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Openreach Community Fibre Scheme to Benefit 100,000 UK Premises

Monday, July 8th, 2019 (10:35 am) - Score 3,984

The Community Fibre Partnerships scheme from Openreach (BT), which offers to help co-fund the cost of upgrading digitally isolated communities to receive their FTTC, G.fast or FTTP based superfast broadband ISP network, has now signed-up its 930th community and expects to deliver for 100,000 UK premises.

The CFP scheme is typically focused on smaller or more remote rural communities that don’t currently have access to an existing “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network and which may not benefit from one in the near future. Essentially Openreach offers to cover some of the cost of the new infrastructure and then the community self-funds the remaining gap.

Crucially it’s often possible for communities to then harness a number of different Government supported voucher schemes (same local authorities and devolved regions also have their own schemes), which in some cases can be enough to help cover nearly all of the funding that a community might have otherwise had to raise itself in order to get the new network installed.

For example, the Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) scheme offers vouchers (£3,500 for small businesses and up to £1,500 for residents) to help homes and businesses in rural areas gain access to Gigabit capable broadband connections (ideally “full fibreFTTP services). The Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme (BBSS) also exists to help homes where only sub-2Mbps speeds are currently possible (here).

Apparently the 930th community to sign-up was the historic village of Lillingstone Lovell in Buckinghamshire, which has made use of both the RGC vouchers above (the first to do so) and a £30,000 Grant from BT Group. Overall Openreach says their CFP scheme is currently offering live services to 590 of the 930 communities that have joined.

NOTE: BT originally also offered bonus grant of up to £30K to communities with a school or charity that could also benefit, but this has now ended (12,000 premises benefited).

Kim Mears, Openreach MD of Strategic Infrastructure, said:

“Lillingstone Lovell is a fantastic example of how our UK-wide Community Fibre Partnership programme is bringing fast, reliable broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas, where other providers struggle to reach.

We’ve been clear that we’ll never say no to any community that wants better, fibre broadband connectivity – and we’ll work with them to find a way forward even if the costs don’t stack up for a commercial or government-backed upgrade. We hope that the success of this programme will encourage even more communities to work with us.”

Margot James, UK Minister for Digital, said:

“We are working with industry to prioritise rural areas first as we build a nationwide full fibre broadband network and a Britain that is fit for the future. Community partnerships and the Government’s broadband connection vouchers are playing an important role in delivering this and I congratulate Openreach on reaching this milestone.”

A recent report from Regeneris Consulting (here) estimated that the CFP scheme generated, on average, around £800,000 of benefits to each community and increases the value of an average property by around £1,700. However we always recommend taking such estimates with a pinch of salt as it’s notoriously difficult to accurately gauge the economic impact of faster broadband speeds.

Admittedly we’ve also heard some grumbles about CFP deployments. Some have complained about lengthy delays in getting connected (usually due to engineering complications), while others were unhappy with the placement of equipment or level of communication received. On top of that a few communities which expected to get “gigabit capable” FTTP lines were surprised to find they could only receive up to 330Mbps (here).

Nevertheless it’s clear that Openreach’s scheme has still helped a lot of premises to gain access to faster broadband and the new voucher scheme should help to give those efforts another boost. This is particularly important given that the final 2% of premises seem otherwise likely to be limited to a 10Mbps+ USO (here), at least until full fibre arrives.. in another decade or so.

Leave a Comment
27 Responses
  1. Avatar NGA for all says:

    Treating each of these as some discrete project is problematic. There are 400k premises pending from existing BDUK contracts, and there is £712m in BT’s accounts owed to complete these works.

    The activity is welcome but it is long overdue an overhaul to reflect the upside arising from Parliamentary scrutiny on BT’s Groups to overprice the Framework.

    1. Avatar Fastman says:

      none of these are covered in either commercial or BDUK premises which is why they are being done as CFP

    2. Avatar nga for all says:

      Fastman some will be and a great more can be! There nees full transparency on BT’s actual contributions to each of these, rather than treating it as if BT is doing these a favour by turning up.

      All progress needs to be saluted.

    3. Avatar Fastman says:

      NGA for the avoidance of any doubt

      none of these are covered in either commercial or BDUK premises which is why they are being done as CFP

      any premises that became in scope or part of a BDUK programme is then not able to fund or be covered in a CFP and would be excluded from being part of a CFP

    4. Avatar CarlT says:

      There needs to be full transparency on BT’s contribution? It’s absolutely none of your or my business what BT’s contribution to each CFP is. These are contracts between private parties. Government subsidies are available but are for the people making the contract with BT.

  2. Avatar A_Builder says:

    Doing small remote rollouts would take any organisation a lot of time.

    Hats off to BT/OR for at least giving it a go and having a scheme. We do seem to try very hard to forget that a lot of the early full fibre is/was very rural. It is done other than upgrading some ECI bits the fibre itself will live on for the foreseeable.

  3. Avatar CarlT says:

    Be interesting to see the take-up of the various services given the additional community involvement: will it be the same as the normal commercial deployments where the majority take 40 or 55 with some on 80 and in that 55 likely none or one on anything higher?

  4. Avatar TomD says:

    Why don’t these community fibre partnerships cover cabinet upgrades?
    We sniffed around this some time back. We would have jumped at the chance to have part-funded an upgrade of the cabinet to FTTC, but with Gigaclear nominally active here we decided that paying to get Openreach in instead for the same thing was a bit pointless.
    Still waiting two years later for Gigaclear of course!

    1. Avatar Fastman says:

      They do assuming the cabinet upgraded actually gives you an upload but most will be fttp

      If you are more than 1km from your cabinet absolute zero benefit of enabling it

      Which can ares are yoy referring to

    2. Avatar TomD says:

      Well, we asked explicitly about cabinet upgrade but were told no, only FTTP. Cabinet in middle of village with 200 properties which would all get > 30Mbps.
      My guess is that with Gigaclear hovering Openreach just wanted to shut out Gigaclear completely.

    3. Avatar Fastman says:

      Which cabinet

  5. Avatar Louis Wells says:

    If you can get 24 mbps then I dont think you have anything to complain about I am on a 6 mile-ish long exchange only just like all 15 of my neighbours that maxes out around 1.2Mbps, I think BT should finish the job they started, and ditch the exchange only lines, just for context I am sandwiched between and industrial production site and the main road from inverness to aberdeen. BT or openreach or whatever name to blame it is this month, has no excuse, they shouldn’t be allowed to just forget about people, I didn’t ask them to run 20 pairs of wires from the exchange miles away instead of putin in a proper green box like the rest of the UK has, and I feel extremely insulted at the idea that I may be expected to fund a penny of this, I just want what the rest of the country had 10 years ago, hell the lines are around 50-60 years old I believe and not fit for purpose in a modern world (they really struggled in the dial up era)

    How about this:
    no upgrades to BB speed until the slowest are all brought up to 10% of the fastest folks speed, so if Gigabit is on offer, no more upgrades for any one in the whole country until the minimum is 100Mbps for every one, and in my specific case I would be happy with access to 1% of the normal speed every one else has, am I really asking that much???

    1. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Yes. you are!

    2. Avatar Fastman says:

      Suggest you tal to digital Scotland to see where you are in r100

    3. Avatar Gary HILTON says:

      Unfortunately a ‘Proper green box’ doesn’t help you depending of course where it is.

      My line isn’t EO, but the cab is too far for FTTC to work, there is another that’s closer but also too far away to work even if my line was reworked to connect to it.

      This is entirely a result of decisions made for FTTC years ago both Cabs are in the same location as they were historically, and doing anything different was deemed not viable or not considered with a long term vision.

      Sure I’m bitter too, but OR/BT and all the other options aren’t going to do anything much if its not got a profit or market share value attached and the Government don’t have the Will to commit funding (your and my taxes btw) to cover that gap.

      As much as it might stick in your throat Depending on how close your neighbours are together and true distance from a connection point for the fibre CFP or whatever form of covering the excess charges if possible is going to be very likely your only route to get what others are getting for Free.

      Holding your breath for R100 or USO ? you might be in for a long wait.

    4. Avatar Brian says:

      Some of the current situation arises due to ignorance of what FTTC was going to deliver, prior to the Superfast Scotland roll out. When it was clear that FTTC would be used, I queried with them what were the plans for premises that would be too far from the cabinet, as I could see that any reasonable location would be too far away; I was told to wait and that I would be surprised with the results, I wasn’t it was too far away.

      A second query once the new cabinets were installed co-located with existing cabinets, and I was clearly too far, was about what if anything was going to be done. The response that work would be done in my postcode in 2017. Again I was sceptical, and rightly so, after three years an infill cabinet was placed 1.7miles away, so still too far from the cabinet.

      The politicians have an excuse for not fully understanding the technology, but those employed to deliver the project have no such excuse.

      So still waiting for R100 to actually produce any useful information as to what if anything is going to happen, and the alternative of 4G is very variable speed wise sometimes dropping below our ADSL speed.

  6. Avatar Geoff says:

    I live within 100 metres of my cabinet but Openpray refuse to fibre it up even though the rest of the town was fibered up 3 years ago. I would love to see networks like Hyperoptic and others providing a proper fibre service arrive around here so I could kick Openpray into touch permanently.

    1. Avatar Fastman says:

      Geoff you cab does not meet either the commercial criteria or it was unable to be sites or was objected to and therefore it has not been deployed

      it could be any one of the above

    2. Avatar Geoff says:

      Fastman, those excuses in a rapidly changing fibre environment are no longer good enough and should not permanently exclude any cabs that Openpray decide are going to cost a few quid extra. Would love to see Openprays profits take a hit as they buckle under pressure from other pure fibre and 5g providers

    3. Avatar Gadget says:

      Unfortunately those “excuses” are the same reason why no-one else is voluntarily enabling you area – businesses such as pure fibe, 5G and Openreach are just that – businesses not charities.

    4. Avatar Geoff says:

      Gadget, The real reason Openpray have not invested in their ageing network properly has nothing to do with charities but more to do with greedy overblown management structures over several decades. More nimble and fleet footed fibre and 5g companies deserve to succeed against this lumbering short sighted giant. I look forward to seeing openprays market share dropping dramatically in the next few years to the point where Bt will be only too glad to offload them for good.

    5. Avatar TheFacts says:

      How amusing to change the company name, gives you so much credibility. Grow up.

  7. Avatar TheGurn says:

    I put a CFB together here in a village in west Wales, but the price Openreach were asking was just too high (£27K). The two problems were too few potential customers (the Distribution Point covered 26 properties, but only 6 properties wanted in) and lack of transparency on the part of Openreach (they refused to say what the money bought). Under the Superfast Cymru scheme a bunch of the work was done (lots of new poles were installed) so the community believed that we were being ripped off. So it’s ADSL2+ unless we go to 3G or 4G.

    1. Avatar Fastman says:

      Interesting

      If your gap was 27k and depending on the number of premises I would suggest that more than likley takest into account otherwise your gap would have been significantly much greater

  8. Avatar robson_ says:

    I had my CFP completed 2 weeks ago – 10 months after signing a contract 🙂 now enjoying 150mbps service and have to date supported 12 schemes to signature and a lot more are in the pipeline 🙂

  9. Avatar BB says:

    I put in a quote for the 10 houses that sit on the edge of our village that are EO (line length about 6kms) getting a maximum of 2mbit. The quote was circa £78k for the CFP to give us FTTP. Oddly, none of my neighbours were keen!

    Instead, they could reroute our pole (the only one in the village that isn’t connected to the VDSL cab!) to to into the village by about 200 metres which Openreach refuse to do citing the excuse of “if we do that, it’ll set a prescient for others” as well as not knowing how they could request such works internally.

    It’s a shame that the focus of the community scheme ignores the edge cases that the wider rollouts can’t accomodate where a benefit could be reached for the areas without having to spend so much time and money in the short term.

    1. Avatar Fastman says:

      Openreach is not allowed to worsen adsl to force people to fibre

      So If you are say 150 metres north of a cab that that has been enabled bit you are not served from it .to allow you to be served from that would increase your line distance and worsen your adsl (would increase your line distance by 300 metres

      That is why you cannot be connected to that cab

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