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Ecom Make Progress Deploying FTTP Broadband to Rural Buckinghamshire

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019 (1:05 pm) - Score 915
ecom fibre ftth cabinet

Alternative network ISP Ecom (Electronic Communities) appears to be making good progress on their rollout of a new 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network in rural Buckinghamshire (England), which is now in the process of moving on toward Ledburn and aspires to cover 1,000 premises by the end of 2019.

The provider built its very first “full fibre” network all the way back in 2014 to serve a business park (Interchange Park) in Newport Pagnell, which was conducted alongside Colocker (part owned by Ecom’s MD). Since then their FTTP network has grown to include around 250 homes and businesses in Whitchurch and some surrounding areas (e.g. Dunton, Creslow).

As a smaller provider, as well as one that is largely reliant on its own private investment and some Gigabit Connection Vouchers from the the UK Government, Ecom’s pace has been gradual but confident. Indeed they recently connected up a new FTTP cabinet just north of the Parish of Mentmore (that parish includes the rural hamlets of Crafton and Ledburn).

The new cabinet is largely intended to serve the local Oakwood Enterprise Park but Ecom is already in the process of pressing on to connect some of the surrounding homes and farms, before potentially moving into Ledburn as part of their demand-led deployment (the ISP hopes to attract more interest before confirming that). All of these are in challenging rural areas.

Chris Wilkie, MD of Ecom, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“I’ve not done a count up for a while but I guess around 250 properties now passed, all ‘gigabit capable’, 300/50mbps entry level package at £36 inc VAT, up to 10G available although the latter is ‘by arrangement’ (i.e. we don’t list a price for it). I hope to be at 1000 properties by the end of the year.

I have spent a lot of time and invested a lot of money in learning the skills and processes, buying the plant and equipment, and recruiting the right people to push forward fast and obviously we are going through the ‘code powers’ [Ofcom] process as part of this.

I am now actively seeking investment capital to ramp-up the speed of deployment and have just taken on a CFO who is leading that for me. Groundworks are expensive, as I’m sure you know, and funding of that is really the only thing in the way of a big deployment speed increase.”

Ecom’s future rollout plans are of course subject to change, although Chris suggests that the larger village of Mentmore may be skipped because a lot of FTTC (VDSL2) is already present. Instead the ISP is considering other targets such as Crafton (fits in with their geographical direction of travel) and along the Wing / Cublington Road where there are more business units and farms (this all makes sense as the Ledburn part of their network could then be joined up with the Cublington section, somewhere near Wing). Highmoor Cross in Oxfordshire is also a potential target.

As a smaller ISP Ecom seem to be building quite a sizeable network asset for themselves. Chris added that the provider peers at LINX and part owns the Colocker site at Milton Keynes, as well as wholly owning Creslow Park, the former MI6 secure comms site where Ecom is based. Creslow Park sits roughly in the middle of their FTTP patch and so can act as somewhat of a central hub.

Residents on the new network are typically offered packages from 300Mbps (£36 inc. VAT per month) and all the way up to 1Gbps (200Mbps upload) for £96 per month on a 12 month term. Meanwhile installation costs are generally covered by the Government’s Gigabit Voucher Schemes.

ecom_fibre_optic_trench_with_cable

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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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10 Responses
  1. Avatar DL

    Highmoor? That’s curious. OR installed a very small cluster of FTTP in the village/hamlet last year. See https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#15/51.5503/-0.9897/geafttp/

    Perhaps this makes it easier for alt-nets to use OR ducts and poles though as plenty of duct clearing must have been done.

    • Avatar Jon@ecom

      Ecom is all new-build duct, we don’t use Openreach assets at all. Highmore is on the radar because the boss has a good mate who lives there and was running a better broadband campaign.

    • Avatar beany

      I would not trust that map to be 100% accurate turn on “Postcodes with only sub 24Mb broadband” and you get a red blob right on top on one of those FTTP blobs.
      https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#15/51.5507/-0.9885/geafttp/nonsuperfast/

      Where i live (a large town not rural) TBB maps also say i should have FTTP, the nearest actual FTTP area from me is about 5 miles away. (It also is wrong about the FTTC colour code for my area) I can only assume most of their FTTP information is from BT or otherwise inaccurate for whatever reason.

      There is also VM areas that are not even on their maps (a part of Peterborough) where my sister lives.

    • Avatar DL

      @Beany – I live very close to Highmoor and followed the installation of the FTTP with great interest (It was pretty much the first time I’d seen any FTTP in the wild installed via Oxfordshire’s BDUK funding.).

      I reported the info to Andrew at ThinkBroadband and the dots are pretty bang-on for the (surprisingly narrow) area in which OR installed the FTTP – alas my office is 350m from one of the fibre enabled poles and we’re still stuck on an Exchange Only line with ADSL.

    • Avatar beany

      The dots are not accurate you can not have “Postcodes with only sub 24Mb broadband” but also FTTP and they clearly overlap each other.

      Either the FTTP dot is covering an area bigger than the rollout or premises not deemed superfast or greater actually are.

      I imagine TBB does have reasonably good and accurate info but the map of it we have access to is full of flaws.

      Also would be interesting in how many premises the data says that FTTP dot covers as from what you say it literally sounds like its maybe 1 or 2 roads (if you are only a few hundred metres away) at best. Hard to say as you can not zoom in enough for the scale and at which you can see it looks like they only deployed it to a small parts of the B481.
      This also seems a bit weird as i imagine they would had ran the cable all the way along that road even more so as the 2 nearest exchanges for that small patch of FTTP are literally either side (almost equal distance North and South of it).

      Could be new build i but that normally shows up as several small clusters of FTTP dots on their maps.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      @beany

      I would love to be able to update every one of the map layers every day but simply don’t have the time, the sub 24 Mbps layer is usually done monthly, but the FTTP one is often updated a couple of times each week.

      Looking at the map today I see so overlap, one postcode point does marginally overlap another but that is down to the close proximity of two postcodes

      https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#14/51.5426/-0.9900/geafttp/nonsuperfast/

    • Avatar beany

      ‘the sub 24 Mbps layer is usually done monthly, but the FTTP one is often updated a couple of times each week.’

      It will not make any difference, the dots overlap each other. Removing one or the other will reduce information for area/s concerned. Moving the dots will alter actual coverages.

      IE if you take away the Postcodes with only sub 24Mb broadband dot or replace it with another Openreach native FTTP dot those that were under that dot that had less than 24Mb available still will have less than 24Mb.

      If you take away the Openreach native FTTP dot those that could have FTTP will still be able to have it.

      ‘one postcode point does marginally overlap another but that is down to the close proximity of two postcodes’

      And that is the problem the actual points/zone where the dots overlap. As i stated you can not be a property that has FTTP but also less than 24Mb available.

      The actual issue is the dots on your map (when you zoom in on the map) are too big and thus many end up overlapping each other and giving (in SOME places) an artificial impression of what is or is not actually available in that are the dot covers.

      A similar thing (and more obvious) happens if you look at big city areas close up like London where you have less than 24Mb dots covering FTTP dots all over the place.

      I also do not understand if i select only ‘ADSL/ADSL2+ Est. Speed’ as a layer why the whole map does not have a shade of red (0-2Mb) yellow (2-8Mb) green (8-24Mb) rather than dots to it. If you zoom in with just that selected it makes it appear as if you can only have ADSL in some parts of the country rather than all of it (or as good as all of it). Unpopulated roads/areas i could understand having nothing shown at all, but there are populated roads in large towns and cities where your map when zoomed in to street level seems to think premises can not have ADSL?

      The information TBB provides is useful, but actually taking it as gospel as some do will not alter that some of its information is flawed/wrong.

  2. Avatar Juskam

    An experienced FTTP engineer here if you are hiring Jon@ecom

  3. Avatar DL

    If anyone from ecom is reading this – please can you put some way of communicating with you on your web site other than a postal address – I’d love to discuss something with you related to Highmoor.

  4. Avatar Chris@ecom

    I’m the owner of Ecom. If you add ltd.co.uk onto my name above you can email me direct.

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