Full fibre broadband – some good news
On 1st May, I posted a gloomy progress report on the state of the full fibre broadband project, having just been officially informed by BT Openreach that the project was still in the planning stage and that the completion date had been put back by six months.
At the same time, I fired off a polite but forceful complaint to the BT project manager, and asked that the issue be escalated.
The very next day, my spies around the village started to report activity: people up poles, cable being strung, ducts being opened and drawstrings inserted, connection blocks being installed and so on. As well as all this visible activity, the roadworks website reveals numerous roadworks notified by BT Openreach, effectively revealing their plan of action over the next couple of months.
I would like to take full credit for this, but it seems too good to be true. More likely the “customer relations department” is following their usual priniciple of giving out as little information as they possibly can. By simply saying that the project will be complete by the end of the year, they pre-empt any complaints or follow-up. In fact I have now managed to drag out of the BT Openreach project manager a prediction that most of the project will be complete during August, with people being able to order the new service immediately after that.
Please note that I have little or no official information from BT Openreach. Everything in this web post is basically an informed guess. Please be prepared for things to go backwards as well as forwards. I can’t guarantee or even predict if there will be any missed premises. They are a private sector company and as such we have little control over them.
To give a flavour of what is going on, here are some brief extracts from a few of the reports from my network of informants.
Friday 12 May 2023
Openreach has cabled the entire length of Penhurst Lane, there is a large spool of fibre cable at the bottom of the pole directly opposite Battle Road, they have given up on the underground duct to the first pole on Penhurst Lane, they just deployed the fibre cable between the two poles instead.
They still need to install the Connection Block Terminals (CBTs) and they have built straight past the South East Water facility.
Two spools of fibre, that blend with the greenery above the hedge on the pole, by Little Sprays Farm.
As a result of some hedge trimming, I have finally found where the telephone cable goes underground to reach Penhurst Fields and its just to the south of Little Oak Hall and just north of Archers Farm, on their side of the lane.
Pole where Penhurst Fields, telephone cable goes underground, just south of Little Oak Hall looking south down Penhurst Lane. It wasn’t possible to see if there was any sign of a duct at the base of the pole, where the cable goes underground, but there might be evidence at the other end.
When my sisters tiny FCP Openreach surveyor looked at the duct poking out of the ground at the base of the pole, where the underground cable went to her house, he dismissed it out of hand, as being only a short section of duct slid over the cable, to make it look like a duct had been installed and organised a new duct via a different route to reach her house, via a business shed.
So not all routes that look like they are in ducts actually are, this might be the problem in the Little Worge Farm area. The duct poking out of the ground in Little Worge Farm, might not be a true duct, in which case there will be a significant delay because they will have to work out a different route, that avoids being too close to the buried telephone cable.
The reason I assumed that moleploughing would be required towards the edge of the networks, was because the PostOffice/BT had a tendency to direct burry telephone cables and not place them in a duct as standard until the late 1990’s when it became standard practice.
There is no obvious direct route to Penhurst Fields that doesn’t involve passing through the dense woods, the indirect route would be to go south around the premises to reach the 11kv corridor through the woods, that leads to Penhurst Fields.
So with a bit more work Openreach will be in a position to provide a service to all the premises that lye along Penhurst Lane.
However they need to sort out the underground routes to Penhurst Fields and Ashburnham Forge.
If the routes are buried, then there should be manhole covers about every 300 meters and they may have gone the same way as the ones down the side of Brighting Park Wall between Avenue lodge and Cabinet 2, which all became overgrown with grass, so they weren’t visible.
In which case Openreach will have to locate the manholes and uncover them, so they can install the fibre cable.
Pole close to the track down to Ashburnham Forge and the pond by Great Sprays Farm, where the fibre cable is currently spooled up to the left of the yellow electricity warning sign.
It the residents around the end of Penhurst or Ashburnham Forge are having problems with their telephone when it’s raining, it might be due to the fact that the cover has fallen off a junction box at the top of the pole.
The most likely route to Ashburnham Forge, is the footpath from Penhurst Lane to Ashburnham Forge especially as the cable goes underground at the start of the track on Penhurst Lane and surfaces close to Ashburnham Forge, part way up the hill towards Rock Cottage.
On Battle Road, there are now large white arrows pointing at the Openreach manholes, except between Dips End Cottage and Step Houses.
So Openreach may be building down from Cabinet 2 to Stonedown and up from Cabinet 1 to Step Houses.
They have installed a draw rope from Battle Road, along the footpath to Stonedown Cottage, pole on the left of the photo below. The pole on the right, is located by Stonecroft (build Now to Dec 2026), TN32 5JA and the overhead cable continues to Old Stonedown Farmhouse (build Now to Dec 2026),TN32 5JA and this is where the telephone cable goes underground to reach Coblye Cottage (Not Yet), TN32 5HZ. The cable must go via Coblye Barn (Not Yet) TN32 5JA, as Brightling Park website states the renters have access to WiFi. O2 now appears to be offering 2G services off the Darwell Wood mast, but not 4G, as no one is.
There are some draw ropes in place from the pole by the stream close to the car park for Denswood Forest, over the carpark, to the first pole on the way to Denswood Cottage.
Wednesday 10 May 2023
Openreach has now installed an overhead fibre cable to Downgate Cottages and tomorrow should get to Fullers Barn, Sugar Loaf Yard is currently via an underground route that crosses under the road before Fullers Barn.
No sign of activity near Avenue Lodge, but their original roadworks entry allowed them tomorrow, to finish off their task.
Haven’t checked for any change new Little Worge Farm Cottage. With respect to Ox Lodge, Openreach have a number of options open to them 1. Direct cable via the existing underground duct from cabinet 2. 2. Cable from the pole on the south side of the junction with Rectory Road. 3. If the branch duct that crosses under the road is badly block to reach Ox Lodge, then overhead cable on the electricity poles, back to the pole on the south side of the junction with Rectory Road
Tueday 9 May 2023
The only change that’s likely to happen tomorrow, is that Openreach will install more fibre cable from Old Holbans towards Sugar Loaf Yard and they will continue to finish off fibre work in the vicinity of the small triangular junction and pole located to the north of Avenue Lodge.
The cables radiating out from the top of the pole are all fibre optical cables and there are 5 of them spooled up on the pole, because Sheepshaw Farm’s Connection Block Terminal (CBT) has a very long drop cable to the pole at the crossroads. Openreach can now purchase CBTs with up to 350 meter long drop leads, so they now have fewer inline junction boxes located directly below a CBT and the inline junction boxes are now more centralised, where it makes sense to do so. This should reduce the cost associated with splicing, because in the area so far built to the west of Avenue Lodge via the crossroads shown above, they have managed to avoid installing 6 inline junction boxes and associated splicing.
In Twelve Oaks they avoided the need to install 2 inline junction boxes, by cabling the 3 CBTs back to the pole by the triangular junction, with Battle Road and they have also avoided installing 2 inline junction boxes around the junction with Rectory Road Brightling by cabling the 3 CBTs back to the pole located to the south of the junction with Battle Road, they have also installed the underground fibre cable to the pole.
Openreach hasn’t installed any yellow fibre overhead warning signs on any of the newly installed fibre cable routes and so far all of the work has been done without recording any roadworks. They have managed to get away with strategically parking and moving Vans.