Indeterminate delays for Gigaclear roll-out in parts of Devon and Somerset
The Connecting Devon and Somerset phase two project was already delayed when the original BT proposal for the phase two project was rejected and many people were elated when they heard Gigaclear had won a number of contracts. Alas delays have built up due to things like the collapse of Carillion telent and the time it took for the new main contractor to be appointed which was slowed down by the acquisition of McNicholas by the Kier Group.
The official word from CDS is on the projects website but the shortest possible summary is below:
Q. How long is the delay?
A. CDS does not yet know the extent of the delay. This will be part of the details presented in the Remedial Plans at the end of October to CDS for review.Extract from CDS report
The scale of the delay was explained at a meeting of the CDS Board in September, but we there have been worries expressed by from locals ahead of this news.
It is now a case of sit tight and wait for the update and release of a new build schedule. The new schedule will need CDS to agree to it and there is a risk that the CDS Board may not be happy with new timescales and plans to ensure delays are kept to a minimum. There is the potential for Gigaclear once the plan is presented to be sent back re-work on the plan again. CDS even goes as far to suggest their is a possibility of stopping some of the contracts and exploring other options, but given the timescales involved around running a new bid so long as Gigaclear have a reasonable plan it would look to be best to stick to that, particularly as there is no guarantee that another firm winning the various lots would not also run into delays in building the network.
The problems appear to revolve around good old fashioned digging and trenching rather than anything with the broadband technology itself and thus this situation is a cautionary note for the much larger UK wide ambitions for full fibre. The caution is that some areas may simply not have the bodies sitting around ready to build everything as quick as people would like and eventually the laws of supply and demand will kick in with the building firms that have the labour available being able to contract staff to the highest bidder.
This problem has no impact on the Airband contracts that are also part of different areas of Devon and Somerset, but there is a steady set of moans around what is and is not being delivered there too, some of this may be simply be the nature of fixed wireless services in an area with terrain such as Devon and Somerset, or put another way wireless planning models may not always know about a row of trees that may be blocking the signal and even with LIDAR mapping available trees grow or leaves in the summer block the useful signal and of course other obstacles appear over time.