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Community Fibre Partnership - Openreach

Fibre Broadband Flyer Wanborough Parish Council are pleased that a revised scheme to bring fibre to Wanborough is now progressing and that a number of residents have signed up to the scheme. Although Wanborough Parish Council has previously been involved in discussions about bringing fibre to the village, the Parish Council was not included as a party to the current discussions. However, as this is a matter of interest to many residents, it is important to ensure that all residents are aware of the proposals, not just those who use social media regularly.

Michelle Maidment (Openreach Rural Engagement Officer) provided an excellent presentation at Chiseldon Parish Council meeting on 14th December. Most of the points raised at that meeting are relevant for the Wanborough and Liddington scheme so a summary of that presentation is as follows (with all views expressed being those of Michelle Maidment on behalf of Openreach):-

Michelle Maidment's role as Rural Engagement Officer is to help communities to gain access to fibre (faster broadband) in areas that currently have poor broadband connection. Since the start of the scheme Community Fibre Partnership has connected 800 communities, which equates to about 135k properties.

The funding for the scheme has been approved, which means that every resident (one per household) can claim and pledge £1.5k and every business can claim and pledge £3.5k. You can only claim (pledge) one or the other not both.

The total cost of the scheme for Wanborough and Liddington is £982,917 (which includes a contingency). At the time of writing, 69% of that total pledge value has been reached from those who have already pledged their voucher.

All residents should have received a postcard notification from Openreach providing details of the scheme, plus in addition to this Robert Buckland also sent out a letter.

To pledge your voucher towards the overall cost of the scheme for Wanborough and Liddington you need to go onto the website using the following link: www.openreach.com/connectmycommunity

Enter your postcode, which will then confirm if you are included in the coverage area and then follow the instructions on the website, but please ensure you read the "terms and conditions" carefully.

To pledge your voucher you have to agree to the following but only once the build is completed:-
  1. Applicants are expected to take a Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) contract for a minimum period of 12 months.
  2. The minimum contract that you will be expected to take up will depend on your current speed. If your broadband speed is currently 30Mbs (or lower) then you are expected to take a minimum contract of 30Mbs. If your current broadband is higher then you will be expected to take up a contract double your current speed, i.e. if your current speed is 40Mbs then you will be expected to take up a contract of 80Mbs.
There are a set list of providers for both residential and business that you can look up to see what the potential monthly cost for a contract is: www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fttp-providers

Once all pledges have been received from households and the total pledge (cost of the scheme) is met, the next steps are:
  1. Gigabit will write to all households who have pledged their voucher to confirm their agreement by signing and returning their letter. This needs to be completed so that Openreach have confirmation that the total cost of the scheme is met.
  2. The build process completed within 12 months:
    • Surveying for scope of works to assess, for example, if there are any trees that need removing or there are wayleaves that need signing.
    • Build estimate and delivery programme.
  3. Build to the boundary - fibre will be built to a distribution point near to your property and this completes the work by Openreach.
  4. Each household can then contact their providers (broadband suppliers) to connect to "ultra-fast" broadband.
Please note that the long term plan is to withdraw all copper phone lines by 2025, so now is an ideal time for everyone to start thinking about fibre broadband. So please consider pledging your vouchers.

Questions & Answers:-
Question - Please explain the additional costs, will there be connection costs, what happens if you have a long driveway?
Answer - Openreach build to the boundary, which will be to the distribution point in your road / street. The voucher covers all build costs. If there are excess construction costs due to you having a very long driveway then Openreach engineers will work on behalf of the resident to make sure additional work needed is done. Platform connection cost depends on the provider (broadband supplier) you use and this cost is not covered by the voucher and will vary. Please note that if you do not pledge your voucher any excess construction costs will not be covered at a later date and you may have to cover these costs yourself.

Question - What happens if we don't reach the Total Pledge Value
Answer - We are hopeful that the scheme will reach the Total Pledge Value, however if we don't then we would need to look into other options (Plan B) to see if further funding can be found via other means. A review of the scheme to see if any adjustments can be made to reduce the overall cost is also an option, however their ethos remains that they want to deliver fibre to as many as possible.

Question - Will there be a lot of digging up roads, pavements and driveways?
Answer - We will keep digging to a minimum, the aim is to use all current infrastructure, if you have overhead telephone posts then these will be used. Where there are ducts these will be used. They need to keep the costs down so they do not plan to replace any of the current telephone posts but to use what's there at the moment.

Question - What happens if I'm in an area that not included within the current scheme? [Foxhill is currently not included.]
Answer - We want to include as many households as possible. All areas not included at the moment will be looked at and there may be a possible second phase, we don't want to leave anyone behind. Please submit your postcode if you are not included.

Question - Will I lose my current landline?
Answer - If you have fibre broadband you can run a standard telephone service through your fibre line, you will not need to keep your current copper telephone line. If you still want to keep your copper landline then this is something you will need to discuss with your telephone provider.

Question - When fibre is rolled out will it be done in stages?
Answer - Due to the scale of the scheme it is likely to be rolled out in phases so it may be that some roads and streets will have fibre before others.

Question - Is there an end date?
Answer - The current Gigabit voucher scheme (supported by government) ends on March 31st 2021, which means applications must all be approved prior to that date.

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