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Rolling out superfast fibre broadband in agricultural areas of Worcestershire to enable more communities to harvest the benefits of this new technology

Thursday 24th August, 2017

Rolling out superfast fibre broadband in agricultural areas of Worcestershire to enable more communities to harvest the benefits of this new technology

Bringing fibre cabling to rural properties has its challenges. Take for example, Kempsey, a village three miles south of Worcester in the Malvern Hills District, one of the communities benefitting from the Superfast Worcestershire roll-out, spearheaded by Worcestershire County Council and BT as part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. 

Due to the lie of the land and the existing communications infrastructure, we’re using a mixture of engineering techniques and technical solutions in order to make superfast fibre broadband more widely available here and in other difficult to reach, less populated parts of the county. The work might include engineers ‘rearranging’ the current copper network, installing new fibre broadband road-side cabinets or fitting ‘all-in-one’ cabinets which house copper and fibre cabling to connect local premises onto the fibre network.

As the Superfast Worcestershire roll-out extends into some of the most rural parts of the county, Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology is increasingly deployed, which enables people opting for an upgrade to access ‘ultrafast’ broadband. However, this can involve extensive and sometimes complex civil engineering work – from clearing underground blockages and installing new ducting, to putting up new telephone poles – in order to deploy ultrafast fibre broadband direct to someone’s home or business.

The Superfast Worcestershire project team is committed to finding the most cost-effective solutions to providing superfast fibre broadband – and with the minimum of disruption to local residents, businesses and motorists.

We’re often asked how we decide whether to deploy fibre cabling above or below ground on a combination of roadway, verges and, where necessary, on privately-owned or agricultural land. Each option presents its own mix of benefits and challenges.

Some of our many considerations when rolling out the technology include restricted access to private land, working around the farming community and crop planting/harvesting periods, and increasingly working in narrow rural roads, that sometimes require road closures to progress works. 

All of the below need to be undertaken before infrastructure planning can be finalised and construction planned:

·     Increasingly, landowner liaison and access arrangements to private land. Once a preferred route has been determined by the Superfast Worcestershire project team, we often need to negotiate access for installing infrastructure on private land.

·      Working with the farming community to access land around crop planting / harvesting periods.

·      Determining whether to use overhead or underground cabling

o  Underground – or ‘buried’ - cabling can be preferable from an aesthetic perspective, however in agricultural areas there’s sometimes an increased risk of accidental third party damage' i.e. from farm equipment such as ploughs in fields.

o  Conversely, exposed poles and overhead lines may restrict above ground activities, or present possible risks from vehicles, fallen trees, etc.

·      Community and highways liaison to limit impact of road works and closures on motorists, commuters and local people and businesses.

·      Prior to installation, other activities such as tree and hedge trimming, grass cutting etc. are also often required to ensure that the route is free from restrictions and ready for construction to begin.

Nine structures in the Kempsey area are already live and taking orders for fibre broadband. Because the Openreach network is ‘open’, there’s a wide choice of fibre broadband providers to choose from. If you live in Kempsey and do not yet have access to fibre broadband, we’re currently working to deliver three new structures (15, 16 and 17) on Kempsey telephone exchange to allow more people in the village to get access to superfast fibre broadband.

If you live or work in Kempsey and would like to upgrade to superfast broadband, please click here to find out which structure you are connected to and if you can upgrade.