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UPDATE Uncertainty Looms Over FTTH Aylesbury Vale Broadband Rollout

Saturday, Nov 11th, 2017 (12:01 am) - Score 2,600

The Aylesbury Vale Broadband project, which is deploying a “full fibre” (FTTH/P) broadband network to a number of rural Buckinghamshire (England, UK) villages, is currently said to be “considering expressions of interest” from potential buyers and this week also saw the operator’s MD depart.

At present AVB’s rollout is being supported by around £700,000 in the form of a publicly funded commercial loan from the Aylesbury Vale District Council (95% shareholder), which has so far enabled the 300Mbps capable network to reach roughly 2,000 premises with their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP/H) technology.

Sadly the AVB website hasn’t posted any updates on its deployment progress since January 2017, when the operator said that “over the next nine months AVB [will] spread its wings and we’ve rapidly grown – we’re now live (or about to be live) in six villages with another four villages slated for the first quarter of 2017. We have deployed approximately 100 KM’s of ducting across public and private land.”

So far the network appears to have reached Hoggeston, Granborough, North Marston and Swanbourne. Meanwhile a post made in March 2017 on their Facebook Page stated that AVB had “started the work extending our ultrafast fibre broadband network to Soulbury and Stewkley in rural Buckinghamshire (on the way to Drayton Parslow).”

Since then silence has been the order of the day, although there was a brief spat with rival operator Gigaclear (here) and some criticism of AVB’s financial situation from one of the local Liberal Democrat Councillors, Llew Monger (here). In May 2017 the Oving Parish Council also expressed their disappointment with AVB’s progress (here), although such delays are not uncommon with complex FTTP deployments.

Back in September we queried the project’s progress with AVB’s former Managing Director, Andrew Mills, who informed ISPreview.co.uk that they were continuing with their “rapid growth” and had decided to focus on tackling a “huge backlog of people waiting to be connected.” Andrew added that AVB regularly received expressions of interest from people wanting to replicate their efforts, as well as those seeking to invest or acquire them.

More recently a number of community forums for the Aylesbury Vale area have started to post complaints (examples here and here), which is notable because AVB’s network is still very small. Some examples from this month can be found below (names removed as those are personal details, but you can track on the FB pages).

AVB Complainant 1:

“Can someone from avb please let all of us customers know what is happening … there is no support for all the people on the service. Mine is currently working since we had help from an outside source but if it goes wrong again we have no contact at all. I know of several people in North Marston who cannot work from home due to the broadband dropping out.”

AVB Complainant 2:

“AVB totally useless took our deposits a year ago on the promise they would supply us by March. Nothing we are with Rapid rural now . I have asked out of principal for my deposit back from AVB and they have not replied.”

AVB Complainant 3:

“We paid our deposit in good faith, but it doesn’t seem like they are going to supply it and my requests for a refund have been ignored.”

AVB Complainant 4:

“Terrible experience, always chasing, left mess everywhere in my house big holes in wall, bad attitude when asking for advice and now no support even when there was support you couldn’t get hold of anyone. Wish I never instructed them”

Despite this it’s important to note that many others are continuing to receive a good connection and have nothing but praise for AVB, although it’s clear that there may be some on-going capacity or “technical” issues in certain areas and doubts are starting to accumulate about the project’s future.

More recently an article appeared in the Bucks Herald (only available in print), which confirmed that Andrew Mills had left AVB and included a useful statement from the local authority.

Cllr Janet Blake, Cabinet Member for Business Transformation, said:

“AVDC is currently exploring expressions of interest in Aylesbury Vale Broadband and, for that reason, is unable to discuss any sensitive matters relating to the company. In the meantime, we continue to prioritise our customers and are currently working to resolve a temporary technical issue which is affecting some subscribers.

We apologise to those customers for any inconvenience but, apart from that, it’s business as usual. AVDC is proud to have been instrumental in bringing ultra-fast fibre broadband to a number of villages in the Vale and is now considering the best option for continuing that good work.”

A quick check of AVB’s company records (here) shows that Andrew resigned from his position on 8th November. We understand that Andrew has spent a huge amount of time working on AVB and is now enjoying his first holiday in two years. The remaining Directors of AVB are Janet Blake, Teresa Lane, Tracey Aldworth and Simon Eggleton (all work in the local government / council).

As ever the lack of information from AVDC concerning AVB’s future plans / status merely serves to create a fertile breeding ground for speculation, although aside from the technical issues the local authority remains adamant that AVB is not in danger. We’ve been told that a press release may soon be published to help clarify the situation.

Finally, we understand from one of those involved that an important announcement could be made within the next couple of weeks or more (possible sale?). We’ll keep our eyes peeled.

UPDATE 13th Nov – 7:11am

We understand that AVB started work to correct the current network issues on Friday and this has been on-going over the weekend. We should also point out that Andrew Mills remains a shareholder in AVB and, despite no longer being the company’s Managing Director, has been assisting with the fix work.

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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