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FTTP in Holwell?

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!

Holwell digital skills session and fibre party

L-R: Holwell Digital Champion Simon Wilkinson-Blake, Cllr Joe Orson Leicestershire County Council, Kasam Hussain BT Project Manager Superfast Leicestershire Pic: Jon Holmes www.jonholmesphotography.com

L-R: Holwell Digital Champion Simon Wilkinson-Blake, Cllr Joe Orson Leicestershire County Council, Kasam Hussain BT Project Manager Superfast Leicestershire
Pic: Jon Holmes http://www.jonholmesphotography.com

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!

Some more shots from the Holwell fibre broadband photo shoot

Holwell gets superfast broadband... Holwell village Digital Champion Simon Wilkinson-Blake adds a sticker to the box

Holwell gets superfast broadband… Holwell village Digital Champion Simon Wilkinson-Blake adds a sticker to the box

 

The photographer Alistair Langham in action!

The photographer Alistair Langham in action!

 

Holwell gets superfast broadband... Villager Sally Willars who runs her business, Travel Counsellors  from home with Cllr Blake Pain and village Digital Champion, Simon Wilkinson-Blake

Holwell gets superfast broadband… Villager Sally Willars who runs her business, Travel Counsellors from home with Cllr Blake Pain and village Digital Champion, Simon Wilkinson-Blake

Holwell fibre broadband in the local press!

BT Engineer Mark Hoyland, Kasam Hussain from BT, Helen Harris from Leicestershire County Council, Leicestershire County Councillor Joe Orson, County Councillor and Lead Member for Broadband Blake Pain, Holwell village Digital Champion Simon Wilkinson-Blake and villager Sally Willars who runs her business from home.

BT Engineer Mark Hoyland, Kasam Hussain from BT, Helen Harris from Leicestershire County Council, Leicestershire County Councillor Joe Orson, County Councillor and Lead Member for Broadband Blake Pain, Holwell village Digital Champion Simon Wilkinson-Blake and villager Sally Willars

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.

Holwell now has fibre broadband!

A BT broadband connection

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!

There she blows!

Cable blowing machine

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.

Blowing fibre

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.

New arrival on Holwell Lane

Subducting on Holwell Lane

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.

Fibre cabinets approaching!

I’ve picked up advance roadworks notifications that Scalford is getting its PCP fibre cabinet stood between 4th – 17th September and Long Clawson is getting its two cabinets between 1st – 14th September.  There is also fibre ducting being laid now alongside the Hickling to Nether Broughton road.

All this fibre activity nearby is of course welcome and while there’s no specific notification yet of cabinets in Holwell, the Scalford news is significant because it’s our exchange and must get fibre for us to get it, too.

Broadband update

I have been reassured once again that we remain in the rollout plan but some issues have been found with our fibre due to duct blockages.  I did see a fibre services contractor van out on Holwell Lane and Scalford Road recently, so maybe they were doing the survey.  It means that additional traffic management on some of the roads around here will need to be negotiated between Openreach and LCC Highways (at least we won’t miss them when they do the work lol!).

Despite this, the good news is that our fibre cabinet(s) are still expected to be live sometime between October and December this year, assuming no other problems occur.

More widely with the Leicestershire Superfast project:

  • an additional £2million of funding has been secured to try and connect some of the rural areas even more remote than Holwell
  • if you are a business, you can apply for up to £3,000 to help with your broadband connection costs.  More information and how to apply here.

SFBB extension gets the thumbs up!

Leicestershire County Council approved additional funds for SuperFast Broadband on 15th July 2014.

This might be good news for us in Holwell as this additional funding may improve our broadband connection in the medium term i.e. by mid 2017.

Interesting update in the Report to the Chief Executive here: Broadband – Superfast Extension Programme.

Summary of the meeting’s decision below:

The Cabinet approved the additional funding as per the recommendations. The report can be found at http://politics.leics.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=135&MId=3992&Ver=4

Decision:

(a)       That the development of a broadband Superfast Extension Programme for Leicestershire, including the allocation of £2m from earmarked reserves as a capital contribution towards the cost of the Programme, be approved;

(b)       That the securing of £675,000 funding for 2015/16 from the Local Growth Fund as part of the recently announced Growth Deal be noted, and that approval be given to underwrite a further £1.325m indicatively allocated in the Growth Deal for 2016/17 should that funding not be secured;

(c)       That further investment be requested from district councils as set out in paragraphs 28 to 33 of the report;

(d)       That a hybrid procurement approach be pursued involving a call-off from the national framework contract being initiated utilising a majority of the funding available, with the remaining investment held back to enable exploration of alternative and innovative solutions to extending Broadband to the ‘final 6%’ in Leicestershire;

(e)       That approval be given to the County Council acting as the lead Local Body for the Superfast Extension Programme;

(f)        That it be noted that the Superfast Extension Programme will include Leicester, and that revised or new Collaboration Agreement with the City Council be entered into accordingly;

(g)       That the Chief Executive, following consultation with the Leader of the County Council and the County Solicitor, be authorised to take all actions and/or decisions he considers necessary to give effect to any matter relating to the Superfast Extension Programme;

(h)       That officers continue to facilitate discussions with parish councils and commercial providers to identify solutions which will enable superfast broadband provision to the ‘final 6%’ in Leicestershire;

(i)        That officers prepare an improved deployment map and other communications materials regarding planned fibre broadband provision across the County.

(KEY DECISION)

REASON FOR DECISION:

  1. a)To further extend Superfast Broadband provision in rural Leicestershire in line with County Council priorities;
  1. b)To safeguard delivery of the whole programme by enabling procurement to be initiated at a sufficiently early stage;
  1. c)To maximise the potential roll out of Superfast Broadband to rural communities and businesses, and to achieve fair and equitable contributions from key partners;
  1. d)To enable the most effective procurement of Broadband provision taking account of delivery challenges and timescale constraints;
  1. e)andf) To enable efficient and effective liaison between local partners and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), continuing the current arrangement in place for the Superfast Leicestershire programme;

g)    To facilitate the timely and effective procurement and delivery of the Programme.

  1. h)   andi) To engage with local communities to help identify means for providing superfast broadband in the remaining areas of the County.

We have now initiated the procurement for Phase 2. Currently we are initiating the Open Market Review to identify the new NGA White areas in Leics. i.e. those areas which are not served by commercial providers or through the Phase 1 contract