There Are Many Issues that Can Prevent Us From Giving You A Date 

Wayleaves and planning permissions

  • Private grantor not willing to sign
  • Negotiating regarding payment amount
  • Negotiation regarding wayleave clauses

Missing infrastructure (e.g. no duct)

Things like floods, accidental damage by farming machinery or tree trunks can cause what's in the ground to no longer match records. One of the reasons the Field Survey phase is so important.

  • Duct not in place where we expected it to be

Blockages

  • A duct full of silt for example - blockages cause in-build delays
  • Blockages in the duct also increase delivery costs

Other services provisions 

  • Traffic management – needs to align dates with Local Authority or Transport Scotland
  • Other utilities have already booked the road space
  • Local Authority embargos – e.g. Christmas / Festivals / Tourist season
  • Digging embargos – if the road surface has been renewed, we can’t dig it up for 2 years

In order to protect the fibre cabling, it needs to run through ducting which is buried underground. Although in most cases this ducting exists already as it is currently used to carry the copper cabling, some of the ducts around Scotland have been in place for many years; some of the problems encountered include broken ducting or ducts that are full of silt.

In rural Scotland, the challenge is different as the cabling is carried on overhead poles. These poles may need to be replaced before the fibre can be installed and the project works closely with utility companies to identify if the poles are no longer fit for purpose.

To repair broken underground ducting, it is a case of digging down to the broken section and replacing with new. To allow engineers to do this, it requires the area to be safety fenced and at worst may require a full road closure with either traffic management or diversion routes set up.

For ducting that is full of silt, Openreach may use the services of a team known as ‘Fibre Path Clearance’. They use special rods to push through the ducting to try and dislodge the silt; they work small sections of the route at a time.

However, they could still encounter issues with broken ducting which would require further exploration. 

Bringing the fibre to the new cabinet can be a slow and labour intensive process!

The fibre cabinet needs to be installed on a concrete plinth and this will need to be built. Once constructed, the fibre cabinet can be put in place and fixed in position; this can be done either before or after the fibre has been brought to the site.

If there are problems with getting the fibre to the cabinet, it may be that the cabinet is installed but it could be a matter of weeks or months before the fibre is able to be connected.

Why is the fibre cabinet installed if the fibre is not yet in place? In order to ensure best value for money, we group together and work on a number of fibre cabinets in a geographical area. It is much more economical to deliver and install them all at once rather than have engineers called back to site at a later date.

With EO we look to deploy the most appropriate solution to bring faster speeds to the area, the solution does vary from area to area - it is bespoke.

Our roll-out is based on delivering contracted speeds rather than the use of particular technologies and we employ the most appropriate solution to deliver these speeds. It is more common with EO lines that we can't give you a date due to the extra complexity EO deployment entails - this is fully explained in The Problem with EO Lines.  There is also more on EO lines here.

Sometimes, the solution is to provide a fibre to your premises directly, known as fibre to the premises (FTTP).

But, more commonly the solution is we turn EO lines into FTTC. This is more efficient and cost effective.

First we rearrange the local exchange network to pick up as many of these EO lines in the locality as possible and build them into a new copper street cabinet.

With standard deployment the cabinet already exists on the street. The deployment journey from planning and surveying through to building and deploying fibre is fairly straightforward when we are in areas with cabinets already in place. 

However the journey becomes less certain when an optimal location for a new copper cabinet (to house the EO lines) must be determined and then built. Building this new cabinet can be delayed by unforeseen engineering challenges, either in providing the new copper cabinet or the additional fibre infrastructure which increases the uncertainty around delivery dates.

Optimising the position of the new copper cabinet is crucial as broadband speeds are distance related and we want to bring the best possible broadband speeds to as many properties as possible.

Seeking planning permission, or permission for road works from local planning authorities and landowners has a big part to play in agreeing the placement of the new cabinet. This sometimes takes considerable time, despite us having a dedicated team working with local authorities. During this phase we have no way of predicting the completion time as it’s not all up to us and important considerations in their planning need to take place – for example, imagine a rural village with narrow roads, can people walk around the cabinet?

The additional fibre infrastructure needed for this EO solution cannot be built until a site for the new cabinet (which can provide suitable power and access arrangements) is confirmed. 

It is only at this point that we can be sure that it is possible to proceed and this is why timescale information for EO line deployment is often unpredictable and therefore unavailable.

The new cabinet and line rearrangement is planned to allow the most access possible for the connecting properties, however, unfortunately, in a small number of cases even once the new solution is ‘live’ some properties may find they are too far from the new cabinet to benefit.

We do not know if or which properties will be in this situation before deployment. When we do know our interactive online map will explain there is a distance limitation issue, more commonly known as a ‘long line’ issue. There are plans to address this issue and more information is available in our website FAQ.

We have more EO lines in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, there is a particular higher density of them in two regions – Aberdeenshire and Dumfries and Galloway. To date we have delivered over 200,000, and by the time the programme is completed we will have connected over 320,000 EO lines.

So do not feel disheartened if you find you are served by an EO line, we are providing this information on the complexities of EO deployment to explain why, we can’t give you a date. Next page...

These videos below explain further some of the challenges we face with deployment

Standing Cabinets

Permissions

The Unexpected