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Gigabeam Connect Remote Village to Fast Broadband After BT Delay

Monday, June 11th, 2018 (11:28 am) - Score 2,611

Residents in the rural village of Ashmansworth (Hampshire, England) have finally been connected to a superfast broadband network after the community and local authority stepped in to help fund UK ISP Gigabeam to build an alternative wireless network, which followed a delay to Openreach’s (BT) deployment.

Locals in the village, which has a population of just over 200 (roughly 50 premises), claim that Openreach originally promised to bring superfast broadband to their area but then allegedly changed their mind. This often occurs when an engineering survey discovers that the cost of deployment would fall significantly above earlier estimates, while the state aid provided via the Hampshire Superfast Broadband project might not have stretched far enough.

Instead Newbury Today reports that locals were able to raise £20,000 from their own pockets, which was then matched by £14,000 via the ‘Communication Improvements and Technology Infrastructure Fund’ from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. On top of that they were further supported by grants of up to £350 per property via the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme.

All of this funding was then used to help Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) ISP Gigabeam to build a new broadband network in the village, which receives its signal from another mast in Winchester. Residents in the nearby village of Crux Easton have also benefited. But awkwardly Openreach has since sprung back into life.

Alan Cox, Chairman of Ashmansworth Parish Council, said:

“Since Gigabeam started, BT have installed a cabinet, although I don’t know if it is wired up.

There are only about two houses which did not go to Gigabeam and stayed with BT, so there are only two potential customers for BT at the moment.

Everyone has signed a two-year contract with Gigabeam, so in about 18 months we will find out what will happen.

I’m quite annoyed with BT for installing a cabinet in our village.”

Openreach claims that their new FTTC (VDSL2) cabinet on Cross Lane was delayed from late 2017 due to “civil engineering challenges” and that it will now go live at the end of June 2018, albeit after residents have invested a significant sum in order to build their own alternative network.

The FTTC service can in theory deliver peak download speeds of up to 80Mbps and it’s close enough to stand a good chance of delivering near to that level of performance. By comparison the new service from Gigabeam offers top speeds of up to around 30-70Mbps, albeit with usage capped packages.

Locals may thus be annoyed but at least now they have two choices of superfast broadband infrastructure instead of one.

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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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19 Responses
  1. Avatar Meadmodj

    I’d love to know more. “I’m quite annoyed with BT for installing a cabinet in our village”. Sounds like a simple case of communication and Openreach publishing what their plans are. Perhaps they did. If so the embarrassment is with those granting the subsidies. It will be interesting if their contracts included any misrepresentation.

    • Avatar A Builder

      I think I would favour the stuff up theory over the conspiracy theory here.

      If the thing was planned then as @ Steve Jones comments it can take a long while in the works. Sometimes a lot longer than it could or should do. Once a blocking issue occurs when the issue is resolved then resources need to be reallocated to finish the job and it can depend on wether the PM/resources have moved onto other things and other priorities have taken over.

      There might be some truth, or might not, in the theory that OR look at Alt Nets announcements and see if their business model overlays and that it is commercially viable so OR is not built out of a potentially profitable area.

      But it could all be down to happenstance.

  2. Avatar craski

    It isnt an unusual story that an alternative provider has some success in an underserved area and then seemingly all of a sudden BT/Openreach upgrade infrastructure. Hard to tell if its a coincidence or planned or all just down to poor communication. Well done to the residents and Gigabeam for helping themselves.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Running fibre out to a cabinet in a rural location doesn’t happen overnight. This will have been in the plans for many months, or even years if there were particular issues.

      In any event, those who subscribed to the Gigabeam solution can just continue with it if they so wish.

    • Avatar Gerarda

      Pretty typical of BT. This site is littered with similar stories. You would have thought that with all the problems that lead to their CEOs sacking they would not still be spending time and resources putting small altnetd out of business

    • Avatar Gadget

      @Gerada – AFAIK Clive Selley is still the CEO of Openreach, nothing to do Gavin.

    • Avatar Steve Jones


      It’s clear this works has been planned for some time and will have been whitelisted on the BDUK project in the first place. Locations aren’t enabled randomly – there’s a network pattern by which the fibre backhaul is laid back to the head end.

      In any event, who says this particular cabinet only provides services to that village – there may be other properties. In any event, if the head of the Parish Council is right, then most of the village householders are contracted to Gigabeam for two years.

      If it was in the contract and is necessary to meet the contractual conditions it will be done. Also, try and learn the differences between Clive Selley (head of Openreach) and the CEO of BT.

    • Avatar Gerarda

      I think anyone who believes that BT and Openreach are run as independent operations is being a bit naive.

    • Avatar Gadget

      @Gerada – clearly the current arrangements for separation are acceptable to Ofcom, specifically the method Openreach where Openreach chose deployment.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      If a deployment with BT was planned what was the date it was supposed to be done by?

    • Avatar gerarda

      @Gadget – Ofcom are not satisfied . See today’s article

  3. Avatar Russle Hampton

    £20,000 matched by £14,000

    Umm doesn’t matched mean the same number?

    maybe its just me.

    • Avatar Robin Smith

      Quite. Locals received a tax payer funded 50% discount for the poor location value the willingly accepted when purchasing their real estate.

      “We own land, give us money” as the saying goes. This is all about location value. And that area has poor location value for services. I’m sure the roads, schools and hospitals match quality if broadband.

      In economic terms this is known as benefit scrounging. Meanwhile, though I’m not particularly sympathetic to the poor, they will be paying the necessary taxes in the greatest proportion to income and the social care needed in the local area will go unattended to the extent of the broadband welfare dished out by councillors seeking votes.

      Its a pity even the right wing of this nation is now fully committed to benefit scrounging. My local MP John Redwood is a big supporter of this kind of benefit scrounging.

      And so it goes …

  4. Avatar Bazdabuilder

    We live in a rural area and have FTTC but only to one cabinet. And when I’ve asked for the timescale to roll to my cabinet I’ve been advised that it’s not going to happen as virgin media are in my street- even though virgin media serve the whole village with extortionately priced poor quality service! Yet I can’t find anyone that’s prepared to do a fibre rollout to my cabinet. And before anyone asks, I have asked about costings and got told to roll it from the exchange, which is 180 metres away as the crow flies so to quote openreach, that the area for the cabinet would cost approximately £38000! Openreach are a joke and so is the government who sit there and say everyone must receive 10mb broadband well I can’t get over 6mb broadband without being ripped off for a broadband only package of 50mb with virgin at £60 a month with continuos price rises every few months!

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      Openreach as part of BT are a commercial company and have to invest prudently. This country made choices in the past and de-nationalised the state telephony provider. Everyone in telecommunications in the 80s knew the way forward was fibre optics for TV, data etc but somehow due to the first broadband technologies (ADSL) being based on copper telephone lines we got locked into an ideologic and political objective to stop BT becoming the dominant player in broadband. As a consequence BT had to look for new markets and with the relentless regulatory pressure in the UK instead of going for fibre we have gone for technical solutions that should only have been regarded as interim expedients such as FTTC.
      The problem has to be with the regulator Ofcom. Like electricity, gas or water ideally there should be a single network and a universal service obligation. Ofcom had options to get the country to full fibre at various points in the last 40 years and chose not to but instead allowed market forces to prevail while keeping BT down. What that has left us with is multiple suppliers in some areas and none in others. Rather belatedly the government introduced incentives such as BDUK but again some of these are based on interim solutions for political expediency rather that what is needed long term for the UK.
      You in particular are a perfect example where you are in a location that will not get a public subsidy because you have access to the minimum broadband from at least one supplier and competition will only come to your street if Openreach or an Altnet can see a commercial benefit in doing so. One day we will get there, but we don’t know when that will be. At least now Fibre Optic costs have fallen to a point where providers are achieving the financial backing needed.
      Any anger should be focused where it belongs on Ofcom.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      30 years.

    • Avatar Robin Smith

      Why do you believe its a rip off to pay for services rendered. That’s the price for living in an area of poor location value. Are you asking for benefits?

    • Avatar occasionally factual

      Sorry but you do have access to a greater than 10Mbps service. That is all the Government USO will be about so you are not going to get any special treatment.
      The USO doesn’t care if you don’t like Virgin Media or will not pay the price they charge. You have the option to use Virgin therefore you are not within the USO scope.

      It would be a bit like me complaining as I can only get less than 3Mbps ADSL or Openreach FTTP. The FTTP means I can (and do) get faster speeds but at a cost premium. BT have to get back the money they spent on the installation so the charges are higher and so is the cost to me.

    • Avatar Fastman

      hhh interesting I assume that quote for FTTP to every premises as that wont be for the enablement of a cab – as an aside when did you get that quite and did you get if formally or informally – what actually did you ask for ? which exchange and cab

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