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Virgin Media Reduce Roll-out in Wargrave Due to Disruption and Low Demand

Monday, July 24th, 2017 (12:15 pm) - Score 1,395
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Cable operator Virgin Media has had to roll back on part of last year’s pledge to roll-out their ultrafast broadband and TV network across the large Berkshire village of Wargrave. Apparently the work would cause too much disruption and there hasn’t been enough demand in related streets.

Some may recall that the village was one of several selected for deployment as part of the operator’s “Supercharging Local Communities” campaign, which was designed to help promote VM’s £3bn Project Lighting expansion to an additional 4 million premises by encouraging people to vote for their local areas (i.e. those with the strongest demand would be upgraded).

The deployment in Wargrave is currently on-going and should be completed by mid-September 2017, although it’s emerged that several streets will not benefit. The reason for this actually sounds quite understandable because the relevant streets have shown low demand for the service and digging up the roads would be very disruptive due to the narrow pavement (this is already home to the gas and electricity mains).

According to the Henley Standard, the work could require a key road junction (School Lane) to be closed and a diversion of up to 12 miles, which would no doubt attract a lot of negative publicity for Virgin Media and be more than a mild inconvenience for locals.

Paul Hartley, VM Virgin Project Manager, said:

“We outlined concerns with High Street, Ferry Lane and Church Street. They are central roads and would lead to closures. At the moment it is still a no.

The School Lane junction would be a road closure with a 12-mile diversion, which we are not keen on. My concern as well is access to the school. We have to demonstrate that the demand is there for 130-odd premises.

We would like as many customers attracted to us as possible but there’s commercial viability and brand impact or damage. I’m happy to debate but there has got to be a clear understanding of what could happen.”

Deploying new infrastructure is an expensive business and sadly there are occasions where the potential for disruption is too significant to continue. In this case we think that Virgin Media has made the correct call, particularly given that locals have already raised concerns about the disruption and rudeness (swearing at residents etc.) of their contractors.

On that last point Mr Hartley said that the operator’s third-party contractors had been warned about their behaviour and work quality. However in other areas of the village Virgin’s contractors have received praise for their effort. You can’t win them all.

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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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11 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT

    Not the first, won’t be the last. Just the nature of the beast.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Quite. In this case the road that would have to be closed is also an A road which runs from the A4 to close to Henley Bridge (despite which there is one short part by the junction which is single lane). Diverted traffic would either have to go via Sonning Where Theresa May loves of course – not to mention George Clooney having a house there) or via tiny country lanes through Crazies Hill (where Gigaclear are meant to complete their network too).

      It would not just have been the inhabitants of Wargrave that would have been affected.

      I note that there isn’t a telephone pole to be seen so, presumably, BT’s network is underground. Whether there is conduit to each house is another question – sometimes it’s direct buried.

      In any event, any major network uplift to fibre is going to suffer this.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Lives not loves of course. I don’t really want to think about the latter…

    • Avatar dragoneast

      Just out of interest, do you know locations where individual house underground cable connections are located in conduits as a matter of course, installed pre-broadband days? I have personal experience of BT doing it in the case of cable faults but’s that’s all, and that was rare enough too. Only I think when they got really exasperated, never mind the customers! I suspect the cables were installed by the house builders. ‘Nough said.

    • Avatar RobertT

      Don’t get this… Are VM descoping areas that need road closures, or just this area? If network builders not touch areas that require road closures, we’re going to get no where fast.

    • Avatar CarlT

      This area and any other areas where road closures make it too expensive to build. They have a budget of roughly 660 quid per premises passed. Closing roads is expensive.

      They are closing a couple near me; they’ve had to wait until school broke up.

      Roadworks on B6127 Bridge Street, Morley, Leeds https://roadworks.org/?98521372
      Roadworks on A6029 Rein Road, Tingley, Wakefield, Leeds https://roadworks.org/?98522645

    • Avatar MikeW

      @dragon
      We had a house that was new-build in 1995, with general site works (like telco) probably planned in 1994. So just pre-broadband.

      It had underground ducting that came up on the front wall of the house; it led to a single-lid chamber, where a whole bundle of joints were present.

      I don’t know if the ducting between chamber and homes was a radial design, or a single duct with sequential swept-tees. There were chambers around every 40-50m, so perhaps 1 for every 4-5 homes, though there wasn’t necessarily a DP in every one.

    • Avatar MP

      My parents’ house in Surbiton, built mid-1920’s, was certainly serviced by underground ducting when we moved there in 1966. Who knows whether the street was ducted when constructed !!

    • Avatar Chris

      Dragoneast/Mike – my street was built in the late 90’s and has the same BT infrastructure as Mike described. I always assumed the ducts to each house went a radial layout from the pavement chambers.

      There is also ducting for CATV to every house, but there are fewer chambers in the pavement and they are a lot smaller than the BT ones. The VM network currently stops a mile or so away, so the cable cabinet and ducts only contain rope. At the time, this would have been within the local cable franchise area which i think had coverage obligations that were later scrapped in return for giving up exclusivity.

  2. Avatar Bob

    Wow… not everyone wants superfast broadband… That’s a real surprise. Kind of holes the “we should be fibring the entire UK” boat below the waterline.

    Anyway, I thought all these start ups were going to fill the gap… come on B4RN… can you not get Mrs Miggins out with a shovel and cups of tea to sort this out?

    • Avatar Darren

      Or not everyone want’s Virgin media. I imagine those who saw watchdog recently would be put off as well and rightly so.

      Build the network then it can be utilised. A true high speed symetrical network has uses we cannot even imagine because most have not even been invented yet.

      You cannot drive along a road (high speed symetrical internet) before it’s been built or indeed if the cars (uses) have not even been invented yet. Build the road then the cars will come and the demand will follow.

      Or we could just stick with couple of Mb in one direction because it’ll do for what we need it for right now and cannot imagine any more uses for it even if it was more capable!

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