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In January 2012, a number of my fellow Penylan residents and signed a petition, which we handed to the Welsh Government with the support if our local AM, Jenny Rathbone. It called for the end of the 'NotSpot' in Penylan, where many were unable to get Internet access except at very slow speeds - useless for those many professional people attempting to work from home, for example. Shortly thereafter, we were promised by BT that we would all have "superfast broadband" to our homes by 2012. 

I recently received a letter from Jenny, who has now been told by BT that, due to not knowing the conditions in their Roath underground ducts, the project will now be delayed by three months. This is because, so they explain, they won't know the state of these ducts until they start to excavate them. 

This is an interesting comment. It's also blindingly obvious, in a Donald Rumsfeld "unknown unknowns" sense. Of course you can't see into an enclosed underground space. However, that doesn't explain why the excavation work wasn't started earlier. 

It was clever slight of hand when the ConDem coalition government started to refer to their success in having reduced the deficit by a quarter - rather than the debt. Similar sounding words, but whereas one means reducing the national debt, the other just means increasing the debt by less than they would have been. If it were me, that would equate to the difference between reducing my overdraft and personal loans and borrowing more money at a slower rate than I had previously being.

However, that's not the point of this post. What BT cleverly did was to promise, back in early 2012, that everyone in Penylan would have access to "superfast fibre optic broadband" by the end of 2012. The inference, that everyone who wanted to be upgraded by the end of 2012 would have this option.

I contacted BT towards the end of last year, and was reassured that the fibre optic capability would be installed to the Penylan cabinets by the end of 2012. Now, this is not quite the same thing - but if the cabling reached the cabinets, then all that they then needed to do was run the cables to the houses that wanted upgrading.

It's now 2013, and there is mixed news. Firstly, Ann Beynon (BT Director Wales) says that there is unlikely to be more than a further three months of delay before installing fibre optic cables to the Penylan box. However, my concern is that this is not what we were originally promised that the installation would be to properties by the end of 2012. Oh, the noble art of double-speak! I hope that there will be no further need for it's use on this matter......because I know that there are several other parts of Cardiff which also don't have the best broadband speeds (areas in Llanedeyrn and Pentwyn spring to mind, and I'm sure that there are more).

Anon
1/15/2013 12:40:37 pm

I stumbled across this article and this is news to me. Thank you for covering what is happening regarding broadband in this area.

This problem has infuriated me for about 13 years, ever since Cardiff was earmarked as one of the first 5 cities to have broadband access. If I recall correctly, I had to wait another 4 years, until 2004, before I could order broadband and, as you mention, the speeds are horrendous at best.

I am an I.T professional and live near Llanedeyrn Road. I can safely say that in it's current state, I would not recommend buying or renting property in the Penylan area. It's absolutely horrendous.

I always assumed that they (the enablers of broadband) dragged their feet regarding this problem because Penylan can be seen as an area with low demand; my area is pretty much older generations of people. I think this problem is also compounded by ignorance - I think a lot of people have no idea what speeds are 'the norm' these days, especially in my area.

There is no high speed Internet access via DSL, no cable provider in the area or fast 3G/4G signal.

I also thought that there was no legal requirement for them to provide high speed Internet access; the only requirement was for phone lines to be able to carry voice. Perhaps this should change with the way in which people live their lives.

I do hope things change regarding this problem or I will be forced to move away from the area.

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1/15/2013 06:37:10 pm

Hi Anon. Thanks for your comment. Yes - the area around Llanedeyrn Road is one of the worst affected, although if you're at the bottom by the roundabout apparently some people can now get Sky broadband through Sky's own infrastructure.

I think that you're quite right in your analysis that the telecomms infrastructure providers have placed little effort on upgrading the solution in the area due to the perception that Penylan is populated by the elderly who, if they are online, just use it to send and receive emails. A first hand example of the impact of this overly laid back approach is that even my parents (who...ahem...mainly use their internet for email and internet banking) are starting to find that their connection is quite slow. Virtually dial-up slow, in fact!

I'll keep the pressure on - as I know Jenny and her office will also.

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Daniel
1/15/2013 07:24:07 pm

Can't you use a WiFi dongle?

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1/15/2013 07:50:10 pm

Hi Daniel. Good point - to which the short answer is of course "Yes". The longer answer, as you will no doubt therefore surmise, begins "Yes, but....."

Using a dongle is the way that a large number of people do access the internet whilst they're in the so-called 'Penylan NotSpot'. The problems are that (1) it's more expensive than a fixed connection and (2) it's slower than a good quality broadband connection.

I haven't mentioned in this post (for reasons of space, to be honest) the fact that a number of people working from home have resorted to this more expensive solution. However, they are being extremely reasonable in so doing. And no change for the better was ever achieved by people saying "Oh well, let's make the best of what we've got and not try to find a better way".

Admittedly I'm being unapologetically awkward, and hopefully a bit of a pain to BT, on the basis that otherwise the promised improvement will not be forthcoming and they'll have got away without providing an excellent service to their customers.

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Anon
1/15/2013 10:46:49 pm

Daniel,

Regarding 'wifi dongles'. I do apologise for not making this clearer in my comments.

I do have a number of 3G mobile devices (Huawei are the popular brand of MIFI), which I use for work while travelling.

You can use a USB dongle to access 3G services, but the signal seems both poor and congested in the Llanedeyrn Road area, so it becomes a pointless task. There does seem to be a window of time where it improves at approx. 3am, for a short period, which is not really useful.

And, as mentioned by Michael, the cost of which makes it worse than the substandard broadband that the area currently receives.

Due to my line of work, I did look at investing in satellite broadband providers. This typically provides you with a better download speed, but the upload speed is, understandably, affected by the technology. Satellite down, phone line up. This certainly used to be prohibitively expensive with any of the decent providers.

Furthermore, my cousins in rural West Wales had faster broadband speeds than we do in the capital city. Figure that out! It's actually quite shocking.

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Anon
2/14/2013 04:41:34 am

I knew it was too good to be true. BT could never claim that March 2013 was when the infrastructure would be upgraded in Penylan and Cyncoed without work already underway.

Today, I noticed the date for change has slipped back to 30th June (so that's pretty much July), by which time I will bet that it will slip further again. Also, the speeds are not indicative of fibre either.

Yay for BT and my fellow poor residents in Penylan and Cyncoed.

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2/14/2013 09:43:30 am

Thanks for that information, Anon! I spoke to Jenny Rathbone's office staff today, and it appears that BT had amended their website without making our local AM aware of this fact.

The sad truth is that you may well be correct in assuming that there may be further slippage to the proposals for installation of BY 'Infinity'. Rest assured that we shall keep up pressure on Ann Beynon and her 'team'.

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Richard
2/22/2013 11:42:34 pm

The BT line checker gave no date at all for Infinity at our location in the centre of Penylan. I wondered if this was an anomaly, so I tried a representative selection of other Penylan addresses in the checker. I was surprised to find that only about 25% of these were due to have access to Infinity before the end of June, and 40% had no due date.

I think that BT must have been making a little joke when they named their fibre broadband 'Infinity', because it's something that's always further away.

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2/23/2013 05:13:29 am

I have not been in touch with BT's senior management team directly, but our Assembly Member (Jenny Rathbone) has. I have been told by her office that some cabinets are actually live right now, and the March date for all the other cabinets to be ready is on schedule.

From what I understand, the reason that the BT Infinity website gives dates of "by 30/06/2013" is because they've been warned by the Advertising Standards Agency about making constant changes to projected dates. BT's initial pledge was that all of Penylan would be able to get super-fast broadband by the end of 2012. This then became a 'slippage' by a 'financial quarter' - basically, it would be an additional three months. I therefore assume that they work in quarters of the calendar year - Dec 2012 became March 2013, which then become June 2013 to give them some sneeze room should there be any other minor delays. I have seen engineers out and about, though....so here's hoping that we are nearing the end of this saga!

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Anon
3/11/2013 01:03:19 am

Finally! :-)

I was contacted by my ISP (Zen) and told that fibre was available in the area. I placed an order and should be having it installed next week. Rather than going with BT, I will be sticking with Zen and would certainly recommend looking at some of the smaller ISPs, such as Zen, AAISP, etc. They might be more expensive, but the service is typically regarded as better (no traffic shaping, etc).

I wonder if the other local residents are aware of fibre being available! It would be good to hear of other experiences in the local area.

Thanks!

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3/11/2013 01:24:09 am

Anon - This is is interesting and hugely positive news. Anything that goes towards breaking the virtual monopoly that BT has in the area will help to motivate them to deliver great service at low cost (not the current situation, which is quite the converse). I would suggest that you write to the South Wales Echo to help raise awareness of this news.

Alternatively, if you wanted to send the information to me I'd be happy to do so on your behalf.

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Richard
4/9/2013 10:31:17 pm

It would appear that despite repeated assurances to our elected representatives to provide fibre broadband to the residents and businesses in Penylan, and receiving a government grant to do so, BT / Openreach will simply be cherry-picking approximately 60% of us for the new service (when they eventually complete their present, overdue works).

At our location in the centre of Penylan (Melrose Avenue) Openreach have only added fibre capability to one of the three line cabinets serving the street. The line checker and BT Business confirm that there are no plans to upgrade the other two cabinets, and this seems also to be the case for many of the other cabinets in Penylan. As someone who has worked in telecomms, I cannot see any technical reason preventing the upgrade of the other cabinets, and therefore assume that Openreach simply thought that they wouldn't be able to make enough profit from them.

I also notice that BT have just increased the ADSL noise margin setting in their Roath exchange, which has reduced the speed of our painfully slow connection even further. Could they possibly have done this to encourage more people (who have the option) to switch to their more expensive fibre broadband?


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4/9/2013 10:56:57 pm

Hi Richard,

I've been working on Jenny Rathbone's campaign on the Penylan Notspot over the past 18months/2years. I believe all residents now have the option of joining their fibre broadband as well as their normal speed broadband (BT however do have a monopoly unfortunately as neither Sky nor Virgin were keen to do the work).

Could you check here http://www.dslchecker.bt.com/adsl/ADSLChecker.TelephoneNumberOutput and let me know if this is the case? If not please email me at robert.sherrington@wales.gov.uk and I'll chase it up with BT for you. We've had assurances from BT that the works should ONLY have a positive effect, but that's not to mean there arent gremlins in the system.

Thanks

Rob

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Jo Lloyd
7/7/2013 09:13:29 am

I still have no fibre optic broadband at CF23 5SB. The current speed is so slow. The delay in providing 21st century infrastructure is just not acceptable.

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7/7/2013 06:59:51 pm

Hi Jo. Have you spoken / written to Jenny Rathbone's office about this? I'm quite interested in your response because you are a near neighbour of my parents (even sharing the same post code!)

Jo Lloyd
7/7/2013 08:40:12 pm

Hi Michael - I've emailed one of the people in her office. I first contacted Jenny's office around 6 months ago and was told there was a delay but June 2013 was the deadline. I have been on BT website since and they were showing no delivery date. However, for my postcode they seem to have updated their information to July - September 2013 so that may be progress.

I'll let you know when I hear back from Jenny.

Jo Lloyd
7/7/2013 08:40:44 pm

Hi Michael - I've emailed one of the people in her office. I first contacted Jenny's office around 6 months ago and was told there was a delay but June 2013 was the deadline. I have been on BT website since and they were showing no delivery date. However, for my postcode they seem to have updated their information to July - September 2013 so that may be progress.

I'll let you know when I hear back from Jenny.

Jo Lloyd
7/7/2013 08:40:58 pm

Hi Michael - I've emailed one of the people in her office. I first contacted Jenny's office around 6 months ago and was told there was a delay but June 2013 was the deadline. I have been on BT website since and they were showing no delivery date. However, for my postcode they seem to have updated their information to July - September 2013 so that may be progress.

I'll let you know when I hear back from Jenny.

4/9/2013 10:59:01 pm

Thanks for this information, Richard. You're one street further down the hill from me - but I'm with an alternative broadband supplier (thankfully!).

I've passed your comment onto Jenny Rathbone, who seems to be the most tenacious when attempting to hold BT to account. You may wish to contact her office to discuss this further - her office is at 165 Albany Road.

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Jo Lloyd
7/7/2013 08:42:02 pm

Hi Michael - I've emailed one of the people in her office. I first contacted Jenny's office around 6 months ago and was told there was a delay but June 2013 was the deadline. I have been on BT website since and they were showing no delivery date. However, for my postcode they seem to have updated their information to July - September 2013 so that may be progress.

I'll let you know when I hear back from Jenny.

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4/20/2013 11:31:23 am

Hello to all,

I am thinking about moving into a house in Ffordd Nowell, does anyone know the situation with the broadband speeds there?

Any information would be incredibly helpful.

Thank you,

Tom

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4/20/2013 08:16:49 pm

Hi Tom,

http://www.broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk/broadband_speed_in_my_area.aspx

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Tom
4/20/2013 09:07:32 pm

Hi Michael just checking using your link and postcode CF23 9FA.

It looks like there is a lot of virgin media broadband around the Ffordd Nowell area but nothing actually within it. I've just checked other speed testing sites and it says the best speeds there are between 1.5 - 2.5 mb/s which isn't great.

I know the area is a relatively new build so I'd image faster broadband must be on the horizon, it would just be nice to know when exactly. I'll keep digging, if anyone can fish out any further information on faster speeds in the Fford Nowell area specifically, it would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks again,

Tom

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4/29/2013 01:39:40 am

Hi again Tom,

Out of interest, I just looked up the options available to CF23 9FA on the website www.broadbandchoices.co.uk. It would appear that there are a total of 43 ISPs which can provide broadband to that postcode. The major concern that I have is that all of them advertise speeds of 'up to' rather than giving a minimum speed.

I would say that 1.5 - 2.5mbps is not great, but Ffordd Nowell is a new(ish) estate and I would therefore be hugely surprised if it was not invested in sooner rather than later. We will, of course, keep up the pressure for you!

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May
5/28/2013 06:28:51 am

Hi, I moved into a house in Ffordd Nowell a couple of months ago. I signed up with Talk Talk for broadband and landline. My broadband is very intermittent which I had initially put down to Talk Talk's service but am now wondering if it is to do with the area. I am thinking of switching providers but this might be a waste of time if the problem is to do with the existing infrastructure. Fibre optic would solve the problem I am sure but when is this going to be available??? This is causing me frustration on a daily basis.

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5/28/2013 08:23:55 am

Firstly, welcome to the area. Dodgy broadband speed notwithstanding, it's a lovely part of the world in which to live.

Now, on to your question. 'Talk Talk' are, in my opinion, far from the gold standard of broadband providers. In fact I'd go as far as to suggest that - with them at least - you get what you pay for. 'Talk Talk' run off BT infrastructure, though they don't control it and so are not responsible for its upkeep.

Again, I'd advise checking on an independent speed check website to see what the alternative providers can offer - but beware them offering speeds of 'up to' a certain bandwidth - ask for guaranteed minimum speeds.... I would recommend at least 1.5 to 2 MBPS

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Mark B
6/2/2013 07:12:09 am

Hi Michael,

Just stumbled upon this site having just moved into the Penylan area on Waterloo Road. As is the case with many on here, I have a painfully slow speed of 1mb with sky bb.

It's shockingly bad. Virgin offered to connect me with fiber, but only if I paid £400 upfront to help with costs. Having kindly denied the offer, I was delighted to receive an 'invitation' through the post from BT to join their fiber network - obviously I jumped at the chance to upgrade my connection and was keen to part with my hard earned cash. However, when I tried to get connected, I was told that it wasn't actually available for my property, and that I had been incorrectly informed by the 'targeted' mail-out. And, to throw salt into the wound, I was also told there was no current plans to upgrade my area.

When I add my postcode (CF23 5DZ) into the BT's Broadband checker I get the below result:

WBC ADSL 2+ Up to 3.5 -- 2 to 6.5 Available
ADSL Max Up to 1 -- 1 to 3.5 Available
WBC Fixed Rate 1 -- -- Available
Fixed Rate 1 -- -- Available

I'm not sure what WBC etc means? As you seem to have your finger on the pulse with this issue Michael, do you potentially have any further info on my area?

Thank in advance!

Mark and Cath

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6/2/2013 10:10:47 am

Hi Mark and Cath.

You're just around the corner from me - I live on Colchester Avenue (the 'top of the hill' block, between Penylan Road and Waterloo Road). So you are pretty close. I'm typing this from my parents' house on Cyncoed Road, though - and they, at the top of Penylan Hill, have far slower connectivity than I do.

Anyway, enough about me and mine......let's deal with you and yours!

It's a right pain, and totally predictable of course, that these people speak in acronyms. Whilst we don't understand what language they're speaking, they have the upper hand. Knowledge is power! I had to look up what 'WBC ADSL2+' is, and the short and sweet answer is - it's another form of broadband (see here: http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/5100-bt-wholesale-wbc-adsl2-available-to-some-80-of-premises.html).

Now, to the Virgin and BT situation.... BT have openly stated that they will roll out 'BT Infinity' to the whole of Penylan by the end of June 2013. BT did state back in January 2012 that they would deliver this by the end of the year (eg by the end of December 2012). I believe that, due to pressure brought to bear on Ann Beynon by Jenny Rathbone's office as the end of last year. Therefore, I would suggest that the best option is to speak to someone at Jenny's office (165 Albany Road - (029) 20 256 255) and they may be able to help you by asking some more pointed questions.

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Mark
6/2/2013 10:44:45 am

Thanks a million for the prompt reply Michael. I have just sent Robert Sherrington (who posted earlier) an email outlining my exact address etc in the hope that he/Jenny might be able to provide more information.

I just worry that when I add my postcode to BT's checker here: http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when/ - absolutely nothing is mentioned for Penylan, not a 'coming soon' or even a 'under evaluation' in site. So that's pretty worrying for me.

I do alot of work from home and I need a decent connection, I never even dreamed that speeds would be this bad in the area so I didn't check before purchasing the house, even if I had, I would have been told that Virgin fibre was available, however, for my specific address, this isn't the case and the engineer has said that we would need to pay £400 as well as take out a top-tier package in order to make it 'worth their while'. Thanks, but no thanks.

Accordingly, BT seems my only option and they are teasing me saying I can get it, but when I ring-up, they say I can't. It's extremely annoying!

Well done on setting up the petition btw - duly signed. Keep up the good work Michael.

Mark

Andrew Davies
9/13/2013 06:36:30 pm

I notice this thread has been quiet for the last few months and was therefore wondering whether a solution had been achieved that I was somehow missing out on. I live on Ffordd Nowell and currently have Sky 'unlimited' broadband which operates at a download speed of 2-3 Mb per second. Too slow to even bother with Sky's On Demand services. I'd be more than happy to switch, particularly as Sky have just upped their line rental charges again, should there be a faster alternative.

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9/13/2013 07:37:29 pm

We were out in Ffordd Nowell a few months ago - about half a dozen of us, as I recall - asking residents if there was anything that vexed them.

One of the 'set questions' related to broadband speed and availability. On the whole, people were content with the speed to that area (although apparently it had not been built with due consideration to provisioning high speed broadband through fibre-optic infrastructure, which seems to have been an oversight).

I can take this matter to Jenny Rathbone, who is in a far stronger position to sabre-rattle than I, given that she represents the whole of Cardiff Central. I'll speak with her in the next few days and ask her office to get in touch with you.

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Michael Fogg
9/13/2013 07:44:29 pm

Hi Andrew. If you wish, feel free to send me your exact address and a contact number / email, I'll then pass it in to Jenny for her to follow up on your behalf. It's often quite helpful to have a politician of some gravitas asking questions on your behalf.....

Kind regards,

Michael

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Andrew Davies
9/13/2013 10:11:37 pm

Hi Michael, thanks very much for getting back to me so quickly. Yes it would be great if you could mention this to Jenny Rathbone. Would it be possible to let me have your email address so I can pass you my contact details offline?

Cheers!

Andy

Andrew Davies
9/13/2013 10:12:03 pm

Hi Michael, thanks very much for getting back to me so quickly. Yes it would be great if you could mention this to Jenny Rathbone. Would it be possible to let me have your email address so I can pass you my contact details offline?

Cheers!

Andy

9/13/2013 11:28:39 pm

Please feel free to email me directly at MichaelFoggCommunication@gmail.com and I'll pass your details on to the AM's office.

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Abbas Hamza
11/19/2015 12:48:45 pm

Hi Michael.
I know it has been a while since the last time any one has updated this blog I live in Fford Nowell are just behind Sainsbury. I have moved to the area back in 2011 ever since I'm struggling with my broadband . Currently I have sky but for the last few month it keeps dropping down to 0.4 mbs
Have any of you guys manage to have higher speed than 3.0 in and around the area

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11/19/2015 03:49:06 pm

Hi Abbas,

It has been quiet for the last year or so - since BT rolled out 'Infinity' to the area. I must admit that, although I still have an interest in the area, I have now moved to a different area of Cardiff (Pentwyn, as it happens).

My suggestion would be to check with Sky, and also to check alternative providers. There are now several more serving Ffordd Nowell - check http://www.uswitch.com/broadband/postcode_checker/results/?postcode=cf23+9fb for a list of options (or enter your own postcode, if I have intered the wrong one!)

Good luck.

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Abbas
11/19/2015 03:54:24 pm

Thanks Michael for the effort and thank you for the time taken to answer




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