I spoke with a couple of Openreach engineers in the village today, who said they were conducting a survey into the technicalities of perhaps bringing FTTP to Holwell.
FTTP or Fibre To The Premises is a pure fibre connection, all the way from our exchange into your home or business and can offer speeds up to 1Gbps. What we have in Holwell at the moment is FTTC or Fibre To The Cabinet, those green things at the bottom of Main Street. Personally, I’m not looking to change anytime soon: I’m on BT’s Infinity 2 service and with speeds of 72Mbps down, 18Mbps up, my present needs are more than met. Plus, FTTP will undoubtedly cost more.
FTTP is obviously something BT are looking into for the future; a survey in Holwell isn’t a guarantee we’ll get the service, because among other things, new fibre has to be laid into the village – but it’s a welcome reminder that we remain on the digital super fast highway!
I am standing down as Holwell’s Digital Champion at the end of this month (July 2016). It’s been over 3 months since fibre broadband came to our village and I reckon pretty much everyone who intends to upgrade has now done so. As Digital Champion, my role was principally to act as point of contact between BT and village residents leading up to, during the fibre build phase and then when we went live. I now need to focus on other projects and the BT/SuperfastLeicestershire teams have moved on to delivering fibre broadband to other areas in need.
We did have in Holwell some initial teething problems: five properties found they couldn’t connect to fibre, so I liaised in each case with BT, who were very helpful in resolving all the difficulties successfully. Hopefully, there should be no problems from now on. If, however, you’re still looking to upgrade in the future and any provider says that fibre broadband products aren’t available to you, you must tell that provider they’re wrong and they should send out an engineer to investigate. It has been designed expressly that everyone on Main Street and Nursery Lane should be able to upgrade to fibre broadband via our cabinet on Main Street, called ‘Scalford 2’. Many of your immediate neighbours in the village have done so. If that doesn’t work, then contact the SuperfastLeicestershire team for help on firstname.lastname@example.org
On the evening of Wednesday 25th May, we held in Holwell Church a one hour session on digital skills, followed by a party to celebrate fibre broadband being brought into our village. 37 villagers attended, plus 3 guests.
The digital skills session was led by 3 villagers – it’s impressive how much skill and knowledge we have here – and there were plenty of questions and sharing of experiences. For those unable to come along, here’s a link to the session notes: Holwell digital skills notes 25 May 16
The party that followed was a great opportunity to have another village get-together; thank you to those who baked and brought cakes!
At the time of writing this, we’ve had some good coverage on the Melton Times website and are hoping for it to appear in one of the printed issues, this or next week. Here’s the full text of the news release BT kindly put together with us and sent out:
VILLAGERS CELEBRATE FASTER BROADBAND SPEEDS
Residents of a Melton village, who campaigned for superfast broadband, say their lives have been transformed now it is available there.
The county council-led Superfast Leicestershire partnership with BT has delivered download speeds of up to 80 Mbps to Holwell – 20 times faster than what was previously available.
Local resident and digital champion, Simon Wilkinson-Blake, who led the campaign, said: “Using the internet was often difficult, with households having to limit themselves to one application at a time. Now we have fibre broadband, some residents who have upgraded have seen over a twenty-fold increase in speeds.
“This is game-changing because it means we can at last use different connected devices simultaneously and also enjoy many internet applications previously inaccessible to us. Fibre broadband is a very significant enhancement to living and working in a rural village like Holwell.”
Engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, installed a new green roadside fibre broadband cabinet on Main Street and laid more than four miles of underground fibre cable.
50 properties in Holwell can now order superfast broadband from a range of providers as a result of the installation.
Local resident and home-based travel counsellor, Sally Willars, has seen her average broadband speed increase from 1Mbps to 50Mbps.
She said: “I run an independent travel business from home and before we had fibre broadband, it would sometimes take me hours to source the perfect holiday or travel solution, but I can now do most in about half an hour depending upon the type of travel request.”
The work to make fibre broadband available in villages like Holwell is part of the Superfast Leicestershire partnership between Leicestershire County Council and BT, which has already reached 63,000 premises. The programme remains on course to make superfast broadband available to more than 72,000 premises in Leicestershire by the end of 2018.
Councillor Blake Pain, county council cabinet member for broadband, said: “It is great to see residents and businesses in Holwell taking advantage of the new speeds available. I hope this inspires those communities set to benefit from our superfast extension project.”
Kasam Hussain, BT’s project manager for Superfast Leicestershire, said: “This is great news for Holwell, where villagers have shown great passion, vision and determination to work with us during a particularly complex and difficult upgrade. Simon has led the village in taking an active role in the rollout and we’re extremely grateful for that support.”
Funding for Superfast Leicestershire partnership has been provided by a wide-range of organisations including the county council, other local authorities, BT, Broadband Delivery UK (the Government’s broadband delivery arm), and Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership as part of its Local Growth Fund. For more information about Superfast Leicestershire visit www.superfastleicestershire.org.uk or look out for #SuperfastLeics on Twitter.
I’m delighted to tell you that you can now get fibre superfast broadband in Holwell.
BT can accept upgrade orders now (other providers may take up to 2 weeks to come on stream). You can do this online here (although, ironically, the website is slow) or over the ‘phone on 0800 100 400 (from a mobile: 0330 1234 1500).
Remember, you have to upgrade to fibre broadband, you won’t get faster speeds automatically.
If you’re not sure fibre broadband is for you, please come to a village digital skills session in Holwell Church at 7pm – 8pm on Wednesday 25th May. Topics will include:
- Setting up fibre broadband in your home
- Protecting yourself with online security
- Best deals from internet providers
- What is cloud computing?
There will be short presentations on each topic with questions afterwards. It’s free to attend, all are welcome.
If you want to celebrate fibre’s arrival in Holwell, there will be a party in Holwell Church from 8pm on Wednesday 25th May. All welcome, please bring a bottle!
Today, contractors fed fibre optic cable all the way from Scalford Road up to our cabinets on Main Street using this quite wonderful contraption (above) – a cable blowing machine. The black cable on the right is the fibre and the black/green cable on the left is the sub ducting, into which the fibre is fed by compressed air from a large generator.
That’s the compressed air generator on the left and our fibre, coiled up ready to go, on the right. The contractors did this work from half-way along Holwell Lane, pushing 1km of fibre in one direction towards Scalford Road and then the other 1km in the other direction towards Holwell.
I’ve been advised by BT that it will take about 2 weeks for our cabinet to become live (around the end of April). You will then be able to place your fibre broadband upgrade order with BT – other providers may take a couple of weeks further to come on stream.
After you place your upgrade order, engineers typically take 7-14 days to install the service, so we’re looking at around mid-May for the first of us in Holwell to be using superfast broadband.
I will email everyone in the village when our cabinet is live and probably do a leaflet drop through your letterbox, too.
Finally, let me clear up one common misunderstanding – although it is BT which has put in the cabling, you don’t have to sign up with BT to get fibre broadband. Other providers will be offering service, they might just take a little longer to come on stream.
No, this isn’t actually our fibre, but it’s getting close! This is a roll of sub-ducting, which goes inside the bigger ducting that the team with the mini-digger has been laying under the verge of Holwell Lane this past few weeks. When the sub-ducting is in place, our fibre is ‘blown’ (yes! by compressed air) up the sub-ducting to our cabinets on Main Street.
The mini-digger team should complete their works by the end of this week and sub-ducting is already being laid, hopefully to finish next week. The fibre spine up Scalford Road is already in place, so it shouldn’t be too long before we get our fibre! I’ll keep you posted.
Ducting has now been laid underground in the road verge along Holwell Lane, from its junction with Scalford Road up to the cattlegrid by the Scouts campsite. The contractors have done a neat job (above) and the grass will grow back quickly.
There was a pause in the works to allow BT to negotiate with the farmer landowner for the remaining run in to Holwell village. The work will recommence in a couple of weeks and should be finished in a similar time frame. Thereafter, the fibre itself has to be threaded along the ducting and connected to our cabinets on Main Street. BT remain keen to get us live on fibre broadband as soon as possible.
Another consideration is the underground high pressure gas main which crosses underneath Holwell Lane just by the other cattlegrid nearest to the road bridge over the old mineral rail line. Obviously the ducting contractors have to be careful around the gas main! Its location is marked by a pipeline market post (below); those of us in the village about a decade ago might remember the gas main being laid.
Contractors are now digging in the first kilometre or so of ducting along Holwell Lane, starting at the Scalford Road junction. Ducting is what our broadband fibre will be laid along.
This first ducting job will stop at the Mining Zone, then another job will connect up to the broadband cabinets at the bottom end of Main Street.