Allensmore Parish Council
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More details of Fastershire phase 2 and deployment in Allensmore

Fastershire recently provided an update on their plans for the next phase of deployment of fast broadband around the county.

As mentioned previously, the good news is that the areas of Allensmore not already able to get high speed broadband will be included in phase 2 of Fastershire. These include properties in Church Road, Green Farm Lane and those along the A465 and it means that almost everyone in the parish will have a superfast service available to them once this phase is complete.

A status update on the Fastershire phase 2 can be found here. With deployment progressing from the Forest of Dean area in a north westerly direction, we are one of the latest and most distant areas for deployment. We are in part of what’s called Lot 2 - 3c and shown (as far as I can tell) as network 53 on page 28 of the presentation. The current plan shows deployment happening here between August 2018 and February 2019 with properties being enabled progressively during this period. More recent information on the Fastershire website, now shows the network build will START in this area in February 2019.

Plans show that at the end of this period, 9 or 3% of properties in this area will still not be able to get the superfast broadband. To check your property is included in the plans, go to www.fastershire.com. If you’re not included, you should contact Fastershire now to explore what alternatives they may be able to offer you.

Whilst I’m sure this is nothing like as soon as we would like, it will be very high speed and “future-proofed” solution with fibre provided direct to your property and speeds of up to 1000mbps available. For more information on the technology and packages available see here.

Very Good news for Allensmore

There have been two important developments in the last few weeks - see more details below, but in summary:

Firstly, at the end of March, problems which prevented residents of Cobhall and beyond who are connected to the new cabinet 107 by the Butts, from ordering fibre based services were resolved and orders can now be placed.

Secondly, at the beginnjing of April, Fastershire provided information showing that the remaining parts of Allensmore for whom fibre services were not already available would be included in the next phase. This phase will use a company called Gigaclear to lay new fibres throughout the rest of the parish to which each household could then connect and receive fibre direct to the premises. The schedule for this phase is expected to be released in the next few weeks, but the entire phase is due to be complete by the end of 2018 or shortly after. See also the updates emailed below.

If this proceeds as planned, the community fibre will not be required and the project is currenlt on hold while we await a more detailed schedule. 

Update - 3rd April 2017

We are starting the week as we started last week with some good news, this time for the parts of Allensmore not already covered by Fastershire.
(Important to note, this email does not apply to those of you in and around Cobhall and beyond, who can now obtain fibre services via the newly enabled cabinet 107 by the Butts)
 
Fastershire have now announced the properties to be included phase 2 and Allensmore is included. I believe this covers all (with perhaps one exception) of the properties we had included in the community fibre project.
See http://www.fastershire.com/  for more details and to verify that your property is included.
 
As I understand it, the timescales for the various areas within this phase have not yet been fully determined but all the installations in this phase will be complete by the end of 2018 or soon after.
 
The deployment is by a company called Gigaclear https://www.gigaclear.com/ and is quite different from the fibre to the cabinet solution predominantly used in phase 1.
Gigaclear will provide fibre to each property by laying they own fibre cables in trenches throughout the parish and provide connection points at the boundary to each property.
You can then arrange for Gigaclear to do the final work to lay the cable from the connection point into your house or do it independently using a kit of parts that they provide.
 
The fibre to the premises means that very high speed services are available and I think all their packages are unlimited in capacity. They also work with a company called Vonage (see the links on the Gigaclear website) who, for an additional monthly charge, offer telephone services over broadband. I also understand that the infrastructure Gigaclear provide will be available for other service providers to use.
 
Gigaclear will host events for communities and describe their plans in more detail and answer questions.
 
While it may not be as soon as we would like, this does give us a very high standard infrastructure that will support the increasing demands for broadband better than most of the alternatives currently being deployed.

Update - 27th March 2017

I have just received some good news for residents of Cobhall
Following further work by BT, properties connected to the new cabinet (107) by the Butts can now get fibre broadband
I have checked a sample of properties on the BT availability checker and this seems to provide confirmation.
This includes all those properties downstream from that cabinet on the Hereford exchange in postcodes such as HR2 9BN, HR2 9BW, HR2 9BQ, HR2 9BE.
In order to benefit from what fibre can provide you will need to order a fibre based service from a service provider of your choice.
For residents in the rest of Allensmore for whom fibre is still not available, the wait goes on.
We still expect to hear from Fastershire in the next few weeks if we are to be included in the next phase.
If we are, then we will benefit from fibre to the premises being available by the end of 2018 without needing to take further action.
If we are not included, we have the option to take matters into our own hands and to pursue a community fibre solution but at our expense.
Since the last meeting on 16th February, we have been preparing for this option by gathering more information, making plans and pushing (with little success so far) for answers to our questions to BT.
I’ll keep you posted.

Community Fibre Broadband scheme

Key points from meeting 16th February 2017, Pateshall Hall See here

Update - 12th February 2017

Further to my update last week, there will now be a public meeting at 7pm on Thursday 16th February at Pateshall Hall in Allensmore at which BT will present their proposals for a Community Fibre. This would enable the premises covered to get fibre direct to their house (FTTP) and be able to choose from the wide range of services provided by broadband providers.

 The premises covered are those in Allensmore on Church Road, Green Farm Lane, the A465 in the area of the Village Hall and those further down the A465 in the direction of Lock’s garage. This amounts to 40 - 50 premises.

Those already covered by the recent and ongoing works by Openreach such as the new cabinet in Cobhall are NOT included in the Community Fibre plan.

The scheme would require us to raise a little over £30,000 and this would have to be done by voluntary pledges and any grants that we can secure. Unused BDUK vouchers (worth £350 each) can also be used but currently this would require having a contract in place by April – which is rather ambitious and perhaps unrealistic.

The money covers what BT consider the amount required to make the installation commercially viable. It would lead to the infrastructure being installed and then maintained by BT Openreach and available for service providers to use in exactly the same way as any part of the fibre network installed by BT.

At the meeting I hope to be able to provide an update of Fastershire’s plans for this area, though there are key decisions yet to be taken which will lead to very different outcomes for us.

If you are a resident in the area covered by the community fibre, I hope you can make it and, having heard the proposals, will share your views.


Update - 8th February 2017

Cobhall

I have finally received an update (below) from BT about the broadband situation in Cobhall, unfortunately it still leaves much unanswered.

 As you know, the new cabinet has been installed by the crossroads along from the Butts but there are some issues which prevent anyone from ordering a fibre based service provided by it. It appears that this is due to a problem in the way that BT’s systems are still attributing some lines to the old box near Belmont Abbey.

They are working on the issue but as yet, have no date for when the problem is expected to be fixed – a further update is promised soon, I’ll let you know as soon as I hear.

Allensmore

The new box in Cobhall will not provide any benefits to the residents of Church Road, or those properties further along the A465 from the village hall area.

BT have now verbally described and costed a “Community Fibre” solution that would provide these properties with the option of having fibre direct to their premises.

This would enable people to choose from a wide range of services, including very high speed services.

The cost of this to cover most, but not all the premises, would be a little over £30,000 which we would need to raise, though unused BDUK vouchers can be pledged towards the fund if we can move quickly enough. Further work would be needed to connect those properties further along towards Lock’s garage and set back from the A465.

I am currently trying to fix a date, hopefully in the next couple of weeks, for BT to present the proposal in the village hall to those who are interested. We can see how much support there is for the proposal and what alternatives we might have. If there is a consensus that we want to proceed, we will need to consider how the money might be raised.

BT’s message re Cobhall:

Openreach continue to work through issues with the new cabinet. There is a complex piece of work going on in the background to fix the underlying system issues that are caused by a number of records still being attributed to the old SCP. Once this is rectified the numbers will revert to the new structure. <The manager responsible> will provide me with an update on progress shortly and I’ll let you know whether it’s fixed or how much longer it is likely to take.


Update - 24th October 2016

There has been some progress regarding broadband and the community fibre project in Allensmore – albeit slow.

As many people are aware BT Openreach have installed a new cabinet near the Butts in Cobhall.

The good news is that they have confirmed that this means all premises on the Hereford exchange “downstream” of that box (i.e. further from Hereford) will be able to get fibre broadband when the work is complete, which will be before the end of the year.

While this is good news for many, due to the change of plan by Openreach it now leaves the community fibre project needing to be redesigned to cover the premises not covered by Openreach.

These are the properties in Church Road, those on the lane to Green Farm, a number on the A465 including those around (and including) the village hall and those further along the A465 towards Locks garage.

The BT Community fibre scheme are now looking at an alternative solution which would involve two components.

Firstly, laying new fibre into suitable areas on Church Road using trenches that we would need to create across private land. The relevant landowner has agreed to this in principle.

And secondly, new connections (and trenches where required) to the fibre backbone which runs along the A465 for the more remote properties along the A465.

The important benefit of this solution is that it would provide a fibre connection directly to these premises, enabling these households to choose anything from a basic speed service up to very high speed (330mbps) according to their needs.

We are currently waiting for the design and cost estimates to be produced. The cost can be offset by premises who are currently unable to receive 2mbps contributing their BDUK voucher if they haven’t already used it.

Mailing list

I am circulating this to those of you who some time ago registered an interest in the community fibre project. Since Openreach will be providing fibre for many in the parish, the scope of that project is now much more limited and it won’t be directly relevant to many of you. Please let me know by emailing broadband@allensmore.org.uk if you would like to be removed from this mailing list.

Tony Cramp

Allensmore parish council 

Previous information - 2nd September 2016

It has been a while since I last provided an update, I have been holding off while waiting for an answer from the BT’s Community Fibre to a fundamental question – but I’m afraid the wait goes on!

 The current status is that since June we have had a costed proposal from the Community Fibre team for a project that would enable all properties in Allensmore that would not otherwise be covered by BT Openreach’s deployment to receive fibre based broadband services. However, we still do not know if this proposal meets our needs and until we have an answer, we cannot move forward.

The proposal is based on assumptions that the Community Fibre team made concerning BT Openreach’s deployment plans, primarily that Openreach would upgrade a “mini-cabinet” on the A465 just along from the village hall. This would mean that all premises downstream from there (i.e. Cobhall and those further along the A465) would be able to get fibre based broadband services – really good news if true. The community fibre project would therefore only need to cover a limited area, primarily Church Road and a few nearby properties to enable all premises to access fibre based broadband.

However, it appears from what we see is actually happening, that the plans are different from this and involve installing a new cabinet further into Cobhall later this year. It is not clear if this means that there would be a “gap” with a number of properties not covered by either the Openreach deployment or the Community Fibre project and would therefore remain unable to get fibre based broadband.

Before we can consider proceeding with the proposed project we need to know if it is still appropriate or if something different is now needed to ensure all premises can get a service.

It would seem to be a very simple question to answer: “Does the proposed community fibre project include all properties who will not be covered by Openreach’s plans?” but very frustratingly for the third time, the assurance of an answer from the Community Fibre team by a specific date has again proved to be an empty commitment. So after nearly three months we still do not know if the proposal on the table meets our needs and until we know this we can’t go ahead and arrange a meeting with the affected householders to consider if we want to proceed.

If and when I get an answer, or a new proposal I will provide another update.

Tony Cramp

Allensmore Parish Council

Previous Information

To try to ensure that we continue to receive broadband in the future without having to resort to more expensive satellite solutions, Allensmore Parish Council has registered on the Community Fibre Broadband scheme with BT Openreach which will seek to find ways to deliver high speed broadband to the area.

The first step was to identify the households who want to be included. 

A total of 91 households have signed up and this list has now been passed on the BT Openreach to be used when designing and costing possible solutions.

We should receive these from BT Openreach by the end of March when we will arrange a meeting for these to be presented to everyone who is interested.

For more information on the results of the survey, including a breakdown of the uses for broadband that households have, see Survey results summary

For the latest update (4th March 2016) including Allpay's intention to close their entire broadband service by 31st May 2016 see here

For the previous update (3rd February 2016) on the broadband situation in the parish see here

Recent Allpay announcement about their Broadband service

Allpay have announced that their broadband service is no longer a viable business. See Hereford Times article.They will make no new investment and some existing infrastructure will be decommissioned. Allpay are the only provider of non-satellite based broadband available to some households in the parish due to the distance of households on the Hereford exchange from the exchange. Around 120 households in the parish are using their service which started around 5 years ago when they took over and replaced the equipment previously provided by Access Broadband – and there is gratitude that they did so.

The immediate impact on Allensmore parish is that one transmitter will be shut down with about 15-20 households losing the service following receipt of a letter giving 30 days notice (it is believed that no such letters have been received as of 21st August 2015). In addition, no new customers will be taken on – including those new residents of a house currently receiving the service and clearly there is no long term future for the service. For more information see Parish Council info to residents

A meeting of the parish council was held on 21st August at which representatives from BT and the Fastershire programme provided an update on the current status and plans for the deployment of Broadband in this area.
The presentation can be seen here.

The draft minutes of the parish council meeting provide more information about what was discussed and the actions that are now underway and are available here.


Marches Media presentation on satellite broadband via satellite on 10th September at 5pm at Pateshall (Allensmore) village hall - see presentation

Allensmore Parish Council has invited Henry James, of Marches Media, to give a presentation about satellite broadband. 

Marches Media is a company, based in Herefordshire, which focuses on delivering broadband in rural areas and it is one of a number of companies that provide a satellite broadband service. Henry will provide an overview of how broadband via satellite works, how it is deployed and its strengths and weaknesses compared with other technologies for delivering broadband. He will give broad indication of likely pricing and will answer questions about the product. He will also seek to understand the sort of needs that people in the parish might have and start to gain an understanding of the local requirements.

It should be noted that at this stage, that the details of Allpay’s plans to curtail their broadband service are unclear and various possible solutions to address the resulting gap are being explored. However satellite, whilst generally more expensive, could be a possible solution for some households. Whilst Allensmore Parish Council is pleased to host the event, and is grateful for Henry providing his time without charge, the Parish Council is strictly impartial regarding potential providers and does not endorse this, or any other, company in any way.


Airband - a potential Broadband provider to the Allensmore area?

A Worcester-based company called Airband (www.airband.co) provide a wireless based broadband service, similar to that provided by Allpay, to rural areas including Herefordshire.

As you can see from their website which shows typical costs, whilst they provide higher (up-to) speeds, their prices are similar to those of Allpay though the cost depends on which package you need for your monthly usage.
It also shows that there’s a 2 year contract and £150 installation fee.

They do not currently cover the Allensmore area but they do have an existing transmitter here which it is not in use at the moment.
To proceed, they would need to see that there is sufficient interest and they would need to do some surveys.

They say that a proportion of the 120 households in this area that use Allpay could certainly be viable for them.

If you think this is a service that you might want to use, please let them know of your interest by using the “contact us” option on their website.
Alternatively, you could wait until they have set up a pre-registration page for Allensmore, which they will do in the next week or so – they tell me both methods are equally good.

Please share this information with others in the area who might be interested. 
 
More information will be provided here and via email using the eNoticeboard. If you have not already joined the eNoticeboard, please request that your email address is included by contacting sanddmumford@gmail.com (You may need to copy this address to your email system).