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Truespeed Shelves Part of Frome FTTP Build After Pole Complaints

Wednesday, May 24th, 2023 (8:25 am) - Score 4,096

Alternative network builder and UK broadband ISP Truespeed, which is rolling out a new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to homes across the South West of England, has removed the area of Ashtree Road from their build plan in Frome after angry locals campaigned against the use of new telecoms poles.

The most expensive and disruptive way of deploying full fibre is by digging trenches along roads and pavements, although most operators are also deploying plenty of poles too – most of which are made of wood and stand around 8-9 metres high.

Poles tend to be cheaper and quicker to deploy, not least because the work can be done using Permitted Development (PD) rights, which means 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). Operators usually only need to give locals the most minimal of prior notices (e.g. sticking a notice to a lamp post).

The cost gap between poles and expensive underground digs can often mean the difference between gaining access to FTTP or being left excluded. But poles also have a growing tendency to divide public opinion (examples here, here, here, here, here, here and here), particularly when built into an area that previously only enjoyed the benefits of underground infrastructure, where they may be considered unsightly.

In this case, Truespeed sent out notices on the Stonebridge Estate, which notified residents of their intent to deploy overhead cables in the near future (although some residents said they weren’t informed). But according to the Frome Times, a fair few “horrified” locals wrote back as part of a campaign to block the development, not least because they felt as if the new erections would be a “very unsightly” blot on their “lovely green neighbourhood“. The good news, at least for those with concerns, is that Truespeed has now shelved their deployment plan, at least on Ashtree Road.

Extract from Truespeed’s Letter:

“Many of the residents in your area have also expressed similar concerns. As a result, we at Truespeed have no intention of enforcing such rights when it is clearly against the wishes of a majority of households.

For that reason, we have decided to remove the area of Ashtree Road from our build profile in Frome at this time. We reserve the right to revisit this decision if we experience significant demand for our service from residents affected by this position.”

However, a quick check of the local area reveals that the community’s opposition hasn’t completely excluded them from the gigabit-capable broadband revolution, since – so far as we can tell – the Ashtree Road area is already covered by Virgin Media’s network. But it does mean less competition, thus locals may find themselves stuck paying higher post-contract prices to get ultrafast or better speeds for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, Truespeed, which holds an “ambitious” overall target of reaching 500,000 properties by the end of 2026 and has already done 75,000 premises (mostly across Devon, Wiltshire and Somerset), is currently being funded by a total investment of £175m from Aviva (£134m of which has already been committed to physical builds).

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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26 Responses
  1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    People are generally OK with 1 or 2 new poles to carry fibre from one road into another because no existing ducts are there. That’s reasonable, and some could be hidden behind vegetation if that exists.

    What they are usually against is loads of new operator poles (often much taller than BT’s) in different places to the BT ones and spaghetti cabling strewn across the streets. In some cases spoiling views of sea fronts or hills or open spaces. Imagine overbuild where multiple operators come along and do this, it gets even worse….

    1. Avatar photo Ryan says:

      In the situation you described I would also not be happy with this. Especially when they already have access to VM via underground ducting? We need to limit the use of poles and allow other operators to use any ducting that’s already in place. How they can come to this sort of agreement I don’t know but it’s definitely a sensible solution. Else before long we’ll have spaghetti cabling like you see in Thailand

  2. Avatar photo Meritez says:

    I learnt a new word today, Alterative.

  3. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    Are they snobs in expensive houses? I have lived all my life so far in areas with poles, It would be odd if i did not see a pole from my window. Ok, so I did not see a pole when I lived in my flat, as they were there.

    As long as they don’t complain about the choice they have.

    1. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Pretty egocentric stating that because it would be odd if you didn’t see a pole they would be fine with them, else they’re ‘snobs in expensive houses’. The world’s view of poles doesn’t revolve around that you’ve nearly always had them in view.

      They’re all over the place here, however our estate is entirely underground apart from one road where the poles pre-dated the homes. Those people want the poles removed, I think they’re being unreasonable, however new poles in a previously underground area are a different matter and objection may be legitimate.

      The average value of a house in the street is apparently £289k by the way. Nothing exceptional given where they are.

    2. Avatar photo Igor says:


    3. Avatar photo 10BaseT says:

      But imagine situation where there are no poles at all, for example on any new build estate. I live in place such like this and I would complain about that too.

    4. Avatar photo ad47uk says:

      @XGS Is On.

      Normally around here, the people who complains about stuff like that live in posh areas, not that I would call anywhere posh here, but places with expensive houses. Poles are thin, unless they are directly outside your window, say a couple of feet away, then they are not a problem. I admit I think the amount of cables on them once they all get the fibre on them will be stupid, and need to be sorted out.
      Now 5G masts are a different thing, they are large.


      Jealous? Hell no. Would I not mind more money? yes, but it is what it is, and I am fine with what I have got.
      I have seen some of these snobs and the way they think they are better than the rest of us.

      Not saying all people with money do, because a mate of mine have a fair bit of money and my other half has a good job and nice house, but a lot do think they are better.

      Anyway, if I had enough money to buy a nice house i would go for a nice black and white cottage.

  4. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    Got to be honest as someone with just underground copper phone lines I’d happily volunteer to take a few poles installed on the road to get any sort of high speed connection (The 50 year old 1970s ducts in the estate seem to put off altnets and openreach – trooli wired the rest of the town recently).

    However hearing they have Virgin it doesn’t sound like its that much of a loss here…

  5. Avatar photo ryan says:

    Probably installed them side ways

  6. Avatar photo Angry Boomers says:

    Gosh, they dig up the road and out come the pitchforks. They put up telegraphs and the angry mob shakes their fist. Bunch of boomers who don’t like technology and are against everything. I bet the same people are against new mobile phone masts as well.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Not all baby boomers as you put it, read the first post as to why there can be objections. In won’t be true in every case but valid reasons.

      Not everyone is desperate for their fixation of broadband like you and to a lesser extent, me. Some people live with out it, some people perfectly happy with ADSL or FTTC even. Some people like unspoilt environment. Poles are old technology anyway. New machines to micro trench nowadays.

    2. Avatar photo Angry Boomers says:

      “Not everyone is desperate for their fixation of broadband like you”.

      Broadband is essential for most people now. Not something nice to have for ordering Tesco or for watching Netflix, but essential for business/work purposes. It’s not right that a bunch of boomers can block something because NIMBY doesn’t like the look of a telegraph pole, or NIMBY is inconvenienced by a day of digging up the road. They complain about digging, they complain about poles. Internet is another utility and is essential to many. It’s not about “fixation”. It’s about giving people an essential service, one which people need to work, one which grows the economy instead of muh I don’t like poles winning the argument. Old folk don’t like technology, wow cool, guess we can never evolve then because boomers don’t like it.

    3. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      democracy. You have your view, others have theirs. The people that are against are not saying not to have it, just do it in an unobtrusive way. You want to run with your autocratic rule of do it because you need it regardless of anyone or anything else, spaghetti wiring from potentially multiple providers and poles everywhere. Never mind you must be right because its your view.

    4. Avatar photo anon says:

      Angry Boomers, you’re really sad. And bigoted. I take it Brexit has ruined your life?

    5. Avatar photo Angry Boomer says:


      muh brexit.

      Didn’t vote for it. and I’m a labour voter. Is that the best you’ve got . Muh gammon brinny. LMAO. Don’t refute my actual points, just say gammon tory brexit voter. pathetic.

    6. Avatar photo Angry Boomers says:

      “Never mind you must be right because its your view.”

      LULZ. After saying here’s a list of why people don’t like it. A list you produced. Yourself. As to why people don’t like. A list you came up with by yourself. HAHAHA. Nope, nobody can have any other opinion. Only yours is valid. Hey lets chop a few letters off my username and shout brexit too, that’ll shut him up.

    7. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

      And you would be wrong yet again. Also assumptions made that people voted and how they voted. That post was another anonymous person, did your primitive brain work out there can be more than one anonymous poster?????

    8. Avatar photo Lexx says:

      I’m quite happy for them to put the post outside of my house if the others don’t want it

  7. Avatar photo Truthspewed says:

    Should service providers not be forced to share their infrastructure rather than consumers be inconvenienced by extensive works? When ducting and/or poles already exist there should be a legal and moral basis to share them where capacity allows.

    It seems Truespeed have shelved/postponed a number of areas around Frome supposedly due to complaints about poles, although another area I enquired about they turned out to be unsubstantiated. It seems they may have other reasons for limiting their build that they do not want to admit to?

    1. Avatar photo Ryan says:

      I totally agree they should definitely share. Like you say if capacity allows and whatever other factors that play into it then they should all be sharing. It’s likely all down to money but I’m sure the gov could do something about that.

    2. Avatar photo Fromie says:

      With netomnia and OR over building in Frome they are too late. I enquired with them a couple of years ago and at that time they weren’t interested in Frome at all. It’s too late now.

    3. Avatar photo Jack says:

      If they are putting poles down then it means there’s no OR infrastructure

      OFNL should be sharing their infrastructure though. It’s crazy the O stands for open but they are not open

  8. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

    Alnets should be forced to PIA their new poles as before you know it you will have another altnet putting up poles and maybe Openreach too.

  9. Avatar photo Fromie says:

    I live in Frome. I’m sure they will regret it long term. Thankfully our estate has both netomnia and openreach fttp from underground ducts…

Comments are closed

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