Full Fibre Fibre Heroes has announced it has paused plans to build its FTTP network to some areas of Shrewsbury after opposition from locals about plans to install new wooden telephone poles in order to deliver the service.
Poles or no Poles
Alt-Net FTTP network builder Full Fibre Fibre Heroes are building their brand new open access FTTP network across the UK aiming to cover 500,000 premises by 2025.
They started building their full fibre network in Shrewsbury, Shropshire back in 2019 starting in the Cherry Orchard area before moving to Abbey Foregate and Coleham area covering premises that only had access to ADSL services.
Fibre Heroes then decided to build there network out to cover the whole of Shrewsbury and after investment started this expansion in 2021.
Full Fibre Fibre Heroes focus on towns that have been forgotten by other big networks like Openreach and have limited FTTP coverage.
Shrewsbury is one such town and in many areas Fibre Heroes have been the first and still only FTTP ultrafast option available.
They have gone live to over 20,000 premises to date in Shrewsbury and being open access any ISP can sell on their network meaning you have a range of ISP’s to choose from which makes it more competitive compared to closed networks like Virgin Media who are also deploying their network across Shrewsbury.
Most of the time Fibre Heroes use existing Openreach ducts and poles to build their network which means their build is less disruptive, efficient and economical.
In some cases there is a need to install new wooden telephone poles which is a last resort when they have exhausted other options.
The most common reason for this is areas where there are no ducts and instead the existing copper telephone cables have been direct buried by Openreach which was common for a time in the 60’s/70’s.
Direct buried means the cables are directly buried under the ground to each house meaning it is impossible to pull though new fibre cables without either digging new trenches to each house and up each driveway/front garden or by putting up new poles.
The option of putting up new telephone poles to serve these houses is the most economical and efficient as one pole can serve many houses and saves having to dig up each driveway/front garden which can be more disruptive to the home owner.
It is common practice for new poles to go up in these situations and other network operators such as Openreach also choose this path.
There are some areas of Shrewsbury that fall into the category of needing Poles to be installed and Fibre Heroes sent out letters to residents where this was planned to happen.
Telecoms firms do not need planning permission to install poles despite this Fibre Heroes took the proactive step of informing residents of the planned works.
In the letter (pictured below) they advised the poles would be between 9 and 11 meters high and 20 to 25 cm in diameter.
The letter also included a map plan showing the proposed location of the pole and a chance to write back to Full Fibre if there was an issue with the location.
This has prompted a number of complaints from some of the impacted residents who would rather the cables go underground as they want their street to remain clean and unspoilt.
In a statement Full Fibre Fibre Heroes have said:
We have paused our plan to install around 200 poles in some areas of Shrewsbury. Whilst we have worked hard to design and deliver this upgrade, there has been a significant amount of unease in the community, and it is never our intention to do this.
The costs and legal complexities of serving every property underground are significant for open access providers like ourselves, and our approach is always to build efficiently and cost effectively. We want to ensure that competitive services and prices are available on our network in the long term, and present a viable alternative to closed networks, such as Virgin Media.
Whilst we have paused the installation here, our firm belief remains that all communities across the UK need to be served by open access telecoms infrastructure. We will continue to build our open access network in other areas of Shrewsbury where, to date, we are able to offer services to over 20,000 premises.”
In the areas impacted Openreach are also planning to build FTTP and it is likely they will also opt to install telephone poles.
This may not happen for a number of years meaning these areas will be left without access to ultrafast broadband and due to the age of the copper a really poor broadband service.
There is a meeting for residents of the Kingston Drive and related areas on June 7th 2023 at St Giles Church Hall between 17:30 and 18:30 and further leaflets will be going out to impacted residents.
List of impacted postcodes
Here is a list of Postcodes where the above letters were sent out and will now not be getting Full Fibre installed due to the objections raised by some residents (note it may also impact some neighbouring postcode areas that would have been covered by the new poles) :