The Fastershire scheme in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire (England) has confirmed that they’ve sent Gigaclear’s revised Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband roll-out plan back to the drawing board. The move follows last year’s news (here), which revealed that the UK ISP’s contract had suffered “unexpected delays.”
Toward the end of 2018 Gigaclear found itself in the news for all the wrong reasons after a number of their Broadband Delivery UK linked contracts in Berkshire, Northamptonshire, Fastershire (Gloucestershire and Herefordshire), Devon and Somerset suffered significant delays (here, here, here and here). As a result some areas were told that they might have to wait an extra 2 years on top of what was previously planned.
Several of the affected projects highlighted problems with poor operational capacity and decision-making within Gigaclear, as well as a lack of contractor capacity, delays to wayleaves, slower than expected civil engineering and a lack of detailed planning (issues vary between contracts). Much of this is said to have stemmed from the provider’s old management, which was replaced following Infracapital‘s £270m buyout (here).
Unlike other affected contracts (see above) the Fastershire project has been much more ambiguous about the scale of delays in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Back in October 2018 they merely said that “unexpected delays” meant a “number of the start dates anticipated for certain communities have been missed.” Gigaclear was thus ordered to produce a new deployment plan.
Since then the only sound has been one of silence, until today. According to the latest update, Fastershire received Gigaclear’s revised plan in November 2018 but apparently this wasn’t good enough.
A revised deployment plan was received in November 2018 but the plan needs to be refined further including the implications associated with bringing a number of properties that are currently not in any plan, into the contract before the full schedule is published.
Gigaclear have indicated that this process should be complete by the end of January and once received, the deployment plan will need to go through Fastershire’s governance process. However, this process is not delaying the rollout which continues at pace, and work has started (or is complete) in 49 cabinet areas.
The Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) project reported an almost identical outcome in November last year and we’re still awaiting an update on that, although we’d assume they’re working to a similar sort of time-scale as the Fastershire project. In other words we should have a better idea of what’s happening with the new plan before this Spring.
Crucially Gigaclear are continuing to roll-out the new “full fibre” network while all of this is occurring (details), which should help to manage the delays. The situation in Fastershire is also not believed to be as serious as it has been elsewhere, although we won’t know for sure until the final plan is approved and published.
Hopefully 2019 proves to be a better year for the ISP than 2018. What’s less clear is why it took Fastershire several months to inform the public that they’d rejected Gigaclear’s first plan revision in November 2018.