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Standard User Moonraker18
(newbie) Wed 24-Jun-20 13:29:39
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Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


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All,
I am sure that there is a wealth of experience in these forums regarding working as a Community Fibre Partnership and rather than reinvent the wheel, I wondered if you would be kind enough to share it with me. I have tried searching a few terms but that is the long way round.

I live in a rural village and my FTTC is 24Mbps/3Mbps which with 2 adults and 2 teenagers trying to work and learn through lockdown has been tough. Zoom/Teams etc has pushed the upload bandwidth to the limit. I am looking to pull my neighbours together to see if we can bring forward the date when we might get something better. The checker shows that the 330/30 FTTPoD is available for my line but I know that sharing the build costs is more sense than paying it all myself.

Thoughts welcomed.
Colin
Standard User PianSomB
(newbie) Wed 24-Jun-20 15:10:22
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
Hi Colin

What questions do you have that aren't answered on the CFP sites?

I went through the pain of organising a CFP about 18m ago, and we went live with fibre in January - just in time. In the end OR canned my CFP, refunded the payments we had made and did it for free. This is not typical.

Standard User Moonraker18
(newbie) Wed 24-Jun-20 21:15:20
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: PianSomB] [link to this post]
 
What worked well for people trying to engage their community, what was less successful. Are there characteristics of properties in a rural setting that do not stand a chance or will be so expensive that they qualify for special aid. Are there sources of funding that we should be looking to. Anything of that nature that can help.
Thanks
Colin


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Standard User PianSomB
(newbie) Wed 24-Jun-20 21:35:42
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
OK, well from my own experience and from reading what has worked for others ...

For engagement, cast your net wide. You will find lots of people who say "Nah, it works just fine" and others who will bite your hand off. Getting the largest number will give you the strongest case. Posting a circular through letter-boxes is hard work, but often successful. I suggest you contact local councils (esp parish) to see if there is anyone there who has experience of local projects.

For the affordability, given that I have only seen my own case I can't add anything about characteristics which make for a successful OR roll-out. The funding program we benefitted from has now closed. There is a rural broadband scheme that has replaced it, but I'm sure you've found that already.

Standard User godsell4
(member) Mon 29-Jun-20 12:21:00
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
are most or all properties provided by copper wires overhead or via a duct or are lots of cables buried in the ground? if they are buried, the cost of ducting is enormous unless you do that yourselves.

The CFP I tried to run failed due to that, although people will whine, many will not willingly spend more than £300/property.You dont give many details, but assume the costs is about £10K total if the installation is straightforward.

Also because of frequent updates from BT and Local Council about new funding for more BDUK subsidised work, that made people think something was about to be done for them without having to spend their own money. I dont think you will have that now.

The CFP people are very helpful, call them.

Gigaclear FTTP 300Mb on Order
Three HomeFi 15 to 20Mb.

PlusNet Unlimited Fibre an unreliable 3Mb
Standard User Moonraker18
(newbie) Mon 29-Jun-20 12:54:30
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: godsell4] [link to this post]
 
I am not sure with regard to the last mile cabling. I would suggest that most of the village is covered by a combination of overhead cables and ducting. This is a rural exchange (SSBBG) and so there will inevitably be some people who will need extreme solutions. Those people probably do not have FTTC today.

We have 2 areas at opposite ends of the primary village supported by the exchange that have FTTP already. One is new build and the other, I believe, was an FTTPoD for a pub. There a number of smaller villages or groups of properties hanging off the exchange but the primary requests at the moment are from people who get 20 - 25 Mbps FTTC and are struggling WFH with kids home schooling.
Standard User AL66
(member) Mon 29-Jun-20 13:16:48
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
If you start a CFP today it might be 18 months or more before it bares fruit.

Simplest and cheapest quick fix would be for people to order a second FTTC line now and maybe have the kids use one and the other for WFH.
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Mon 29-Jun-20 13:30:47
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
First step is get an idea of how many would pay around £500 towards it, if that looks a decent number and are concentrated in one area then it might work.

Lots will say they'd like faster speeds, but once you mention paying that number will drop quickly, so asking with a ball park example (that may be higher or lower) will at least give you an idea.

In short need to canvas everyone and be prepared for lots of questions, a key one is some might be happy to chip in lesser amounts and others more. A lot will vary depending on ability to pay versus desire for faster speeds. For some with limited income its worth highlighting that once live they don't have to buy the fastest speeds.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User ian72
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Mon 29-Jun-20 15:42:16
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: AL66] [link to this post]
 
Using mobile data may actually be a good secondary option as well (and for some a much better primary option).
Standard User CJ18
(newbie) Mon 29-Jun-20 16:00:22
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
Hi Colin - I'm looking to do the same thing. Current connection speeds of 20 mbps / 4 mbps are struggling and with full fibre being installed right next to us but not actually including us I'm keen to at least see what a CFP may achieve.

My plan is to write an open letter to distribute around all the houses in my area with similar speeds (I checked this using BT's Availability Checker) and probably a bit further still. This will take me into at least a couple of hundred. This should help me gauge interest. I'm also going to contact the parish/town council so they are at least aware and get some support and backing. Similarly, we have a primary school a couple of hundred yards from our house which I intend to get involved.
Standard User dect
(fountain of knowledge) Mon 29-Jun-20 16:08:02
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
One of the questions I've found neighbours ask is 'What will happen if I don't contribute'

The truthful answer is if others on the same DP do contribute and the CFP does fly its highly likely they will get fttp made available to their property (without them needing to contribute) and once neighbours learn that it makes selling it harder.

Make sure you've got a suitable response that deals with these sort of questions, I'm not suggesting you liar but more you have something ready like 'If people don't contribute its likely we wont be able to pursue a CFP and we will all be stuck with poor broadband'.

Edited by dect (Mon 29-Jun-20 16:17:50)

Standard User ian72
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Mon 29-Jun-20 16:10:45
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: dect] [link to this post]
 
But if more than a few decide they can get it free by not contributing then it is much more likely that no-one will get anything. So, if people want it they need to agree to contribute - if they don't care then don't contribute but don't complain if it doesn't happen.
Standard User dect
(fountain of knowledge) Mon 29-Jun-20 16:14:29
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: ian72] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by ian72:
But if more than a few decide they can get it free by not contributing then it is much more likely that no-one will get anything. So, if people want it they need to agree to contribute - if they don't care then don't contribute but don't complain if it doesn't happen.
Wouldn't disagree with that smile

Edit: I've seen some people say they are not bothered and don't contribute and their house is the first one to have an Openreach van outside when fttp goes live.

Edited by dect (Mon 29-Jun-20 16:16:17)

Standard User busterboy
(committed) Mon 29-Jun-20 17:51:15
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: dect] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by dect:
Edit: I've seen some people say they are not bothered and don't contribute and their house is the first one to have an Openreach van outside when fttp goes live.


Which quite honestly stinks. crazy

BTBroadband
Standard User Fastman3
(learned) Mon 29-Jun-20 17:51:47
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: dect] [link to this post]
 
The truthful answer is if others on the same DP do contribute and the CFP does fly its highly likely they will get fttp made available to their property (without them needing to contribute) and once neighbours learn that it makes selling it harder.

if they are the same DP as those who have asked and are distance of the CBT of the those premises then all of those asking or not will have FTTP provided / avaiable to them
Standard User dect
(fountain of knowledge) Mon 29-Jun-20 18:08:25
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Fastman3] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by Fastman3:
if they are the same DP as those who have asked and are distance of the CBT of the those premises then all of those asking or not will have FTTP provided / avaiable to them
Yeap
Standard User Moonraker18
(newbie) Tue 30-Jun-20 09:32:09
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for taking the time to respond @MrSaffron - I can see how busy you are.
There are 3 or 4 of us in a cluster that would like to submit now to get the ball rolling whilst we continue to accumulate names. The CFP site is not clear as to whether this is possible or not.

The village already has FTTP to a new build estate at one end and, I assume via a business FTTPoD at the other so some of the work must have been done at the exchange. As the checker shows FTTPoD is available (300/30) we are hopeful but I appreciate hat there is a backlog.
Standard User dect
(fountain of knowledge) Tue 30-Jun-20 09:38:45
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by Moonraker18:
Thanks for taking the time to respond @MrSaffron - I can see how busy you are.
There are 3 or 4 of us in a cluster that would like to submit now to get the ball rolling whilst we continue to accumulate names. The CFP site is not clear as to whether this is possible or not.
Its possible before contracts are signed, although once you have submitted a list of properties for the CFP its very time consuming to add/remove properties as it needs to be requoted and that takes between 4 and 8 weeks each time.
Standard User dect
(fountain of knowledge) Tue 30-Jun-20 10:01:23
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: PianSomB] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by PianSomB:
Hi Colin

What questions do you have that aren't answered on the CFP sites?

I went through the pain of organising a CFP about 18m ago, and we went live with fibre in January - just in time. In the end OR canned my CFP, refunded the payments we had made and did it for free. This is not typical.
Did you have to setup a CIC to sign contracts and make payment when you went through it or have they dropped that requirement?
Standard User PianSomB
(learned) Tue 30-Jun-20 11:12:59
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: dect] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by dect:
Did you have to setup a CIC to sign contracts and make payment when you went through it or have they dropped that requirement?


They required a company to sign the contract (and, for the voucher scheme in place at that time, also needed a company to sign up as a participant).

I used my own company for both purposes.

Standard User dect
(fountain of knowledge) Tue 30-Jun-20 12:22:06
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: PianSomB] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by PianSomB:
In reply to a post by dect:
Did you have to setup a CIC to sign contracts and make payment when you went through it or have they dropped that requirement?
They required a company to sign the contract (and, for the voucher scheme in place at that time, also needed a company to sign up as a participant).
Many thanks for that smile

I suspect if there are no companies involved, setting up a CIC is still required for that purpose.
Standard User zebb_edi
(newbie) Tue 30-Jun-20 12:29:20
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
Just some info from my general experience of organising one (hopefully some may be useful and not all just waffle)

We live ~2km from the cabinet and have extremely poor connections which year on year is deteriorating. After a year long fault (20-30 engineers) which Openreach effectively washed their hands of I tried to organise a CFP for our local group of 30 houses. I was asked by the local parish council to represent them whilst organising it. I personally wouldn't bother setting up your CIC until you have guaranteed names of people willing to pay as you may not actually get that far. Running it through the parish though gave people a little more reassurance it was legit. You can start the CFP process without it initially.

Everyone was keen, but as others have pointed out, as soon as the quote comes in and money starts to be discussed your numbers will probably drop drastically.

For me I personally went and knocked on each of their doors with professional looking leaflets to get their details. One thing I would suggest is to make sure you set up a good mechanism for communication with your neighbours. Even emailing a larger group can become problematic with spam filters or just waiting on responses.

It may not be applicable for you but it can help to also know the topology of the network in your area. For example who is on which cabinet etc. People will point out that FTTP isn't cabinet based but from my experience it can drastically affect your quote. We have a small street running through our group of houses that is actually on an entirely different exchange which massively effected the price (50k). We also had 2 houses in our group of houses (450m away from the next group of properties) that were on a different cabinet.

What ultimately caused ours to fail was that during the scheme a local prison installed a leased line resulting in poles being run up through our group of houses. The following week Openreach then arrived and also installed FTTP to the group of houses up the road using those poles and even ran it down to the 2 houses grouped with ours that were on same exchange but that different cabinet. They then ignored the rest of us. As you can imagine people were extremely angry that a) the prison had a better connection paid by taxpayers and b) the other houses next along got it for free. That made it especially difficult asking for payment from people.

At the same time I was also lobbying the council. I started with the local parish and then managed to escalate it to the main council as I gained more contacts. I hassled everyone, including MP's other party opposition, newspapers and eventually managed to get it up the chain. I think I probably annoyed them so much that whilst the CFP failed, I managed to use it as proof that there was an appetite for better broadband, and now finally we're in a position where we've been included in a BDUK scheme for our area. It appears though that only the houses on our scheme are being included and not the group on the different exchange that runs through us.

Be prepared for abuse. I had people knocking on my door directing a lot of their frustration at me that nothing was being done. It's a long, slow, frustrating process.
Standard User dect
(fountain of knowledge) Tue 30-Jun-20 12:35:35
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: zebb_edi] [link to this post]
 
Excellent post
Standard User zebb_edi
(newbie) Tue 30-Jun-20 12:47:33
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: dect] [link to this post]
 
Thank you, that's very kind.

Oh one more thing that may not be quite so relevant now. Explaining the choice of ISP. You may find that some residents currently have a cheap £5 a month broadband contract and that they won't be able to keep it once on FTTP. At the time telling some they may not be able to have their tv/broadband bundle didn't go down well.

They will be expected to pay but then when/if it arrives at an unknown date in the future they may be mid contract with that bundle and then it could be problematic for them to switch to an alternative provider.
Standard User Moonraker18
(newbie) Tue 30-Jun-20 13:13:10
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: zebb_edi] [link to this post]
 
Really helpful advice. So far I am in the collecting interested parties mode but I can see that you earned every bit of your experience.

I am using the local Facebook groups to reach people and in case it helps anyone else here is the 2nd post I put out

Many of us have discovered working from home recently and realised that whilst the commute is great, the connectivity leaves much to be desired. The widespread use of Zoom, Teams or similar video conferencing shows how brittle the network is. These solutions require upload bandwidth which is typically far lower than the advertised download speed. Equally, if you want to stream Netflix in 4K you will need decent bandwidth. Can you imagine keeping the kids amused during the summer holidays and Zooming for work on your current connection?

Our parliamentary constituency (Devizes) is ranked 548 out of 650 for broadband coverage and speeds, with just 6.6% having fibre to the premises compared to 13.9% across England as a whole. In order to try to move XXXXXX further up the priority list for ultrafast broadband (defined as 100 Mbps or faster) I have established a Community Fibre Partnership account with OpenReach. OpenReach is responsible for building the fibre network but they then sell access to the other providers.

OpenReach have been upgrading their network in stages. Many of us have what is known as Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) where fibre runs to the green roadside cabinets and then copper cables connect to our homes. This has a maximum download speed of 80Mbps and 20Mbps upload. Full fibre or Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) where our homes are connected via fibre optic cables promises faster connections.

There are several steps to getting better broadband:
1. Check to see what is available – The XXXXXXX exchange offers everything from 80Mbps for the few who live next to a green cabinet to next to nothing if you live along the road to YYYYYYYY. Many of us hover around the 25Mbps range. The new houses in ZZZZZZZ Way and a few lucky ones around ZZZZZZ Green already have FTTP which potentially offers up to 1,000Mbps download. This effort is about extending that joy to the rest of the properties served by the XXXXXXXX exchange.

2. Tell OpenReach that we are interested – I have done this by establishing the Community Fibre Partnership account

3. Get local support – I am collecting addresses and postcodes of other interested households to show OpenReach. The more we collect, the more likely they are to build as the business case looks better for them.

4. OpenReach provide us with an estimate for doing the work. This estimate shows the gap between the cost of the build and the funding that OpenReach are prepared to pay. Also, the Government provides Rural Gigabit Vouchers which can be used to help fund the work. We live in an area that potentially attracts this funding, thereby further helping with the business case. These vouchers are worth up to £1,500 per residential property and £3,500 for business properties. In Wales, the Government has just doubled the value of these vouchers for properties where speeds of less than 30 Mbps are available. Hopefully, they might do the same for England before long, as parts of the village would qualify.

5. Once we understand the size of this gap, each resident can make their own decision as to whether to go forward or not. There may be a need for people to invest in the work themselves, but we will cross that bridge when we understand whether there is a gap or not. If the gap is too big for people to fund, we may have to be patient and wait or try to recruit more people to the cause.

How can you help?
· Message me directly via Facebook with your address and postcode and I will add you to the list
· Talk to your neighbours (keeping your distance) and get them to register too.
· If you run or work for a business with a XXXXXXX phone number and you think this would help you, please register as this may attract the higher level of funding. This includes schools, doctor’s surgeries and charities.
Standard User PianSomB
(learned) Tue 30-Jun-20 13:24:47
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: dect] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by dect:
I suspect if there are no companies involved, setting up a CIC is still required for that purpose.


I suspect so too.

Just to give the full picture, in case anyone is interested - here is the timeline of my small CFP:
Aug 18 - I registered and started lobbying neighbours for interest in CFP
Sep 18 - OR produced first estimate of costs for 7 properties. One property dropped out. I told OR that we six wished to proceed. There was no change in price.
Nov 18 - we all validated our requests for vouchers, to help with payment
Dec 18 - I signed contract for delivery within 12 months at the original price, less voucher contribution. I collected contributions and paid.
early 2019 - various generic email updates on progress
July 19 - I noticed I had not received an update for a while and queried. I was told OR had decided to cancel our CFP contract! The reason given was that we were being moved in to BDUK and our payment would be refunded and delivery would take place "probably within 12-18 months". I launched a formal complaint on this blatant breach of contract
Sep 19 - OR agreed to deliver within the originally agreed timetable, and refunded our payment
Dec 19 - cable pulled though to my house
Jan/Feb 20 - all six properties (plus a few others) went live; some earlier than others

Dealing with OR was generally hard work. The contact person changed several times. Emails were frequently not answered, or were answered with incomplete information. Self-imposed deadlines for next steps by them were frequently missed with no updates or information given. There were dozens and dozens of email exchanges with OR, and with keeping neighbours up to date.

That said, at the end of the day we all got fibre broadband at no cost to us and pretty close to within the original timescale promised. And it's great.

Ironically, I was contact by a slightly-further-away neighbour in March this year, asking if I wanted to join his CFP scheme.

Standard User Moonraker18
(newbie) Tue 30-Jun-20 14:29:14
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: PianSomB] [link to this post]
 
Before I read this I was thinking that, like ADSL, I was looking at an Exchange level but clearly you have worked at a neighbourhood to find a cluster to make it viable. I was also thinking that the 15 addresses that I have so far, would not be enough but you clearly made it work.

I am so glad I started this thread. The forum really does have the knowledge I needed.
Standard User godsell4
(member) Tue 30-Jun-20 14:48:02
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: Moonraker18] [link to this post]
 
Yes, if even a small cluster of properties are all fed from overhead cables from an FTTC enabled cabinet, albeit with poor speeds, the price is not going to be outrageous especially if you can get the vouchers.

The other way to look at it, or sell it to those you want to join your CFP, is to consider the money spent adds value to each property or at least makes it potentially more attractive to sell quickly if it has FTTP. For example, spend this £900 to install FTTP and it stops you losing 5% on the sale of your £450K house which is £22K, Though ISPr has an article saying this is 24%.

Gigaclear FTTP 300Mb on Order
Three HomeFi 15 to 20Mb.

PlusNet Unlimited Fibre an unreliable 3Mb
Standard User Fastman3
(learned) Tue 30-Jun-20 15:02:35
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Re: Advice for setting up Community Fibre Partnerships


[re: godsell4] [link to this post]
 
Godsell -- the Gap will be be dependant on the network build - the FTTC cab in an irrevance in the FTTP build work as FTTP has to go back to an agreegation node - which could be substantial distance back in the network - you you might be 1.2km from Cab but 5km from Aggregation node - Gap will be dependant 100% on the local network tolopogy . such cost assumptions are at best unhelpful and probaly could cause community lead some significant challenges moving forwards
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