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Community Fibre Partnership, Rural Kent, Monkton Village - Progress Diary.

SlimJ

Casual Member
Hi all,

I live in East Kent and our house is situated among 10 addresses just on the outskirts of our village separated by a farmyard and fields, we’re pretty much 1.5km from our cabinet. Our speeds on FTTC range from approximately 20Mbps/1Mbps (myself, furthest point on the line) to a max of 30Mbps/5Mbps (for those closer to the cabinet due to the route the cable takes) – Due to the distances, the service can be unreliable, I have lost count of the number of times in the past 5 years that we’ve had Openreach engineers visiting one of our houses to fix faults - we've had our drop wire replaced twice!!

As part of the Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme and Kent Top-up, we should be able to claim the full £7,000 voucher for each property. As a result, I’m thinking it is worth taking a punt on a CFP as it could be 5+ more years before our area is covered – I have registered my details and have access to the portal to add addresses.

Our little neighbourhood is fairly simple layout wise with all properties served from 3 distribution points. In 2019, Openreach also ran fibre cabling past our neighbourhood enroute to another village (who just had ADSL) – There are 2 fibre joints situated in the same locations as 2 of the copper distribution points. If another span of fibre cabling is required back to the aggregation node then it is highly likely the underground ducts are still clear. I’ve included a simple map of the layout of our neighbourhood.

Questions
  • For those that have been through the CFP process, how many properties did you initially cover in your scheme and what were your quoted build costs? Did you end up personally incurring any of the build costs?

  • While I believe I can get at least 5 of us interested, are there any tips you would suggest in order to encourage sign ups? With the high value of the voucher and the small number of properties in this area, costs to us with enough interest are likely be negligible (I had a desktop quote for FTTPoD for £14k a few months back).

  • I’m thinking of submitting the 10 addresses to the portal to obtain an indicative project cost before approaching all the neighbours which should make it an easier sell (especially if the costs are low!). But before I do this I may put an A4 page together highlighting what I am doing and what the benefits are. Would this be worthwhile?
Any other advice or thoughts are welcome!
 

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SlimJ

Casual Member
Another village local to me is also going through the CFP process (currently being cabled up), they had 130ish addresses and were quoted £120k for the project.

However the layout is more complex and a lot of time and work has been spent digging up roads for ducting in order to run the fibre spine to the village - So I would imagine this is where a huge part of the project cost is coming from.
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
Just to keep this thread updated. I've have submitted a list of 10 addresses and now await build costs from Openreach.

Have prepared an initial 3 page letter for local residents which will be posted through doors this week... This just gives some background information about the project and will hopefully will help generate interest/feedback.
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
No news from Openreach with a Ballpark figure as yet, they do advise within 15 days but we're now past this.

Out of the 10 addresses, I have 5 neighbours that have already said they're very interested and are pleased that someone has taken the initiative with this, this is just based on the letter I sent to the neighbours - so a great sign already!

It's just a waiting game with OR at the moment... :)
 

Averhill

Member
Hi,

I'm at a similar stage to you. Submitted 6 addresses for a ballpark estimate on the 7th October. I will let you know when I hear anything.
Can I ask is your CFP portal showing ballpark cost or design please?
Mine has been showing design for about 10 days but no contact from Openreach so far.
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
Thanks. I guess they are just snowed under with requests! The portal just shows I am at the Ballpark cost stage, but it's unticked at the moment.
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
So this morning my OR CFP portal shows that we have now moved to the 'Design' stage, however, no information is provided regarding the proposed cost and the text on the portal has not changed.

No emails received yet so I'm a little confused.

IMG_4150.jpg
 

Averhill

Member
Hi

Yes, that's what mine looked like when I first posted in reply to you.
Still no contact from Openreach though.
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
That's unfortunate Averhill. I had a response this morning via email so it may be worth checking spam/junk folders also. The status in the platform has not changed however. More details in my next post coming soon...
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
I had my Ballpark cost sent to me this morning but I'm not sure what to think of it, even though it all looks viable...

No. of Addresses
I submitted an application for 10 addresses as we're all 'sub-superfast' but this has been expanded to cover a wider area including a portion of our village which is approximately 400m away from the address in my application - these are obviously all close to the aggregation node but will already be getting speeds in excess of 40-60Mbps based on distance to cabinet. This now covers 58 addresses.

The Cost
The initial quote was just under £45k (or £775 per address). Based on the 5 addresses that have shown interest already, all of which should receive the £7k per address grant, we should have £35k in costs covered already. Addresses outside our area will only receive £1,500 per residential property and £3,500 per business property.

So at this stage things look very viable.

Anything Else?
In my email from the Rural Engagement Manager, he mentioned 'Your project qualifies for a newer approach we are taking, which means less work for you as a community lead and there will be no contract to sign.' - I'm not sure what this means exactly and may need some clarification, but it sounds like good news.

Now to start drumming up some further support from the wider area!
 

Averhill

Member
Glad to hear you have got your ballpark figure.
I have just checked Junk/Spam. No luck.
I'm sure I will know more soon.
Thanks for you post with the update of costs, it's quite reasuring.
Did you get updated that it was being expanded to 58 properties?

I don't think you will have much trouble getting the vouchers to cover the cost. People are much more aware of the need for improved conectivity than they were 12 months ago.

Yes, I had read about the newer approach. It will make it a lot easier.
I think you get a link to pledge your commitment to taking an FTTP service when it goes live. Openreach can claim the voucher then and will build on the basis of this.

I will post when I know more.
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
Averhill

I was only advised that it was being expanded in the email, no changes in the portal.

I would imagine the larger area was on the radar for plans in the next few years, they're just using this as an opportunity to bring some of it forwards while gaining some cash from the government!

Agree entirely about the awareness side of things. My partner didn't see the need for faster internet until she tried working from home, two of us WFH doing zoom calls, downloading, uploading large files, etc, soon made her realise! :LOL:

Thanks for the explanation of the process, I think I had read something like this for another project local to me but wasn't sure. It wasn't too clear in the email sent so hopefully I will get some clarity for the next steps!
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
A further update with good news.

Had a response from our Rural Engagement Manager and he has confirmed to me that this will be done as a demand led project, we're just awaiting a final cost then an application can be made to the DCMS for the voucher money to cover the build cost. We'll then have a landing page on the Openreach website (assuming this: https://www.openreach.com/RGC/) where the community can pledge their vouchers - should be 8-10 weeks before this is ready.

Now it's just a waiting game for the final design and offer to come through.

Next Steps
My next steps are to get a post on the local community Facebook page run by the parish (perhaps setting my own central page for full details which can be linked to). They are aware of the project already but I think this will be useful to make the community aware of what will be happening. Perhaps a mention in our local 'News' magazine will be useful, and perhaps a letter through the doors of those that will likely receive the service upon project completion.

Unfortunately this only covers a small portion of the village where cables are run. Much of the village is close to the village FTTC cabinet and already receive 50Mbps+ however some addresses the other side of the village are connected to a cabinet in another village so are struggling with less that 10Mbps - It is likely a separate project would need to be looked in to for this area due to distance from this project.
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
Well, final design and costs came through today which is quicker than the 4-5 weeks anticipated.

No changes to the quote amount (£45k) for 58 premises, however, £58k needs to be pledged by vouchers to cover the costs - as expected. Just awaiting voucher approval and next steps which will likely be early next year now.

Facebook group already set up for the local villagers - Now I just need to make the affected residents aware of what is happening and hopefully generate some buzz.
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
We're now in a position to register our interest and pledge our vouchers. 5 addresses should be registered now which gives us £35k of the £58k required - I have to speak with the remainder of the addresses (5) in our little area to encourage them to register and pledge - all these are worth £7k each in vouchers!

The remainder of the addresses for this project in the village will be a harder sell as they already have decent speeds from FTTC available (40-60Mbps) - While I have had 2 people show an interest since I did an 'awareness' letter drop prior to voucher approval they are yet to register. It may be a case of knocking on each door and handing over the Openreach leaflet with voucher details and trying to encourage them to register.

Some slightly bad news however is that our Rural Engagement Officer suggested that the 'top up funds' are running low, which would mean our £7k vouchers would instead be worth just £1.5k. If this is the case then it's likely the project would be completely unviable. My hope is that these top up funds do get extended to ensure this can still proceed (providing sufficient interest).
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
So in just under 1 week, we've now reached and exceeded the £58k target with just 7 homes and 2 businesses (as all submitted addresses qualify for the £7k vouchers), and I know of 1 other person in our immediate area that still needs to register.

While I'm pretty pleased that I've managed to get nearly the entire original intended area interested and registered, I will still encourage the part of the village that is currently enjoying 40-60Mbps speeds to register just to bolster the numbers just in case there's any issue with the vouchers.

I have the 'official' Openreach leaflet letter to drop off and an article going out in our local newsletter later this month.
 

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BFG

Regular Member
Another village local to me is also going through the CFP process (currently being cabled up), they had 130ish addresses and were quoted £120k for the project.

However the layout is more complex and a lot of time and work has been spent digging up roads for ducting in order to run the fibre spine to the village - So I would imagine this is where a huge part of the project cost is coming from.
This is very interesting in terms of comparison and I'm glad yours is going well.

We had an initial quote for £52k for 41 addresses. Other close villages along the main line route to ours wanted to be involved and so we expanded to 66 addresses, mostly in a straight line plus two small branches.

The quote shot up to £385k or £2.9k per premises. Which divided by the no of actual members makes £5.9k per member.

OR are insisting on connecting all 130+ premises which share any distribution points on which our members are involved, including a farm 1.5 miles away. The won't share any details. There has been some offer to return to the original smaller group, but since then the assigned PM has been ignoring our emails and phone calls.
 

SlimJ

Casual Member
I'm glad yours is going well....

The quote shot up to £385k...

There has been some offer to return to the original smaller group, but since then the assigned PM has been ignoring our emails and phone calls.

I'm not so sure it's going too well! We hit the stated target well over a week ago now and I've received emails from #WeAreOpenreach about how the project will now be passed to the build team for further planning, and that we should receive emails to verify the vouchers from DCMS shortly (other people that have registered will also have received these emails!).

So far, I've had nothing further back. I've chased the Rural Engagement Manager as it was quiet to find he's on leave until next week. It's a little worrying as he mentioned that the 'top up funds' were running low but he would confirm further (I've heard nothing further) - It's a bit of a problem, as our pie chart shows 100% target reached (£90k pledged) so this sends a signal to residents that are looking to pledge that they no longer need to pledge as target has been achieved!

While I hope everything goes smoothly and this is sorted out, I am concerned that I started this project in October and now we're at the point of pledging they advise their could be a problem.

A part of me also feels that perhaps Openreach are waiting on news of how the watered down '£5bn' fund will change the rollout of fibre to these CFP areas hence they are increasing costs or just delaying response times.

Hopefully will get some clarity on our next steps next week.

UPDATE: Shortly after posting this, I've now received the email from DCMS! Interweb obviously has ears.
 

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SlimJ

Casual Member
Had some good news for our demand led CFP today.

Our REM called me today and left a voicemail to say that our project will now move to the 'Delivery' stage as the target had been met and checks completed. To say I am relieved is an understatement - made the little bit of leg work worthwhile! :)

Looking forward to seeing this project progress further (estimated deployment 10-12 months from now). (y)

Will update thread when I see/hear of any progress.
 
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tikka69

Casual Member
Had some good news for our demand led CFP today.

Our REM called me today and left a voicemail to say that our project will now move to the 'Delivery' stage as the target had been met and checks completed. To say I am relieved is an understatement - made the little bit of leg work worthwhile! :)

Looking forward to seeing this project progress further. (y)
Congratulations :)
 
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