As we start the New Year you may have noticed an increase in activity around Henbury as contractors for Openreach have moved into the next stage of the Fibre Broadband project.
The project is the largest ever community-funded one with over £143,000 of funding raised to ensure as many houses as possible will benefit from faster direct fibre to the premises The project covers 7 separate PONs (passive optical nodes) and detailed below is an update on what has happened so far, and what the next stages will be.
Plancast have been testing, rodding and roping the existing ducts – this is where the solution assumes use of sections of existing ducts to those properties connected in this way. Work has taken place to ensure the
route is clear in readiness for cabling. It is common to find issues such as blockages, mud and silt etc. and Plancast have been clearing these as they go. So far, no unsurmountable issues have been found.
At present you are either connected to the broadband network through an underground duct, or by a telegraph pole. This connection method will remain the same but with new fibre cable.
There is extensive underground work to lay new duct to the approximately 69 houses that are connected in this way. This is the work you may see underway now, which entails digging a trench and laying a 4" duct that will go from the front of your property to the main duct through the village where the cable will be. There are also some new poles required, and in addition one existing pole on Andertons lane which is leaning will be re-set. These works are all planned now with various contractors, and it is hoped to tie them in to minimise disruption.
Once the existing ducts are proven clear, the new duct is in and the poles are up, Plancast will cable the entire route. Once cabling is completed, then the next steps are jointing, splice and testing . However Openreach are looking at completing the PONs as they are cabled, rather than waiting for the entire route to be built. This would allow connections to be signed off and released and residents able to order a new connection in a staggered way
From the village the fibre joins an improved and expanded Spine (network back-bone to the local exchange). That work has started too, as well as the work in the exchange itself. This has been completed for 3 of the 7 PONs.
In summary, work is on track to meet the required completion date of 14/03/2021 which is the date by which all customers on the CFP contract are able to order FTTP (Fibre to the Premises). There may be a road closure required on a section of Dark Lane, and one on Andertons Lane. These can have lengthy lead-times but there are options including requesting an early start, but this will depend on Cheshire East Council. At the moment these are planned for the first week of March 2021.
It is worth reminding everyone that as FTTP is becoming the preferred way to access the internet, that Sky and Talk Talk in addition to BT, ZEN and other smaller providers are now officially part of the fibre scheme. So the choice you have when you are ready to connect should ensure you can most likely obtain increased speeds at highly competitive rates.
It has been a long time in coming, but I do hope that you can now see the fruition of many hours of community work that has been undertaken to get us where we are. Many other communities have been in touch and are watching to see how our scheme progresses as they now hurry to follow.
Parish Councillor Mike Wood