A first for Basingstoke?

Sky, in conjunction with LoveDigitalTV, have started installing a small trial FTTP network in Basingstoke, a first for the company. This takes advantage of a relaxation in government rules introduced last year, which allows telecom providers to deploy superfast broadband services via new telegraph poles. Previously guidelines had required services to be installed underground, which whilst much tidier, is considerably more expensive than the overhead method.

The relaxation in the rules was of course intended to help deliver superfast broadband to rural areas, so it is slightly puzzling why the trial area (near the Hackwood roundabout/A339 towards Alton) seems to be already served by both Openreach FTTC, and Virgin Media broadband. However, the trial website does imply speeds up to just under 1Gb should be available, so the speed does trump both of these other providers. It is not clear if both full FTTP and wireless options will be available.

Whilst Everest Park residents probably wouldn’t be too welcoming of telegraph poles and overhead cables, as the development already has network of underground Openreach ducting which could readily delivery an FTTP service, it does offer another potential option should Openreach continue to fail to deliver.

Call Flow Solutions, who have been primarily targeting rural areas of Kent and Sussex to use sub-loop unbundling to deliver their own FTTC (and wireless) services where Openreach have deemed it uneconomic, have also won the third largest share of a £10M government fund to trial similar technology in Hampshire. It’s not clear where in Hampshire this trial will take place, and Everest Park is not really ‘rural’, but again it offers another option.

Call Flow’s business model works by seeking local funding (eg/ from the council and community groups) to pay for the installation of FTTC cabinets, and uses a wireless or wired link to an existing community fibre node (eg/ at a local school) to provide the cabinet with high speed connectivity. The new FTTC cabinet then links to the existing Openreach street cabinet in the same manner as Openreach’s own deployment, but under the sub-loop unbundling model. Call Flow then pay back a share of the revenue from customers over a five year period to those who funded the installation, up to their original investment (though a full return is not guaranteed if the usage doesn’t meet the required level).