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Why can't Lincolnshire embrace a project like this??,

#1
Just seen this video on YouTube.  If rural Yorkshire and Lancashire can manage to provide FTTP connections to rural households in their counties through volunteering and digging across fields, then why can't Lincolnshire embrace the same format??  

On the B4RN website it says:

"A 1000 megabit per second symmetrical (same speeds up as well as down) futureproof fibre to the home connection costs £30 a month, with £150 connection fee. (VAT inclusive)"

I'd rather pay that sort of money for a connection rather than the £1000+ estimated for a FTTPoD demand line with BT should my exchange ever be selected for an upgrade.

I would be happy to volunteer to help lay cables to bring an FTTP connection to my property and im sure that many others in Lincolnshire would be willing to do the same.  Has OnLincolnshire ever considered this an option for rolling out something better than FTTC across the region or is it just going to be a case of selecting BT by default as they are no doubt (in my opinion) going to be selected as the chosen supplier to.

I can't seem to find anywhere on the OnLincolnshire website about any potential option of enabling local communities to get hands on involved in the project by laying their own cables to help reduce costs and actually help the BDUK for Lincolnshire go a lot further.

There are tons of open fields around the county and I'm sure there are farmers who would be willing to allow crucial fiber cables to be laid in their fields to allow communities to become connected.,
#2
Matthew,

Thank you for taking time to write to us.

The B4RN is a community scheme that was launched some time ago. We have information contained within our web page to describe how communities might embark upon such a scheme. There are also many case studies showing how both businesses and communities have come together to help their internet connection. These can be found in the Resources page.

However, from a commercial and technical perspective, please allow me to make a few observations:

Community Schemes require significant technical, legal and commercial expertise in order to get off the ground. If the correct skills arent within a community, they can be expensive to purchase. B4RN are fortunate in that many of these skills either existed or was available to them.

In terms of digging across fields, whilst many farmers may be only too happy to oblige, it is my experience that a significant proportion will want ongoing compensation via Wayleaves etc. This needs to be funded by the community and is often expensive and difficult to manage from a legal point of view.

Whilst I agree that FTTP is indeed future proof, the cost of large scale deployment is hugely expensive, far greater than FTTC and in the vast majority of cases, the business case for provision to communities etc. doesnt add up. At this point in time, the average take up of Superfast broadband across the UK is around 6% of homes passed. This is hardly an attractive figure to encourage businesses to invest in the provision of FTTP.

Finally, B4RN mention providing customers with 1Gb/s speeds. I seriously question why any normal resident or small business would want anything approaching those speeds.

Please do keep in touch and we will update you as we go.

Regards
Steve

Steve Brookes
Lincolnshire Broadband Programme Manager
,
#3
I forgot to include the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqwc7XU0DDs

Going on with the conversation......

Steve Brookes: In terms of digging across fields, whilst many farmers may be only too happy to oblige, it is my experience that a significant proportion will want ongoing compensation via Wayleaves etc. This needs to be funded by the community and is often expensive and difficult to manage from a legal point of view.

Matt: I can understand that there is going to be a portion of farmers who would ask for compensation but you if you had a map of all the farm land in Lincolnshire and could work out which farmers would happy oblige and which farmers would want the compensation, surely you could then create "routes" through several sections of farm land to then connect various communities.  There appears to be no evidence that such a map has been created but I would happily put that forward as an idea.


Steve Brookes:  Whilst I agree that FTTP is indeed future proof, the cost of large scale deployment is hugely expensive, far greater than FTTC and in the vast majority of cases, the business case for provision to communities etc. doesnt add up. At this point in time, the average take up of Superfast broadband across the UK is around 6% of homes passed. This is hardly an attractive figure to encourage businesses to invest in the provision of FTTP.  Finally, B4RN mention providing customers with 1Gb/s speeds. I seriously question why any normal resident or small business would want anything approaching those speeds.

Matt:  Well I think you answered your own question Steve, people want those kinds of speeds because they are as you put it "Future Proof".  The public always want the fastest speeds available in other areas of the UK.  You can't blame the public for wanting a piece of the finest cake out there only to be told that you can't have it because your area isn't worth investing in because it's too expensive.  People as it is are having to wait to get their exchanges upgraded and some are never going to get the upgrade.  What on earth is going to happen when ADSL2+ and FTTC become too slow, FTTP/FTTH would most likely be the next upgrade which if BT had their way would probably arrive in the next 20 years?  If the B4RN project can work in Yorkshire and Lancashire then why not Lincolnshire?  ,
#4
In terms of mapping the available farm land in Lincolnshire, that is a huge logistical exercise in terms of time, cost and manpower, which ultimately could prove to be highly limited in terms of functionality.

With regard to B4RN, I agree that FTTP is always the best, but the telecoms world is a very tough environment in which to survive, let alone prosper as a business. Investment by business is driven primarily by potential return on investment and within rigid timeframes. B4RN has clearly delivered a Future Proof infrastructure, but the UK does not have anywhere near sufficient funds to provide FTTP universally. Given levels of take up seen thus far, I would suggest the levels of money required would be far better invested elsewhere.

The response to our Public Consultation exercise was very interesting and predictable, in that the vast majority of those that responded expressed a wish to have a Workable speed to allow them to access the internet and online facilities that they currently struggle to get. There was very little mention of high speed broadband. At this point in time, there is no Market for universal FTTP in Lincolnshire, or indeed the UK, given the amount of funding required to deliver it and the amount of general interest from the public in paying for upgraded services.

I would fully support the view that any significant new housing and commercial developments being built, should have FTTP as standard.

Regards
steve

Steve Brookes
Lincolnshire Broadband Programme Manager
,
#5
Steve Brookes:  In terms of mapping the available farm land in Lincolnshire, that is a huge logistical exercise in terms of time, cost and manpower, which ultimately could prove to be highly limited in terms of functionality.

Matt: Could the OnLincolnshire website not have a section for landowners who are willing to oblige to have fibre optic cables laid on their land to register their interest.  That way you could collect lots of vital information to help build a bigger picture for specific areas that you could push faster broadband into that demand it.

I wasn't suggesting that the whole of the UK or even the whole of Lincolnshire be installed with FTTP.  What I'm suggesting is that there are bound to be communities which have will have a large majority of the overall population that will be happy to sign up for FTTP if offered it.  If a small rural community had 100 premises and over 90% demanded for you to bring them FTTP and the local landowners all obliged to run the cables through the fields to get to them, are you saying that you wouldn't help them achieve the demand??,
#6
Hi Matt,

I have recently moved to the area and am keen to talk to people interested in setting up a community project similar to B4RN.

I recently met up with Ken Otter working on a similar initiative in Tallington too. So there are interested and motivated parties out there.

BTW, I'm off to the show and tell in November - http://b4rn.org.uk/b4rn-emtelle-show-tell-day-3

Great if you could get in touch by emailing me - ben.haines AT gmail DOT com

Thanks, Ben

#7
Dear Matt, Ben and all likeminded followers....

FTTP is what should have been provided BUT ... I won't go into the politics of it here!

B4RN was a leader and as has been said previously it depended on local labour AND expertise. The farmers came on board later when they saw something in it for them! And yes, I went along and got my boots and hands dirty putting in fibre to homes.

I also attended the Emtelle show day and met them at various conferences and was willing to implement that approach here in Tallington IF we had got the £57,300 we expected from our RCBF bid.

That didn't happen - again due to local and national politics.

Now there is a chance for us in Tallington to get FTTP due to my determination to finding a backhaul that our original broadband consultants were willing to use. I suggested Level3 which has fibre alongside the railway but they found CityFibre which is just putting in the Peterborough Core around all their commercial and educational establishments.

With a little extension to my project, Gigaclear were able to make a business case for providing a service to 8 villages in North-West Cambridgeshire plus us (as our BT exchange and green cabinet is over the border in Bainton)

1500 properties now have the opportunity to pre-order a minimum 50Mbps download AND upload FTTP service (symmetrical!) and could have 1Gbps if required. A VOIP phone service for £6 a month gets rid of the need for line rental so makes the package cheaper.

The downside - as alluded to above, is that 30% need to pre-order it to make it worthwhile for Gigaclear to invest their own money in the project. The upside is that as it is futureproof the value of houses will be assured especially as at the last survey, houses with good broadband were considered 5% more valued - ie. £15,000 on a £300,000 property!

Now it is up to Gigaclear and us local broadband champions to sell it to our neighbours. You can see the project by looking at UltrafastPeterboroughVale.info or contact me for more information by emailing me - ken AT tallington DOT info

We are hopeful but fear that BT may be allowed to disregard the agreed timetables and overbuild the area with FTTC using public funds which is NOT what was supposed to happen!

Regards,
Ken
#8
Hi Ken,

Just a few observations on your comments above:

I have never disagreed that FTTP isn't the optimum solution, but I have always argued that UK wide or even county wide, it isn't commercially viable and neither the UK Government or LCC could find sufficient money to go anywhere near this solution on a total coverage basis. Add to that current levels of take-up across Lincolnshire of circa 15% in areas that have been enabled under the Commercial Rollout and it becomes obvious that demand for a massively increased investment level across the county isn't there, assuming we could find the money.
In addition, it may be worth somebody pointing out to everyone on the forum what the monthly costs will be as this hasn't been mentioned as yet. To many residents within the county, the level of monthly commitment may seem very high. It is on that basis, that we cannot take Tallington out of the scope of this project, because the monthly rental would appear to be outside of the EU affordability envelope and even though Gigaclear may provide a feed to every property, if residents deem it to be too expensive, then by taking them out of scope, we leave them with no upgrade and no option. In addition, to take Tallington out of the project, we would need to see a coherent business plan with timescales, postcodes, numbers etc. to allow us to consider its feasibility. We are happy to re-visit as soon as plans are set in stone.
In the interim, we do wish you good luck with the project and we will watch it with interest.
Regards
Steve
#9
Hi Steve,
just thought I had better check my figures first:-

Obviously cost is a big consideration and the basic figure of £37 may seem
a lot but it does include VAT and is not going to rise yearly, like BT's bills!
Also it shouldn't be an extra cost, as it can replace other charges you pay
for now, especially with the optional £6 phone package, getting rid of the
line rental charge as shown here:

Item Wired Monthly Cost Range Gigaclear fibre costs

Broadband £12 – £24 £37

Line Rental £15.40 – £15.99 £0.00

Call Plan £7.00 £6 – £9.60

Popular Call Features £3.00 – £5.00 £0.00

========= =========

Typical Monthly Cost £37 – £51.40 £43 – £46.60

But cost isn't everything, speed is! Copper=1Mbps here, Fibre=50-1000Mbps

A range of on-demand services such as all of the TV Catchup services like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouView and Skype are instantly available, and many are free! If you currently have Sky then even more savings can be made as the line rental is NIL! There is also a Sky package online which does away with the dish and is much cheaper!

So - between £6 more OR £6 less - that is the cost of a full 50Mbps symmetrical (Download AND Upload) service via Gigaclear fibre with a 1Gbps burst on start up! Supported by Peterborough City Council for their rural residents - we hope you will support Tallington likewise - verbally and at no expense to the Lincolnshire ratepayers!

We daren't go into the costs of BT Infinity and their On Demand packages as the costs would soar! As would attempting to get FOD which is currently only available to FTTC customers at £99 plus VAT for an 800/80 service plus up to £5,000 installation costs!

Regards,
Ken



#10
Good Morning Ken,

Thanks very much for taking time to send us the update and pricing information. The project is certainly innovative and we look forward to seeing how it pans out for Tallington.
Please do keep in touch and keep us updated.

Regards
Steve
#11
SynergyTech designed as network for Coventry City council 10 years ago and it is now a 124km network connecting all public sector building together to dramatically reduce cost for the council. We also designed Aberdeen ad that is now underway. We had the opportunity to visit B4RN last week and connect with many rural broadband communities who simply want 1Gbps synchronous connectivity at low low prices, something BT will never do because they persist with fibre to the cabinet then copper to the premise - no other EU country considers this as a way forward today.
If you are interested in designing a truly ultrafast broadband network at low prices then please get in touch
Regards
Colin Howes (SynergyTech.co.uk)
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