Project Update #13

EX16 Progress Updates

Dec 31  2020

We’ve reached the end of 2020, it has certainly been quite a year for everyone  and far from what we all expected  12 months ago. Lets hope the end will be in sight soon. We are fortunate that despite the local restrictions we can still continue construction and connecting customers in a safe manner.
We end the year having connected over 180 properties since the 1st connections on this fibre build went live on xmas eve 2019 and we continue to make progress and overcome various challenges with the build in the main.
We’ve been able to complete duct installation despite the worst of the weather only pausing for xmas week, and hope that we get a decent dry spell over the next few weeks with a lot of planning going into route options in all areas to keep the team busy.
If you have not yet received your DCMS Gigabit Voucher email please get in touch, we have worked through most of the backlog and these have been issued, but if we have missed you out please let us know.
Openreach in Huish Champflower
While we have issued a specific update for the residents of Huish Champflower, it is useful to summarise the situation for other areas.
Openreach have elected to provide FTTP to the central cluster of Huish Champflower while providing a leased line circuit to the Rectory in Clatworthy, this has impacted our build in Huish Champflower but comes at a time where gaining landowner consent was obstructing our build plans in the centre of the village.
As a result we have paused further construction in central Huish Champflower having connected all the properties we are able to reach (mainly the West side and outlying properties).  There remain 2 properties (1 to the North and 1 to the South) who we are unable to reach and Openreach are not providing FTTP as part of their build and while this is unfortunate and we will not abandon these properties, we equally cannot justify a 5 figure commercial investment to reach a single property regardless of voucher funding.
Throughout our build, which now encompases over 70km of duct, we rely on the goodwill of landowners supporting the scheme to both connect their own properties but also to facilitate the connection of others. Each connection is only possible thanks to the support of every previous landowner, so it is unfortunate when landowners are not able to give the scheme their support. We are equally disappointed to not be connecting the remainder of Huish Champflower at this time especially when there is no live date from Openreach.
However it does mean we can now focus our resources elsewhere in the build starting in January and ironically some of Huish Champflower will have the choice of 2 different FTTP infrastructures which is very unusual for rural areas.
Many of you will have received a standard letter from BT regarding the Universal Service Obligation USO suggesting you contribute to upgrading the local network (often for £20,000 or more!). These letters get sent out to any property that received less than 10Mbps via copper. Unfortunately it takes Ofcom some time to update their records with new fibre builds.
You may have also seen the news locally that Airband have been appointed by Connecting Devon and Somerset to connect some properties in Somerset West that were previously scheduled to receive a Gigaclear connection in their previous contract. The new contract covers the next 4 years but we do not anticipate this overlapping with our plans at all.
Other News
Our latest plow is still awaiting delivery having been held up with the port chaos of recent weeks – the tractor arrived, but not the blade, canopy or cable runners! It should be with us and at work by the 7th/ 8th January. Hopefully Supply Chains will start to settle down and return to a stable pattern again, but we do anticipate further disruption to materials over the coming months, with both Brexit and Covid continuing to impact supply.
The network recently featured in press coverage by DCC / SCC and Connecting Devon & Somerset which you can read here
There is an interesting article about a similar network build in Dorset
It’s worth noting that in the Wessex scheme they rely on free land access, whereas we offer a multiyear discount scheme in exchange for access, which we feel is a fairer approach for all, but both methods show the reliance on landowners to enable deep rural areas to be connected.
Area Specific Updates
The main areas of Upton are now complete with planning underway and most routes agreed to reach the Hansetown area and St James Tower areas. The aim will be to complete these areas before March 2021 but hopefully sooner.
North from Sperry Cross
We’ve overcome the landowner issue here and now have a route, construction of which was started in late december. A complex road crossing is needed to connect back to the East side of the B3190 at East Withy and this has been scheduled for late February due to contractor availability. Prior to that the additional road crossing to reach West Withy should be complete during January and construction to connect these sections will continue in January.
With the Sperry Cross section in build, we will be planning the sections further North along the B3190 and also along Brown Lane.
Huish Champflower
As communicated above construction is paused here while the Openreach build completes in early January and then will be assessed for viability. At this time we are keeping vouchers in a live state should build be viable.
We are in detailed discussion with Wessex Water to reach Clatworthy village from Waysdown Lane and are grateful to landowners granting consent to enable us to pursue this route. Fortunately Wessex Water requires connections at the reservoir so we are able to negotiate viable access at the same time. 
We do not have a timeframe from Wessex Water for agreement but should not take too long. The road crossing for Waysdown Lane onto Wessex Water land is in scheduling with SCC Highways and the reservoir route should enable access north of Clatworthy Village as well.
We will be in touch with landowners to commence planning as the reservoir route firms up.
The backhaul connection to London Docklands is underway and has completed the final stages of planning and survey by SSE. Once we have a committed date, construction of the cabinet will take place along with build around the Touring park area.
A complex crossing of the B3227 is needed and again this is being planned for later part of February due to availability of the contractors and kit needed.
Our aim is to meet with key landowners during the first half of January to discuss routes and start on the ground surveys, some of which relies on confirmation of routes around Chipstable first.
We have completed planning for sections of the build around Hill Lane and the north of Old Way / North Coombe, which provides routes to the bulk of Chipstable village and again we are grateful to the support and route suggestions from landowners here.
With these routes in place, we are scheduled to cross Hill Lane during late January and Old Way in early Feb so you should see us building the network here during January.
Detailed planning around the centre of the village will be taking place over the next 10 days as this is complex terrain. If you have any queries or have neighbours who have not yet signed up please do catch us in the village if you see us about.
Raddington / Petton
We will likely be approaching Raddington from a number of directions, including from Bittescombe Hill Farm area & south from Nutwell Farm as well as south from Chipstable.
With “Raddington” covering such a dispersed area, we are trying to keep as many route options available as possible
As we have not been able to hold any community meetings in the Raddington / Petton areas, we will be looking at options to raise interest in the area over the coming month. But please do spread the word with neighbours – we can arrange to meet anyone outside in a safe manner to discuss the scheme and answer any queries they may have.
That’s all for this update and this year. 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
Wishing you a safe and successful 2021