Hope you are surviving Lockdown#2
Lots to update on in the last 6 weeks with considerable progress made on a number of fronts, plus a few setbacks!
While ground conditions are becoming increasingly wet, we are still able to plow without excessive disturbance particularly with our Quad Tracked machines. Our new larger Quad tractor is still waiting to dock and be offloaded and is currently expected to arrive early in December and will be put straight to work. There are areas which are becoming inaccessible due to ground conditions and we remain very grateful to all landowners we work with for their patience and understanding, particularly as we move around completing small sections that will become impossible if the wet weather sets in for the duration of winter, like last year.
We finally completed the outstanding road crossings across the build area and are now working through these to connect as many of those on the other side as possible. We are also looping back to cover off some of the outliers and will continue to do so over the next week or so.
As of today we have gone live in Huish Moor and the northern approach to Huish Champflower were live last week. Then in the southern area, Oxenleaze is live and the duct is nearly complete to Bittescombe Hill Farm area.
We are currently processing new voucher applications in small batches as DCMS queries are getting more frequent and these take time and resources to resolve. If you are currently waiting for a voucher application, you should see these come through over the next 3 weeks as we complete the last few batches. The DCMS issue with some post codes have also now been resolved so these vouchers can be processed.
As some of you will be aware, Openreach have been active in the approaches to Huish Champflower and Clatworthy as part of the construction of a dedicated service to a Clatworthy property who have funded this privately. Openreach have since suggested they will offer FTTP to “some” properties along the route and they currently have road closures working up from Maundown towards Huish Champflower.
A number of people have also been approached by BNE (Bardon Networks) on behalf of Openreach to provide fibre – possibly funded via Rural Gigabit Vouchers!
While we are happy to compete with Openreach based Fibre – we offer a range of superior symmetrical packages, we are not able to necessarily compete on price with discounted promotions from national ISP’s. However we are also committed to connecting outlying properties, rather than just those along the main roads.
Generally Openreach take around 9-12months to go live from survey stage, so it is highly likely we will reach most of the overlapping properties first.
The suggestion from Openreach that they will use the Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme to fund their build is a wider concern; currently we have in excess of 60% takeup within the scheme for properties around Huish and Clatworthy – should there be two competing schemes covering the same area, it is likely that neither would hit a sustainable level, in effect jeopardising both!
Under the Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme, when validating an individual voucher one is commiting to take 12months service once live, with a 12 month window for the build to complete. This provides us with some assurance that our long term investment is viable.
In our view Openreach have had 10+ years to upgrade your connectivity and have failed to do so, and are only now interested in the area because we are actively building you fibre. Anyone wishing to cancel their voucher application in the next few weeks is welcome to do so without penalty, but we hope you would rather give your support to the network we are building to include everyone not just the easy to reach properties. It may transpire that some properties have the long term choice between our service and an Openreach FTTP service which is an enviable choice for many rural areas.
Area Specific Updates
We are currently completing the last 4 properties on the western side of the village, and are planning the routes to reach the outlying properties to the west and north of the area. We’ll provide a local update once these routes are confirmed.
North from Sperry Cross
Unfortunately a key landowner has decided against joining the scheme, so while we have completed the road crossings at Sperry Cross ( you will be able to see our green ducts in the verges) we are currently in discussions with an alternative landowner. Should that not be a viable option we will apply for Section 171 licenses to complete the routes via the highway verges, however this is far from ideal.
We will be in touch with those properties affected as plans come together in the coming weeks
With works nearing completion at Huish Moor, we will be moving to build and make live the routes towards the centre of the village and to the north through Pitt Farm. This provides a 3 pronged approach to the bulk of the village and we will be focusing our efforts on building round the village while any road crossings needed are permitted with Highways.
With the route temporarily stalled on the western side of the reservoir approaches, we will focus on the Clatworthy village side heading North from Huish Champflower. We’ll be making further contact with landowners on this route but would encourage ensuring your neighbours are aware of the scheme and are signed up if they wish to be connected.
With an agreed cabinet location in place and the fibre circuit back to London ordered, we are looking to submit Section50 applications to cross the B3227 as needed over the coming weeks. This will allow us to start work from Waterrow towards Chipstable and Raddington to link with the current network build as a priority before spanning out to reach the various clusters of properties during the first half of 2021.
As previously communicated some properties around Chipstable will be connected to the current build from Shillingford and some will be via Waterrow, we are currently analysing the various route options and discussing access with landowners, which is progressing well particularly as a few remaining properties are now signed up with the scheme.
Raddington / Petton
Progress in the Raddington & Petton areas will depend on the final route linking the current network with Chipstable and Waterrow. We have a number of spurs which can be linked with the main design work being to ensure that should we encounter any obstacles either geographic or other, we have alternative options available to us.
There are numerous road crossings needed across this area, which will take time to plan and permit, so please bear with us while this is undertaken.
That’s all for this month. Any queries please get in touch via email if possible, and any neighbours wanting to sign up or find out more about the scheme can visit
Thanks & stay safe.