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Cheshire Villagers to Stump Up GBP35K for Faster Broadband from BT

Monday, January 25th, 2016 (1:59 pm) - Score 1,991
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Residents and local businesses in the Cheshire (England) village of Ollerton, which sits just 2 miles south of Knutsford and is home to over 330 people, have clubbed together in order to pay BTOpenreach some £35,000 so as to get a working “fibre broadband” connection installed.

At present the “local” street cabinet (PCP 10) is already listed as supporting “fibre broadband” connectivity via Openreach’s Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service, although the cabinet is more intended to serve part of Knutsford and the village resides too far away for it to deliver “fibre“. Similarly the local ADSL2+ services are painfully slow (around 1.5Mbps to 5Mbps).

On top of that the regional Connecting Cheshire project, which is currently working to make FTTC/P connectivity available to 98% of premises in the county by summer 2017, looks set to miss Ollerton out of its current plans (here). However it should be said that there is talk of eventually reaching universal coverage (here), although villagers aren’t willing to wait any longer.

As David Malkinson, a resident of School Lane, said (here), “We can either sit and wait and see if we get internet, or grab the bull by the horns and that is what we have elected to do. I started leaflet dropping in December and it got a great reaction, so now it is full steam ahead.”

Instead a number of local businesses and residents have setup the Connecting Ollerton campaign, which has agreed to co-fund the build of a new all-in-one (Phone and FTTC) Street Cabinet with Openreach.

Ollerton’s Plan

The plan is to run a new fibre-optic down the Chelford Road from Knutsford, and install a new superfast-enabled cabinet on the corner of School Lane and Chelford Road. The existing copper wiring will be reconnected to this cabinet and will be a short enough distance to enable superfast to all households in the catchment area.

Our scheme will be the first one of its kind in Cheshire, but not far behind us is the neighbouring Peover Parish, who have the exact same issue as us: the distance from the cabinet is too far to carry a ‘superfast’ signal.

The price for the works is expected to be in the region of £35,000, which covers around 65 households and and handful of businesses. BT are currently in the process of performing a detailed survey after which they will produce a contractual, fixed price for the work.

It’s possible that some surrounding areas may also be included into the project, although this is still being investigated. However finding £35,000 from such a small community is no easy task and certainly won’t work everywhere.

new_ollerton_cabinet

At this stage it’s unclear how much has been raised, although the campaign has support from 5-6 local firms and this suggests that more than half of the target may have already been achieved (i.e. businesses have been asked to contribute between £2k and £5k each).

Assuming the money is found then the network should take around 12 months to build and could then be completed by January 2017. Mind you the project is somewhat bitter-sweet in the sense that a community felt so overlooked that it ended up having to pay for itself to get vital infrastructure installed. It’s unclear if they asked any altnet ISPs, such as Gigaclear, to give a counter quote.

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Mark Jackson
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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39 Responses
  1. Avatar chris

    they have no need to pay for this! all they needed to do was invite gigaclear in, and then BT would overbuild it for free. That is what they have done in B4RNland, all our tiny villages (some with only 20 homes in range) now can boast 2 new bt cabinets in each of them. If they are gonna raise £35k they could spend it on real fibre and not the superfarce copper that will only help a few close by the cabinet. What a con. BT should hang their heads in shame that they can’t even produce obsolete fttc in this day and age without rooking the poor customers further.

    • Avatar gerarda

      Unfortunately Gigaclear are not interested in places as small as Ollerton, but it does show that all the BT/BDUK propaganda that suggests it is only isolated properties that need infilling with satellite is way off the mark.

    • Avatar GNewton

      To be fair, according to the project website, they are aware of other options:

      “Various options are available to us including self-installing a new network, satellite broadband, 4G and working with BT themselves.”

    • Avatar Sunil Sood

      Cab 10 referred to in this article was funded by BDUK Cheshire.

      I suspect its likely that a future BDUK project phase would have funded those too far from the cabinet to get ‘super-fast’ speeds.

      Obviously, the residents and impatient and who can blame them but perhaps BDUK might be willing to make a contribution as well..

      FWIW Codelook shows Cab 10 as covering 419 properties, so the 65 covered by this project represent roughly 15% on the cabinet.

    • Avatar Peter

      Well to correct Chris this is not the case in the village where I live.
      Gigaclear started to canvass about 2 years+ ago as we excluded from BDUK

      They got the 30% and installed FTTP just over 1 year ago.
      In all that time BT have done nothing whatsoever.
      So the area is still on ADSL2+ though the exchange itself is fibre capable as it serves other more urban areas which have been FTTC’d by BT.

      Locally there is another area which has GC’s FTTP installed where BT has left the entire exchange on ADSLmax.

    • Avatar Ignition

      Chris tends to epitomise one side of the facts versus emotion part of this discussion.

      There are valid reasons why the network she helped build was overbuilt by BT.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Ignition: “There are valid reasons why the network she helped build was overbuilt by BT.”

      What are these valid reasons? It is unusual in the UK for BT to do FTTP in rural areas.

    • B4RN didn’t answer the OMR so the areas they planned to pass remained white NGA for state-aid purposes.

      It is not unusual at all for BT to do FTTP in rural areas as part of the BDUK programme. In many counties there is more rural FTTP due to BDUK than urban FTTP from the commercial rollout.

      Neither is it unusual for there to be FTTC cabinets passing relatively few premises. There are a bunch of BDUK cabinets and the odd commercial one passing less than 70 premises.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Ignition: Is it really true the B4RN didn’t respond to the OMR? Was the local council not aware of the B4RN? I have read statements to the contrary in the past here on ISPReview, maybe I might have misunderstood them.

      Also, are the areas serviced by B4RN also serviced by commercial BT FTTP, or BDUK-subsidised FTTP?

    • Avatar TheManStan

      @GNewton

      I suspect that the absence of a copy of the formal OMR response making an appearance anywhere in the media suggests that B4RN assumed their previous correspondence was sufficient. So whilst LCC did know of B4RNs plans in detail, LCC was required to set plans based on OMR.
      If you read the OMR that was sent, then you’ll see that a formal response is required to be included (section 6). It may have been an oversight on B4RNs part that they assumed previous information was sufficient and would be automatically included. Anyone used to dealing with public bodies should know, “new form supplied” fill out new form.

      http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/media/145108/4D2AAA27.docx

    • Avatar GNewton

      So did the local council know about the planned B4RN rollout, or not, back then?

    • Avatar TheManStan

      Most certainly they did, but if they said fill this out so that we can take notice of your plans and they didn’t… just like not formally objecting in writing about a planning notice and just saying you don’t like to building control, they know but your objections won’t be considered because you didn’t follow “due process”. Which is what it appears to be the case… they failed to follow due process.

    • Avatar Gadget

      There was some discussion way back here http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/01/b4rn-frustrated-bduk-bt-fttp-broadband-encroach-dolphinholme.html

      and within that is a statement by the Council “Update 3 23rd January” which states
      “B4RN did not respond to either of the OMRs and all other operators who responded detailed Dolphinholme as out of scope for commercial investment plans. Based on this market-led intelligence, the OMR determined Dolphinholme to be classified as ‘White’ under State Aid rules and therefore eligible for public sector intervention. Having conducted two OMRs, the county council is confident it has demonstrated a clear commitment to complying with State Aid legislation.”

    • Avatar GNewton

      According to this same earlier ISPReview article:

      “Separately B4RN were keen to stress that Dolphinholme had been part of their plans ever since 2011, which does indeed long precede BT’s involvement, and that the data reflecting this was given to LCC as part of their Open Market Review. ”

      Looks to me that the LCC “lost” some mail here. It wouldn’t be the first time that local councils involved the BDUK projects have shown a hostile attitude towards altnets.

    • Avatar TheManStan

      @GNewton

      But, this goes back to a formal submission as part of the due process. LCC was given data for the OMR vs our formal submission to the OMR was not included…(receipt from LCC online system or RM proof of delivery and copy of OMR submission kind of proof). If B4RN had followed due process they could appeal and win, as due process would protect their submission. Note, that B4RN has not said, “we did exactly what LCC required in the OMR and it was ignored…”

    • Avatar GNewton

      I am not sure why you are so desperate in defending LCC. The fact is, LCC knew about it, and was not legally required to deploy an expensive BDUK-FTTP in Dolphinholme. B4RN did the right thing and went ahead with the Dolphinholme rollout anyway, rather than wasting time and resources on legal battles with LCC. And LCC has truly wasted taxpayer’s money here! I am certain there are still uncovered areas an Lancashire where there is genuine need for fibre broadband.

    • Avatar TheManStan

      I’m not defending them i’m explaining the process and where things likely went wrong… I’ve said many times that I think B4RN is a great project, with UNIQUELY many of the people with the right skills and experience that would not be found normally in community projects.

      I could say the same, why are trying to lay the blame for likely B4RNs failings with LCC? But I’m not, I think you just don’t understand “due process” systems, even with the examples i have provided.

      I belive someone in B4RN overlooked the importance of the fact that OMRs are a “due process” system and you have to submit formally. In these instances you can’t rely on anyone doing it for you based on anything you’ve provided previously, particularly here in a commercial environment submission. Allowances are rarely made in commercial systems. Consumer type submission requests are generally more forgiving, but sometimes are just as strict.

      I’ve given a clear example of another “due process” system with planning permission and the results are exactly the same. If you don’t submit any objection formally or attend the planning meetings, your objections are not considered. Simple as that… nothing more…

    • Avatar GNewton

      As I said, the previous ISPReview article, when they interviewed B4RN, clearly states that B4RN submitted the data under the OMR procedures. LCC says they didn’t. B4RN’s word against LCC’s word. Why would you believe LCC more than B4RN? Whatever really happened, LCC wasted taxpayer’s money. Nobody forced the LCC to deploy expensive BDUK-funded right in Dolphinshome when clearly the money could have been used elsewhere where there was genuine need.

      The whole BDUK process has been a farce, and geared toward a single provider, BT, who never had need for this money. There is a reason why the BDUK has now opened consultation on new and improved procurement processes.

    • Avatar Gadget

      @GNewton, you are right it does seem to be a “he said/she said” scenario. There is a little bit more information in terms of timescales and claims here http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240213117/Dolphinholme-debate-raises-questions-over-BDUK-rural-broadband-funding. Either way unlikely to be definitively resolved unless B4RN can demonstrate delivery of an OMR response or LCC can demonstrate what OMR responses were received and did not contain the required information. The B4RN application for RBCF funding mentioned in the link was also the subject of discussion as it would only be applicable if there was no concrete plan for deployment, and would therefore have made the area BDUK White, or alternatively if there were plans then there could be no RBCF money

    • Avatar TheManStan

      @GNewton

      So why haven’t they been quoted along the lines of “We submitted data exactly as required by LCC OMR”? Why have they chosen wording which is vague in terms of their submission?

      Their claim would be irrefutable if they had provided Mike with a copy of the OMR submitted… That would certainly have put egg on LCC’s face.

      Additionally, if they had completed the OMR with a formal submission, they could have gone to arbitration, won their corner and end of story…

      Fortunately for B4RN they have community onside.

  2. We are in Lymm a wireless distributor to the “trade” and would have been happy to meet and give recommendations,we do it all the time for communities and ISP,s (assuming that they have not already gained professional advice on using wireless). This focus on fiber is killing community focused internet. We are in Scotland at the INCA seminar in Edinburgh this week to work with providers and communities to install wireless as a solution and in conjunction with fiber as required.

    • Avatar chris

      The focus on false fibre is killing community internet. Its a superfarce. If communities had access to fibre they could build their own wifi networks, or fibre networks. The fact remains that fibre is denied to them by the monopoly, and instead all they can have is access through clapped out old phone lines, and the choice of many ISPs reselling the service, which leave millions stuck on rubbish connections so they remain analogue, and the longer this goes on the more money BT will make to fund their pensions, bonuses, footie matches and mobile takeovers. The more the government will lose due to having to support digital and analogue citizens, and the further we will drop behind countries laying real fibre networks. Fibre broadband does not come down phone lines. That is the message that needs to go out to everyone, and stop the hype.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      The question is how many communities would design, fund, build and manage a community network. The majority of people have day jobs, interests outside broadband, family things etc. It does/may work in some places but is very risky, nice as it might seem, sadly.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: What are the day jobs of the people covered by the B4RN areas?

    • Avatar MikeW

      Isn’t one of them a professor at Lancaster University, responsible for building & running both the campus LAN and some regional networks connecting various universities, colleges and schools?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      There are, indeed, some excellent network people in the B4RN project. One is Barry Forde who is a network specialist and academic who wrote the B4RN business case which is thorough and presents the issues in what we might say is a more balanced way than is always the case. One very interesting point is that it emphasises the problems telecoms companies have in producing commercially viable business cases for servicing areas such as this and that a community-owned organisation can do things much more cheaply by using good-will on the part of landowners, volunteer labour and being able to avoid major streetworks. It’s a good read.

      This is one direct quote

      “The big problem is that for this model to work the land owners must be prepared to grant free wayleaves to lay duct across their land. Clearly they would refuse to do this if the applicant were a traditional telecommunications company working to the traditional profit model, but if it were a community owned cooperative run for the benefit of the community the story is different.”

      The business case estimates the costs to a telco in rural area of the order of a few thousand pounds per property given commercial rates for trenching, street works etc. So a cost of £100K upwards for a full (commercial) fibre network of this size might be credible. I don’t know if one of the OR options available was based on GEA/FTTP. I would have hoped it would be considered (in any event, they have a building block).

      As to the fact BDUK aren’t able to provide at least some assistance, that’s unfortunate. However, I would hope (at the very least) they are able to use the fibre rollout which supports their existing cabinet which would have reduced some of the costs.

      Another way that this sort of thing could be financed is if regulatory models allowed for some differential pricing in expensive-to-reach areas. It might not be wholly popular, but a few more pounds per month (along with a USO) could work wonders for the business cases. After all, £35,000 over 65 properties is about £3 month over 20 years when some financing costs are thrown in.

      http://b4rn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/B4RN-Business-Plan-v5-2.pdf

  3. Avatar Marcus Durant

    Exactly what BT want to happen and the perfect outcome for them. Game Set and Match BT/Openreach. Disgusting Superfarce.

    • Avatar DTMark

      “the regional Connecting Cheshire project.. looks set to miss Ollerton out of its current plans”

      Why so? BDUK should have delivered to that community by the end of last year (sub 2Mbps speeds, minimum 2Mbps for all).

      Why the project failure?

      Does BDUK levy a penalty on the Local Authority for not complying with the goals of the BDUK scheme?

    • They just about get 2Mb via ADSL 2+. Also BDUK didn’t guarantee >2Mb via fixed line, so that requirement is achieved via satellite.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @Ignition at £350 each 65 satellite vouchers would pay for more than half the cost

    • Avatar MikeW

      @gerarda
      If the project were allowed to be flexible with the budget, offsetting some of the cost with satellite vouchers makes perfect sense.

      If Mark’s speed figures are correct, then there wouldn’t be 65 qualifiers for that subsidy – only perhaps 10. Still, an extra £3,500 isn’t to be sniffed at.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @MikeW
      According to the community website most get between 1Mb and 2Mb and some less. If most got above 2Mb I doubt there would be too much appetite to stump up for superfast

    • Avatar MikeW

      So, just need to make the BDUK project treat such a “mini procurement” as something worthy of adding subsidy support to.

      When looking at BDUK’s latest consultation on procurement, it strikes me as a lot of overhead for a small “lot”.

      I wonder if de minimis exemptions could be applied.

  4. Avatar Jonny

    What’s this combined voice and FTTC DSLAM cabinet all about then? I assume this will form part of the solution for exchange-only lines?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      It’s now a fairly common solution for wherever network rearrangement is required to support a relatively small number of lines and there’s no existing junction box including, of course, at least some EO lines. Only one cabinet to install (but there’s lots of time consuming (i.e. expensive) work in redoing all the cabling.

  5. Easy to complain about what these guys have done, how it’s a superfarce, they’re getting ripped off, etc, however the biggest thing to look at here is that, if this gets done, the village has a high fibre count cable running right through the middle of it making G.fast and FTTP far easier and more cost effective in the future.

    Knutsford is fed off Altrincham and if there’s a fibre route there right now it’s core network fibre, not transport or access, so this makes a genuine difference.

  6. Avatar Captain_Cretin

    I suppose it is a bargain – compared to the woman on the BBC News website, who has been quoted a similar amount – just for a phone line.

    Mind you, 25 years back, I knew someone who was quoted £500,000 for an electricity supply; despite living less than a mile outside of the Worcester City boundary; of course the P.T.B. HAD to quote the most direct (and expensive) route, rather than the longer, but MUCH cheaper route.

  7. Avatar fastman

    captain

    the USO says the business has to provide a Telephone number but any cost up to 3500 has to be finances by the business (as part of its condition of licence) and any cost over that has to passed on to the consumer / business — this looks like 400m in the Highway so the actual cost will be greater as the USO figure will have been excluded from that !!!!!

  8. Avatar Heckypecky

    @Ignition: “There are valid reasons why the network she helped build was overbuilt by BT.”

    The reasons cited are not valid. The County Council is supposed to manage its revenue for the benefit of the county dwellers. Also the network is still being built and still BT are overbuilding it, in patches, for reasons unknown. Though apparently, according to Paul Coles, “People do like the choice that Openreach brings” (Western Morning News 20 Oct 2015). Funny how they always choose B4RN (apart from the tiny sample mentioned)

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