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Devon and Somerset UK Update on Openreach’s FTTP Build Progress

Tuesday, July 5th, 2022 (5:10 pm) - Score 1,752
openreach engineer in rural england uk

The state aid supported Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) project in England has today issued another update on the full fibre rollout progress of their £6m Fibre Extension Programme (FEP) contract with Openreach (BT), which was originally due to complete by the end of 2021 but is still ongoing.

The contract, which mostly harnesses public investment that was returned by operators as a result of high take-up under earlier contracts (gainshare / clawback), was first announced back in July 2020 (here). One part of that committed Openreach to extend their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network to cover another 2,000 premises in rural areas by the end of 2021 (this was later slightly extended to reach a further 100 homes).

NOTE: Openreach is also contributing some funding towards the programme, but the announcement doesn’t state how much.

According to today’s update, the operator is now “actively building” to around 1,500 of the contracted premises in a number of communities, including Bampton, Brompton Ralph, Coffinswell, parts of Dulverton, Ilfracombe, Kentisbury Ford, Oakford, Parracombe, Rackenford, Shaugh Prior, Stogumber, Washford, and Watermouth.

In the coming months this build is also expected to start in Brayford, Butterleigh, Cadbury, Cadeleigh, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Filleigh, North Molton, Silverton, South Molton, Stockleigh Pomeroy and Thorverton. Meanwhile, design and survey work has also been undertaken in Clapworthy Mill, Meeth, South Zeal, Throwleigh, Satterleigh and Warkleigh to prepare for future construction.

As it stands today, more than 400 premises are “currently ready for service” in communities, including parts of the parish of Bickleigh and Wotter, Combeinteignhead, parts of Dulverton, and Lane End near Peter Tavy.

Councillor Mike Rigby, CDS Board Member, said:

“The bulk of the work being undertaken by Openreach through this programme is now underway and more and more communities will be seeing this vital work carried out in their area. The number of premises ready for service is moving in the right direction and this additional investment in vital infrastructure is providing homes and businesses with the digital connectivity they need.”

Sadly, the announcement didn’t clarify why the build is taking longer than expected (the small extension alone doesn’t account for it), or when it’s now expected to complete. In fairness, deploying in remote rural areas can be a slow process, but we’re also used to seeing Openreach move a fair bit faster than this – even in challenging areas. We’ve requested more details and hope to report back tomorrow.

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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
4 Responses
  1. Jim Weir says:

    I’d raise exception with this description of progress; in Feb 2022 CDS claimed
    “Residents in Shillingford and Winsford will be among those who will be able to order an ultrafast broadband service from a provider of their choice over the Openreach network later this month.”

    In Shillingford, that currently amounts to 4 properties actually Ready For Service (around northern edge of EX16 9BX), all other in-scope properties are currently incomplete awaiting either civils or cabling works. Fortunately for the local residents, 3 of those properties RFS with Openreach now were connected to our alt-net back in 2019 / 2020.

    Elsewhere in this Gainshare build, for example around Bury the design leaves a patchwork of properties not in scope. Worst example being around Frogwell Cross; rather than branching West to reach the 4 properties excluded from the main Bury cluster, the overhead fibre heads East to overbuild 4 properties already connected in 2019 / 2020.

    Fundamentally, this contract is leaving big gaps that will be harder and more costly for anyone to fill, while also needlessly overbuilding existing fibre coverage but that stems from relying on a design from 2019 for a build happening in 2022.

  2. James Arnold says:

    This rollout has been a disaster from start to finish with never ending delays and as Jim Weir reveals above overbuilding on properties already served by fibre. This is all on a background of having to overbuild fibre on top of Airband fixed wireless in my village (Bury) because whilst Airband fixed wireless was meant to serve pretty much all of Bury, planners failed to account for the fact there was a conifer plantation in the way which meant that only a third (if that) of properties in Bury would actually be able to order the service. I was extremely happy when it was announced that Bury would be included in this gainshare clawback rollout but delays have made the process extremely frustrating. Work essentially only started in March/April 2022 despite the whole project’s original completion date being by the end of 2021. Whilst Winsford has been connected, it looks like this was mostly part of a Openreach commercial rollout (if the Openreach website is to be believed) – not to mention that most of Winsford already had FTTC going back years whilst other areas are still on painfully slow ADSL lines. Conveniently one of the few houses to benefit from the Winsford rollout (as it was too rural to benefit from FTTC) is the prime minister’s family farm – coincidence?
    As for the ongoing work, in Bury we have had fibre installed on all of the telegraph poles to the end of Dyehouse lane since April, only for the fibre spool to be left in a hedge ever since due to encountering “unexpected problems”.
    In summary, it’s all rather frustrating.

    1. James says:

      Just wait for BDUK to start doing there open market reviews under Project GIgabit, should delay , sorry deliver things more efficiently and quickly….?

  3. Xavier says:

    Jurassic fibre already did amazing job with most areas. Still not the best fttp provider better than nothing.

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