back to article BT fibre-up-your-exchange poll in 6-way Mugabe style pileup

Today is the last day of BT's "Race to Infinity" broadband upgrade competition, and the result already looks improbable. BT launched the competition in early October, offering small towns and villages nationwide the chance to win a fibre upgrade for their local exchange. Any community overlooked by the firm's commercial …


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  1. Mr_Pitiful

    Fibre to the cab

    As I speak there are 2 BT fibre splicing bods

    100 feet from my door, terminating the f-t-t-c cables

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends on how many customers...

    Baschurch had a population (according to the 2001 census) of 1471 ... so a 100% vote of its internet connected users isn't actually a large number.

  3. caffeine addict


    From memory, Madingly has signs up in the village encouraging people to vote, but Caxton has absolutely nothing.

    And I know for a fact that not every eligible person has voted in Caxton because I know people who live there who have no fecking clue what the race to infinity is.

    But I think we all could have guessed that was the case...

    1. JustEnoughToBeDangerous

      Caxton is not just Caxton...

      If you're local (and by the sound of it you are) you may have noticed the building work going on near Caxton. If you look closely, you'll notice a small developement has sprung up... only 4,000 or so homes, business, etc. so easy to miss. Approx. half of these homes are attached to the Caxton exchange.

      My understanding is that Cambourne was meant to be a fibre town from the begining via NTL. However thanks to NTL being purchased by Virgin (as NTL was in a death sipral) this killed the deal and as no one thought of a plan B, Cambourne was hooked up to the two nearest exchanges one of which was Caxton. With most of Cambourne at the limit of the DSL tech's line length in short you have alot of people with sucky broadband (<1Mb and paying the same price as people getting 20Mb).

      There have been extensive and very high profile campaigns in Cambourne to make people aware of "The Race". Including people stationed at the Village shop (That's the dirty great big Morrisons in case you missed it).

      In short there is no funny business going on, both Madinglay and Caxton's campaigns have been run with great verve and determination to make things better for a community and I have nothing but praise for the organisers.

      The real crime is why South Cambs Council have failed to press the developers to front up for an exchange in Cambourne in approval of subsequent development phases.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Why should it?

        South Cambs District council has fiber same as all buildings on the business park so why should it care? Not like any "care" can be seen anywhere around Cambourne in the first place. "Care" is for some of the more privileged surroudndings which vote the same colour as the council like Papworth Everard, Madingley, Caldecotte and their like, not for "Cambourne" which votes for parties coloured at distinctly longer wavelengths. It is a classic case of "Animal Farm": all animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others - especially the ones that vote the correct colour.

        As far as Cambourne being 1Mbit zone I beg to differ. In my days of sysadminning one of the companies on the business park both DSL lines we had as a fallback to the fiber and for testing synced at about 3.2MBit.

        1. Number6

          Passed me by

          A great shame I didn't spot this much earlier. Cottenham could do with a decent upgrade as well, but the first I heard of it was this Reg article.

          Regarding DSL speeds, I think officially I'm only supposed to achieve about 1MBit/s but in practice it runs about 3-4MBit/s. Except in certain weather conditions when we get a crackly line and then it sinks to 160kbit/s.

      2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Not likely

        No matter how enthusiastically and well run the campaign was, it's not likely to have got 100% of the population to vote.

  4. The FunkeyGibbon

    BT will blame 'hackers'

    They'll then consider the whole set of results as invalid and continue their policy of only adding fibre to major metropolitan areas. Oddly my town, a smallish area just off off J14 of the M1, has been enabled but the much bigger area that abuts it has, in the main, not been able to "feel the fabric of their fibre".

    It's a good product.... if you can get it.

  5. Brian Griffiths

    BT cock-up

    The problem with the "100%" exchanges lies squarely with BT and their estimates of the total voting population in the exchanges. It became clear from the door-to-door campaigning in my area (Madingley) that BT's database had substantially under-counted the number of eligible premises. Most of the "100% exchanges" stil have votes to register!

    Has all the makings of a great BT pr disaster.....

    1. Platelet


      Are you suggesting the Dinosaurs have been breeding?

  6. irrelevant


    I voted for my exchange right at the start, as my "up to 20Mbps" connection runs at a sluggish 5mpbs and we don't have cable here, all despite being in an inner-city area. So far, it's languishing at barely over 1% support...

    I guess all I need is a phone book and a lot of time and I could enter a few more votes...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The whole thing was stupid

    You just had to go on the site and "vote". They have been advertising on local radio and in the papers asking people to vote, like it was xfactor. There is something very very wrong somewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It gets dafter than that...

      The small village where my parents live - in the darker regions of Lincolnshire - tried to do this, but found a showstopper of a problem.

      Those of them who can connect to the web at all in order to register their vote on the page were unable to do so, because their existing connections were so poor the page timed out and refused to work properly... Catch 22?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Its a farce of epic proportion for Bt to pull off a stunt like that for cheap publicity. (You see, BT islistening to all its customers!).

    The need for speed is always there (as if they/BT needed to know) and its just a question of when.

    I bet they are doing this for extra govt. funding rather than any altruistic motive.

    Overlooked community? We are all part of it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Putting down a marker

    Presumably BT are putting down a marker for when the Tender for Compulsary Electronic Voting is raised by the current Government.

  10. Rasczak

    Do them all ?

    This result could give a problem.

    The Race to Infintity is run by BT Retail, who are running it under the Openreach scheme that allows ISPs to nominate up to 6 exchanges for fibre upgrade. Openreach will then take these nominations and upgrade under certain conditions, has more info. BT Retail are not upgrading exchanges themselves, they can't as they have no direct control over exchanges.

    Of course this may be why BT Retail said it would be the top 5, to cover for this sort of situation, so they can nominate the 6 at 100%, but the others at over 75% would need additional negotiations with Openreach which is what BT Retail possibly intended anyway.

  11. Erroneous Howard


    Well two of the exchanges in my area are going live with Infinity very soon but apparently my exchange is special, trialling FTTH (or FTTP if you like) in my area. All this really means for me though is that it will be longer before a decent connection is available.

    We get 1-2Mb on a good day over DSL.

  12. Nick Everitt

    What about all the delayed exchanges ?

    I don't understand why you would write an article about BT's infinity rollout and then fail to mention the other big issue at the moment which is that many of the exchanges that were slated to have this product available from 31st December 2010 (Today!) were only two weeks ago pushed back at 31st March 2011 and some to 31st December 2011.

    So for months BT has been indicating to customers like myself that we will have access to infinity on the 31st December 2010 and then with just two weeks to go availability dates are suddenly pushed back up to a year..

    why ? well no one seems to know and the register doesn't seem to think its worth asking it would seem.

    1. Lionel Baden

      ahh a fellow man in pain

      i was kinda upset when i read that !!!!


      But at least its comming

  13. zoidberg
    Thumb Up

    Whitchurch ran a massive campaign!!

    You couldn't walk down the street, go to the pub or shops, listen to the radio or even sit in your living room without the door knocking and someone asking for you to vote for faster broadband here in Whitchurch. The town has gone mad over it, and has climbed steadily up to 100% over the last month and a bit through very hard work. I have no idea about the other campaigns but if you want proof you can get a community pulling together, come here and ask someone randomly in the street or just look up at one of the banners for your answer.

  14. Gary F


    Fibre is good but it doesn't provide infinite bandwidth. They should just upgrade every exchange and provide a timetable for this nationwide. Stop this competition nonsense. Of course everyone wants their connection to be faster and clearly the more populous the town or village the greater the demand.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Infinite Bandwidth

      Since it's just a beam of light (comprising multiple modulated single wavelengths), the bandwidth actually depends upon the sensitivity and precision of the emitters and detectors at either end of the fiber. The better the endpoint hardware is, the more bandwidth you have (OK, so the quality of the fiber impacts upon signal degradation slightly - leakage, interference, etc).

      Mathematically speaking, it's not infinite, but it is possible to provide more bandwidth than anyone using the pipe could possibly require (the technology to do so may not currently exist, however).

      So yes, fiber can provide infinite bandwidth since there are an infinite number of light frequencies (being continuous and all, as opposed to discrete). But no, the punters paying BT won't get infinite bandwidth.

      1. Dave Bell

        More of the usual

        So it's the normal broadband speed advert?

        Up to infinity, and beyond!

    2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Not likely

      No phone company would ever provide fibre access to the whole country. It would cost too much, unless the government subsidised it.

      They can, however, be persuaded if they think that it will be profitable for them to do it, hence the competition (it's a way of gaging demand).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Gary F

    "Of course everyone wants their connection to be faster and clearly the more populous the town or village the greater the demand."

    and the bigger the town, the smaller the improvement due to contention.

  16. Graham Marsden

    To Infinity and...

    ... Who Cares...?

  17. Steve X

    Race to infinity?

    I suppose the small print says that this will be "*up to* infinity" ?

  18. Wibble

    BT === tossers

    What is it about BT that they want other people to do their bloody marketing. Years ago I had to go around the village to drum up support for Broadband. Now the scumbags are doing it again.

    It's OK for the townies who always get the latest and best speeds. Try living outside of a major town and see what 100k BPS is like and with no chance of upgrade.

    BT don't like the fact that they're required to lay the infrastructure but can't make a fortune from their monopoly: "why do we have to lay the infrastructure and then give it away to other providers".

    There's sod all difference to providing Broadband than providing any other utility; water, sewage, electricity, (can't get gas out of town). Quite frankly it should be provided for, or at least driven by, the government.

    1. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

      Not just tossers

      But tossers without requiring type coercion. That is one strong equlvalence relation.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    When Bankers Piss Away The Treasure, Do It Yourself

    See this:

    Not more than one or two of these Optical Links could link up many small villages. In the village, just use a WLAN mesh to get everybody onto the fast link.

  20. Globetrotter2011
    Thumb Down

    The race to what? No Winners?


    Not Impressed

    Blewbury are showing more votes than they have lines! the site shows 1277 out of a possible 1236 !!!!

    Yesterday votes were being banged on faster than the system seemed to be able to display them.

    Its pretty obvious that the whole campaign has now been called into question. We rang a campaign in this area and never expected to win. We did however play by the rule's even though the press reported the shortcomings of the race to infinity web site months back.

    How can this have been allowed to continue. Hopefully the press will show it for what it has been a complete sham.

    There are no true winners except for BT.

    This exercise has cost us a lot of money an a lot of wasted time shame on you BT!

  21. mrs doyle

    infinity is a con

    all infinity does is fibre to a cabinet, the broadband still comes through the old copper phone line. It means it isn't fibre broadband at all, but everyone has fallen for the con. It will mean a larger digital divide opens up, as the signal doesn't travel very far before it drops off, and so even more people will have rotten connections. Liv Garfield from BT has publicly stated that any areas getting Fibre to the Cabinet will not be upgraded. Another few decades stuck in the copper slow lane. Infinity my arse.


    1. Anonymous Coward

      @mrs doyle: Don't Whine, Help Yourself

      One of the houses with a short copper link will have at least 16 Mbit. The community just needs to mount an Optical, Microwave or WLAN antenna on top of this house to get the high-speed broadband relayed to more distant houses. The Czech Ronja system will extend fast internet (10Mbit) links by about 1000 meters. Directed microwave links should easily provide 100 Mbit over 20000 meters. (one meter is roughly (!) one yard).

      Just fiddle with two surplus satellite antennas. The local amateur radio club will be able to make it work. All you need to do is to generate a couple of watts of Microwave signal; the receiver will be more sensitive than ever required, because satellites are 36000000 meters away and transmit with about 10000 watts.

    2. Greemble

      Re: infinity is a con

      Let's see, presently having 4.5Km of copper line from the exchange, getting 1.5-2.5 Mb/s.

      OR 4.45Km of fibre to the street cabinet with 50m of copper line to my house

      - No, the signal doesn't travel very far on copper, so the less there is the better. I'd be willing to bet a large sum that the connection speed would be much greater than it is at present.

      Yes, FTTP would be much better, but given the choice of FTTC or copper all the way, I know which I'd sign up for. - And let's be honest, really - that's the current choice for most of us for the foreseeable future, unless we have the cash to do it ourselves. I know I haven't got the kind of money needed for digging up roads & paving, especially living in town.

      As for Liv Garfield's statement, I doubt if she'll be in the job forever and company policies change - but then, there's no date for upgrading my local exchange for fibre to anything.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      And how many Virigin customers have fibre all the way - despite their massive advertising campaign? It'd be - ooh - about none.

  22. Trev 2

    Web site made a major mistake - trusting cookies

    The web site running this was obviously written by someone on a rainy Sunday afternoon as it used cookies to work out whether you'd already registered your interest for XYZ postcode.

    Clear the cookie and you could vote for all your neighbours and as long as you know the correct details (eg: read the phone book), you could just vote and vote. No checks on IP address limits etc.

    I know because I registered 3 addresses although they were parents house, my house and office.

  23. Bob Prentice

    So who leaked

    the second memo saying the leaker of the first memo had been sacked

    I can see this running and running

    1. Mike Flugennock

      obligatory Python reference

      Why does your comment remind me of a line from an old Monty Python sketch:

      "Those responsible for seeing that those responsible have been sacked, have been sacked..."

  24. kain preacher

    This is silly

    They should just have the balls to say we will get to you when we will. If we don't it sucks for you .

  25. Quercus

    Clever marketing department

    Have to say, right from the start, I've found the whole whole Race to Infinity thing a bit of scam, but I've got to take my hat off to their marketing bods.

    BT air a slick TV advertising campaign for a service which most people can't get.

    They then manage to procure a whole load more cheap/free brand advertising, by encouraging community-spirited techies to put up posters and knock on doors all over their towns/villages on their behalf. After which, all they have to do is bump a few of the exchange upgrades, which they should have been doing anyway, up to the front of the queue.

    Or have I missed something?

  26. preachbrit

    Caxton exchange

    Yes there is little advertising in Caxton, but Caxton is a small village right next to Cambourne which is on the same exchange. There was a vigorous effort there with signs and banners and information for local groups. There were 2 articles in the local monthly newsletter the Cambourne Crier and a radio spot. Also there was the online community through the local forums and heavy backing by our parish council. We had good leadership and many volunteers spent hours going from door to door gathering votes and informing people, sometimes in freezing weather. This past Thursday some spent 5 or more hours straight in door to door work, in Cambourne, Caxton, Longstowe and Bourn. We are a growing community and many of us are willing to do what is necessary to achieve what is required rather than just moaning about what we do not have. With a concerted effort and hard work this community reached our goal.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whitchurch ftw

    At the firework party in the water meadow, broadband upgrades were the hot topic. So yes, 100% in Whitchurch is realistic.

  28. James M 1

    What chance do I have

    I went to vote on this when I 1st heard about it. However on voting BT told me that my exchange is already upgraded and therefore ineligable to be concidered. On investigating futher I've discovered the exchange is upgraded but there's 2 cabinates that BT have no intention to upgrade - 1 of which serves my area. BT have confirmed this with out local MP. So makes a total farce of the whole process

  29. louizaG

    When hell freezes over

    Voting for the exchange you want updated seems academic when the existing schedule for upgrades can't be met. I give you Ealing exchange, originally slated for Sept 2010, moved to Dec 31st 2010, now March 2011. I'm really keen to get infinity, I'm a long way from the exchange (or maybe just very small) and ADSL performance is not so good, so anything that can lift performance a little...There's no Virgin in the small area I live either (that probably didn't come out as I intended)

  30. Anonymous Coward

    This is not BT fibre,

    This is BT VDSL (look up VDSL) with a superslick supermisleading marketing campaign to hide the fact.

    It's almost as clever as BT buying a half-competent niche ISP and then using that company's distinct brand to undercut all the other non-LLU BT competitors while still charging outrageous prices for the default ripoff which is "BT Broadband". Ofcon are as usual asleep at the wheel.

    And no, even fibre does not have infinite bandwidth, despite wavelength division multiplexing and cleverness like that. Mr Shannon and a bit of quantum physics (limiting the ultimate theroretically best SNR) will confirm that.

    Happy new year to Openreach. BT HQ, you suck.

  31. Colin Guthrie

    Couldn't vote

    I couldn't vote as I don't have a landline. I complained to BT and the guy "talked me through" the process right up until the point where I had to enter a land line number which is when he went "Oh. Hmmm".

  32. Adam Trickett

    Whitchurch could get to 100%

    As I live in the neighbouring village to Whitchurch, I think they don't care what they get as long as they beat us. It is fair to say that they have been running a military campaign, I'm sure a lot of people who don't even have computers have voted.

    Annoyingly our vote only got up to 29%, so they have won - even if they don't get anything from BT!

  33. leexgx

    be nice if warrington be upgraded :)

    wish i pushed this bit more where i am the Warrington exchange has 34,000 home and bis, but it only had 342 votes before it ended today what's very disappointing as seems no one understood what the bt infinity advert was about (thing is around me BT is doing fibre upgrades to smaller exchanges)

    as i am an cable user i did not care about BT (not an option around here as you get 2mb at best) but i do fix computers at houses, only really twigged that i should of pressed the matter a lot more (computer shops and supermarkets and so on) so i guess its going to take 5-10 years before BT bother to upgrade to fibre (then again i predicted Linux would of been light years ahead 5 years ago but they they have done is made it pretty and bit easer to install but still easy broken with updates, so could be 2025 before bt has upgraded every exchange)

  34. MarkW99

    100% voting etc

    It is not surprising that voting exceeded 100% because the denominator in the equation was the number of premises connected to each exchange counting business lines and residential lines being to separate premises at the same address. The numerator was the total number of lines connected to the exchange plus the number of votes from residential premises without fixed telephone lines which were collected by signatures on voting forms and submitted to BT by text message.

    Reaching "100%" was quite easy once you take into account that in most communities a fair number of people do not have fixed lines but were entitled to vote; young professionals living in short term rentals and single mums being particular cases, but there are many others making up about 10% of the population here, so that a real 100% vote should have shown up as 110% on the BT scoring system.

    For those who think that all you had to do was enter a lot of phone numbers online, that wouldn't work because BT recorded IP addresses for voting. IP addresses where multiple votes would take place (we had one in the Town Hall and another in a hotel) were notified to BT, and all votes at such IP addresses were supported by signatures on voting forms. BT also deleted all multiple votes from the same premises.

    We know that BT counteracted abusive voting because Castleton in Gwent whch had flatlined on 20% suddenly shot up to 78% in 3 days and then flatlined, with no obvious campaign. After investigation by BT most of their votes were removed and they finished on 28.5%.

    Here in Whitchurch we had a campaign which while not necessarly the best thought out at first grew very rapidly, starting with financial support from the town council to fund a poster campaign and leafletting which got the town into the top handul after a month, but with about 3 weeks to go and support at around 70% that switched to an intensive door knocking and telephoning campaign, pretty much like an election canvassing or "get out the vote" campaign, with meticulous recording of who had voted and targetted door knocking from a team that grew to abou 40 strong. As well as campaign's own supporters, the campaign had support from the local borough councillor (LibDem) and MP( Conservative) and their supporters had the know-how to run such a campaign, as well as the local knowledge to know where all the rural houses were.

    Given that it is much easier to get people to sign a form or click on a link to an email at any time in a 2 month period than it is to get them to a polling station on a particular day, and given that very few rational people would actually vote against faster broadband for free (a few did), it is not surprising that some towns did reach 100%, but in our case it was only through a lot of hard work by a lot of people that we managed to get the most votes in the country for any size exchange as well as the mythical "100%":

    1. CapelBroadband

      Capel congratulates Whitchurch!

      It was a pleasure to read the above intelligent and informed analysis and Capel (8th) warmly congratulates Whitchurch. We know how hard you must have worked.

  35. Wally Dug

    BBC News

    As well as publicity in the local area, Innerleithen got [potentially] global publicity with this article on the BBC News website:, so it is possible for the voting to be fair (as well as being rigged, of course!)

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Inner London..

    Here in inner London BT have upgraded the exchange but have no plans to upgrade the cabinet that lies directly opposite the entrance to my flat. Great. Thanks BT.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Re: Infinite Bandwidth and @ mrs doyle

    firstly there isnt an infinite number of wave lengths, its easier to think in terms of radio waves as more folk understand these, if you place 2 waves (stations) too closely to each other you interfere with each other, a good test is get two television arieals on an old analoge TV set, the two signals should be the same right? but they wont be, many many factors will change one signal slightly which may make a shaddow on the screen. Now its a lot more complicated than that and fiber is even more complicated but the idea is the same, there has to be a margin betwen usable frequencies. For most people FTTC will be plenty until your whole street decides to stream HD content at the same time.

    Now, Mrs doyle or is it chris?

    Its not a con, no one is pretending its FTTP, and you are correct that the signal will degrade just as quick on the last copper section, but what you seem to be ignoring is for most people your wee cabnet is within viewing distance of your house, it wont be more than a few hundred yards. So (im just gonna pull some numbers out of the air here) lets assume that the cabnet is getting 250mbps, your house will not be more than a few hundred yards from the cabnet, but lets say its 1km away, if you were only 1km away from the exchange on all copper lines you would still get a service of maximum or very near maximum service, on ADSL2+ you may have dropped 1mbps off your total 22mbps, on ADSL you should stll have near 8mbps so your wee cabnet thats running on 250mbps thats 1km away isnt going to drop that much,

    now from countries that do have this shows you will still be getting a super fast service of about 50-250mbps (1km - at source) so in this example you would be getting about 50mbps...potentially from an exchange 5kms away where as before you would only have got about 3-5mbps

    is that really a con? a 10x increase in bandwidth

    If it were me, who can only get 2mbps from an exchange only 3k away ill jump at the chance an if your sure sure its so bad you tell the BT guys if they turn up there first to go away and come see me instead!

  38. bexley

    268Kbps here

    For the love of god just upgrade them all. For crying out loud i dont see why i should pay the the same as somebody getting fibre speeds for my 269Kbps which for all intents and purposes in the literal sense, is really no more useful than dial up. The packet drop out makes it unusable most of the time.

    As much as i would like a fibre connected house, i'd rather they spent the money on brining the rest of the country up to standard first.

    What i would do for 8Mbps!

    BT need some competition

  39. Andy Enderby 1

    results now published

    Exchanges as wont be completed until 2012 apparently.....

  40. bigben

    great race...

    ....where you are urged to vote quickly yet are not awarded the prize for another year.

    Not that surprised to find Cambourne in a prime position, there was an active campaign run and it seems that the majority of my neighbours are fellow geeks.......

  41. Paul Berry


    Madingley! A place where, until recently, you had to munge Cambridge phone numbers according to a bizarre rule before you could place an call from a phone box.

  42. andybird123

    pointless anyway

    I've got Infinity and after 5pm (e.g. any time you actually want to use it) it's worse than the 2-4mb broadband I used to have... I "upgraded" after asking a load of questions of their sales staff - as I'm 4.5km from my exchange FTTC was my last best hope of getting a decent broadband connection

    it's great during the day with download speeds of 4MB (32Mbits), but roll around to when I get home from work and I can't watch iPlayer and direct download speeds are lucky to hit hundreds of Kb, and I can't play online games because I'm constantly disconnected from from the servers (primarily because the 3 or 4 games I play online BT have seen fit to class as "non time sensitive" e.g. BitTorrent traffic and refuse to do anything about it)

    I'm still waiting on about 10 calls I've been promised to either fix the issues or get Infinity taken away so that I can go back to the flaky 4mb internet that actually used to work occaisioanlly.

  43. PTR

    Utter Fail!


    At least you guys could vote. The system didn't recognise any postcode in our entire town of 60,000 people (Peterlee) !!!

    Had to raise 2 tickets with them before they fixed it - I doubt anyone else who went on the site would have bothered to do the same, or bothered to come back again.

    Total joke.

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