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Rural Village Gets Ultrafast Broadband – Still Waiting for Water

Friday, July 13th, 2018 (8:00 am) - Score 4,762

Generally speaking broadband connectivity, while considered by many in the UK to now be an essential utility, is by no means as important as running water or electricity. As such we tend to expect the latter two to be present almost everywhere but tell that to the tiny rural village of Hebron (Wales, Carmarthenshire).

Residents of Hebron are in a perhaps somewhat unusual situation, albeit only partly because they’re living in a remote rural community where Openreach (BT) has recently been able to install the very latest Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) ultrafast broadband ISP technology. The optical fibre for that can be seen gracefully swinging its way between local overhead telegraph poles.

However, in a reverse of the usual expectations, Hebron is also a village where mains water has yet to reach. Instead locals still have to rely on wells and bore holes for their supply, with the latter potentially costing about £8,000 to do on a single property. Ouch.

Councillor Dorian Phillips said (Tenby Observer):

“I have been in touch with Welsh Water and there is no statutory duty on them to provide mains water and unfortunately we are looking at hundreds of thousands of pounds in cost to lay the pipes as the nearest main is about a kilometre away.”

We should point out that quite a lot of rural communities across the United Kingdom have now got faster broadband than many urban areas via FTTP/H, which is thanks to a combination of work by alternative network ISPs (B4RN, Gigaclear etc.) and Openreach (BT). In the case of Openreach and Gigaclear, most of the related deployments have been supported by state aid via the Broadband Delivery UK programme.

Admittedly the number of premises that have benefited in this way is at a much smaller scale than FTTP coverage in urban areas. Nevertheless it’s surprising to find a village that can now get the very latest in ultrafast broadband technology and yet something as common as mains water hasn’t reached them.

Otherwise it may surprise some readers to learn that, unlike in the telecoms sector, there is no formal Universal Service Obligation (USO) in place for the water industry, although it could be argued that there is an implied USO (i.e. a single price for a consistent level of service). Perhaps the water industry and regulator (Ofwat) could learn a few things from the many challenges that broadband builders have had to overcome.

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32 Responses
  1. Avatar chris conder says:

    Well done openreach! That is really good news. B4RN have connected lots of properties with no mains water, gas, electric or sewerage. The rural areas need Broadband, they can deal with the rest in other ways. And before the urban dwellers start on about ‘let them move’ just remember the rural folk are providing your water, and food, and they need connectivity too.

    1. Avatar themanstan says:

      Food absolutely and yes very important, water… I don’t think they make rain or rivers, lakes, etc…

    2. Avatar Clifford says:

      Bottled water which many of us urbanites consume will typically come from a spring or similar source and if it is UK sourced it will in many instances come from a rural location. In many cases parts of Scotland and Wales. Perhaps you should have a look at labels on them next time you are shopping.

    3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I think what themanstan is trying to say is that rural folk don’t themselves “make” water, it’s nature and the chemical / physical processes of our universe that make H2O. You could of course try to create water yourself by mixing oxygen and hydrogen atoms but that would be rather a dangerous and unnecessary pursuit 🙂 .

    4. Avatar simon says:

      I get my water from a spring on the Welsh valley road – often before I stop to piss in the stream bit lol

    5. Avatar CarlT says:

      Pretty sure nature provides the water.

    6. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      “I think what themanstan is trying to say is that rural folk don’t themselves “make” water, it’s nature and the chemical / physical processes of our universe that make H2O.”

      Chris never mentioned “MAKING” anything. Regardless…

      Rural folk do not “make” food such as fruit and veg either. Planting trees or seeds would not count as using the same logic they do not “make” trees or seeds either.

      Yet themanstan accepted the statement for food.

      Speaking of which if he was “trying to say is that rural folk don’t themselves “make” water” he did not read the initial comment by Chris, which clearly stated…….

      “just remember the rural folk are providing your water, and food, and they need connectivity too.”

      PROVIDING WATER AND FOOD… I stated they DO provide bottled water to urbanites, unless there are magical springs in every city doing it?

      Not sure where “making” comes into it or why he would “think” that is what was stated.

    7. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      “Pretty sure nature provides the water.”

      This is now a stupid argument so ill be more stupid…….

      The same could be said for many types of food which often come from rural areas. Though i could be wrong, i do not live in a rural location. Maybe potatoes and such like are not growing in natures soil anymore but are bio-engineered by farmer giles in his shed in quantities of millions. I dunno why they would be messing about planting fruit trees with tech like that though they could just go for the bio-engineered direct money tree route 😉

      Unfortunately for any item it often takes a more than nature to transport the water and food around the country to those who consume it. The location of where any of the items come from is personally who/where i would consider provided it. Unless the spuds now fly direct from soil to shelves?

    8. Avatar Clifford says:

      “This is now a stupid argument…”

      Indeed lets make it full on retarded logic shall we.

      IF rural people do not provide or make water and food because it is all part of nature then BT Openreach have provided nothing to this village either.

      Fibre optic cabling is typically made of silica (AKA Silicon dioxide most commonly found in nature as quartz and in various living organisms) or plastic (typically made from coal, natural gas, salt and of course, crude oil.)

      All of the above come from “NATURE”

      So using their idiot logic BT like the rural folk did nothing, “made” nothing, “provided” nothing which in turn makes the story about them providing something also nothing.

      Ah logic and the boundries eh?

    9. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      I have inadvertently in part kinda taken credit for your earlier post Clifford…
      Prior post by me above should obviously say
      ‘PROVIDING WATER AND FOOD… It stated they DO provide bottled water to urbanites’

    10. Avatar themanstan says:

      A shed load of hard work goes into farming the food that we eat. If we let “nature” feed us modern society would starve.

      Water, it falls from the sky onto the land runs off into rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. It also permeates into ground water and aquifers. Rural folk really can’t take credit for that.

      It is then tapped by water companies and bottlers… doesn’t really compare to working the land and animal husbandry to feed people

    11. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      “It is then tapped by water companies and bottlers…”

      What is it they do if it is not provide bottled water around the country?

    12. Avatar themanstan says:

      We won’t die of thirst if the bottled water companies stopped selling water…

      2 of the majors are not even rural…

    13. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Except when there is water supply issues, due to flooding or shortages and bottled water is what is handed out to people sometimes for weeks eh.

      The biggest UK brand is Highland Spring based in Blackford, Perth and Kinross and ill think you will find that is a rural village with a population of less than 1000.

    14. Avatar Clifford says:

      “The biggest UK brand is Highland Spring based in Blackford, Perth and Kinross and ill think you will find that is a rural village with a population of less than 1000.”

      Says it all and a whole lot more

  2. Avatar NGA for all says:

    We done OR, Superfast Wales and BDUK.

  3. Avatar Mike says:

    So they have dial-up water?

    1. Avatar Clifford says:

      Mock them as you please but their water source is probably better than the recycled urine (literally) supplied elsewhere.

    2. Avatar Mike says:

      Isn’t it all recycled when you think about it?

    3. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      What the water or your urine? 😉

    4. Avatar Clifford says:

      Either way he probably in some form drinks both of them LOL 😉

    5. Avatar Mike says:

      After watching too much Bear Grylls one cannot be blamed for trying…

    6. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Id like to see that bloke film a programme of him trying to survive with some of his own tacky endorsed products.

      Be it the fire striker barely long enough to make a single spark, his mild Chinese steal 2 inch knife trying to hack through tin cans, rope and such like, or one of the branded all-in-one survival kits which comes in a nice water absorbent cloth bag

      I suspect drinking his own wee wee would be the least of his worries after just a few hours LOL

  4. Avatar Salek says:

    or may be its mobile water

  5. Avatar Tim says:

    Yet here just 5 minutes from a motorway junction 12 minutes from a city centre we still have no fast broadband (4Mbps)

    We do have mains power, gas, water but no mains drainage which really doesn’t matter.

    To be fair I would happily live off grid if broadband was available. Solar/wind for power, water filtering system for rain/ground water and a passive house so very little/no heating required, cesspit for sewage.

    1. Avatar Mike says:

      Tried 4G instead?

    2. Avatar Chris P says:

      If it’s that important then pay for a faster line like a leased line or something. It won’t be cheap but if you need it then pay the price or move.

    3. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      @ChrisP I’ve tried paying for a faster line – BT refused to quite as they said it would be obviously much more than £39K (many others have refused too). I do have mains water (usually) and electricity(again, usually, but not quite as usually as the water). I can make electricity, I could supply my own water (there used to be a well in the garden), I can buy oil or bottled gas or logs for heating. I have a very good WiFi system that covers the house and land, but I can’t provide my own broadband without somewhere to connect it to. Unfortunately I work here at home, and I can’t move the business (it relies on being rural, and wouldn’t be viable in an urban area). But I am not particularly remote. I have trunk fibre running in clear ducts a few yards from my land. Being told to move is just offensive IMO.

    4. Avatar Mike says:


      What about 4G? Most places can get pretty good speeds with an antenna.

    5. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      @Mike, our nearby mast has recently been upgraded and we can now get 4G, and I do now load-balance ADSL and 4G. The 4G speed and latency is very very variable (I suspect there isn’t much backhaul available), which isn’t ideal. I also need a static IP for VPN, which is not available with 4G (or not for less than £20/Gb, which would cost me £4000/month). I am now investigating using L2TP as a work-around, so it may prove to be the best solution, even at quite a high price and involving multiple providers (= multiple points of failure).

  6. Avatar Tim says:

    I’ve had quotes for leased lines. Although cheaper then FTTPoD for installation (as I could claim back £3K Gigabit Voucher as a business) the on-going rental is too much due to being a rural exchange it’s not an “on-net” low cost leased line area.

    I did start a campaign to get a Community Fibre Partnership here but again this was way too expensive. £141k for 36 homes.

    I will now have to wait on an altnet or move. It’s likely I’ll move before fibre becomes available here as I am trying to get a new job that’ll enable me to move.

  7. Avatar Fastman says:

    hhmm that sound like 1 or 2 premises being massively disproportionately more expensive than rest

    What county is this

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