Broadband fibre project details update

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Update July 31st 2020

• Some 18 businesses and 52 homes have pledged to take up a broadband voucher meaning that we have now reached the Openreach target of £196500.

• The “Connect my Community” website is still open for anyone else to pledge for a voucher nevertheless. If more do so, then the value of each voucher is adjusted so that the total income remains at £196500.

• Our joint application for vouchers has now been approved so we can move on to the next step which is to validate the vouchers. This is the process where we each individually commit to using our vouchers to fund the scheme. In particular that we agree to taking up a fibre broadband contract within a reasonable period of being connected to fibre. See Pledge Terms for details.

• Voucher validation should be happening soon and we will endeavour to assist with this where necessary.

• A number of you have expressed concerns about the route that the fibre will take, given that much will be carried by existing poles despite the hazards of dense tree cover in Lone Lane. We have sent photographic evidence of the poor state of some of these poles and cables which has now gone to (we hope) the appropriate department within Openreach for action.

• Additional survey work will be done by Openreach during the next few weeks in order to “formulate and build the delivery plan”. There will be an opportunity during this phase for any constructive suggestions you may have to be taken on board and Openreach field teams will be “happy to take local guidance and knowledge where appropriate”. Anyone wishing to take advantage of this should do so through David May who is co-ordinating this on behalf of Openreach.

• Openreach want to “use Penallt as a case study for the Welsh Government top up scheme and rural fibre build" and we are happy to agree to this as we feel it could boost the progress of the project. Watch out for some publicity later on!


 

The following project details were agreed at a meeting between the Penallt steering group and the Openreach Rural Engagement Manager on Monday 6th July 2020.

(updated in red July 31st 2020)

Scope: 140 properties in the cabinet 20 area are to be provided with fibre to the premises by Openreach under a Demand Led Community Fibre Partnerships scheme.

A list of properties concerned (sorted by postcode) can be found here

 

Funding: Openreach will be paid by the DCMS and Welsh Government using a voucher scheme. The value of this voucher scheme is dependent on how many residents in Penallt agree to first pledge and then use the fibre service after it has been installed. We need to hit a target of £196K in pledges based on the following formula:- 

Each property in the scheme area qualifies for one voucher, the basic value of which is £3000 for a resident. Many in the village also run SMEs and those in this category can claim for the larger voucher value of £7000 instead. Thus 66 residential vouchers (66 x £3k = £198k) would realise our target, and so would 20 "business" vouchers along with 16 residential ones.

More information on SME criteria is here.

It is important to note that by pledging you will not be asked to pay the £3000 or £7000 yourself as the voucher income goes directly from the DCMS/Welsh Government to pay Openreach for installing the fibre service.

 

Timeline: we are now at the position where the sooner we get started the better! And the first hurdle to clear is that of reaching our voucher target of £196k via pledges. The rough timeline from there on is:-

Now: visit the Openreach pledge site and register yourself for a voucher

mid July: voucher pledges reach the target total of £196k; Openreach ask the DCMS to approve the scheme.

Target was reached in mid July

early to mid August: DCMS approval is given; you are then asked to "validate" your vouchers which commits you to their terms and conditions (summarised below). Additional survey work is done and the physical side of the project then starts.

August 2021: Openreach work is completed (indications are that it could be significantly earlier); you must take out a full fibre service from an approved supplier giving a minimum download speed of 30 Mbp/s (or at least double your existing speed, whichever is the greater).

 

Practical details: the existing cabinet 20 will become redundant for those taking up fibre broadband but the current pole structure will continue as the fibre-optic cable will be hung from these, much as the current copper wire is.

Fibre will be brought to your nearest access point (usually the pole from which you current telephone wire comes). When you take out a new contract with your chosen provider, they will arrange for Openreach to connect fibre to your property from this access point. A hole will need to be drilled into your property so that a connection can be made to a box inside your property.

Openreach will also discuss with you how the fibre will get to/enter your property. 

Your existing router will also become redundant and your broadband provider will supply a new one.

An Openreach video explaining this process is available here.

 

More on vouchers: the current DCMS voucher scheme is worth £1500 for each residence or £3500 for each SME and much of the information published on vouchers uses these figures. For example, the calculator on the pledge site is based on these.

However, the Welsh Government recently announced an enhancement scheme whereby it would top-up each voucher and double their value to £3000 and £7000, and these are the sums we qualify in our scheme.

When you initially register your pledge to take up a voucher, you are not yet making any commitment by signing up, despite wording which appears to the contrary on this page. The point where you commit to the scheme proper actually comes a few weeks later when you will be asked to “validate” your voucher (as above).


 

See our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.