17 July 2018
Firstly I’d just like to say how fantastic the response was for the Community Fibre Partnership (CFP). We had almost a 100% interest from the properties we visited. It was also quite shocking to see how almost all of the premises in the area were experiencing extremely poor service with intermittent connections.
It also seems that quite a few of you have regular visits from Openreach engineers to try to rectify the situation. Personally I have now had over 8 engineer visits to the premise, some of which also involved a further 4-5 working further along the road. My own fault has now been raised to the Director of Service Office (DSO) at Openreach who have now been authorised to dig 100m of new ducting near cabinet 8 by the Charfield roundabout to replace a section of cabling that feeds the Bibstone residents.
It has been a very hectic few weeks with huge amounts of discussion between the local Parish, Openreach and South Glos council. Quite a few people have been involved in trying to push things forward.
Cabinet 6 has since been installed near Church Lane enabling half of the village to now receive ~70Mbps using FTTC. This was funded by South Glos council.
On the 18th June we noticed several new poles being installed along the B4058 near Greenline Tanks. After speaking to the workmen it became apparent a new fibre line was being installed from Church Lane and along Tortworth Road to HMP Leyhill. New poles were being installed and they were also planning on using the existing poles outside our premises. This gave us a huge amount of excitement towards our own scheme in the hope that we could utilise the new infrastructure being installed whilst equally adding to the frustration that fibre was literally outside our premises. We had several discussions with Openreach CFP department to make sure they were aware of the work being carried out.
Community Fibre Partnership
On the 6th July we received our quotation back from Openreach for the Community Fibre Partnership and unfortunately it has come as a massive disappointment. The quotation came in at a whopping £52,810 for 38 premises in the area to receive FTTP. This is where the existing copper phone line is replaced with a fibre line directly to your house giving potentially up to 1Gbps connection. It’s important to note that this quote is very ‘rough’ and entirely computer generated.
Following the quotation we immediately contacted Openreach to determine how they had determined the costs. Unfortunately they were unable to give a break down, however we did manage to gather some information on their proposal. The closest fibre node that can support the number of premises is by Tortworth Green at the end of Tortworth Road and the node that HMP Leyhill will be using wouldn’t be of the correct technology or capable of supporting our premises. It’s possible we may be able to utilise some of the infrastructure being installed further along Tortworth Road.
We enquired if we could find an alternative solution such as a newer cabinet nearby, however Openreach would not be willing to go down this route as they now have plans to make the entire country FTTP. We also enquired if we could be shunted on to cabinet 6 near Church Lane. Unfortunately this is highly unlikely as it would require a change in exchanges.
We have since contacted Truespeed, Gigaclear and Voneus enquiring if they would be interested in offering a solution as an alternative to Openreach. We are in the very early phases of discussions with some of these.
We have now asked for the issue to be escalated within South Glos Council. John O’Neil and Claire Young have kindly offered to raise this. We’ve asked as to why Bibstone has consistently been excluded from any BDUK funding and why the village as a whole cannot get parity across all premises. We’re unsure why we have been labelled as the last ‘5%’ unable to receive decent broadband.
Through discussions with Openreach it’s possible that the cost could possibly be reduced but we would need to know that residents of Bibstone are committed to wanting a scheme before they would be willing to allocate their planners to properly assess the computer generated quote that we have currently. That doesn’t mean contractually, just that we are willing to attempt to raise funds.
It looks like 5 of the premises in the area are businesses. If those premises were willing to take up the government’s voucher scheme each business would be able to obtain a grant for £3,000. Unfortunately those businesses would be required to take out a service of 100Mbps+ for a minimum period of 1 year.
We have investigated the possibility of a National Lottery grant which can provide between £500 to £10,000 grants for local communities. This is currently being researched further by the local Parish council.
We’re also approaching various businesses in the area (albeit not necessarily directly within Bibstone) to determine if they are willing to donate, sponsor or help raise any possible funds.
We can’t imagine many residents will be willing to pay several thousand pounds towards the project. We also never wanted to pin point each premise and demand equal funds from each resident.
We’re still pursuing the issue as much as possible but now need to establish how committed people are in the area to push for better broadband. As stated before starting the scheme, there are no current plans to improve anything in the Bibstone area.
We are looking to negotiate with Openreach, and hopefully lower the quotation (potentially down to £30,000). If we succeed in obtaining various grants it would be fantastic if we could attempt to raise the necessary remaining funds within the community.
Please could you get in touch to state whether you are willing to help raise funds. All money will be handled by the Parish council. You can send us a message or leave a comment below.
As a personal pledge I am willing to donate £1000 towards the project if successful.