Project Update #15

EX16 Progress Updates

May  2021

Been a fair bit longer than planned since the last full update, didn’t expect to be working in the wind and rain still in May, but we keep plowing on. We’ve been trying to issue local updates where we are working currently, but appreciate that leaves some of you in the dark a bit.
While we’ve made a lot of progress, we appreciate that many of you are still patiently waiting for us to arrive in your garden.
A few weeks ago we passed the 100km of completed duct/fibre in the ground, which is a major achievement for the team – not least that in Feb 2020 we had 8km in the ground.
We did have a little chuckle when Gigaclear issued a press release at the same time celebrating 56km of fibre installed in Gloucestershire in the last 12 months – at the time we had put in 80km in the previous year with a team of 5!
We continue to see delays with materials (we were down to our last 1km drum of duct a week ago), although we manage to keep ahead of it – just. The latest issue is the “chip shortage” you may have seen in the news over the last few months – an international shortage of microchips used particularly in networking equipment. Currently items that were next day delivery are scheduled for Aug / Sept delivery, so we have to keep thinking ahead and really just hope that we get what we need when we require it – fortunately we currently have really strong stock of our key electronics as we previously over-stocked expecting issues around Brexit and Covid!
The other big development generally is the Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme ended at end of March and there was some doubt about the next voucher scheme for a while – so with a concerted push we managed to get most interested parties signed up and approved for a voucher.
Since then the government have launched “Project Gigabit” including the UK Gigabit Voucher. While the funding remains similar – the eligibility criteria have been tightened and some of our supplier conditions have changed. The good news is that all our build areas are approved for funding apart from Upton & Huish Champflower, so any of your neighbours in Raddington, Petton, Waterrow, Chipstable and Clatworthy will be able to apply and benefit from free connection.
As always we are exceptionally grateful for the support of all the landowners engaged with the scheme. As we’ve recently had a couple of occasions where landowners have refused access or we have needed to detour extensively, we are reminded (mainly by our Finance Director) that building in these rural areas would be uneconomic / impossible if we had to pay for land access & or work extensively via Highways, even with high takeup and voucher funding, so thank you to everyone of you who makes connecting your community possible!
Specific Area Updates
Upton North West
Following the road closure along Hansetown Road this week, we now have fibre in place to reach most of you upto Venn Lane and as per our mini update, you will hopefully be live this week.
We’ll be looking at the detailed route to reach the properties towards the lake / Brompton Regis direction in the coming month and will hope to get you connected during the summer.
Brown Lane / West of Clatworthy Res
Having reached East Withy and Cooksley Lane a few weeks ago, and having got through the difficult ground below Middleton Court, we are hoping to cover the steep ground next, and having received our duct delivery you should hear from us to agree routes into each property in the coming weeks.
Clatworthy Village & East of Clatworthy Res
Discussions continue with Wessex Water on accessing their land, we’ll be pushing for a final agreement now having hopefully answered all their questions / issues. Unfortunately until this is agreed we are wary to start work on the surrounding sections in case we have to seek another route. As soon as we make progress we will update you with a mini update – DCMS are aware and there is no danger of any issued vouchers expiring.
There is still some Openreach build planned for some properties coming out of Brompton Ralph, although CDS still expect this to be cancelled by Openreach due to cost overruns. If you hear of any activity locally please do keep us updated, it won’t change our plans, but it helps in wider discussions.
We’ve now connected every property signed up in the main village cluster with just a few properties towards Waterrow or Raddington, classed as Chipstable still to connect.
Looking at the data, takeup in Chipstable hit 84% so a really strong response, although not able to beat Skilgate with 98% let alone Huish Moor with a record 100%
Any neighbours not connected can still join the voucher scheme under the new UK Gigabit Vouchers, just get in touch.
Raddington / Petton
We are planning on continuing our build south from Nutwell in the coming weeks to Chubworthy and Kingston side of Raddington. Further west / Petton we still have a few landowners we need to get onboard, who did not respond with the March deadline. We’ll keep working away at these, and hopefully as we get closer, this should help spread the word.
At this stage we couldn’t suggest a likely date for connections.
Thanks to Jamie at the touring park, our cabinets are now in-place and our fibre is now lit back to our datacentre in London.
I did a quick test while commissioning the link and this is definitely the fastest broadband in Waterrow!
We just need our electrician to complete the electric supply, then we can start permanently fitting the electronics to start connecting out from Waterrow. (Chipstable is connected to Shillingford)
We’ve also completed the road crossing north of the touring park and some of the verge work here, but are waiting on SCC highways approval for the final part – this is looking likely to be granted after the end of June which is frustrating.
We’ll still be working south from Chipstable and north from Waterrow first before then starting work on legs out to the east and west of that route and south of the Touring Park. All being well with the weather (assuming we get a summer) we’d hope to have reached most of you during or before July.
We have the duct and fibre in stock now for this section of build, so should be full steam ahead and discussions on where and how to cross the river tone are underway so that the permits can be issued.
Any questions – as always please email and accept our apologies if we dont reply immediately, the whole team is often out in the field and most of the time can’t pickup messages until the end of the day.
Enjoy the sun which has finally arrived (for a moment)!