Cityfibre’s £10m investment to build a new 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network in the city of Stirling (Scotland), which is being conducted alongside UK ISP Vodafone and began last November (here), has been criticised for a “lack of communication and lack of respect.” Traffic disruption is a big issue.
Most of the complaints appear to emanate from residents of Cambusbarron, which is a village that sits on the western edge of the city (arguably a suburb) and one that has seen plenty of disruption due to road closures. This has rubbed quite a few people up the wrong way, particularly given that much of it occurred during the busy pre-Christmas period and is still on-going this month.
Ordinarily broadband operators are supposed to notify locals before such work begins, which is usually done by way of a letter through the door or a personal visit, among other methods. In this case Cambusbarron’s Community Council Chair, Marion MacAllister, notes that not everybody received such a leaflet and those who were visited often weren’t informed about road closures.
“We knew the pavement was being cut up and there would be inconvenience, but we didn’t know about road closures,” said Marion to the Daily Record. “When the diversion work started it caused a lot of difficulty for people going about their business, both retailers and residents, many of them elderly. But the work set for January – over 20 days– is too much for the village.”
Elaine Doherty, Cityfibre’s Local Development Manager, said:
“We are working closely with community leaders, doing everything possible to minimise disruption to local residents and apologise for any inconvenience caused to those affected by road closures.
As we roll out the new network, we will continue to abide by all council processes and keep residents updated on planned works.”
Deploying new infrastructure is an expensive business and will inevitably create a period of disruption for locals, which is often true no matter who is doing the noisy civil engineering side of things.
Over the years we’ve seen similar gripes being levelled against Openreach, Virgin Media and various others. It’s almost par-for-the-course. Meanwhile the Government’s aspiration to ensure nationwide coverage of “full fibre” by 2033 is certain to result in plenty more problems like this cropping up along the way.
In the long run the ability to access affordable 1Gbps broadband speeds should make it all worthwhile and may even boost the value of local housing, as well as the economy. On the other hand operators do have a responsibility to keep the communities where they’re working fully informed and on this front Cityfibre clearly has some work to do, although they wouldn’t be the first to screw up on the communication side.