Openreach have responded to demands from local MP Grant Shapps for answers on why upgrades to internet connections in Essendon have been subjected to repeated delays and setbacks.

Responding to Grant’s letter, Kim Mears, Managing Director for Infrastructure Delivery at Openreach, said that the Potters Bar 44 cabinet will be ready for fibre connections by the end of September 2017. She explained that the location of the planned fibre cabinet had to be changed due to concerns from the Highways Agency over visibility. The supplier of the cabinet was also changed to ensure the September date is met.

In addition, Openreach have committed to improve speeds in the Essendon Place, Bedwell Park and Wildhill areas by the end of September 2020. Residents in these areas will not benefit from higher speeds this year due to the distance from the cabinet.

Other commitments secured from Openreach include delivering an incremental capacity cabinet to ease demand on the Hatfield 33 cabinet, uplifting speeds in the Letty Green and West End areas as well as the Woodend and Hatfield Park areas. The full email from Kim Mears can be found below.

Grant said: “Following repeated efforts to secure improvements to my constituents’ unacceptable internet speeds, it is good to see that some progress is being made. However I am clear that this is not fast enough, and I am well aware of Openreach’s poor record in meeting deadlines. I will continue to press Openreach to deliver on their commitments to Welwyn Hatfield, and will not rest until all of my constituents can enjoy the internet speeds they deserve.”


Dear Grant,

I hope you are well.

I understand you met with Michael earlier in the week and as a result I wanted to update you on progress for Essendon and how our plans have developed since we last corresponded in March. 

Overall, we are broadly in line with what we previously communicated in terms of plans and timescales and our plans have increased in terms of coverage for the area as a result of Gainshare from the BDUK contracts. I do, however, appreciate your concerns over the date move for Potters Bar 44 and I wanted to offer a background to the delivery we are undertaking for that particular cabinet.

Potters Bar 44 will now be ready for service by the end of September.  In brief: we have had to change the location of the planned fibre cabinet (due to concern about visibility which I understand became an issue for the Highways Agency). A new location has been agreed and we are proceeding with this. We have also changed the supplier on this particular delivery to provide us with surety of the end of September date. I am sorry for the delay however hopefully this helps to provide some clarity on why and that delivery is still very much in progress. My apologies for not updating you directly on this situation previously.  

As previously explained, some members of the community currently connected to Potters Bar 44 won’t benefit from higher speeds when the cabinet is upgraded due to distance from the cabinet.  However, as part of the latest Gainshare agreement with the local authority we are targeting a further uplift to Potters Bar R5 (serving Essendon Place/Bedwell Park area) and Potters Bar R6 (serving Wildhill area) by the end of Q3 19/20 to further augment speeds for those who weren’t previously in our plans for uplifts – this is a new commitment which I hope will be welcome news.

Hatfield 33 was another cabinet which we corresponded on previously from the list of addresses you supplied. This cabinet is still in line for the further speed uplifts which we indicated were planned under BDUK arrangements for six of the customers on your enquiry list, and we are still on track for delivery of this by end Q1 18/19 as indicated in March. Specifically, the overlay structures we are providing are Hatfield R2 (serving Letty Green area) and Hatfield R3 (serving the West End area). We are also aware that Hatfield 33 overall is a high demand cabinet, so an incremental capacity cabinet is being delivered in order to address this.   

I am pleased to report that two structures related to Hatfield 24 have been included in our plans now under Gainshare since we last corresponded. These are Hatfield P24 (serving the Woodend area) which is planned for Q3 18/19, and Hatfield R23 (serving Hatfield park area) which is planned for deployment in Q1 18/19.

Hatfield 1 is still not in our current plans but remains eligible for any future funding and reviews as per our normal process.

As always, the above delivery timescales are provided on the assumption that we do not encounter any unforeseen issues whilst we are building the network that can unexpectedly delay an engineering network delivery.
I hope this information helps to address your specific concerns regarding Potters Bar 44 and the issues we have been working through.  We are still very much dedicated to providing solutions to your constituents and have also increased the plans since we last discussed.

Kind regards,