» ISP News » 
Sponsored Links

Confusion Over Openreach’s Fibre Rollout in Durham Villages

Saturday, Nov 30th, 2019 (7:19 am) - Score 3,817

Residents and businesses in the neighbouring villages of Hurworth and Hurworth Place in Durham (England) have been left confused after the local Darlington Borough Council (DBC) and Openreach (BT) issued conflicting statements on the status of their “fibre broadband” (FTTC / FTTP) network coverage and future rollout plan.

At present Openreach’s (BT) deployment in the area is being supported by public investment from the £34m+ Digital Durham project, which has already helped to raise the coverage of “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) ISP networks across the county to around 96%.

Hopes were recently raised in the two villages after Openreach’s engineers turned up to start extending their fibre optic network into the area, although locals quickly complained (here) after they noted that the operator only seemed to be connecting up new build homes on the edge of the village (i.e. missing out many of the existing properties).

So far, so familiar. When operators deploy into a new area (village, town, city etc.) they don’t always cover every single premises. More often than not some will simply fall outside of their economic model (commercially unviable) and require a bigger public subsidy. The build may also take place in phases over a period of months or years, which means that the operator will often come back later to infill deeper into the area.

However confusion soon erupted after the DBC said it was their understanding that Openreach “will continue to extend and upgrade fibre technology in Hurworth” and that properties would be connected by the end of 2020. Meanwhile Openreach said it would be too expensive to connect every property and they instead encouraged locals to gather together in order to help co-fund their own build (Community Fibre Partnership).

An Openreach Spokesperson said:

“Due to the cost and logistics of getting fibre technology from the main fibre route to individual premises or street cabinets there will still be some premises in the vicinity which will not be upgraded within this current phase of work. We would encourage those households to consider signing up to our Community Fibre Partnership Scheme which has central government funding available.”

A quick visit to the Digital Durham website, and a little searching via their postcode checker, reveals that large central areas of both villages are not currently included in the rollout plan (it’s a lot more than “some premises“). “There are currently no plans to make fibre based broadband available to this postcode,” was a common result. We should point out these villages aren’t small and several thousand people live within them.

We suspect that the reason for this confusion may stem from the proposed plan for a Phase 3 extension to Openreach’s existing contract in Durham (here), which was due to go out to tender but we haven’t seen an update from the county council on this since the summer. The related consultation closed in July 2019 and noted that around 31,500 premises were still in need of help to access superfast broadband.

The most recent update states: “We are now working on the launch of an Invitation to Tender (ITT) to suppliers to bid for the opportunity of a new contract to deliver further superfast broadband coverage. The three councils intended to benefit from this procurement are Durham County Council, Gateshead Council and Sunderland City Council. We hope to have further information by April 2020.”

Public funding of around £10m to £12m looks likely to go toward Phase 3 and most of this stems from “underspend” (£7m) in the original contract and a little from gainshare (£2m) as a result of strong service take-up in intervention areas. The council has previously indicated that it sees a mix of FTTP, fixed wireless and 4G mobile broadband being in the frame.

Overall it sounds like DBC have either made a big assumption on their expectation of coverage by the end of 2020 or they know more than the public have so far been told about the future rollout strategy. Certainly if the villages are to be covered then nobody seems to have told Openreach or they’re going to use a different operator.

Little wonder that so many people find it hard to figure out what’s actually going on with all of these conflicting signals.

Share with Twitter
Share with Linkedin
Share with Facebook
Share with Reddit
Share with Pinterest
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 .
Search ISP News
Search ISP Listings
Search ISP Reviews
17 Responses
  1. Avatar photo chris conder says:

    That’s all part of the superfarce.Having just upgraded all those areas to FTTC, whatever makes anyone think they are now going to get Fibre? OR need a decade to use those assets up. That’s the problem with stop gap solutions and no council using due diligence (ie reading this website) can say they weren’t warned this would happen.

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      I would agree if you weren’t wrong. Openreach are overbuilding FTTC deployed via BDUK not that long ago at all with FTTP in some rural areas right now, the BDUK builds having brought spine fibre closer to properties and, hence, ensured they could meet the commercial criteria for cost per premises passed.

    2. Avatar photo A_Builder says:

      Fibre First and BKUK are, in certain cases, overbuild FTTC where there is either commercial need and/or the FTTC is not performing well enough and it fits the costs case criterial.

      I’m increasingly happy that OR is getting their act together on where it makes sense to put FTTP. I don’t think they are perfect but the dual has moved massively in the right direction over the last 12-18 months. More to do for sure but real bulk progress with real fibre is to be applauded.

      Where I do agree with @CC is that FFTC was flogged for far too long as a solution where line lengths were to put it politely marginal and where FTTP was the only real solution. As an urban/village centre, time limited, stop gap FTTC made sense historically.

    3. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      FTTC was always a stopgap – it was there to cover as many premises with >24 or >30 Mb as quickly as possible. The plan was always, assuming funds permitted, to then use FTTP to bring those served by FTTC but unable to reach those speeds up to scratch.

      This has happened throughout the country, BDUK FTTC cabinets with donuts of FTTP coverage around them.

      Given the funding constraints it was the most expedient way to go. The funding provided simply wasn’t enough to FTTP everything from the start given the, incorrect, calculations on uptake.

  2. Avatar photo TheTruth says:

    This really is a non story as its happening all around the country, people see full fibre going in around their area and expect to also be connected up. Commercial and BDUK full fibre rollouts are targeted very differently.

    My advise to anyone is check if you are on the radar of your local BDUK programme and if so find out the timescales and if not get your community to register the fact with their local BDUK team.

  3. Avatar photo A_Builder says:

    Or more positively more people can get FTTP.

    And depending on network architecture potentially more people can be connected to the PON(s) in the future?

    And the back haul is in the villages now.

    Maybe with backhaul in place it is attractive to someone else with another model to finish the job off?

    Although to counter that I’m pretty amazed that OR are not trialling remote(ish) communities 100% FTTP so they can look at the cost savings of not having to maintain long rural copper lines.

    As ever the answer is commercial and in the long tail of costs associated with the hardest properties to connect up. Not knowing the village I can’t really comment on that.

  4. Avatar photo DLB says:

    I would have thought that OR would have a cost advantage as they already have the civils in the ground which is the most expensive part of deployment.

    1. Avatar photo A_Builder says:


      I’d be tempted to agree with you.

      OR’s costs model sometimes makes little sense as it was built from a different view point – that of clean sheet build.

      Whilst reutilisation if assets is now the name of the game I’d be pretty confident that the model has not been totally rebuilt.

  5. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

    Hundreds of new homes being built in the village and Openreach are connecting them up. There is no news here.

    *scoop* They may also get connected to water and electricity.

  6. Avatar photo The Facts says:

    ‘They may also get connected to water and electricity.’ And gas? And mains drains?

    1. Avatar photo A_Builder says:

      Maybe not gas if it is sufficiently rural.

      There is no longer any compulsion to connect gas to new builds and indeed there is consultation about banning new gas connections. This is all to do with CO2 and NOx arguments.

      Reality is that with a modern boiler and well insulated house neither is that much of an issue and it is a conflation of action of old inefficient domestic gas boilers and poorly insulated homes which is the real problem.

      As ever 80/20 rule – worst 20% of cases cause 80% of the problem.

      Rant over.

  7. Avatar photo Tom Humphrets says:

    An issue also resolves in North Wales. where I live FTTP on checker is coming soon shortly supposedly, but we have been waiting for years for it to arrive to the property. some in my area can access it, while I am stuck on 4G home broadband solution. checker on Openreach site saying it coming shortly, but I don’t believe it it be years before I get it.

  8. Avatar photo Steve G says:

    I live in the affected area, I am luck enough to live within 50 metres of a cabinet and can live very happily with 70 Mbps. Friends 500 metres away have an appalling connection, so my sympathy is with them. We do have gas – even used to have our own gas works a hundred years ago! What we don’t have at the lower end of the village is a usable mobile signal from any provider, so the concept of 4G connectio is not a workable solution

    1. Avatar photo Andrew Ferguson says:

      From what I can see, there is some 50 or so new build premises with FTTP (more may get built of course)

      Cabinet 1 area that has no VDSL2 at present has some parts with FTTP appearing.

      Some of the long line lines on cabinet 4 which has vdsl2 have got FTTP their VDSL2 is down in the 1 to 4 Mbps region.

      There are other areas without VDSL2 at present, i.e. just ADSL/ADSL2+ e.g. cabinet 6

      Overall its just like many other villages with a mixture of things happening.

      The newest bits of FTTP are not on my maps just yet, but will be over the weekend

  9. Avatar photo Jonathan says:

    Probably a bunch of direct buried copper lines that are bejng skipped as they will be expensive to replace

  10. Avatar photo Simeon says:

    Hi I live in DL2 which was due FTTC on the 2nd quarter of 2019, this was scheduled in 2018. I contacted the various people controlling the upgrade to find out that Openreach had cancelled the installation indefinitely, stating that the cabinets are not fit for purpose, maintaining they will only now consider FTTP as a solution. The only issue is there is now no time scale to a schedule of work. As an after thought we do have gas, water and electricity, with a copper to the property of a max of 5Mbps, however the house is only ten years old, therefore all 149 houses on the relatively new estate were not considered.

  11. Avatar photo Leigh Wetherill says:

    Post code DL22BU gas no fibre at all, 149 properties. Documents and emails from Openreach stated that work would start in the second quarter of 2019. Informed in June 2019 the schedule of work had been cancelled. Tried two providers of 4g mobile broadband routers and none can sustain a usable mb/s, BT gave quoted a minimum guaranteed speed of 0.00 mb/s.the properties are only 10 years old. There is no hope of a speedy internet connection within the next 5 years

Comments are closed

Cheap BIG ISPs for 100Mbps+
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
Gift: None
Virgin Media UK ISP Logo
Virgin Media £26.00
Gift: None
Shell Energy UK ISP Logo
Shell Energy £26.99
Gift: None
Plusnet UK ISP Logo
Plusnet £27.99
Gift: None
Zen Internet UK ISP Logo
Zen Internet £28.00 - 35.00
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
Cheapest ISPs for 100Mbps+
Gigaclear UK ISP Logo
Gigaclear £17.00
Gift: None
YouFibre UK ISP Logo
YouFibre £19.99
Gift: None
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
Gift: None
BeFibre UK ISP Logo
BeFibre £21.00
Gift: £25 Love2Shop Card
Hey! Broadband UK ISP Logo
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
The Top 15 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (5512)
  2. BT (3514)
  3. Politics (2535)
  4. Openreach (2297)
  5. Business (2261)
  6. Building Digital UK (2243)
  7. FTTC (2043)
  8. Mobile Broadband (1972)
  9. Statistics (1788)
  10. 4G (1663)
  11. Virgin Media (1619)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (1460)
  13. Fibre Optic (1394)
  14. Wireless Internet (1389)
  15. FTTH (1381)

Helpful ISP Guides and Tips


Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact