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Complaints Mire 950Mbps Sky Broadband FTTH Trial in Basingstoke UK

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 (1:02 pm) - Score 3,393

Sky Broadband’s 12 month trial of a new 950Mbps (Megabits per second) capable GPON based Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH/P) network in the town of Basingstoke (Hampshire, England) has been hit by complaints from locals who object to the installation of new telegraph poles, which are apparently deemed unsightly by residents of Hackwood Road.

The existence of Sky’s new Superfast Fibre Trial, which is being conducted alongside Love Digital TV, was revealed last month and is entirely separate from Sky’s similar Joint Venture with CityFibre and TalkTalk in the city of York (here). Sky’s trial network aims to deliver the service directly into homes by using overhead fibre optic lines from telegraph poles, which in some areas is preferable to the greater disruption caused by having to dig up roads and gardens.

Unfortunately the attraction of being able to benefit from one of the fastest and most advanced broadband services in the United Kingdom isn’t enough to satisfy some locals, with around 20 letters of complaint having already found their way into the inbox of local councillor Brian Gurden (Liberal Democrat).

Brian Gurden, Councillor for Basingstoke South East, said:

The Camrose estate has some old-style telephone poles that we would rather get rid of because, as someone said, it makes it look like a third-world country. They should not be putting this trial in here. They should be seeking to reach other parts of the country, the rural areas, that are hard to reach.”

The Basingstoke Gazette article reveals that the trial involves around 120 homes along streets including Camberry Close, Camrose Way, Chesterfield Way and Westfield Road etc. A number of the complainants reference the fact that they were not told the trial would involve the use of telegraph poles, although Sky did in fact stick related notices on several poles in the area beforehand and the trial itself also has the support of Hampshire County Council.

Apparently one of the major gripes locals have is that they view telegraph poles as being an “old way of delivering infrastructure” and apparently it’s all “a bit much if you live in a house with a new telegraph pole in front“. Speaking as somebody who sees telegraph poles all around, including the one connecting my own home, I’d respectfully beg to differ.

Indeed such poles are still normal for many areas and just because some live in a location where they haven’t been present for a while doesn’t make it an out of date method for running cables into properties. The issue also holds more than a passing similarity to the complaints that arose from residents of Kenstella Road in Newlyn (Cornwall, England) after BT installed a new 11 metre high pole (here).

Many people would gladly allow such poles to be installed if it meant they could get Gigabit style broadband speeds. In the meantime Sky has politely apologised and said they were “working hard to minimise any disruption to residents, and we are pleased with feedback we have received from triallists to date“.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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50 Responses
  1. Tomo says:

    ‘Apparently one of the major gripes locals have is that they view telegraph poles as being an “old way of delivering infrastructure”’

    I’m sure digging up the road in front of their house would be reasonable then? Some people don’t know a good thing when they get it.


    ‘“The Camrose estate has some old-style telephone poles that we would rather get rid of because, as someone said, it makes it look like a third-world country.’

    I take it Brian Gurden has never visited a ‘developing country’ then!

    1. Simon says:

      In his defence Basingstoke has ducting to every house for shared services already.

      Virgin and BT are both fully ducted with distribution cabs already present, plus it was a BT FTTP trial area (though good luck trying to order it, nobody would take my money for it even with a willingness to pay up to 3k for install).

      Though I would happily go rent a drill, dig a hole, pay for a telephone pole, pay for fibre cables from it to my house and then contribute to a few km of shared cable back to the BT or Virgin exchanges to get my hands on a decent speed like 950Mbps… Though it may be cheaper and quicker to just pull the cable down the existing ducting which isn’t full and has a convenient draw string (but does have a lot of soil in it for some reason).

      I guess its a question of who owns the ducts???

  2. Steve Jones says:

    It’s actually unusual to gain approval to use overhead delivery of services in new areas. For the most part, planning regs tend to require underground delivery of utilities like telecommunications and power.

    When cable TV was being installed it was a requirement for it to be delivered using underground services (of course a co-ax cable is much more intrusive than a telephone cable). However, overhead delivery of services like power, cable TV and telecommunications is the norm in much of America.

    That there is a legacy of overhead delivery of telecommunications and, sometimes, power is one thing. To install it retrospectively is something entirely new. Personally I doubt that approval will be gained for installing lots of new poles and overhead cables in areas that don’t suffer this eyesore. I can see why it might be done for a trial, as it’s quick but if cable TV had to bury their cables, then I don’t see how fibre can be delivered overhead using new poles.

    1. Steve Jones says:

      A 2013 UK government consultative document on exactly this subject with some proposals on easing current regulations.


    2. MikeW says:

      The government went ahead with the plan to relax planning regulations for cabinets & poles, taking effect last year and lasting for 5 years.


  3. Simon Zerafa says:


    The residents of that area should grow up a bit and get a grip!

    Ugly poles. A very first world complaint indeed. Seriously get over it and learn to live with it or move.

    950 MBits is phenomenally fast and they should be grateful they get the opportunity to trail broadband at that speed.

    There are many parts of the UK who would kill for that sort of speed or indeed any worthwhile speed at all.



  4. sentup.custard says:

    Memo to self:
    Must write to Brent Council and complain about that darned great telegraph pole outside my home here in “Third-world London”.


  5. Gareth says:

    What a bunch of idiots!

    Getting access to 950Mbps with no road digging and they start moaning! It’s all these utility companies that have caused the roads to get on the state they are in. I think we should be using more of this and less digging of roads.

    1. Unknown101 says:

      How do you purpose the poles are going to get fed, from pole to pole or from ducting to pole? If the later then it will involve digging up carriageways and footpaths…..

    2. Unknown101 says:

      Propose and latter**

  6. Martyn Dews says:

    Some people you will never please. Take down all the poles. Including the ones carrying the telephone! Nasty things.

  7. DTMark says:

    Telegraph poles are ugly and an eyesore. It’s just that you get used to them, they’re quaint and old-fashioned, but ugly nonetheless. Growing up in Harlow, I assumed that almost everything was ducted underground since it has no telegraph poles to speak of.

    In designing a network for here (rural), I ruled out using poles from the outset. But then it’s no great shakes to bury the cables under the edges of the fields, and there aren’t that many places where they need to cross roads – and those can be buried too, going underneath them in a limited number of places.

    I guess in an urban environment it’s not that straightforward. If the LA is supporting the scheme, I’m guessing they would be happy to waive any charges for digging up roads, and rather than dis-incentivise that, they would be happy to work with the network team to get a nice modern buried network for the benefit of their residents?

    We have yet to see what happens in practise if and when someone else wants to build another massive street cabinet right next to a BT VDSL one. And another. At some point, the idea of the LAs and the network builders (telecoms, gas, electricity, sewerage etc.) working together for some form of common good might even come to pass.

  8. Raindrops says:

    Quite obviously of the roads listed the complaints have came from either Camberry Close or Camrose Way (If i had to guess id bet its Camberry close as that only has about 20 homes and its 20 complaints) The other two roads mentioned (IE Chesterfield Way and Westfield Road) already have/had old style wooden poles with step steps.

  9. Alec Robertson says:

    I still don’t really understand why Sky are trialling an “alternative” scheme in an urban area?!? Basingstoke is very well covered by FTTC and Virgin Media cable and it seems bizarre that Sky would trial a scheme presumably for rural use in an area like that.

    My opinion on the poles is, as somebody else said, if you’re getting super-fast speeds (faster than about 95% of the country), I don’t think there’s much you can complain about. I’d rather have that than the road dug up (which would take far longer and cause more disruption).

    1. Unknown101 says:

      How are these poles going to be fed, the road/footpaths are going to have to be dug up to lay the feed for the pole (that is unless the poles are going to be feeding eachother).

    2. Steve Jones says:

      I still don’t really understand why Sky are trialling an “alternative” scheme in an urban area?!?

      Because the cost per household is lower. Precisely the same reason why cable TV is only in areas of relatively high density population (or, for that matter, why the FTTC commercial roll-out was in such areas).

      These companies work on business models, not filling some social need.

      (nb. that is, of course, slightly simplistic as “take up” is likely to be proportionately higher where existing BB is poor, so there’s a good case that Openreach used an overly simplistic model based on population density for the commercial FTTC rollout).

  10. Bill says:

    I wonder how many of those 20 letters were penned by Openreach Shills ? 🙂

    Basingstoke has a long ongoing issue with BT and Virgin, The council gave BT a load of money to resolve Broadband issues some years back, only to go and use it to overbuild Virgin coverage and ignore the areas that had poor or no service.

    Good luck to VM with this trial. It is a good job they and Openreach don’t have to pay proper site rents/taxes on each pole like the VOA are trying to push onto wireless “poles” 🙂

    1. fastman2 says:


      basingstoke has never provided BT with money for Broadband — that would need a formal procurement and the only money has come via hampshire — not sure where you think that comes from

  11. finaldest says:

    No doubt an area full of self centered baby boomers who constantly winged when they didn’t get their own way.

    There is just no pleasing some people. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few so if the majority of residents are happy then tough to those that are not.

  12. FibreFred says:

    lol amazing comments

    So when BT erected a single pole on a street in Devon, everyone on here went mental claiming BT were the panto villain and that they should be delivering via underground ducts.

    When Sky deliver by pole people are on the defence 🙂

    Where is JNeuhoff/Gnewton with their :-

    “There is nothing wrong with using underground ducts, with fibre running to the premises. No need for erecting a pole.”


    I thought this new venture was going to be micro-ducting?

    1. Unknown101 says:

      Micro-ducting is the TalkTalk/Sky & City Fibre joint roll out wasn’t it, this one never mentioned anything about how they were going to do it but just erected poles I think.

      It does seem that whatever articles is posted they love to bash BT but when it’s another company they applaud whoever it is.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      Let’s not use the “everyone” word, nobody speaks for “everyone”. We fully support the use of telegraph poles, as per the prior BT article linked above, and so I think do most readers. Equally some individuals have an almost feverish dislike for all things BT but that’s usually down to different reasons, separate from the specific issue above.

    3. FibreFred says:

      No you are right bad choice of word and everyone certainly didn’t include “this site” (as in authors), it was aimed at those that comment on it

    4. Raindrops says:

      Nobody is forcing or even wanting you to stay if you have such issues with peoples comments on this site.

  13. Bob says:

    Well maybe Sky should take it to a more grateful community and let these ***** stick with sub standard DSL speeds.

    1. Gadget says:

      An understandable sentiment, except that a spot check on Camberry Close shows that FTTC speeds are available there with an estimated speed in the range of 73-80Mbps download!

    2. DTMark says:

      Ah, but with BT Wholesale pricing.

      I suspect Sky have their eye on being able to distribute to end users at cost price, in the same way that currently only the companies in the BT Group can do.

    3. Gadget says:

      DT – Openreach sell to Sky at the same price as they sell to the BTWholesale and Retail.

    4. Raindrops says:

      He never said they did not.

    5. Gadget says:

      Then what point is he making? If anything Sky have more freedom to cost per bundle than BT, making Sky the ones who could distribute at cost

    6. Raindrops says:

      The point is if Sky remove BT from the equation altogether they can price things cheaper.

    7. DTMark says:

      “Openreach sell to Sky at the same price as they sell to the BTWholesale and Retail.”

      And therein lies the problem – it creates a margin squeeze effect since the BT Group get it at cost price, but Sky and everyone else have to pay the Wholesale price.

      For a level playing field, the Wholesale price would have to be the same as the cost price.

      The other problem of course being that Sky’s offerings over the BT network are hampered by the limitations of only being able to offer what BT offers, thus creating no unique selling points.

    8. Gadget says:

      DT – there is no difference in price for BT compared with Sky. Whatever they (BT and Sky) choose to sell it to the end user is down to their business model not Openreach’s

    9. DTMark says:

      You may be missing the point. Read the post again with careful reference to the word ‘Group’.

    10. Raindrops says:

      Even worse in some areas of this “superfast” rollout BT did not even pay for the FTTC in the first place. Why in those areas they should be making money from any other ISP when its an infrastructure the tax payer paid for is even more bemusing.

    11. Unknown101 says:

      Raindrops – because at 20% take up the money profit from the cabinet will be passed back to the tax payer/government.

    12. Raindrops says:

      Huh? What the “profit” oh really. So now you trying to tell us BT make no “profit” from any “fibre” rollout that was tax payer funded and above 20% take up?

      They give all the money back to the government/tax payer once the take up per cab is 20% do they?

      Hows that work when they charge other ISPs to use the network then?

      What utter dribble. Next you will tell us they are a charity feeding homeless guinea pigs or some other complete nonsense.

  14. HooRay says:

    sounds good to get rid of the telegraph poles and that’s a thumbs up because greedy BT are cowboys . mr bodge it company .

    1. Unknown101 says:

      Last time I checked this article wasn’t about BY and was about poles that Sky have erected…

  15. Bodincus Padus says:

    Oh, FFS, it’s a TRIAL.

    They’re testing the technology, and poles are very likely to be temporary.

    It’s beyond stupid to ask for permission to cut roads and pavements to lay down a cable you will very likely dig out again in a year.

    First world, spoilt bratz problems.

    Sky, take the lot out and find another place populated by people with a brain.

    1. MikeW says:

      If you don’t run a trial with realistic deployments (ie the same way you would deploy commercially), just what is being trialled?

      You wont learn anything about the cost to install or maintain, or the ability of the tech to withstand the elements in the right way. You wont learn anything extra about the tech that can’t be done in a lab. At best, you might learn something about the human interaction with gigabit services… if there were any such services available.

    2. Raindrops says:

      That makes half of the trials BT do pointless also then. Their FTTC trials before it became a actual product did not test the costs involved in running fibre cable to cabinets EVERY distance from the exchange and sure enough BT later down the road have found out some areas are not as easy to deploy to as they assumed or will cost more than they thought, which in turns leads to delays.

      Even worse in the case of FTTP if the costs and work involved in that was done accurately then why has FTTP roll out basically been scrapped.

      NO TRIAL is perfect.

  16. MikeW says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a little. The only reason that Sky would be trialling their own access network is if they had an intention of deploying one themselves. And the only reason for trialling a fibre network deployed by pole would be to copy that model elsewhere.

    I wonder if they’re deciding to take serious advantage of the planning adjustments made until 2018. Could we see 4 years of widespread deployments from them?

    1. Raindrops says:

      “The only reason that Sky would be trialling their own access network is if they had an intention of deploying one themselves.”

      They already have a plan with cityfibre, Talk Talk etc

    2. Ignitionnet says:

      That is exactly what they are doing. Evaluating microduct delivery in York and pole delivery in Amazingstoke.

      Pretty funny the timimg. I am in the USA and have been staying with family, using their pole delivered FTTP. A symmetrical 500Mb package is available but they only need 75.

      They could have run with 300Mb cable if they had wished too.

      Silly 3rd world Americans, Japanese, South Koreans, etc.

    3. Raindrops says:

      Certain individuals have been told before the USA has faster speeds and better product range the same individuals deny it though. They also think FTTC is the answer and will continue to think so even though real life such as your experience ignitionnet shows otherwise.

    4. Ignitionnet says:

      In many areas it does though they are more expensive.

    5. Ignitionnet says:

      I should mention that of course in the USA there aren’t hundreds of options selling basically the exact same thing rebranded though.

      Ed Richards would be displeased.

    6. Raindrops says:

      Oh here we go with the other BS line of its more expensive. The BT shill can not add broadband service + Line rental together.

    7. Raindrops says:

      ^^ Oh appologies thats you being sarcastic before they said it lol

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