Recent comments

  • Using overhead distribution lines to carry fibre optic cables   4 years 46 weeks ago

    This was interesting and informative. Do you have any feel for the cable costs per metre (ADSS;OPCC;Accesswrap) and then for the direct cost of installation per metre. Here ignoring any license or access charges the pole owner might wish to levy.
    Has there been any discussion of legislatively requiring the Pole owners to make them available at cost + acceptable margin?
    Can I assume these cables are robust enough to withstand the windstrengths eg of the great storm in October 1987?

  • Technology   4 years 49 weeks ago

    You also highlight a few of the technical issues around system setting up as well as delivery of services to the end user. Broadband projects rarely fail because of tech choices; they do not succeed because of poor project control. Nevertheless, choosing the right tech for a broadband project is essential because it determines the capabilities of the customer's connection, the ease and also potential for long-term system improvements, and also a huge influence throughout the project prices.

  • Network Capacity Planning   5 years 3 weeks ago

    Good day! I just want to know from you, what is the importance of determining the determinants or factors that influence the residential demand for broadband internet access? Why its important to study?

  • Tackling the Backhaul Question   5 years 30 weeks ago

    An excellent article Annelise, this is the biggest challenge Local Community Broadband Initiatives (LCBI) face at the start of their project - without a high speed Backhaul you are already dead in the water.

    When I started Alconbury Telecom there was apparently no fibre near us until, one day, I saw FLUOR-GENESys laying a fibre cable for the National Roads Telecommunications Service (NRTS) up the A1M Motorway which runs thru the edge of our village. I contacted them and they said, in principle, they could break out a connection to our village. Did you know they are laying (dark) fibre along every motorway and main A roads in the UK? From that beginning we then commissioned a Feasibility Report from Rutland Telecom (www.rutlandtelecom.co.uk) who recommended a FTTC solution, but we felt that the Capex at £250/house was too high to attract an investor without public funding which was not available to us from any source. The major cost was BT Openreach's charge to lay in the FTTC at £6/meter/fibre (3) in their own ducts!!

    During this project I have discovered several sources of fibre near OR INSIDE our villages by simply "digging" for the data - the frustrating aspect in the UK is that the commercial fibre networks are kept secret - with the exception of SE Networks and Global Crossing - whereas in the USA the fibre cable routes are on the Web!

    If you have any influence I would recommend that OFCOM sets up a Database of these routes with input from the Commercial providers, in confidence. I can understand why providers would want to keep their networks secret, if only for security reasons. But Bona Fide LCBIs could make an enquiry to OFCOM to see if they were near any Fibre route.

    We are now planning a Wireless solution with a local High Speed Backhaul.

  • Using overhead distribution lines to carry fibre optic cables   5 years 37 weeks ago

    If the cabinet in the village had a friend with VDSL electronics in it then you could have FTTC with the fibre as you suggest strung on poles from the exchange to the cab. BT have done overhead fibre before for leased line customers.

    If there's 8M in the box in the village I guess you are a long way out if you only get 1M as 8M should work about 2.5-3km from the exchange and at 4 or 5km you would expect 2M.

  • Using overhead distribution lines to carry fibre optic cables   5 years 37 weeks ago

    " there is no provision for communications cables on electricity poles "

    where electricity distribution to houses is on poles it is quite common to have BT using the same poles for phone lines. This practice is coming to an end, but there's plenty around including my own line.

  • Using overhead distribution lines to carry fibre optic cables   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Phone companies already can install overhead fibre optic cable. Whether they chose to do so will depend on the cost of doing so vs the revenue they might earn from the investment.
    The connection speed (bandwidth) over a fibre optic cable does not vary with distance and nor is it affected by the weather. These are key differences compared to ADSL.

  • Using overhead distribution lines to carry fibre optic cables   5 years 38 weeks ago

    It is essential that DNOs participate in any programme to utilise overhead electricity distribution poles in the UK: DNOs own these poles and are responsible for maintaining them. British Telecom also own poles and there is an agreement dating from the 1960s between BT and the DNOs to share poles, although relatively little pole-sharing takes place.
    There is a fundamental difference in the way overhead line poles are managed in the UK and USA. Even the name is different: in the USA poles are called ‘Utility poles’ (ie not ‘electricity poles’ or ‘telephone/telegraph poles’ as in the UK) and they are mostly designed and operated to be multi-use poles. The top section of the pole is designated for electricity company use and may carry both MV electricity distribution at 10, 20 or 30kV and LV local circuits at 230V. Below the electricity zone is a safety zone of about 1m and then below the safety zone is a section of pole designated for communications cables. The basic concept is that the safety zone separates communications technicians from the dangers of live electricity circuits and so access to the poles for installation or maintenance activity is not dependent on a power outage. With the pole height being split into several zones, utility poles in the USA are generally taller and stronger than electricity poles in the UK.
    Poles in the UK are fundamentally single use poles and there is no provision for communications cables on electricity poles (or vice versa). UK poles are generally not tall enough to allow a safety zone AND to maintain ground clearance under the lowest cables mid-span. Consequently, any installations of communications cable on electricity poles in the UK will inevitably need the close cooperation of the DNO to ensure that the work can be carried out safely and without disrupting the power supply.

  • Using overhead distribution lines to carry fibre optic cables   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Power utility (DNO) attitudes to fibre deployment on their infrastructure are varied. Most will have fibre installed for their own SCADA and protection circuits but this rarely leaves the HV pylon routes. There are options to distribute fibre over wooden poles to rural transformers and substations and this will probably be an important part of 'smart grids' in the future. Leasing dark fibre or capacity (wavelengths, circuits etc) to third parties for carrier services, 3G backhaul and FTTH or WiMax FTTM is an option open to them as a revenue generator. This is taking time to gain traction and, as you are aware, no-one is building FTTH at the moment due to non-availability of funds from EU and Government initiatives, private finance or community efforts. Once we see some traction here then we will see DNO's becoming an option for backhaul. 

  • Community Broadband Models   5 years 38 weeks ago

    It turns out we do have the expertise within the community, but you only find some of it once you are well on the way to setting up your enterprise. We used another community for help, and we paid them for their expertise in the company structure set up. It was well worth the money. Its only when the company was set up that the real work of engagement started, and that has brought several financial, accounting and legal experts into the group. Our company secretary was a gift from heaven. It is amazing how many clever people live in an area, and will help out once you have a sensible business plan and a goal. With ours being the first it has been quite hard work, but its surprising what you can do if you put your mind to it. We are also blessed with having our own network designer, and a very willing community who have waited a long time for decent internet access, so they are very motivated. I was going to say 'desperate', but to be fair some think they already have broadband ;) Little do they realise what real broadband is, yet they too are being supportive in order to help the rest of the community.

  • Installing fibre-optic cables underground   5 years 38 weeks ago

    The site surveys for B4RN are done with the farmer and landowners, and their advice is crucial to getting the route right. They know the land better than anyone, so together with the contractors/farmers doing the digging a plan of least impact is decided upon, and because all the diggers are local people there is no escape over the hill if there is damage, the land has to be left in the same order it was before the dig. End of. No excuses. This model is replicable.

  • Installing fibre-optic cables underground   5 years 38 weeks ago

    If the farmer is digging his own trench like in the b4rn project he will presumably know where his drains are. We didn't cause any damage whatsoever when we dug our fibre in.

  • Community Broadband Models   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I sincerely hope that the B4RN model can be replicated, but still someone has to be first!  What are the best sources of advice on the legal aspects of the company structure and community share offer?  Did you have this expertise within your community or have to look further afield?

  • Community Broadband Models   5 years 39 weeks ago

    B4RN is a community benefit society, a cooperative which is currently issuing shares in order to build their own gigabit fibre network.The farmers are going to be doing the bulk of the digging in return for shares. This keeps the costs down and is well within their skill set. Members of the community will be trained to blow fibre and fusion splicing.This is the sort of project that could be replicated in any rural area, as this project is tackling the hardest to reach places of all, the rural uplands.chris

  • Installing fibre-optic cables underground   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Good point.  This article is about about digging, but it would be great to have another to look at how to exploit existing underground infrastructure such as sewers.  I'll add that to a list of possible future articles.

  • Installing fibre-optic cables underground   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I agree entirely with Phil T's comments, which is why thorough site survying should be taken in advance, plus a study of any infrastructures that are already in situ. Unfortunately these plans are not always up to date. Even in urban areas digging has been known to disturb or break vital ducts and cables.Re crossing land I do not advocate direct crossings but to stick to bridal paths and tow paths. I am not a farmer, but I do know that some ploughs can cut through deep channels, thus disturbing ducts.

  • Installing fibre-optic cables underground   5 years 39 weeks ago

    You don't mention usage of existing pipes, e.g. sewerage.

  • Using overhead distribution lines to carry fibre optic cables   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Is there any reason why the existing 'phone companies can't start putting in fibre optic cable overhead?In my village for example, I am right on the limit in terms of distance from the exchange, so my connection is slow (<1mb) and more importantly unreliable (wet weather plays havoc). Openreach engineers have told me the speed on leaving the box in the centre of the village is about 8mb. If the link from the exchange to the box, which is already overhead, were upgraded to fibre, then the speed would presumably be something like 35-40mb and any degradation by the time it reaches me would still leave the signal at an acceptable level. There has been talk of microwave links and other community based schemes, but this seems so simple I wonder if I'm missing something.

  • Using overhead distribution lines to carry fibre optic cables   6 years 11 weeks ago

    The technology looks fairly simple, but what interest is seen or heard from the UK's DNOs in using their assets to provide a non-regulated business diversification into providing connectivity ?The US with its mom & pop scale electric utilities is deploying some fiber (sic) for residential FTTH but often at  fairly high cost. Could our DNOs do the same or better ?

  • Installing fibre-optic cables underground   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Mole ploughing and similar techniques (giant chainsaw ripping through the ground in fast trenching) often leave damage behind to drains and the like that require substantial repair costs. Farmers and locals need to be vigilant and ensure faults are rectified before the contractor disappears over the hill.Pasture land is never ever the same after crossing it with any form of trenching technology, whatever they promise.