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UPD Sky Broadband Build New 1Gbps FTTH Trial for 5000 Derbyshire Homes

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 (1:37 pm) - Score 3,645

Contractors who appear to be working for Sky (Sky Broadband) have been spotted building new telegraph poles and fibre optic cable ducting around the civil parish village of Woodville, Midway and the Swadlincote areas of Derbyshire in England. Some 5,000 local homes will benefit.

The development was first spotted by Sky’s customers earlier this month and after consulting the usual roadwork’s database(s) we were able to confirm that Easynet, which use to be owned by Sky and still helps to maintain part of their underlying fixed line broadband and phone infrastructure, is doing the work.

Apparently the project itself has been in the construction phase since around mid-May 2015 and its status is listed as on-going, with official records for the work stating things like: “Install fibre optic tube in footway to each property. Construct jointing chambers, Install telecommunication poles, Install duct at carriageway road crossings.”

The work is extensive and clearly being focused on both local homes and businesses. Meanwhile BT has been telling some residents for two years now that their own “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) connectivity was on the way and yet many are still waiting for that to actually happen (lots of delay).

The development in Derbyshire also appears to be similar to what we saw last year when Sky was spotted conducting a trial of 950Mbps (Megabits per second) capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH/P) connectivity in the town of Basingstoke, Hampshire (here).

It is known that Sky have been conducting several GPON based FTTH/P trials around the United Kingdom, which are usually separate from their Joint Venture with TalkTalk and Cityfibre in York. But details on precisely where these have been occurring aren’t widely available, except when they’re spotted like this one.

Officially Sky tends to say that their trials, like the one in Basingstoke, are small scale and designed to help them better understand the potential and economics of certain technologies. In addition, Sky’s Basingstoke development was done in cooperation with the local Broadband Delivery UK funded superfast broadband scheme for Hampshire.

However their earlier work in Basingstoke wasn’t without its problems and they faced some challenges after a number of locals complained about the installation of new telegraph poles, which were deemed to be unsightly by residents of Hackwood Road (here). “It makes it look like a third-world country,” as one local NIMBY said. It will be interesting to see whether the work in Derbyshire evokes a similar response.

We queried Sky’s construction in Derbyshire earlier this week and currently hope to have a response before the end of today.

UPDATE 25th June 2015

Sky has confirmed that the development is indeed another trial of their ‘up to’ 1000Mbps capable fibre optic broadband technology, which will reach almost 5,000 homes in the aforementioned Swadlincote and surrounding areas. Once again Sky sees this as a way of testing the new service, which is fully independent of BTOpenreach’s platform, at a more commercial level.

Apparently the Swadlincote area was selected because Sky believes that local residents are interested in ultrafast broadband and because Swadlincote offers a representative cross section of the terrains and conditions that could be found elsewhere in the UK.

It should be said that to reach 5,000 homes with FTTH/P technology is not cheap and requires a fairly significant investment, most likely one that’s pushing into seven figures.

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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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