Campaign forces Openreach to remove fiber poles in Fife Village

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Residents of the large Fife (Scotland, UK) village of East Wemyss have successfully petitioned Openreach (BT) to remove several of its recently deployed telegraph poles. The poles were built to help bring full fiber broadband (FTTP) to the area, but locals found them”importunate” and feared that the value of their homes would suffer.

Note that the local Openreach project is part of their broader work to deploy a new Fiber to the premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network to cover 6,400 premises in and around the Leven area. The village of East Wemyss is home to a population of around 2,000 and only 5 of the poles deployed in this area, in a specific part of the village, are impacted by the day’s news.

REMARK: We realize that “telegraph polesis a description that does not strictly correspond to the current use of the structures. But the reason we use it is that saying “polesis very generic (can be confused with other things) and not immediately familiar.

According The mailsome villagers felt the poles, one of which had been deployed right outside someone’s window, had “spoiled what is a beautiful little village“. In response, residents came together and signed a joint petition that called on Openreach to reconsider.

Sometimes the cost of going underground would just be too much for a build to be viable, which is where poles come in. These poles are usually constructed using Authorized development (PD), which means they don’t have to go through the usual planning process and can appear quite quickly, often without residents having much of a say, adding to the frustrations of those who stray. oppose it.

The good news, at least for those concerned, is that the network operator has agreed to remove the poles.

An Openreach spokesperson said:

“Wherever we can, we use our existing conduit and pole network to avoid digging and disruptions. But in order to be able to include certain properties in the upgrade, we may need to install new poles or carry out road works.

In this case, we received several complaints from the local community about five new poles – and we listened to residents’ views and sympathy. Last week we arranged to have all five poles removed, and the work [has now taken place].”

Openreach added that they will go now”Back to the drawing board” to think about how to move forward with the broadband upgrade for the region, which as we said above can be difficult unless they find a solution economically viable. The cost of going underground may simply be too high and if so, locals may have to wait years longer until the government’s Project Gigabit program kicks in for Scotland.

Unfortunately, poles tend to divide public opinion when erected (examples here, here, here, here and here) and as a result they remain one of the least popular elements of broadband infrastructure and modern telephone (much like mobile masts).

However, poles are also very common in much of the UK, and many people would be more than happy to accept their deployment if it meant having access to a full fiber optic network. Likewise, there seems to be no shortage of studies claiming to show how providing faster broadband tends to drive home values ​​up rather than down. As far as we can tell, the widespread use of poles has not stopped UK property prices from rising.

In 2021, we asked 657 of our readers if they would accept Poles to get FTTP, if the alternative meant having to wait years longer for service, and 71% said they would accept Poles. A few months ago we asked 400 readers if, when looking to buy a new home, the existence of poles on the street outside to carry fiber would be a major negative factor in their decision and 77 % answered no. But it is clear that many people still have a negative perception of it, especially those who come from areas where the poles have not been used before.

Some locals will always welcome the rejection of new infrastructure work, especially when it comes to pole deployment, but others who want it end up being punished by those who don’t yet see the future benefits. In comparison, the deployment of new trenches is a much slower and much more disruptive/expensive type of civil engineering, which can create all sorts of different problems for residents (e.g. noise, road disruptions, traffic restrictions). access to property, security, etc.). But the latter has the advantage of building a much more discreet network.

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