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Cumbria Hamlets Dig 1.5 Miles for Openreach’s FTTP Broadband

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 (2:08 pm) - Score 5,688

Two remote rural hamlets in the Eden district of Cumbria (England) – Raisbeck and Sunbiggin – can now access a 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network after a local farmer helped to bring Openreach’s (BT) rollout costs down by excavating more than 1.5 miles of trench across 10 fields.

The improved broadband infrastructure, which covers just 18 premises, was delivered using an unspecified amount of funding from the state aid supported Connecting Cumbria programme. Nevertheless, such a remote community would normally have been too expensive to upgrade, primarily due to the need for various wayleaves and a large amount of civil engineering over the mass of fields between both communities.

However, in recent times we have seen a number of examples where Openreach have successfully worked with community volunteers to bring the cost of deployment down to a viable level. In this case a local farmer, Julian Thorpe, volunteered his own mole plough (used to dig cables underground) to help excavate a suitable trench for the new cable.

Prior to this many locals would have struggled to get download speeds of 1Mbps, which is a thousand times less than what is now possible after the latest deployment.

Roger Frank, Raisbeck Resident, said:

“It has taken a huge amount of time and effort to get to this point, but it has certainly been worth it and I’m proud of our community for pulling together to make it happen against the odds.

The challenges and costs to reach our community were so high that at one point it looked like it just wouldn’t happen. But we did our bit by securing private land access and the agreements needed to install apparatus on private land and then made a decision to take on board a chunk of the digging ourselves which ultimately reduced the cost to an affordable level, making the project viable.”

Openreach are currently investing £12bn to cover 20 million UK premises with FTTP by around the mid to late 2020s (2025 – 2030). Over 3.5 million have already been reached and 4.5m should be hit by March 2021. Assuming all goes to plan then some 3.2 million premises under this commercial deployment are expected to be in rural locations by 2025/26.

If anybody has any information on the costing for the aforementioned deployment in Cumbria then we’d love to know more about the impact of this community involvement. Sadly, we have been unable to uncover any solid figures for the hamlets.

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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. A_Builder says:

    Very community spirited of the farmer 10/10 for that.

    However, why gift the hard work and underground asset to OR?

    I appreciate that managing an FTTP network is beyond a lot of volunteers but B4RN (and similar) could probably give advice or even remote manage the hardware.

    1. NE555 says:

      You still need to connect it to something; and Openreach will be responsible for maintaining and upgrading the network going forward.

      When roads are adopted by the council, it’s a similar “gift”.

    2. Fastman says:

      his work enabled him to be covered under the BDUK programme — so it a win / win for him – had he not done it he would have been excluded from the BDUK programme – all he will have done is the civils Openreach responsible for it up to ONT

      he not having to manage anything and he gets to purchase a native FTTP service with no Excess construction charges as well

    3. Alex says:

      Cracking point! Why hand a over his trench to the biggest network operator in the UK that has decades of experience, invests billions into it’s network, employs 30-odd thousand experts to manage it and wholesales to hundreds of competing ISPs at regulated prices? You’re right, he should’ve just gifted it to a couple of enthusiastic local farmers who decided to turn their hands to networking recently.

    4. Overbuild says:

      @Alex: You forgot to add, takes the money from the government and then ignores rural customers until another company shows and interest and starts work, which is when they overbuild to try and push out the competition.
      Yes, you forgot that bit.

    5. Fastman says:

      there is no overbuild on any formalised plan

      OMR Open Market Review) was vehicle to determine coverage (and still is – no plans submitted or completed by B4RN to council so area remained white – and was covered by openreach under its BDUK contractual obligations – built – build time normally about a year from decision / contract award – . dont worry lets not allow the facts to get in the way of a conspiracy theory)

  2. Jsjsh says:

    The openreach haters forum this is.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      A_Builder didn’t “hate” so much as propose an alternative scenario, which he did very politely.

    2. A_Builder says:

      A_Builder happens to be a BT shareholder……I don’t hate BT at all……I’d be really pleased if the share price would do better…..but it is a free market and we do need to be open minded and look at a range of models. It is a very big market and let’s be honest: the Alt Nets initially lead the way in getting FTTP to the market. OK now OR have picked up the batton and are sprinting with it for their lives.

      I don’t think anyone on the top floor of BT Towers really believes they will cover all of the UK with FTTP replacing all copper with fibre. Inaction for too long put paid to that….

  3. NGA for all says:

    Mark it is unlikely they has a been any need to make any direct payment. It follows a very early build of FTTP at Great Asby which took BT a great deal of time to do and a build for Fell End broadband, south east of this village where the community paid a contractor with I think BT supplying the duct.

    It looks to be part of the additional 2,000 premises extension Rory Stewart was nagging on before the last election. It was using a fraction of the underspends and clawback available.

    This was once called ‘build and benefit’. Nice to see.

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