Super Fast Broad Band / Gigaclear Update
1. The Superfast Northamptonshire website ‘where and when’ map shows that they have split Lower Harlestone into three areas . The main part of the village (NN7 4EW and others) is part of your commercial roll-out, whereas the two purple areas either side are in-scope and you are to supply with taxpayer funding. Is this correct? If so, will the whole area be able to use your network from the same date? (Presumably you will need the `middle bit` to be connected for the two in-scope areas either side to work?)
We will be building the whole community as one project, regardless of whether premises are funded or not. We can start providing a service to customers once the Cabinet has been made live and tested. This can be before the whole of the community has been completed. So generally speaking, those premises that are closest to the cabinet, so have been built first, will have the opportunity to order a service from us first. Those that are further away, so have been built last, may have to wait a few more weeks before their connection arrives, is tested and is made ready for service. Our aim is to make the gap between the physical connection point appearing outside your property (the access pot) and the ready for service date as short as possible.
1. Does your agreement with Superfast Northamptonshire mean that all properties within the purple in-scope areas will be able to connect – even harder to reach areas?
Our contract with Northamptonshire is only to connect premises that are classified as NGA White that we have identified through our tender response that we can provide service. These are properties that do not currently have a Superfast Broadband connection. In addition to this Gigaclear are also building to other premises (that may already have Superfast Broadband). In Harlestone, Upper Harlestone and Lower Harslestone we appear to be connecting every property and there does not appear to be any isolated premises that we are not placing a connection to. Usually the coverage is not 100% but in Harlestone, Upper Harlestone and Lower Harslestone this appears to be the case, but residents should check their premises on our website.
The Superfast Northamptonshire When and Where map is based at postcode level, and not accurate at an individual premise level. The best way to see if a premise is within our plans is by using the Gigaclear postcode checker ( https://www.gigaclear.com/postcode-checker/).
1. Assuming that your answer to 2) above is `yes` – does this extend to the main village area (out of scope of taxpayer funding) too? For example, Glebe Lane (postcode NN7 4ET) is in the out of scope area and therefore within your commercial plans, but is not on the main A428. Will you be laying fibre down this road, and similar offshoots, too? (Note: I understand that residents have to individually link up to your network at their expense, my question relates to your main cabling intentions.)
To provide a service to every property we will need to place a network access pot in the public highway on the edge of each property boundary (usually to one side of a driveway or entrance to the property). We will be laying duct and dropping pots to every property. So we will be going down virtually every street to reach every property.
1. On the Superfast Northamptonshire website and also on the Gigaclear site, the area in question is labelled Church Brampton (East Midlands) rather than Lower Harlestone. Why is this ?
In our world communities are made up of Cabinets to which we can connect around 450 premises. In rural areas a cabinet can be used to connect properties across quite a large area encompassing many villages and hamlets. In your case the cabinet you will be connected to is in Church Brampton. I realise this is not helpful for knowing whether your particular town, village or hamlet is in our plans. To help with this Northamptonshire CC have created a table on their website which lists places and allows you to look up the cabinet name for that community:
1. On your website, the date was stated as ‘by the end of 2019’ and this was changed to 2020 a month ago (I`ve been checking regularly). It has, since our MP`s involvement, changed to 2018. You have said that the previous dates were errors and it has always been 2018. Forgive me for been sceptical about this. Can you re-confirm the 2018 date please – we have been messed about so much over this and seek assurances that , unlike BT, you will not renege on promises or subject us to slippage in your timeline.
I’m not sure why we had these errors on our website. We are contracted by Northamptonshire to deliver the network by the end of 2018, and we are still committed to doing this. We would only be able to extend the delivery period if there were significant obstacles that have prevented our delivery (known as Relief Events). The build of the Church Brampton cabinet is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of next year (January to March). A cabinet build takes about 3 to 4 months from beginning to end. As we get closer to this period we will be publishing more accurate start dates and as the build progresses we will be publishing the expected date for build complete. Individual properties can go live at any point after the Cabinet has gone live, so this could be within a couple of months of the build starting. Residents who register an interest with us will receive notification when their pot is ready for service and they can then place an order. We will also send mailshots to all properties after they have gone live to tell them that they can now place an order.
1. Do you need to do a survey, or has this already been done? If it has not been done how can you commit to a timescale?
A survey is carried out at a number of stages in the design process. We make use of desk-based tools to design the network and identify any Special Engineering Difficulties (e.g. bridges, major road junctions, railway lines, motorways etc.). In the first instance our surveyors will just look at the Special Engineering Difficulties, but they will drive the planned route and check that all major obstacles have been picked up by the design team. Once we have a detailed design this is passed to our contractors and they will verify it with their own survey. Should any problems be picked up then these will be rectified by the design team. At the moment we will only publish build start and build complete dates by quarter. We can start to publish more accurate dates as the build progresses and we have more certainty over the design and challenges we might face.
The Church Bampton cabinet has already reached detailed design stage and is ready to hand over to the contractor. So in the New Year you will start to see activity in the area by the contractor verifying the design. Build will start later on in the quarter.
1. Our enquires show that you will experience a very large take-up from residents once you so `live` and you will be pleased to know that BT are about to lose a lot of business over this. What assurances can you give that you will not increase your prices after we sign up? Is there an agreement with Superfast Northamptonshire over this and, if so, does this agreement extent to the out-of-scope area as well as the two in-scope areas?
Gigaclear operates a single, national pricing policy with 2 schedules of prices; Retail and Wholesale. Our pricing is clear and simple in that there are no additional usage based monthly costs, no hidden charges, and neither is there a separate line rental charge. Our wholesale prices are set at a percentage discount to our retail prices and our partner Retail Service Provider’s (RSPs) are free to set their own prices.
Gigaclear reviews its products with partners and benchmarks pricing against the major providers annually. Our terms and conditions state the we may increase prices in January of each year by up to RPI + 2%. For January 2018 we have decided to not increase residential prices at all, unlike other providers.
1. Your email responses (attached) refer to your Marketing Dept who were, on your instruction, to send correspondence to residents to put us in the picture about your plans. However we have received nothing. However Upper Harlestone residents have received mailshots from you promoting the fact that they would soon be able to connect to your network! This is concerning – UH already have SFBB as explained above. I assume this is an error, but please confirm that you are supplying us and NOT UH.
Having checked with the marketing team, they have been posting out our Introductory Mailshot in waves. It might be that some residents in Upper Harlestone have received theirs already, but everyone else, in Harlestone and Lower Harlestone, should receive it within the few weeks.