By: MarkJ - 20 January, 2011 (1:24 PM)
fibrecity dundee uk broadband logoThe traumatised Fibrecity project ( i3 Group ), which aims to offer super-fast 100Mbps Fibre-to-the-Home ( FTTH ) broadband services in multiple cities around the UK, is in trouble yet again after Bournemouth Borough Council called a meeting with the firm to discuss serious concerns surrounding their work and the recent damage caused to the town's infrastructure.

Fibrecity projects in both Bournemouth and Dundee hit a number of walls last year (here, here and here), which ultimately culminated in the firm entering a longer than expected phase of restructuring. Many of the problems stemmed from dissatisfaction with the quality of their road works, which caused disruption and a great deal of annoyance to affected residents.

The firm originally set out to run its fibre optic cables through underground sewers, although a failure to use this method ultimately forced them down the costly and highly disruptive path of having to dig up roads. Many believe that the i3 Group's attempt to cut costs went too far and ultimately led to some seriously substandard work.

A Fibrecity spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk last December 2010:

"The delay in continuing to rollout the fibre to the home network in Bournemouth and Dundee has created confusion for which we apologise. Wessex Water's decision to pullout of the agreement to let Fibrecity use its sewer pipes to lay the cables has had an impact on the way that we need to deliver the network.

We are sorry for the disruption, but we just ask that residents bear with us while we connect customers to the network already built. We expect the wider rollout of Fibrecity Bournemouth and Dundee to get back on track in early 2011."

Fibrecity now faces more pressure from Bournemouth council, which plans to meet with the firm tomorrow (January 21st). The council will use that meeting to demand action to repair damage caused to the town’s infrastructure during the work.

Councillor Peter Charon said:

"We have been concerned over the project since the work ceased in October 2010, leaving a number of roads and pavements needing remedial work. As Fibrecity is a statutory undertaker we are unable to prevent the work, however we will be insisting all the works are carried out to a high standard and, where this is not the case, additional work carried out.

Whilst a delay in the works resulting in the restructure of the company is understandable it is unacceptable that residents and businesses are kept in the dark on the progress of the project. Fibrecity also need to inform those residents who have signed up to receive the cables where they stand. The growing uncertainty could potentially undermine the project. We are determined to get this situation resolved as quickly as possible in the best interests of the people of Bournemouth."

Bournemouth council notes that Fibrecity does not require the Council’s approval to lay the cables, though they have instituted a system of quality checking. Although the majority of these works are to the required standard, there have been examples where work has had to be re-done – and the council is awaiting further work in a number of cases

Interestingly Fibrecity’s original commitment, given in 2008, was to use the sewer system to lay the cables. As reported before, due to a failure to reach the desired agreement, this has since been replaced by a model based on road and pavement digging. However the Council was not consulted on this change.

The council is also frustrated by their failure to provide a date for the re-commencement for the cabling works, which stopped in October 2010. Whilst the Council acknowledges the delays caused by the re-financing of the company - and the possible management buyout - no date has been provided as to when the works will re-commence.
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