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Community Fibre build in North London

Barnet

Casual Member
I can't see an existing thread about this, if there is feel free to merge.

I live on the border between the London boroughs of Barnet & Enfield.

When Virgin extended their network in Barnet, for some reason my street was missed and so Openreach provided FTTC is the current broadband option in this area.

Over the last few weeks I've seen signs of telco installer activity and I suspect it is "Community Fibre" rather than Openreach who are running in the fibre.

Somewhat surprisingly the installation is by stringing fibre between the existing telephone poles rather than using the ducts which the copper cable uses to reach the telephone poles. In this area phone wires are generally overhead to the house.

On the assumption that it is Community Fibre undertaking this build then at some stage I expect someone will knock on my door wishing to sell their service.

So....

I'm interested in any views as to how this service might differ from what BT will offer when their (Openreach delivered) FTTP service becomes availble in my area.

I can find marketing and pricing information on various packages but thus far nothing on contention ratios, the general quality of their network etc.

Any thoughts?
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
You're assuming Openreach will deliver FTTP to that area. Did they confirm so via their checker? But as for Community Fibre, so far I can't say I've seen many gripes and most people seem to be pleased with the service they deliver. I'd probably say they're one of the stronger alternative networks.
 

Barnet

Casual Member
Thanks for the observations.

It's more of a "future question".

There is absolutely no sign of Openreach undertaking a FTTP build in my area at the moment (which is one of the things that makes Community Fibre interesting), although I assume Openreach will at some stage as part of the retirement of their copper network.

I've been well served by FTTC for quite a few years (although my download speed has slowly decreased over time) and at the moment that meets my needs but clearly a fibre service is the best answer.

The Community Fibre service seems to be "symmetrical" speeds (from 75Mb/s in steps to 3Gb/s) which suggests a different technology to the Openreach approach.

Assuming it is Community Fibre doing this work in my street, my guess is that it will be some months before they would be in a position to offer a service to customers. I've seen no sign of any street infrastructure for them in the area.

When Virgin Media did their 2018 build in the borough it was via what seemed to be small green blown fibre tubes just under the pavement but their new infrastructure cabinets were fairly obvious. Their cabinets were in place well in advance of customers being live on the system.
 

Pheasant

ULTIMATE Member
Quite apart from the technology - Community Fibre deploy using XGS-PON which is a faster development on the original GPON standard currently in use by Openreach - Community Fibre are the only retail option on their own network. Much like Virgin (currently anyway) you are locked into using them and no other ISPs.
 

Barnet

Casual Member
Thanks for the information.

XGS-PON would explain why Community Fibre offer symmetrical speeds.

It looks like I will have some time to decide if I wish to take their service (assuming they are going to serve the houses in my street).

Their website doesn't seem very forthcoming about current or planned coverage.
 

father_ted

Regular Member
There seems to be Community Fibre activity in the East side of Barnet, between Whetstone and Osidge.

I'm in a different part of London, where the residential streets are all served overhead from telegraph poles. (On another note - calling them 'telegraph' poles is a bit out of date, but 'telephone pole' is about to be out of date too!)

In my area both Openreach and Community Fibre made attempts to clear duct blockages, but where this didn't succeed they have spanned overhead from pole to pole. Community tried harder than Openreach before giving up, I reckon.

In the Openreach architecture, CBTs (the pole-top fibre junction boxes) are delivered with a length of cable already attached. These are run back to a splitter and only spliced in that location. Community Fibre have splitters on the poles, which means they have to make splices in every pole-top enclosure.

One impact of this is that when an underground section of duct has to be bypassed, Community Fibre will run one 24 or 48 fibre cable. This is a much neater look than Openreach who often hang three or four on the same span, which I don't think is great.
 

Barnet

Casual Member
Thanks, I'll keep an eye out between Whetstone and Osidge.

A while back there was a crew up the street identifying blockages with rods (and some blue rope left in to the poles via the adjacent "post office" pavement chambers).

The blockages marked on the pavement seemed to allign well with the positions of current or recently chopped down trees.

With the current work, each pole in my street has a long loop of fibre which would reach to ground level.

I assume that someone would be along with a fusion splicer making up the splitters and through joints later in the process, then fixing the fibre joint box (tray) high up on the pole.
 

father_ted

Regular Member
The 'long loop of fibre' sounds like a Community Fibre deployment. If they're low enough, you may be able to see their name printed along it.

In my area, CF first installed empty microduct from footway boxes up the steel capping and then left a coil at the top of the capping. A number of weeks or months later, when the underground microducts were all joined up, 12-fibre units were blown to each pole. This was visible as a small yellow-ish coil coming out of the end of the black microduct. They have also, in areas where the underground route is blocked, deployed black cable with a single yellow stripe containing either 24 or 48 fibres spanning between poles.

From the first microducts being installed to service available for sale took five months in my area. My impression is that's a bit longer than average for them.
 

Barnet

Casual Member
The "cable" in my street between poles has the yellow stripe.

I took a look at some streets nearby and one seems to have advanced a little further and has black fibre termination boxes on some of the poles.


CF Fibre box.jpg
 

Matt.Rowley.1990

Regular Member
I live in Whetstone (in the area between Whetstone Highroad and Osidge) and can confirm that Community Fibre are indeed very active. A lot of work has been done around Russell Lane, Osidge and Pollard Avenue, with what looks to be new trenching, duct clearing and markings on the road. I presume a lot of these markings are to indicate blockages or duct paths, as they appear to align with BT/post office in-pavement cabinets.

Aside from Virgin Media (RFoG), this area (and large parts of Barnet) are FTTC only, so I more than welcome the competition! Fingers crossed I don't fall into the "It was too difficult, so we've skipped your road" camp...
 

Barnet

Casual Member
A minor update.

The build seems to be progressing in my road, The fibres are now in the boxes and I've had a generic marketing letter.

Sadly Community Fibre have revised their offer since I first looked and it is now much less attractive.

I can see why, but there are now apparently only two offers, 50Mb/s (£20 initially rising to £25) and 1Gb/s (£25 initially rising to £54).

Previously they offered a range of speeds including something in the 200Mb/s each way that might have suited my needs.

I really don't think I'm going to sign up for something that becomes £54/month.

I would call their offers "too slow" and "too fast/expensive".

There are a number of other potential dealbreakers specific to my needs but £20/month for something with a slower download speed than my FTTC really isn't going to cut it I'm afraid Community Fibre.

I think it will be wait for Openreach to catch up with FTTP.

All rather unfortunate.
 

Pheasant

ULTIMATE Member
A minor update.

The build seems to be progressing in my road, The fibres are now in the boxes and I've had a generic marketing letter.

Sadly Community Fibre have revised their offer since I first looked and it is now much less attractive.

I can see why, but there are now apparently only two offers, 50Mb/s (£20 initially rising to £25) and 1Gb/s (£25 initially rising to £54).

Previously they offered a range of speeds including something in the 200Mb/s each way that might have suited my needs.

I really don't think I'm going to sign up for something that becomes £54/month.

I would call their offers "too slow" and "too fast/expensive".

There are a number of other potential dealbreakers specific to my needs but £20/month for something with a slower download speed than my FTTC really isn't going to cut it I'm afraid Community Fibre.

I think it will be wait for Openreach to catch up with FTTP.

All rather unfortunate.
£600 for 24 months of symmetric 1 Gbps broadband. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

You can always sign up to a Openreach based ISP in 2 years time.
 

father_ted

Regular Member
I really don't think I'm going to sign up for something that becomes £54/month.
I think you're looking at this wrong. Try to see it as a 24-month contract - you're not committing yourself to pay £54 at the end of it. A month before the end, you can either see if Community will offer you a deal for the next 12 or 24 months that fits your needs and budget, or give notice, go elsewhere and never pay £54 a month.

When they run the £25 offer for 1Gbit, they don't advertise the two middle packages because they'd be the same price or more expensive over the 24 months you're actually committing to - for less speed.

I have the 1Gbit service from them and the speed is as advertised - 24 hours a day. Pings are around 1.7ms to Google DNS and bbc.co.uk (Fastly) - Cloudflare DNS is around 2.2ms. Over the six months I've had it there has been one planned maintenance window (notified as 2355-0100, but actually lasting six minutes) and three or four outages of less than a minute in the small hours of the morning.

At £25 a month it is a no-brainer. I'm paying somewhere in the high thirties per month and it's well worth it for me.
 

Barnet

Casual Member
"father_ted" thanks for the observations of a user of the service, and you have a point on my perspective.

"Pheasant" I absolutely agree that 1Gb/s for £25/month is excellent value if you need it (or could make use of it).
 

sentup.custard

ULTIMATE Member
Not that I have any interest in them, I've no need for faster speed or a massive allowance and am content with 4G at a cheaper 15.00/month for 50GB plus 2.50 for the phone, but having fished the letter out of the recycling box I find that here (Willesden NW10) I'm being offered a choice, with first 24 months and afterwards prices being:
75 Mbps - 22.50/27.50
200Mbps - 27.50/32.50
500Mbps - 37.50/42.50
IGbps - 49.00/54.00
3Gbps - 99.00/109.00
 

Deanilson

Regular Member
I can't see an existing thread about this, if there is feel free to merge.

I live on the border between the London boroughs of Barnet & Enfield.

When Virgin extended their network in Barnet, for some reason my street was missed and so Openreach provided FTTC is the current broadband option in this area.

Over the last few weeks I've seen signs of telco installer activity and I suspect it is "Community Fibre" rather than Openreach who are running in the fibre.

Somewhat surprisingly the installation is by stringing fibre between the existing telephone poles rather than using the ducts which the copper cable uses to reach the telephone poles. In this area phone wires are generally overhead to the house.

On the assumption that it is Community Fibre undertaking this build then at some stage I expect someone will knock on my door wishing to sell their service.

So....

I'm interested in any views as to how this service might differ from what BT will offer when their (Openreach delivered) FTTP service becomes availble in my area.

I can find marketing and pricing information on various packages but thus far nothing on contention ratios, the general quality of their network etc.

Any thoughts?
Lucky you that CF had started on your road I have been talking to them before they came into Barnet and still waiting hopefully within the next 2 months. I'm not wasting anytime waiting for Openreach to do anything as the cab I am on is ADSL and virgin are just as bad not that I want to use the (poor customer service and expensive) they only serve two blocks on my road. You are definitely reading the current offer wrong also wouldn't waste my time with any 4g/5g router (currently have one) in the Woodside park area mobile reception is very hit and miss and there not great for gaming (no IPv6 on most networks).
 
Last edited:

Matt.Rowley.1990

Regular Member
Agree with the above, especially when compared to the alternatives in the Barnet area. Even at £60/month, I would see Community Fibre as attractive with the symmetrical services they offer. I've heard nothing but good things about their entire service, which cannot be said for Virgin, who are the only non-FTTC provider in my area.

Speaking of my area Whetstone/East Barnet, leaflets have started going through the doors, although I can't see any progress being made on any of the surrounding telegraph poles. Looks like there was progress being made near Oakleigh Park, with Fibre coiled up on poles.
 

Barnet

Casual Member
I'm somewhat reassured that the lower cost packages still exist (although are not being marketed) as 200Mb/s after whatever initial offer (for a faster service) was made would be fine for me.

Keeping an eye on people digging, I've spotted some larger blown fibre ducting going in recently so progress is being made.
 

Pheasant

ULTIMATE Member
These things change all the time and promotions come and go, but as said earlier £25 for *any* sort of FTTP is excellent and for 1Gbps symmetric is really a fantastic deal for the next 2 years of service.

You would struggle to find an Openreach based ISP that would either match you on that deal either for basic price alone or bang for buck. Most FTTP deals between £20 and £25 are less than 200 Mbps and in reality less than 100 Mbps on the download. Upload on Openreach will never be more than 1/5th of the download.
 
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