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ISP Solway and Grain Spotted Building FTTP in Carlisle UK UPDATE

Monday, August 24th, 2020 (9:11 am) - Score 1,010
solway_fttp_broadband_carlisle_map_Uk

One of our readers has spotted that wireless broadband ISP Solway Communications, possibly working on behalf of Grain, appears to be constructing a new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network down several residential streets near Carlisle City Centre in Cumbria, England.

At present Solway are perhaps best known for building Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband networks in Cumbria, although they have previously done a few 1Gbps FTTP broadband builds to business sites before. Outside of that the company supports Grain in their efforts to roll-out FTTP across new build housing developments.

However, Solway’s Grain’s engineers have this week been spotted (credits to Andy) digging fibre down a number of existing residential streets near the centre of Carlisle. Streets such as Silloth street, Wetheral street, Duke street, Harwick street, Morton street and others all appear to show some activity or are planned for future development.

The local planning details confirm that over the next couple of months they’ll be busy “install[ing] ducting and associated infrastructure to each house along the street in footway,” which we believe could mark the first time that Grain has done a residential FTTP build in an existing urban area like this. Suffice to say that it’s an exciting development, albeit one that doesn’t appear to have been announced yet.

At the time of writing we still know very little about the build, although we did manage to catch one of Grain’s PR agents and they have confirmed that the service itself will come from Grain. At the same time it’s worth noting that Solway’s wireless network also covers this area (as well as much of the city).

We should point out that Virgin Media already covers quite a bit of Carlisle with their gigabit-capable broadband network (mostly using hybrid fibre coax), while Openreach only has a small bit of FTTP currently active in little patches of the city.

Suffice to say that there is space for a new entrant and indeed the area where Grain are building is largely devoid of gigabit capable rivals (it doesn’t hurt that these houses are surrounded by a fair few businesses). We should be able to provide more details once Grain update us on their plans, hopefully later today.

UPDATE 2:16pm

We’ve had a few details through from Grain and it looks like the council haven’t updated some of their information, which is why Solway have their name on the work and not Grain. Grain Connect Ltd bought Solway, including its fibre assets, last year and hence this is their project and the code powers also sit with Grain.

The aforementioned deployment in Carlisle is one where they already have their network nearby and is thus an extension of that, which reaches into an area that is poorly served. However, Grain’s main focus will remain on new build housing, but they have pledged to extend further (i.e. to surrounding areas) where such opportunities arise.

NOTE: The FWA aspect of the Solway Communications brand still exists separately to Grain.

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