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Openreach Erects Two Southampton Telegraph Poles in Wrong Place

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021 (4:40 pm) - Score 4,056
2019 openreach telegraph pole

Openreach has apologised after its engineers, which were busy deploying a new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network in Southampton (Hampshire, England), accidentally erected two telegraph poles in the wrong location at Seacombe Green, much to the annoyance of local residents. But they’ll soon be moved.

Telegraph poles have a tendency to divide public opinion when they’re erected and, as a result, they remain one of the least loved pieces of modern broadband and phone infrastructure. Nevertheless, they are also a fairly cost-effective solution for upgrading such networks, particularly in areas where the cost of going underground would be too high for a build to be viable.

Such poles are typically built using Permitted Development (PD) rights, which means that they don’t have to go through the usual planning process and can pop up quite quickly, often without residents getting much of a say in the matter. However, such deployments don’t always go to plan, and we have seen some recent examples of poles being placed in the wrong location (here).

In this case, Openreach ended up attracting complaints have they placed two such poles on the wrong piece of grass verge in Seacombe Green, which meant they were much closer to local properties (within a few feet) than if had they been placed a little further away on the grass verge directly at the side of the road (where they were expected to go). Queue the usual complaints about the poles being an “eyesore” and devaluing local homes etc.

A Spokesperson for Openreach said (Southern Daily Echo):

“While preparing to install a new, ultrafast broadband network we erected two poles in the wrong location. We’re going to fix this, and have been working with the local authority which has agreed that we can relocate these poles to a site within the public highway areas at Seacombe Green.

We strive to select and site our infrastructure sensitively but we got it wrong with these two poles and we apologise for any concern caused.”

Admittedly, while such poles may not be universally popular, they do remain quite a common sight across the UK. Indeed, you can often find plenty of people who would be more than happy to accept their deployment if it meant gaining access to a full fibre network. Likewise, there seems to be no shortage of studies claiming to show how the provision of faster broadband networks tend to result in house values going up, rather than down.

In the end it looks as if the residents of Seacombe Green will have to tolerate such poles, even if they’ll now be a few crucial feet further away from their windows than before.

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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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25 Responses
  1. Jim says:

    I’d have a telegraph pole in my back garden if it meant I could have FTTP. Heck, ill have it in the bedroom!

    1. cheesemp says:

      Me too! I only live a few miles from this location and get mediocre FTTC. We’re not on any of the recent Openreach FTTP deployment plans either. I sometimes think its because a large part of my town is 1970’s estates with ducted phone lines. I think Openreach know those old ducts will be a right pain so we keep being bypassed. I’d happily have a pole outside if it sped things up – can’t be any worse than the street lights (and FTTP would even bump property prices up)

  2. Paul says:

    My street has FTTP installed for over a year but nobody wants to pay £60 a month so we’re all staying on FTTC.

    The price is absolutely absurd and the upload rate is derisory for a ‘pure fibre network’

    FTTC is better choice for everyone going into the future.
    Vote with your feet and refuse to accept Openreach substandard FTTP until they make it under £29.95 for 900Meg.

    1. anonymous says:

      Seek help.

    2. LPP says:

      You do realise you can still go on FTTP on the 40 & 80mb packages for the same prices as FTTC right? What you’re actually saying is you don’t want to pay more for higher speeds which is your choice and nothing to do with Openreach.

    3. Pip says:

      So you are happy paying for e.g. an up to 55mb connection and only getting 35mb mzx when you could pay exactly the same and get the full 55mb via FTTP? It’s the same with the other tiers. In pther words, a no brainer.

    4. Vince says:

      You know there are plenty of choices for provider and not everyone charges £60…

    5. Paul says:

      wow I got slaughtered in the comments section. I’m running for the hills….

      I’m getting about 95% of sync on FTTC which is alright. I guess for a long line FTTP is a no-brainer.

      I think some of you missed the point, most tariffs are low upload ie 30Mb and I get 20Mb via FTTC, so for a jump improvement, I’d have to “aim high, like 500-900Meg” to get a significantly improved upload. Sorry reading back it wasn’t that clear.

      I’ve been using an AltNet on 150/150 and that package was superb for a household. I really wish that would be an option for all.

      Thanks for the replies.

    6. Sam says:

      What a stupid choice… You do know FTTP is cheap as chips on Vodafone.

    7. A_Builder says:

      With FTTP you get exactly what you pay for with no line length issues, low ping times and better reliability?

      as others have pointed out you can get the same nominal package for the same money on FTTP so I would move for sure if I could. Particularly as if I ever need a speed upgrade it is a few mouse clicks away rather than an engineer visit.

      So I am lost as to why you are not on FTTP……in any case you will be migrated to FTTP, like it or not, in the not so distant future. FTTP is the future: get with it!

  3. Michael V says:

    Permitted Development should apply to the four mobile network operators too. people shouldn’t have the right to block a mast.
    I certainly wouldn’t complain about a new pole going up from Openreach. Anything to improve the choice & quality of our broadband services.

    1. Nimby Too says:

      It does, 3 are putting a new 5G monopole in the middle of our village under PD.

    2. Michael V says:

      @Nimby. I didn’t realise they had easier access to locations.

      Yes I live just outside Cardiff & Three have an aggressive expansion of their networks.
      I’ve seen plenty go up & coverage & speeds are improving. I’ve certainly noticed a difference in many places around South Wales.

  4. Mark says:

    @Nimby Too. Not necessarily, if AONB and Conservation area then its usually a no, has been here 20 applications blocked since 1990s, even a telegraph pole style one, that’s an area covering 4500 people,when villages of a few hundred are getting built, the council and the Nimbys rule.

    1. Nimby Too says:

      The comment was regarding the ability of both fixed and mobile infrastructure provision under GPDO and not the exclusions for any type of PD in Articles 2(3) and 2(4).

      Hence the mast in our village is to be sited just a few metres outside the conservation zone!

  5. GG says:

    Not a surprise. We’re going through the fastest, biggest rollout of telecommunications infrastructure the country has ever seen.
    I think people forget that sometimes.

  6. Ray Woodward says:

    That sounds about right for ‘openreach’ ..:(

  7. KW says:

    If people don’t like what is needed to provide better services, pass them over and move on to those that do. In 5 years when nothing works they will be the first to complain 🙂

    My FTTP is provided via underground, however if they said we need to place a pole to provide I still would have jumped at the chance.

  8. GaryH says:

    Might be cheaper to install on poles but for a build thats supposed to be a long term maintenance saver poles aren’t the best way just look at the chaos and cost Arwen has caused.

    Our power was off from Friday to Tuesday and the bulk of the outages have been due to lines downed.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      You have to weigh that against the huge cost of tackling underground problems too, such as blocked ducts. Fixing a downed pole is, by comparison, a job of relatively low cost and complexity. But I’d be interested to see some historic costing figures on this sort of thing (overground maintenance and repair vs underground) as there’s not enough hard data.

    2. A_Builder says:

      Anything to do with digging hole in pavements and reinstating is expensive.

      Anything to do with block pavements is more expensive.

      Anything to do with concrete cross overs is a nightmare.

      All that from personal experience.

      Reusing existing infrastructure is the way forwards and in some cases direct buried -> overhead is the only realistic solution.

    3. Jonathan says:

      @Mark poles are cheaper because Openreach don’t have to bear the cost of services being unavailable due to downed infrastructure. Where that the case it would be all going underground. I would note that blocked ducts are only a problem during installation, and fitting fibre in a duct is a once in lifetime operation. Once everyone has a fibre coming into there property that’s it for ever. Latency improvements from hollow core fibre if it ever becomes a thing are measured in microseconds in the distribution network so will never justify a replacement.

      It is inconceivable that there is not widespread damage telephone lines, just the power is getting all the headlines. I would note there at least some of the problems is because it is cheaper to fix things after they are broken rather than do proactive maintenance – cue pictures of snapped wooden pylons in the middle of a field; something that should have been replaced proactively but wasn’t because it was cheaper to wait for it to blow down first.

      I would note that gas can be provided underground without a problem; cost complaints are about underground infrastructure denting fat profits. Nothing more and nothing less.

  9. Ethel Prunehat says:

    It’s “cue” not “queue”. Sounds the same, completely different meaning.

  10. Mark says:

    @Nimby Too. Your very fortunate the whole of the Cotswolds is pretty much AONB and Conservation area so would have to be sited at least six miles away to be out of any zone so would be useless.

  11. RDF Allen says:

    The Telegraph system was phased out in 1982 and hadn’t used poles since around 1920.
    When are people going to learn to sat telephone poles? They do, after all, carry telephony.

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