BCL Community Fibre Broadband Project – NOW LIVE (July 2019)

This is an exciting project for our community. Please read the details below fully and if you have any questions then please send them to Adrian Shepard, BCL Director.
This web page will be updated with new information as it arrives. Please keep checking back.
If you are not a member of the community project but would now like to join and benefit from the huge differences that Fibre broadband direct to the home bring then you still can. Please either contact me by phone or email.
(last update Nov /2019 – see bottom of page)


Why do we need Fibre Broadband?
(also known as FTTP)

NOTE: FTTP is an abbreviation for Fibre To The Premises. This means running fibre optic cables all the way from the exchange to the premises.

At the 2017 AGM several questions were raised as to whether it was possible to improve the reliability and speed of the internet connections on our roads.

The internet or broadband connections still run along the same old cables we use for our telephone connections and these cables have been in the ground for several decades now. The cables are deteriorating and  several residents have suffered from gradual or complete failure of the signal down their cable. Hence this problem potentially affects all of us living around The Camp.
Also, if we are going to re-surface our roads around 2020 then we should look at upgrading the infrastructure now to avoid digging up the road again later.


Benefits of Fibre Broadband (FTTP)

  • Installing a new fibre network means your broadband speed can potentially increase by 10 fold from around 20-30Mb/s up to 330Mb/s
  • This means that streaming multiple streams of HD TV or even Ultra High Definition TV are possible. So for those who enjoy BBC iPlayer, NetFlix, Amazon movies etc. then you will find two or more of you can watch separate programs at the same time in HD quality.
  • Working from home also benefits from high speed broadband by becoming as quick and easy as working in the office.
  • Connecting to loved ones abroad using say FaceTime or Skype will be more reliable and better quality.
  • Connecting to internet based home security systems will be improved, allowing HD video monitoring and faster, more reliable connections.
  • For those who enjoy computer gaming then they will enjoy a higher quality experience.
  • Having the latest technology infrastructure on our roads will increase the value of properties.

Funding the project

The project can be funded by a combination of government vouchers and private funding raised by community members.

VOUCHER SCHEME

Our community can potentially benefit from the Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme. The scheme provides vouchers to support the capital costs of installing new fibre connections for businesses and residents, to help with the costs of connecting to full fibre broadband.
The scheme is primarily based on supporting small businesses (i.e. those with less than €50 million euro turnover and less than 249 employees) and each business address can receive £2,500.
NOTE, the business must be registered or trading from an address on our roads (Top Park, Valley way or Camp Road)
On top of that we can get vouchers for residents as long as the value does not equal or exceed the business vouchers.
Each residential voucher is worth £500.

LIMITATION ON VOUCHERS

Vouchers will only be issued if businesses or residences have a 100Mb/s (or faster) internet connection installed and working 12 months after the initial contract is signed with Openreach. 100Mb/s Ultrafast broadband packages are available from a number of providers and will cost around £50/month.
Here are some suggested potential service providers for 100mb/s FTTP (please do your own research too as the list is always growing e.g. Sky are going to sell a FTTP service soon):

BT (https://www.productsandservices.bt.com/broadband/ultrafast/ )
Zen (https://www.zen.co.uk/home/broadband  )
iDNET (https://www.idnet.com/data_products/super-fast-broadband.php )
Cerberus Networks (https://www.cerberusnetworks.co.uk/node/183#cerberus_fttp )
Andrews and Arnold (https://aa.net.uk/aa/broadband-FP.html )
Freeola ( https://freeola.com/ultrafast-broadband/ )
Vodafone ( https://www.vodafone.co.uk/web-shop/broadband/deals/gigafast )

Note 1: Openreach can take up to 10 months to install the new fibre network, so any new 100Mb/s connection will have to be planned ahead of time to be up and running 12 months after the contract is signed. Openreach require 50% of costs to be paid once a contract is signed.
The vouchers can only be claimed at the end of the project, therefore if any business ceases to be running at the end of the project, or those claiming vouchers do not install 100Mb/s connections they will not be issued.

Note 2: All those named on the contract will have fibre installed to the house and prepared ready for when you order service. Any household who does not commit to the community project will NOT have a connection allocated to their property.


UPDATES

Current state of BCL project (November 2019)

I am very pleased to report that over the summer we reached our financial target to make the project viable and on 17th July we finally signed the contract with Openreach.

39 Households have participated in the project, raising a total of £22,250. All 39 residents also committed to subscribing to Ultra-fast broadband which enabled us to raise a further £48,000 in government vouchers, which was a tremendous boost to the project.

This allowed us to meet the total cost of the project quoted by Openreach at just under £70,000.

Openreach now have a maximum of 12 months to complete the installation and testing of the new network. I am pleased to report that stage 1 of the project has already been completed, with Openreach surveying the cable routes and connections to appropriate houses.

I am now in contact with the Openreach project manager who will oversee the installation of the fibre cables and any work required to be made to cable ducting. Where possible the fibre cable runs and connection points will make use of the existing BT ducting, so there should be very little disruption to road users during the installation.

I have been told that a contractor is undertaking the installation work and they are called Bethmar Limited, in case you do see their vans around and wonder what they are doing.

Research on service providers:

Vodafone

Vodafone offer fast and very cheap packages. They start at £28/month for 100Mb/s and go up to £48/month for an incredibly fast 900Mb/s. It looks like there are no other up front costs unless you need a connection installing from the road. They charge £60 for that connection.  I asked them how they could offer speeds up to 900Mb/s and apparently they use their own fibre network up to the exchange so only rely on the Openreach fibre from the exchange to the house.

Vodafone say they guarantee their speeds and offer 15% off from their monthly bill if the minimum guaranteed speeds are not met

Vodafone will offer a £2 discount if your mobile phone account is with them too but they were not prepared to discuss any discount for future contracts as they say their offerings may well have changed by then.

So Vodafone are offering a very fast a cheap service. The only downside I can see is their quality of customer support and customer service.

Zen

The other provider I’ve been talking to is Zen. This is primarily because they have a good reputation for customer service and reliability. Their quality of service probably comes from the fact they are based in the UK and do not contract out their services abroad.

Zen offer two packages, 145Mb/s at £49.99/month and 300Mb/s at £59.99/month. Both packages also have a £55 activation fee. These prices are more the norm for Ultra-Fast Broadband packages. Zen are prepared to offer discount for multiple houses signing up together and will offer us a single point of contact for order processing and ensuring installation goes smoothly. It’s that personal service that really appeals to me.

For businesses they offer dedicated support and faster fix times and with critical care packages they offer 24 hour technical support and same day fault fix.