Monday, June 26, 2017

My Personal Post Mortem Evaluation

If this project had been delivered under my auspices as a Technology Executive I would ask for a post mortem.  Projects that come in a year after their promise dates deserve some reflection on what went wrong even when the end result is a great one.  This was not my project and I know woefully little about the most significant cause of the delay which I understand was the time it took to come to agreement with Openreach on the deployment strategy for our solution.

My minimal understanding is that in order for Temple to have the optimal solution, which is to have our own phone cabinet and accompanying DSLAM cabinet, Openreach needed to open their network to Call Flow.  Apparently this is not something that Openreach wanted to do.  Hence the escalation to Ofcom.

This lack of information, however, is my primary complaint about the project.  Roger and I were extremely interested in all aspects of the project, we were willing to get our hands dirty, and we were at least reasonably knowledgeable on aspects of a technology rollout.  Unfortunately, even when Ofcom was involved on behalf of our village, we were not informed.

I wonder if we could have helped?  I think we could have.  Unfortunately through this entire project we, or myself at least, felt a little like a mushroom.  We did get regular status updates...but generally only when we asked.  So we asked often.  This was a government funded project and I think we had the right to know what was being done on our behalf.  It was also a technology project yet other than a very static website there was no proactive use of any of the myriad of web based communication products and techniques that could have been used to keep us informed.  In my experience, proactive communications reduces the need to answer calls that might not have been made in the first place if information was made available more freely.

So that is my post mortem evaluation.  Involve the end user to the greatest extent possible and communicate openly and frequently.  The project was a success.  The result is truly game changing for Temple.  We are glad to have it in place.  Can't help but wonder if Roger and I could not have helped to get it here a little sooner though!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

It is Here and it Rocks

As of Tuesday, the 13th of June, Temple is well and truly on Superfast Broadband!  The homes closes to the cabinet are getting over 100mbps.  Homes on the Island are getting over 50 and at least one nearly 100mbps.  The home furthest away from the new cabinet is getting 40mbps (though this may have improved since this was written given some profile changes made by Call Flow).

Given that download speeds before the upgrade were in the range of 1 to 3mbps ... this is truly transformational:

  • My wife works from home occasionally across a typical Virtual Private Network and has struggled in the past with speed.  Access to corporate systems based in the US is now faster at home than when she is in the office.  
  • A neighbor was still not completely convinced about the upgrade until they missed a show and the was able to stream the catch up version  without waiting for hours.  They are now convinced.
  • I did a stress test where I ran three video streams, an audio stream, and did a 100gb download, all with no discernible impact on each other.  
  • The Waitrose ordering website is running faster than ever as well! Which is good since whoever programmed it obviously did not care about those of us with crappy Internet connections.  It took me a good 15 minutes less to do this weeks order than it did for last weeks.  
  • Over the weekend my wife and I watched a movie on our Apple TV device.  Normally we would have had to start the download days in advance.  This weekend we streamed HD in real time.

Superfast Broadband rocks.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Switching from BT to Call Flow

Below are some points of interest for folks switching to Call Flow from BT.  Roger from the Island got this info from conversations with BT and with Call Flow.  This is the text of his message to the Island Residents:

You only need to read this if you are taking up or thinking of taking up the Call Flow Superfast Fibre Broadband service.

Residents are signing up for Superfast Fibre Broadband with Call Flow
 because e
nquiries about staying with existing supplier like BT, Sky, TalkTalk are getting the same response ... they are
​ not currently offering​
 Fibre. 

So if you want to upgrade you need to use this link to register:

https://www.callflow.co.uk/cov erage-and-speed/ 

Put in your postcode and select your address from the dropdown
​.​
​        There is a Special Offer on​
 the top package and you may wish to add one of the Phone Call Packages.

Existing supplier BT has been acknowledging requests through Call Flow with standard letters saying they're sorry to see you go but mentioning a couple of important points. 

They say that you're leaving the
​ir​
 Broadband and that your Phone Landline will continue on new terms. 
​Ignore t​
his is
​ as it is​
 a very short interim position. 
​O​
nce Broadband is swapped to Call Flow, they will automatically then switch the Phone Landline to Call Flow. If you are switching
​,​
 the Landline and Fibre Broadband can only be Call Flow, 
​that's ​
both
​ -​
 not one or the other.
​ The whole procedure should take less than two weeks once Call Flow have processed your order.​
 

Secondly, and an important consideration
​. O
nce you've switched
​,​
 there is a period of just 30 days to make arrangements for your BT email address. If your email ends with @btinternet.com then it will disintegrate along with all historical records
​​
 after 30 days with no way of recovery. And if someone writes to you at your old @btinternet.com email it will not be delivered. 
​Same probably applies to you with TalkTalk and Sky.
You have two alternatives. You can change your email to one of the independent emails like Gmail or Hotmail and advise every one of your contacts to use your new email. Or you can pay BT £5 a month for their Premium Mail Service to 
​effectively ​
buy 
​back ​
your old @btinternet.com email on a 30-day rolling notice contract. 

My advice would be to bite the bullet and change to Gmail
​ or Hotmail​
, advise everyone but then 
​if you're worried about missing emails, ​
​consider ​
pay
​ing​
 the £5 a month to BT for a few months to see what continues to come through on your old 
​@btinternet.com ​
email address, mopping up stragglers by reminding them you've changed to Gmail
​/Hotmail​
.
​ ​
Once emails stop coming through to your old 
​@btinternet.com ​
email address you could cancel the 
​£5 ​
​monthly Premium Mail Service​.

Any questions please post below.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Initial Installation has Been Scheduled

There is a scheduled date of June 13th now for the migration of people that have already signed up.  I am not sure what the cut off is, or will be, for this date.  I am hoping that due to the year long delay in us getting service that we might see this date pulled forward but I guess I should just be patient.

When you get the note from Call Flow letting you know that your order is in to Openreach you should notice that your phone service will take a couple of weeks to follow.  I am not sure what you will get in terms of communications from other vendors but if you are currently with BT you will get a note from them saying they are sorry to see you go but noting that your phone service will be staying with them.  When you see this remember the note from Call Flow!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It is HERE!

Openreach has turned the fibre circuit over the Call Flow so Temple is now connected to the Superfast Internet.   Call Flow has done the work they needed to do, that normally takes two weeks, in a single day.  Orders that Call Flow has already, or will be taking now, will be filled in two to three weeks.  This is the time required to do the actual cut over of service with Call Flow making a request of Openreach for the individual line to be provisioned.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Superfast Broadband is (Almost) Here!

The below is the content of a flyer that is going to be delivered to residents of Temple that live outside of the Island where a regular newsletter has been carrying updates. I was able to talk informally to one of the Openreach engineers today who informed me that fibre has now been run to our new cabinet and that everything should be within a couple of days of turnover to Call Flow. I have asked our liaison at Openreach for an update but have not heard anything that would give us a good idea of when a turnover will occur. Once the turnover is done Call Flow have pledged to be ready in a week! So the question is...what is ALMOST?

Superfast Broadband is (Almost) Here!

In the coming days Temple will go from having some of the nation's worst broadband speeds to having some of the best.  Bradenham Lane is currently closed to allow for the laying of the fibre cable for our new service.   We are close!

Background

Three years ago I learned that BT had decided that it was economically unviable for them to upgrade our Internet service to a fast, fibre based, solution.  The good news is that the government is helping communities like ours with a program called Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).   I contacted Superfast Berkshire, who are working with BDUK, and they introduced me to Roger Thurston who lives on the Island and was also interested in getting Temple onto the high speed internet.

To make a long story short, with the help of the community, we were able to get Temple included in the current round of funding for broadband upgrades.  This was announced two years ago (July of 2015) with the expectation that we would have our new service by June of the following year.  Again, in the interest of brevity, it is now almost June of 2017, it has been a long road to get here, but our upgrade should be completed very soon.

What This Means to You

If you are happy with your current broadband service you do not need to do anything.  Nothing will change for you.  The good news is that it may actually be a little easier for you to sell your house when the time comes as having access to a fibre based Internet connection is important to a growing number of home buyers!

If you are interested in the new service you will need to contact Call Flow to switch from your current phone and internet service provider (Bt, Talktalk, etc) to a Call Flow package.  They won the contract to provide the needed technical infrastructure to give us access to the high speed Internet.  There were costs to provide that service that were above and beyond what would normally be entailed and while some of those costs were offset by Superfast Berkshire and BDUK there was also an investment made by Call Flow.  For this reason the high speed service will cost slightly more than a “normal” service from vendors such as BT, Talktalk, or Sky.  At some point in the future there may be other vendors offering us service using the infrastructure that Call Flow has put into place but for now you can ask your current vendor but be prepared to contact Call Flow!

Browse to https://www.callflow.co.uk/ and enter your postcode to see how fast an upgraded connection will be.  The closer you are to the new cabinets the faster your speed will be.  Our estimate is for 90 mbps! They are taking orders already.

Please note that I am in no way connected with Call Flow.  I am simply communicating what I know about the upgrade.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ever So Close

The road is closed, trenching has begun, and cable is being pulled.  No one has committed to a completion date but one of the workers did say that things were going "exceedingly well".  Sounds good to me!