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Regular Complaints Mire Cityfibre’s FTTP Rollout in Northampton

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020 (10:56 am) - Score 2,952
vodafone cityfibre ftth cable reels

Councillors in the East Midlands (England) town of Northampton claim to be receiving “numerous complaints” from locals about the quality of Cityfibre’s street works, which reflect an investment of £40m to deploy a new 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network for homes and businesses.

The new network, which is being supported by local contractor Granemore Group, has already been under construction for the past year and aims to reach “almost every home and business in the town” (they usually target 85%+ coverage). At present the expectation is that this should be “largely complete” by the end of 2022 (i.e. full completion seems likely to occur in 2023 sometime).

NOTE: Related Gigafast Broadband packages from ISP partner Vodafone currently cost from £28 per month for an unlimited 100Mbps (symmetric) service.

As usual all of this forms part of the operator’s wider £4bn investment plan (here and here), which currently aims to cover around 1 million UK premises by the end of 2021 and then 8 million across 100+ cities and towns (c.30% of the UK) – the latter target is expected to be “substantially completed” by the end of 2025.

Despite this some councillors have reported receiving “numerous complaints” from local residents (Northampton Chronicle), such as in the Southampton Road and St Leonard’s Road areas. The gripes tend to cover various concerns from poor workmanship to issues around safety, blocked access to driveways, equipment being left on the pavement, damaged verges and poor repair quality.

The council’s deputy leader, Phil Larratt, told a meeting on 2nd November 2020 (here) that he recognised the “increasing number of complaints arising from poor workmanship as a result of the rollout” and has agreed a “number of steps” to address the issues. Apparently, these are to be focused around “increased supervision, audits and training to ensure correct working practices and policies are adhered to.”

A spokesperson for Cityfibre said:

“We recognise works of this scale can result in disturbance for residents. It is because of this that we constantly monitor performance with our build partners to put in place measures that minimise disruption and ensure the quality of our works meet the high standards we set ourselves.

As a result, CityFibre has carried out some additional remedial works in the town and we plan to launch an awareness campaign with residents to help address any potential future concerns. CityFibre is also following all COVID secure guidelines to minimise the risk of virus transmission to staff, contractors and the general public. Any reports that guidance is not being followed are being dealt with swiftly.”

As we always say, deploying new infrastructure is a naturally very expensive business and will inevitably create periods of disruption for local residents, which is often true no matter who is doing the noisy civil engineering side of things (over the years we’ve seen similar gripes being levelled against Openreach, Virgin Media and others).

Such work will often end up attracting complaints, some of which are difficult to avoid (e.g. blocked driveways and noise), although in other cases the contractors may be failing to follow good practice. However, in the long run, the ability to access affordable 1Gbps broadband speeds should make all of this disruption worthwhile and may even boost the value of local housing, as well as the economy.

Nevertheless, operators do still have a clear responsibility to finish the work properly and, for the most part, they do take action when problems are identified. In this case we note that the same contractor did also get Cityfibre’s build in Milton Keynes into trouble last year (here).

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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.
Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. RR says:

    I’d like to thank them for getting on with it and getting gigabit internet to me when I only had ADSL. One of the complaints I read in local paper was how long the grass was going to take to regrow where they had dug in the grass verges. I mean really! Sad nimby’s with nothing else to complain about. Those two roads mentioned are mainly shops and terraced houses, wall to wall cars parked both sides of the roads, it was probably a logistical nightmare to go along each road, so bound to be some disturbance.

  2. Mrs robertson says:

    Please can somebody contact me asap I have a damaged wall that requires immediate attention at 82 Malcolm drive

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