then
nothing will change for you except your broadband will get a little
faster as the connection back to the exchange will use a fibre optic
cable instead of parallel copper. So everyone is a winner!
Next all we need is a mobile phone service that works indoors and
Horsted Keynes truly will be in the 21st Century!
ANYONE INTERESTED IN A
FREE VILLAGE WIDE MOBILE PHONE NETWORK THAT WORKS?
YES - AND TO REPEAT IT'S FREE!!!
If you have lived in Horsted Keynes for any length of time you will
know that one of the problems of living here is the fact that because of
poor signal problems using a mobile phone varies from difficult to
impossible, even outdoors. While ringing a friend indoors from a
downstairs cloakroom for example is often impossible. Although this is
network dependant it is true to say that the area around the church is
not in range of any mobile network and other areas which are popular
with walkers are also hard to reach in an emergency. O2 have improved
lately but other networks such as 3 for example are a dead loss around
Now one network, Vodafone, have decided to "do their bit" (and no
doubt get more subscribers) by offering to install a network of signal
boosters in certain villages. They are offering to do the job completely
free of charge - all the community has to pay for is the electricity to
run the network - this is similar to running a domestic TV set, so not
expensive a few pounds a year.
Each box has a free separate internet connection (also paid for by
Vodafone) and is attached to a local (usually a public) building such as
the Martindale, the Village Hall or the church, and the village suddenly
enjoys full 3G and 4G network coverage! They are happy to pay for up to
5 boxes per village, and each box has a range of 500 Metres, so add the
Catholic church to the list plus perhaps a helpful homeowner in Bonfire
Lane and the entire village could be covered!
This short article is to introduce villagers to the concept of the
Vodafone Open Sure Signal project and ask if anyone is interested in
looking into the matter further? To get the ball rolling it is
apparently necessary to get a local Councillor who would co-ordinate the
Whilst we no longer offer the computer help service that we
previously offered we might still be able to help with your connection
speed if you'd care to give us a ring.
Three mobile internet signal has gone back up!
Many village residents use Three mobile broadband for
back up internet connection and when out and about. Last November (on the
12th to be precise) the signal that had until then provided a perfectly
reliable service dropped to nothing! In May 2010 we happened to test the
service (after the leaves were firmly established on the trees) and were
astounded to find levels back to the same as they were last year!
All was fine! We updated the village web site and enjoyed
our mobile connection. Then in mid-July the signals reverted to what they
were like in the winter - nowt!
Looking on the Ofcom web site we found that Three had
dramatically increased the power output on the nearest mast (in Lindfield)
but we think the reliability returned mainly because the system automatically
defaulted to the more reliable Orange network when all else fails. That's
what happened for a few months but it's now back as it was!
We will try to give a full report as soon as we are able.
Until then if you have a dusty old Three Mobile Broadband dongle you might
like to dust it off and try using it again.
The OLD map - most people
in the village could connect quite easily.
The November 2009 map shows much
better coverage, but it's totally wrong.
Three coverage map from
One day it will be accurate!
July 2010 and the signal "improves" on paper. But is it rubbish on the
Three have changing the style of their map so it's not too clear, but the
above old map shows that areas of Horsted Keynes WERE in the reception area
last month. Three say we have NEVER had a service around here despite our
previously connecting at 2Meg. The newer map showed much better coverage,
trouble is nobody in the village could connect! The latest version shows a
lower signal than before but we can connect! Out of the area signals have
dropped dramatically and most people who used to see three bars now see just
one. There simply MUST be something wrong around here!
The following was how it was until last week when Three "upgraded" the
service in our area.
Result Of "Three" Mobile Broadband Tests in This Area
It CAN be done - Despite being outside their published
area the above speed test shows the result of our test of our broadband
speed in the RH17 7 Horsted Keynes area using a Three mobile broadband
dongle. Oh yes
we were also using our unique broadband booster device. No photo as it has been
shown as it has been suggested that we might patent the design. The retail price would be well
under £20. Anyone got £10,000 and want to be a "Dragon"?
We have been conducting some tests of the new mobile
broadband services in the Horsted Keynes area. Some of you may not know that
all the major mobile phone companies now offer a service which gives a
connection at broadband speeds but using their wireless networks instead of
telephone wires. The advantages of an always on mobile connection when out
and about are obvious, but if your broadband connection is important to you
having one of their "dongles" to use at home if your main service goes down
can be a real help. Fortunately a properly set up mobile broadband modem can
be shared between home computers just as regular broadband can so you only
need a single connection for all of your home computers to connect.
So what are our conclusions? The Three network would seem
to offer the best chance of reliable service in many parts of the village.
We regually connect at 2.5Meg which is very respectable although the
connection is rather more heavily "contended" (shared with other users) than
regular broadband. This connection speed is plenty good enough for normal
browsing and email but can be a bit slow if downloading large files. For
example the videos on the BBC News web site are easily watchable without
break-ups but we wouldn't download a programme file unless it was urgent.
Fortunately most people don't need to download large files immediately so
can wait for their main service to be restored. We recommend your turning
off any file or TV sharing software as this uses your connection even when
not actually showing a video. The average speed seems to have gone up
If you live in the higher parts of the village, that's
the Green, Lewes Road, Hamsland etc then you should be able to connect quite
easily. As usual those in the "posh" houses down in the dip near the church
may have more difficulty. If you can't connect then we have a couple of
tricks up our sleeves that may help you including our own design of
"Broadband Booster" which is a string and sealing wax prototype at present!
Mobile broadband can cost as little as £10 a month for
one Gig of data which is plenty for most peoples' normal usage. You can also
take their one month short term contract which represents excellent value.
The dongles themselves can now be obtained for less than £30 or even free.
If you would like more info please do get in touch. If
you wish we can bring round a "test rig" that will show your likely
reception strength before you buy.
(Written when Haywards
Heath did not have ultra fast broadband but still relevant today)
VILLAGE PLAN - A TECHNICAL COMMENTARY FROM THE
[Certainly a personal comment - separate from
the rest of this web site which tries to be impartial]
I notice from the village plan that among the sensible
suggestions are one or two unwarranted complaints, one is "Broadband
speeds are too slow" and another is "Mobile phone reception is inadequate".
Now as a "webmaster" I may not be able to comment on many
things about the village plan, and probably wouldn't want to anyway as my
family have lived here for more than 40 years and we love the village as it
is now. I know that the Green is beautiful and should remain unaltered, but
know little of new roads, litter bins or stoollball, but as an experienced
electronics engineer I do think that on such technical issues my thoughts
may be relevant.
Are present village broadband speeds too slow, and what
does "too slow" mean anyway?
If we compare our connection speeds with say Haywards
Heath then you may be interested to know that in the village we can
have as fast a connection as many "townies"! Yes in Haywards Heath some
people can connect at a full 8 or 9 Megs but many get just over 4 - that is
splendid - but right on the edge of Horsted Keynes our connection
speed is 7.4 Megs!
B.T. may not do many things right but a year or so ago
they installed what I will call a "broadband amplifier" in the green cabinet
opposite the Post Office. Wires radiate from there to most parts of the
village. There are fewer of these central amplifiers in towns as the
infrastructure is more spread out and less centralised. In Horsted
Keynes many of the telephone wires already "pointed" towards the central
cabinet so it was rather easy to put an amplifier in there which helped most
people. As all broadband signals go down the same B.T. lines it matters not
a jot if you are with B.T. A.O.L. or any other ISP, all can connect
at the same speed - if your ISP will let you. And that's the point, if.
So what do the village plan proponents expect or want? If
they expect a 50 Meg optical fibre broadband signal then they won't get it
for many, many years. If that is what they want now then they should
consider moving on - to Milton Keynes perhaps, where a very few lucky
souls do indeed get this speed connection.;-) The rest of us can get a
perfectly adequate 4Meg or more connection right now, and it will get a bit
quicker in a year or so when the Dane Hill exchange is upgraded and
unbundled allowing other ISPs to put their equipment into that green
I visited a village home yesterday where they were
downloading at a mind numbing 15K. "Useless this village broadband", they
said. It took me 5 minutes to move a single wire and bring their speed up to
4 Meg - and their speed will get faster when the exchange "learns" of their
improved connection. So please don't blame the village infrastructure before
checking what is happening
inside your home. We have a proper carefully installed broadband
system from a professional ISP which costs us a shade over £15 for 100 Gig
each month, perhaps a couple of pounds more than the cheapos, but as I said
above it gives us a more than adequate speed all controlled from Worcester
in the UK, not India! In most cases you could connect at this speed too! If
you went for the cheapest supplier when you moved up to broadband
from dial up then what can you expect? What happens when your broadband goes
wrong? You shout down the phone to India who fob you off and are no help.
That's what you pay for which is fine, but please don't blame the village
infrastructure! What I suppose I am saying is that if broadband is as
important to you as it is to us then invest in a proper system, properly
installed supplied by a professional ISP. Don't get the cheapest plan from a
The strong broadband signals are in most cases there if
you want to use them, but if you still have the same cheapo box that came
free from your ISP several years ago and especially if you still have
filters all over your home instead of a single master socket fitted then you
are not getting the connection speeds that you are able. There is also an
exciting new product called an iPlate. This is screwed to your existing main
telephone socket and it does... nothing! Nothing immediately that is,
but if you check your connection about a week or so later you will find that
in many cases you are getting an extra 1Meg per second speed! It does not
work in all cases, and in new homes with new telephone wiring it is probably a waste of time, but in
older houses that have a number of telephone sockets installed by D.I.Y. thr
iPlate does seem to be very
worthwhile. We have them in stock in the village and can install them for
you by the way (advert over).
Let me add that yes there are certainly a few homes
around the village which get an appalling broadband signal, often because
they had aluminium wires put in when they had a second line installed to
work their burglar alarm or oil tank meter. A few, perhaps 4 or 5 homes can only get the basic
minimum 512K connection, and two that we know of can get no broadband at
all. However exactly the same thing is true of Haywards Heath. In fact it is
worse over there as many of the new developments are located a long way from
a telephone exchange so whole roads get poor speeds rather than just odd
houses in our village.
Can I add a final comment - and this one really annoys
me! One of the other complaints contained in the village plan is that
there is "inadequate mobile phone reception". Fair enough, it's dreadful in
most areas, even on the Green there are almost no signals to speak of. But err just a minute,
Orange tried to put up a local mast that would
have given us all perfect local indoor mobile phone and mobile broadband
reception in Horsted Keynes? Instant objections and fears of cancer, nose
bleeds, childhood deformities, spontaneous cattle abortions, in fact any ill
informed opinions the objectors could find when Googling the internet.
Even though the Orange mast was going to be located less
than a quarter of a mile from and right opposite our bedroom window (in fact
we were one of the nearest houses to the proposed mast) I firmly
supported the application! You see because of the way mobile phones work
it would in fact have
reduced the radiation received by most villagers! The application was of
course quickly thrown out by the planners so the nearest masts are still
located in Lindfield and Haywards Heath and we struggle to make contact when
out. (If you'd like to see more of our comments do please click the
technical explanation )
How on earth, less than a year later, can the same
villagers who objected to a local mast complain of "inadequate mobile phone
reception". You quite simply can't have it both ways! Where should the
transmitters be sited then? "Not in my back yard" comes to mind!
p.s. Did you know that all four mobile phone companies
literally flood the village with signals every year? For the three days of
the South of England show they put in large mobile transmitters on a hill
overlooking the Ardingly showground and the signals reach over to Horsted
Keynes. That's why your signal level suddenly leapt up to five bars last
June! The phone companies do this quite legally on a temporary "show"
licence from Ofcom. If there hadn't been the objections last year we could
now have had this strength service right here every day! Along with
strong mobile phone signals comes 7.2Meg mobile broadband, which would have
been great for those homes that can't get a decent broadband service, and
would have provided a fast back-up service for the rest of us. Oh well!