B4RN who started raising funding for their FTTH roll-out in the most rural parts of Lancashire almost three years ago has so far connected around 700 premises to its network and is currently connecting premises in Dolphinholme. It seems according to a report on ISPreview that Openreach is back in the village and adding fibre tubing to more telephone poles.
Dolphinholme was also scheduled for FTTP via the Lancashire County Council project and here is where it gets very messy, as it is not clear whether B4RN submitted a formal Open Market Review (OMR) submission to the County Council or whether less formal agreements were reached. Irrespective of the OMR it would seem sensible for a BDUK project to adjust its plans once it becomes clear an alternate solution is going to be available in an area when feasible. The OMR is meant to avoid the need to re-jig plans, as providers should declare their plans for the next three years as part of the process.
So we are left with B4RN FTTP running around the outside of the village, while Openreach continue down the main road. End result will be people with a choice of full fibre based services.
As far as we know Dolphinholme is the current South West extent of the B4RN plans with the M6 forming a natural break. Dolphinholme is served by the Forton exchange and cabinet 4 is already offering a FTTC service, with FTTP coming to other areas and some exchange only lines we believe.
In terms of publicity for B4RN this clash is an ideal platform, particularly if they can continue to promote their high take-up rates, which are greatly helped by public involvement in the build process. The BDUK Lancashire project has a 97% fibre based target so it was always going to be the case that it would have built up to the edge of any competing networks, and as the popularity of B4RN grows and offshoot projects get underway we can be sure to see more dual-fibre areas like Dolphinholme.
These battles could have been avoided if everyone stuck to the exact processes and the council projects entered into a much longer period of planning, but the pressure to get as many connected as soon as possible within budget has meant that very long planning periods are not possible, hence the overlapping of the superfast extension projects before the full extent of the current schemes and the muddle that was the RCBF.