March Meeting

31st October 2016


We have received a request for a temporary road closure for a section of Lone Lane, Penallt, to provide a new electricity supply for a BT cabinet. It is proposed that the restrictions will come into effect on the 28th November 2016 for 2 weeks. Please find below a location plan (click for larger image) showing the extents of the restrictions and available diversion route.

I would take this opportunity to make you aware that Western Power Distribution have applied for the road closure and can be contacted via David Fortune on 01633 628224 or [email protected] if required.

Graham Kinsella: Assistant Engineer (Traffic); Regeneration & Culture

11th October 2016 Connecting power to cabinet 20 in August proved more complex than envisaged but it at last seems that all necessary agreements are in place and power should finally be installed on Friday December 16th.

A note from Martin Jones in August explained that “FTTrN (fibre to the remote node) will no longer be an option as the cost is prohibitive so we are looking to extend the network further with additional cabinet builds etc. I’ve asked OpenReach to look at the area to identify what additional infrastructure is required to pass more premises. The additional infrastructure may include additional cabinets which will be fibre enabled or running fibre direct to the area. We are currently exploring all options to identify the most cost effective and viable solution.”

However, the scheduled development of ten new houses in Penallt may change priorities and Martin more recently stated that “this will kick off the fibre infrastructure build to the properties and this may add to the development of the network to the surrounding properties as well, it is key that the developer registers the development with the Openreach New Sites team as this will enable the development and the surrounding area to be planned correctly.”

1st April 2016 Power installation to cabinet 20 is recently agreed so its installation is now due for completion in August. Plans to install a second cabinet nearer the middle of the village remain under consideration.

15th March 2016 Notes from a meeting with Councillor Debby Blakebrough, BT Openreach, Western Power, Superfast Cymru and Penallt residents David May and Richard Morgan.

The new cabinet in Lone Lane has been in place since last July and residents have been enquiring about lack of progress since then. Martin Jones, NGA Programme Manager Wales – BT Group, explained that the cabinet was ready to go in every respect except that of having a power supply and that this was proving to be a major headache.

The existing power supply to the Spectrum cabinet alongside cannot be used as the cabling is not up to the required specification so a new cable would have to be laid in parallel as well. This would involve digging up the road, something which cannot be done until August 2016 as there is an MCC embargo on doing so following the recent re-surfacing of the road.

There are other potential sources of power in the vicinity but these involve extra expense in trench digging etc. In addition, the old cabinet 20 is passive and does not have a power supply which could be used, and there is a limited budget for the whole operation anyway.

There will thus be an action on Western Power to give advance notice to MCC of their intention to dig the road surface in time to start operating in early August. This means that it will be another few months until those connected to this cabinet will notice any progress.

Moving the cabinet?

The map extract shows, highlighted in yellow, the part of Penallt which is connected to cabinet 20. The cabinet is shown by a blue circle in the north east part and is right on the edge of the area served. The solution proposed for the cabinet is that very low loss optical fibre carries the broadband signal to it and the signal then goes on to residents via existing copper telephone wires, which are poor at carrying broadband.

The chart below shows how quickly the broadband download rate drops off with distance from the cabinet due to the effect of the copper carriers:-

Those within about 200 m of the cabinet could receive broadband at download speeds of up to 80 Mbps, this dropping to 28 Mbps at a range of 1 km, 18 Mbps at 2 km, and sub 10 Mbps at 3 km, etc. Note that these distances are not straight line distances but refer to the actual lengths of the copper wires to each property which sometimes takes circuitous routes!

Clearly, with the greatest density of properties being in the Pentwyn area, and those at the Meend Farm end beyond the effective range as well, cabinet 20 is sited in a very inconvenient position. All other things being equal, it should be in the centre of the area, i.e. somewhere close to The Inn.

It turns out that, in doing broadband upgrades, BT will only be reimbursed for those premises which have the potential to receive a fast fibre speed of more than 24Mbps (a Government target for 95% of Wales). Looking at the chart above, this relates to premises within about 1200 m of the cabinet only – very much the minority of properties in the current cabinet 20 area.

This therefore provides a financial encouragement to change the cabinet position. It seems probable that the extra cost of re-siting cabinet 20 to a central position, or adding an extra cabinet, will be more than offset by the extra government reimbursement. Doing so would also future-proof the broadband provision for this part of the village.

Martin Jones has now said that he “will raise this into the Openreach planning team to look at viability“.

The Tregagle issue

Residents in the southern part of the village which includes Tregagle have suffered in two ways over the last three years. Firstly, they are not connected to cabinet 20 and thus could not take advantage of the Spectrum broadband scheme. Secondly, they are connected to the Trellech cabinet 3 which has not been upgraded. This cabinet is some distance from Trellech so download speeds in some parts have been especially poor.

Cabinet 3 is not due for a similar fibre upgrade to that of cabinet 20, but there is good news on the horizon anyway as, according to Martin Jones, “properties in this area are fed from Trelleck P3 which will have an FTTP solution. It is scheduled for completion about October this year subject to any unforeseen issues.”

“FTTP” stands for “fibre to the premises” which means that properties connected to Trellech cabinet 3 will have their copper telephone wires augmented by optical fibre which will bring extremely fast broadband (up to 330 Mbps) straight into each house!

What about The Birches?

Residents in the northern part of the village were “re-parented” back to Monmouth from cabinet 20 some time ago and, for this reason, were not able to take part in the Spectrum scheme.

However, they have already been offered an “FTTP solution”, now in the process of being rolled out, and some are currently enjoying the same service which those in Tregagle will experience in October.