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Broadband Update – Feb 2021

26th February 2021 @ 8:08pm – by Henbury Webteam
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Broadband Update from Parish Councillor Mike Wood

In this update I will inform you of the current progress of the fibre scheme, and what the next steps will be. Since our last update many of you will have noticed the extensive works being carried out to install ducting into those properties that are currently served by a conduit. These works have taken place during adverse winter weather conditions that we haven't experienced for some time. The contractors have faced a number of challenges including high water tables, running into services not shown on utility maps and a number of tree roots that require the ducting to be threaded through without unduly damaging the root structure. Once the excavation works are completed, it has been agreed with the contractors that additional cleaning of the roads and excavated areas will be required There are some areas where it has been identified that remedial works are required. These will be addressed in the coming weeks.

Openreach assure me that the work is currently on schedule for mid March. However, there are some connections to the main ducting that will require a specialised team to finish off due to the individual nature of the connection, and where additional work will be required to blend in with the existing infrastructure. Road closures will be required for Dark lane and Andertons Lane to install ducting to serve some properties. This may result in a slight delay to some connections, but it is hoped it will be limited to 20 or so. We will advise you further when we have more information. A small number of properties may not have their new connection until early May due to the road closure requirements.Once a property is finished with the ducting works, a blue nylon cord is left in the duct outside the property. This cable goes to one of the new service chambers. There are new chambers as these need to be located closer to a property than before to ensure you get the fastest possible speed. This will allow the Openreach engineers to pull through the fibre connection when they are in a position to make the connection to the exchange.

If you are currently served by a telegraph pole, then you will most likely have a hybrid cable installed carrying both a copper and a fibre cable. In some cases, if you are going all fibre then it will be a fibre only connection. Openreach plan to phase out all copper connections by 2025. This connection will connect your existing connection to the exchange with the fibre cable routed to a suitable access point in your property. As a reminder, the new fibre connection must terminate in your property where there is a power point. Many people may wish to have it where their current router is, or possibly consider a more suitable location going forwards. This is something you can discuss when the individual connections are arranged with your service provider.

Roll Out Plan

You may recall we explained that due to the size and complexity of this community scheme there are seven different Passive Optical Networks (PONs) required at the exchange. Most are nearly ready to be commissioned, so that when the infrastructure works in Henbury are complete then we will be notified of which properties are ready to connect to the new fibre network. This will be done in stages.

Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Voucher Holders

Firstly, a number of voucher holders have again received notifications from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) that their voucher is about to expire. We are aware of this issue, but no action is required from you at the moment. Openreach are in communication with DCMS and assure me that no vouchers will expire.

Thanks to those of you who kindly signed up for a voucher from the DCMS. This has funded the whole community scheme through the grants available, and you will receive advance notice when your fibre connection has been commissioned at the exchange. This is when you should contact a broadband provider of your choice to request an upgrade to Full Fibre Broadband. Your broadband provider must be in the funding programme. We will provide you with an up to date list of fibre providers when it is time to request a connection. Most of the major broadband providers are suitable such as BT, Sky, Vodafone, Talk Talk and Zen.

You will receive an email with your DCMS voucher number that was on your email that you may recall you received last year. Don't worry if you've lost it, as we have a full record of applications, but it is just to assure you that the email you will receive from us is genuine. We are aware of an increasing number of scammers telling people that their internet is going to be cut off. Please do not respond to any kind of call you may receive like that. It certainly isn't genuine.

We need to account for all the vouchers issued to ensure we meet our funding target for the scheme. It is important that you do switch to a full fibre plan as soon as possible. We will ask you to confirm when you have switched, so that in the event of any vouchers not being redeemed, we can offer them to other residents. This will ensure we are not left with a financial shortfall in funding. The voucher requirement is that you sign up with a full fibre network for 12 months at a minimum speed of 30 mbps. Though of course you can choose a much higher speed.

Non Voucher Holders

As fibre is rolled out to the properties that are going to be connected, Voucher Holders will be notified first. Following this, Non Voucher Holders will be advised that they may contact their existing broadband provider (or a new one) to discuss the installation of fibre to the home. If we have some vouchers that are not going to be redeemed (e.g. where someone has moved house), then we will ask anyone who didn't sign up to consider taking a voucher to ensure the village isn't left with a funding gap at the end of the scheme.

FAQ's

What do I do when I am told fibre is available?

You may wish to look at your existing supplier to see if they offer full fibre product. Some broadband providers such as BT call some of their products "Fibre 1" or "Fibre essential" . These are not full "fibre to the premises" FTTP products that will use the latest connection. You require a Full Fibre optical product. Your chosen provider will help you.Alternatively you may wish to consider moving to another broadband provider, depending on what packages or prices are offered.

What speed will I need?

This will really depend on the number of people in a property and what you intend to do. You will certainly notice a far more reliable connection no matter what speed you decide on. A few broadband providers offer a limited range of two speeds, either of which will in general be suitable for the majority of residents. Larger households may opt for a much faster speed which also offers a faster upload speed. We will be able to advise you nearer the time with some recommendations.

Can I use my existing telephone with Fibre?

In most cases – yes – if you have an existing digital cordless handset. In some cases, you may need an adaptor or a new telephone.

Will my house alarm work?

This is a matter you need to discuss with your alarm company if your system currently connects to a copper line.

And finally........

A recent article in the Daily Telegraph reports that on average Full Fibre Broadband adds £38000 value to a property. The Henbury scheme will not only offer many residents a workable and reliable service, but has added value to our homes. As you are no doubt aware, this Community scheme is the largest ever undertaken by Openreach and so there are bound to be a few issues. Prior to Henbury, the largest to date was limited to just 70 properties. Ours is 209!

Thanks again to those that signed up for a voucher, as we will receive sufficient funding of £153,646 to cover it.

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