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Crunch Meeting Called Over Failed FTTH Project in Kent Village of Selling

Monday, Dec 2nd, 2013 (2:06 pm) - Score 1,503

Residents of Selling, a small rural village in Kent (England), have called a public meeting in the hope of being able to solve the areas four year spat over the failure of Internal Communication Systems (ISC) to complete the £50k roll-out of a new ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network.

Sometimes it’s easy to see why councils might be nervous about handing public funds to smaller broadband ISP (altnet) schemes and the situation in Selling (Kent, England) is fast becoming the latest example of how not to do it, which is a shame because there are also positive examples (e.g. B4RN, Gigaclear, Hyperoptic etc.).

The Selling Broadband Project began in 2008/2009 with a £50,000 grant from the Selling Parish Council (SPC) / KCC and the goal of turning a broadband “not spot” into a fibre optic paradise. The plan was to roll-out an ultrafast FTTH network to pass more than 200 local homes (some reports claim 400+ homes but the project itself only ever targeted 200) but three years later it was in trouble.

The initial estimated cost from ICS was £63,000 plus an additional £67,000 for customer connections. But in October 2012 ISC dramatically pulled out of the project after admitting that it had spent nearly £500,000 installing the network and had only managed to pass a small proportion of the expected premises. Apparently any further expansion would have required significant new investment, which ICS deemed to be “financially unviable“.

A recent report from Kent County Council estimated that “the costs involved in providing a [complete FTTH] system to Selling would likely cost in region of £1.5 million” and the projects failings were also blamed on “a combination of factors ranging from inappropriate governance for the scale of project funding, poor overall project management and fragmented delivery, unhelpful communications and a lack of community cohesion to pull behind the project” (the latter is very important as B4RN shows – it’s a lot cheaper if local people help to build the network).

Meanwhile KCC has been left to cover the on-going running costs and yet many parts of Selling continue to remain without access to good connectivity.

Selling Parish Council Statement

The failure of the ICS project evoked a lot of emotion and raised a lot of questions.

We are planning an open public meeting, in the autumn, where the parties involved will give their views on the project.

The meeting is arranged for 4th December at 7:00pm, in the village hall.

So what to do next? KCC deems that the project was “overly ambitious for a village the size and nature of Selling and was conceived as a different project to the one that was procured” but there may yet be light at the end of the tunnel.

Selling has been included into KCC and BT’s county-wide Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme that’s due to begin work during late 2014 and should eventually cover 95% of the county with FTTC based “fibre broadband” services (91% will get speeds of 25Mbps+). It may be slower than FTTH but at least it will actually exist.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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