- How we are building the fibre network
- Fibre Broadband
- Exchange Only Lines
- New Build Properties
- Long Lines
The 'How' Plan
Then comes the plan to actually deliver the ‘where’ plan. Openreach were awarded the engineering contract for deploying the fibre, which is why you’ll see Openreach engineers out and about laying fibre for the programme. You can watch them going about this job on video.
The Purpose Of The 'How' Plan
The ‘how’ engineering plan was devised against the objective of rolling out faster broadband to as many people as possible with the available funding.
Due to the ‘where’ plan this is often more rural locations but not always, there are many pockets of non-deployed streets within urban areas. This is because the surrounding areas gained access to fibre broadband through a commercial plan. The pockets that were not included in the commercial roll-out are usually because they are properties served by exchange only or ‘EO’ lines. These are harder, more time-consuming and therefore more expensive to deliver a fibre broadband solution to.
The ‘how’ engineering plan is patchy geographically – because we will follow the path of 'least resistance' from a telecoms network perspective. This is the route which is best value for money.
Value for money and quality is also why we are mostly deploying a fibre technology called ‘Fibre to the Cabinet’ or ‘FTTC’.
We want to reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, with the available funding. Next Page...
Stage 1 - Design
The overall Openreach network plan is based on everything that’s up poles and down holes, and on the street.
DESIGN (typically takes 12 months from this stage to being able to place an order).
The first step in delivering to a particular location is to carry out initial planning based on Openreach network records. At the end of this design process, we’ll have a blueprint in place for delivering fibre to your area.
Stage 2 - Field Survey
FIELD SURVEY (typically takes 9 months from this stage to being able to place an order)
- We’ll now take the blueprints from the design stage to your area, and make sure that what looks good on paper works in the real world. We do this by carrying out an on-site physical survey to check the situation on the ground and work out where we can build the fibre cabinet, and lay the fibre cables. Our surveyor needs to check that there’s sufficient space alongside all the existing utilities underground for our new wires, and whether the street cabinet is large enough for a fibre upgrade or needs replacing. We’ll also need to determine whether we’ll need to close any roads to install fibre and, if so, apply to the local authority for road traffic management, traffic lights etc. We’ll liaise closely with your local authority to ensure fibre is installed safely and with the minimum of disruption to local people.
- What happens during the field survey
The position of the existing green copper cabinet is identified (sometimes the plans are out of date or the cabinet is hidden by shrubbery!)
- The surveyor looks for a suitable place to site the new fibre cabinet. There are restrictions as to where the new cabinet can be placed, just some of the factors that need to be taken into account include:
- The distance between the existing copper cabinet and the new fibre cabinet – for performance reasons they need to be located as close to each other as possible
- Access to a suitable power supply – unlike the copper cabinet, the fibre cabinet requires a power supply, which needs to be as close as possible to minimise costs
- Pedestrian access – it is important that the fibre cabinet does not impinge on a footpath, a minimum of 1.2 metres has to be left between the front of the cabinet and the edge of the footpath to allow pedestrians to pass safely
- Road users – it is important that the fibre cabinet does not affect the view of motorists especially if it needs to be placed near a road junction
- Land ownership – we need to identify who owns the land around the existing copper cabinet. It could be that we have to seek permission from the landowner to site the infrastructure on their land (known as a wayleave)
- Underground structures – it is essential to know what other utilities may be in the area such as gas pipes or water mains. These will need to be taken into account when digging to install the new ducting
- Safety – there is a need to ensure that the fibre cabinet is sited in such a way so not to provide a security risk for any nearby property, for example, could it be used as a means of climbing over a wall
- Condition of existing infrastructure – it is important to note the size and condition of the existing copper cabinet. It could be that the copper cabinet itself is too small to house the extra equipment needed and therefore it will need to be changed for a larger one.
As you can see, the surveying of the existing, and planning for the new, infrastructure is a vital stage in the whole process.
However assuming that we don’t encounter any major problems, the completed survey is returned to Openreach network planning. It can then be planned and sent to the on-the-ground installation team. At this stage we get the actual power design from the power company and align traffic management, power connection and fibre cabinet build dates.
Stage 3 - Build
BUILD (typically it takes about 5 months from this stage to being able to place an order)
At this point we’re ready to start the physical work in your community. We’ll be installing the new fibre cabinet and bringing fibre cable from your local telephone exchange to your area. You might see our teams working in the footway boxes along your street as they bring the fibre cable through the underground ducts or overhead on telephone poles.
We’ll also be putting the fibre cabinet in position which might cause a bit of disruption with traffic diversion and closed pavements, we’ll do our best to reduce this. Throughout the build phase we continue to work closely with the power companies and local authorities to reduce delays and keep disruption to a minimum.
Stage 4 - Connect
CONNECT (typically it takes about 4 months from this stage to being able to place an order)
We’re now connect the power and fibre cables to the brand new fibre cabinet in your area. We need to test and certify the power connection is working properly. The existing copper and new fibre cabinets have to be connected to each other by underground copper cables. The physical build is now completed and there shouldn’t need to be any further works in your area.
Stage 5 - Activate
ACTIVATE (typically this takes place about a month before you will be able to place an order)
We’re performing our final quality and safety checks in your area, and updating our network records. We’ll also let service providers know that fibre connections are available in your area.
The decision to offer services will be down to each individual internet service provider according to their business model and is outside the control of Digital Scotland.
Any service provider can use the fibre infrastructure to provide you with internet services. You do need to place an order with a service provider to get a faster connection – it doesn’t just happen automatically.