Green Light!

I’ve been in conversations with BT and we have found a way to submit all the remaining funding requests. I now have assurance from BT that the scheme will be fully funded by the voucher scheme.

As a result I have now signed the contract with BT and the project is now officially up and running.

We have a target date of November 2017 to bring the service live. I’ll provide updates throughout the year as we progress throughout the project.

After 11 months of getting this scheme off the ground, we’re finally looking like this is going to happen…

Thanks all for your ongoing support.

Dave

Apply for Government Funding!

***Update – if you have already applied for funding, then there is nothing for you to do***

You may remember the satellite voucher scheme that was reported in the press earlier in the year.  Every household receiving under 2mbps is eligible for £350 towards the cost of a satellite installation cost. At the time we discounted this as a solution –  Satellite is a sub-standard connection and the monthly costs (on top of the existing line rental) were about £30 per month and capped at a fairly stingy 10 gbit. Not a viable solution.

I  have been in regular dialog with BDUK and Connecting Cheshire to persuade them to make our community scheme eligible for this funding. In parallel I negotiated a discount on our scheme from £35,000 to around £20,000. BT also put pressure on BDUK to allow community self-funded schemes to be eligible for this funding.

 

We are one of (if not the) first community fibre scheme in the country to be eligible for the voucher scheme money. It means we can run our own project as planned. Also the number of eligible households (around 70)  covers the total cost of the works.

 

I have incorporated a Community Interest Company “Connecting Ollerton”  that will contract with BT to get the works done once we secure the funding.

 

This is where you come in. To fund it, we need every household to register for the voucher scheme as soon as possible. You can do it  HERE  just click the link, fill out the form and your £350 voucher will go towards the scheme. When inputting the email address, please enter my email address david@malkinson.co.uk so I can collect all the codes, and send them off to BDUK and keep track of who has and hasn’t completed it.

 

Instructions for filling in the form:

 

 – On the first page, please make sure you fill in your full name, and enter my email address (david@malkinson.co.uk) Don’t worry if you put in your email address, it will still go through OK.
– Answer No to the question  “Do you already have a Satellite broadband product at this address?”
– Answer No to the question  “Is Superfast Broadband available from any other supplier at this address? “
– Answer No to the question  “Does BT already provide an Internet service >2Mbps to this address?
– Answer Yes to the question  “I understand the limitations of basic broadband, and I am happy to proceed with the application”

Ready to Receive Pledges

Connecting Ollerton is now ready to receive pledges.

If you are interested in supporting the project, then please fill out this short form.

The deadline to receive all pledges is Friday 12th February. After that date (and hopefully sooner) we’ll know if the project has the support it needs to go ahead.
Before pledging, please have a look at the map on this page to see if you are eligible for the scheme. If you received a leaflet through your door before Christmas then your household will qualify for the scheme.
Cllr Neil Hanlon and Mike Brown will be distributing leaflets to the remaining houses in Ollerton this weekend to garner support for a wider programme of works. Good luck Neil and Mike
For me, this is most exciting part of the project so far, and we’ll find out if the work put in will actually bear fruit….of course I have every confidence we’ll race over the finish line!
Dave

Press Attention, Get Ready to Pledge

Lots going on this week…

Firstly, the Knutsford Guardian have been in contact and have run an article on our scheme. You can find it here (I’m the one holding the laptop for no discernible reason)

This week, I will be putting together a platform to enable us to receive everyone’s contributions to the scheme. I should have something to show in a few days. I’d like to get the pledges in as quickly as possible, so please have a think about your potential contribution if you haven’t already.

Dave

A Project is Born

Many thanks for all of those who attended the meeting last Tuesday – I hope you found it useful and informative. The turnout was fantastic and the feedback very positive afterwards.

Here is a summary of the main points covered, and a few updates that have happened in the past few days.

The Meeting

In attendance from BT were Kevin Rutterford who is the Programme Delivery Director at BT for Cheshire and surrounding area. Kevin has bIMG_3370een my main contact at BT thus far and is responsible for the rollout of fibre throughout Cheshire under the Connecting Cheshire programme. Also present were Glen Fendall and Gary Aldred from the newly setup Community Fibre Team – a dedicated unit within BT setup to oversee self-funded superfast rollouts such as ours.

We had a turnout of over 40 made of primarily of local residents. I also had a number apologies prior to the meeting from interested parties. As I expected, there is a keen interest for the project across the community, which I hope is a barometer of its eventual success.

The Scheme

The plan is to run a new fibre-optic  down the Chelford Road from Knutsford, and install a new superfast-enabled cabinet on the corner of School Lane and Chelford Road. The existing copper wiring will be reconnected to this cabinet and will be a short enough distance to enable superfast to all households in the catchment area.

Slide3

Our scheme will be the first one of its kind in Cheshire, but not far behind us is the neighbouring Peover Parish, who have the exact same issue as us: the distance from the cabinet is too far to carry a ‘superfast’ signal.

Expected Broadband Speeds

A ‘superfast’ service must be (contractually) over 20 mbit/sec. In practice though most households will get a much better connection.

Most of us are getting between 1 and 2 mbit/sec currently, with some getting less than 1 mbit/sec. If you are getting less than 1 mbit/sec then there may be an issue with the wiring in the household, which could carry over to the new superfast service giving a sub-optimal speed.

Slide4

To check your current speed run the checker here. If you are getting much slower than 1 mbit/s then you could try some of the suggestions on this page  (warning: that link is a bit technical in nature).

Contributions

The price for the works is expected to be in the region of £35,000, which covers around 65 households and and handful of businesses. BT are currently in the process of performing a detailed survey after which they will produce a contractual, fixed price for the work.

All contributions, regardless of value are most welcome. Below is a suggested contribution range that will get us to our target. It is important that the contributions are fairly balanced across the community – the fairest way to do this is to contribute based on the benefit you will receive from the service. For example, for myself working from home a couple of days a week, the sluggish connection is a continual frustration. For others it may be only an occasional annoyance. These contribution suggestions  I believe are the fairest way to do it and I believe will get us to the target is the simplest fairest way. Although not necessarily applicable to all, the value-add to the house price is significant (some reports say up to 20%), and could well outweigh the usage argument when considering your contribution.

Slide5

All contributions will be confidential, so no-one will know who has contributed what. Please use the pledges link above to register your contribution.

The Project

Start to finish, the project will take 12 months and (all being well) will complete by January 2017. The following gives a high level overview of the scheme and how it will play out throughout the year.

Slide6

The Contract and setting up a Legal Entity

To enter into the contract with BT, we need to setup a legal entity for the scheme. To this end,  I will provide more details shortly once this is in place. Thank you very much Simon for your very valuable input.

The Other Side of Ollerton

Representatives from the cluster of houses near Ollerton Crossroads were present at the recent meeting, and suggested a joint approach to the scheme. Most residents in this area, whilst not qualifying for a Superfast service, are still getting between 4-9 mbit/s. Theirs is a slightly different value proposition, but still there may be overall savings in us ‘clubbing together’. BT have agreed to have a look at this approach to see if can reduce the overall cost.

There is an agreement with BT that the formation of alternative plans will not delay our scheme’s progress.

Next Steps

The next critical task is the setup of the legal entity, and then to start receiving contributions. I will post another update  once I have some more solid information on this.

If there’s anything else you want to know then please feel free to email or call me and I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m able – please contact me using the contact link above.