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Cotswolds Broadband Set to Lay Fibre Optic Cable in West Oxfordshire

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 (2:39 pm) - Score 1,501

The Cotswolds Broadband project, which last year tendered for a supplier to help roll-out a 100Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network to the majority of homes and businesses in West Oxfordshire (England), now looks set to begin building the network by September 2015.

Last year saw the scheme secure a commitment for £3.2m of private investment, which came in addition to the previously announced investment of £1.6m from West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) and a grant of up to £1.6m from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). It is one of the rare non-BT contracts to win funding from BDUK.

The project intends to use this funding in order to help provide “up to 100 per cent of households and businesses across West Oxfordshire with access to superfast broadband“, which should benefit 6,100 premises. The figure marks an increase on the initial estimate of 5,839 because apparently BT’s rival deployment will service fewer homes and businesses than originally planned.

According to the Witney Gazette, Cotswolds Broadband has now “signed off contracts with suppliers of fibre-optic cabling and wireless infrastructure” (note: some smaller areas will get a fixed wireless broadband network) and the final contract with BDUK should be completed by the end of this month.

The first actual building work is now predicted to begin in either August or September 2015, although a more precise timescale will only come once the final engineering surveys and mapping stages have completed. We did attempt to check the projects website before going to press, but at the time of writing it appeared to be offline and unresponsive.

It’s worth pointing out that Cotswolds Broadband won’t be providing the service itself and will instead wholesale it out via an ISP. At this point some altnet projects can run into trouble when residents find that they’re unable to choose from any of the markets major providers, but hopefully the Cotswolds scheme will deliver something that’s not only fast, but also competitively affordable. On top of that they’ll need to do some serious advertising.

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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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11 Responses
  1. Be interesting to see how (and how much for) they wholesale it out, and also which ISPs come on board.

  2. Steve Jones says:

    It will be interesting to see how the wholesale aspect works. For the major retails ISPs it’s quite a lot of work to integrate every wholesale supplier into their systems. After all, there’s very little support for BT’s FTTP/GEA product, even though it’s only a variant of the FTTC/GEA version. Even though the number of BT FTTP lines is relatively low, it’s far higher than the (potential) 6,100 proposed here.

    In the case of small ISPs, then I suspect they will be more flexible and could well use manual integration (what was known in the IT trade as “swivel chair” integration where somebody double-entered data into two systems). It might also be a major ISP could follow the same route for strategic reasons.

    We will see. This is one of those big issues with multiple, small altnets and wholesale services. Until and unless there is a common interface, it’s a major complication in configuration, change and service management along with billing.

    1. fastman2 says:

      the ISP or how many will be acid tet — aos whether a EMP Equivalence Management platform will be built to ensure that ISP gets a fair view / share of bandwith

    2. GNewton says:

      Don’t wholesale then, or let the wholesalers stay away. No big deal (except for those BT proponents). Virgin Media isn’t an open access network, either. There is more to the world than BT’s GEA FTTC.

    3. FibreFred says:

      No big deal, just locked into one isp

    4. Steve Jones says:

      My thoughts are that most CPs won’t bother and what will emerge is a “vanilla” Internet connection. All those hand-offs between customer services and providers are simply too much effort for such a small customer base. However, if I’m reading this right and Cotswold Broadband won’t actually want to deal with the customer service side direct (which is quite an overhead), then I guess at least one CP will be required. Perhaps it will be sub-contracted.

    5. Gadget says:

      AFAIK isn’t one of the requirements of State Aid to at least offer a wholesale service? And since there is BDUK money involved would that not put the obligation on Cotswold Broadband to offer it, even if, as already mentioned it may not be attractive to other ISPs for reasons other than price.

    6. Astroturfer says:

      I seriously doubt a supplier of 6,100 lines delivering them without the level of scrutiny and regulation that Openreach receives will need to develop an entire platform to manage equivalence.

      In no small part because they aren’t retailing the product themselves. Were Openreach to not be a part of a company with 3 levels of vertical integration there would be no requirement for equivalence management there either, as there wouldn’t be any internal customers to favour.

    7. Astroturfer says:

      They’ll wholesale it, they’re required to, and they’ll probably run a largely manual process throughout.

      With that number of lines and the likely low uptake there’s no need or indeed reason to spend a ton of cash developing IT systems to manage things and they won’t have a bunch of undertakings they’ve agreed to for fear of Ofcom separating them from their B2B and B2C business units in no small part because they have none.

      Also I doubt Ofcom will be seeking to claim they have Significant Market Power any time soon. They are, by definition, an alt-net, not an incumbent 🙂

    8. Gadget says:

      As you say, not such an issue for the supplier, mostly for the ISP purchasers who would have to deal and interface with Cotswold from the ISP systems.

    9. Steve Jones says:

      There seems to be a lot of, almost wilful misunderstanding of what I wrote. Yes, we know that they have to offer a wholesale service. Yes, we know that this will not be some automated interface with all the complex stuff over engineer visits, configuration management and so on. Now is there any suggestion that equivalence issues might arise with regulation. It’s quite simple. Just how many CPs are going to bother with perhaps 6,000 customers. There will, however, have to be at least one CP willing to deal with it, and the implications are that Cotswold won’t want to deal with the customer facing issues direct.

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