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ISP Symmetris Broadband Build FTTH Network in Rural Norfolk

Monday, January 13th, 2020 (7:54 am) - Score 1,270

Fixed wireless ISP Symmetris Broadband, which has built a number of networks across rural parts of Norfolk and Suffolk, appears to have just completed the build of their very first 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network in the small neighbouring villages of Pedham and Hemblington.

The new fibre optic network sits just outside of their existing wireless coverage and so does not appear to be an upgrade for an existing area. Apparently work started on the new network, which involves around 15km of trenching, in July 2019 and they’ve now begun connecting their first homes.

The project even has its own website – Gigabit Village, which reveals that local homes can expect to pay around £40 +vat per month (£48 inc. VAT) for a symmetric 200Mbps service. Meanwhile local businesses can potentially access speeds of up to 10Gbps, although no prices have been given for tiers faster than 200Mbps.

As usual locals have been able to take advantage of the Government’s (DCMS / LFFN) Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme in order to help cover the build and installation cost of the new network.

Symmetris Statement

Residents in Pedham and Hemblington, who were suffering with around 1-4 Mbps download speeds over Openreach’s Copper telephone network, contacted Symmetris in early 2019 about a possible FTTX project for the area as the slow speeds were making working from home and online study almost impossible.

The Gigabit Village project used adjacent farmland to access the customer properties and were able to plan, negotiate Wayleaves, build and commission a Gigabit capable full fibre project which was started in July 2019.

The project presented many challenges but has gone live over the Christmas period delivering 200Mbps (up and down) to the residents.

The whole project installation was covered by the DCMS Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme with no installation costs to the residents.

Deploying a full fibre network into such a small village (Hemblington has around 134 homes) is unlikely to have been very viable without the support of vouchers, although it’s always welcome to see a new ISP pop-up that can deliver such a service into rural areas. No doubt other villages may follow in the future but in the meantime here’s a short video of their Ditch Witch RT120 at work:

UPDATE 9:56am

The FAQ notes that this service comes with a Gigabit WiFi router too, although curiously it also seems to attach a 36 month contract term: “For us to secure competitive pricing for the community we have to contract a fibre connection to the data centre for a minimum of 3 years. So we ask the subscribers to commit to this.”

One possible issue above is that Ofcom’s rules don’t allow consumer contracts of longer than 24 months, unless for business connectivity.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar chris conder

    Altnets rock. Going where BT fear to tread.

    • Avatar SimonHayterUK

      Until BT or Virgin buy these altnets… which ultimately will be the end goal for many of the smart startups.

    • You’re more likely to see consolidation internal to the altnet market itself, as opposed to Openreach gobbling altnets. Openreach has a lot of regulatory baggage and a very specific way of doing things / setting up its network, which doesn’t always lend itself well to acquiring the smallest players that have a different approach.

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