Full fibre is coming to Northampton– but when and how does it arrive?
Written by Martin Steers on December 17, 2020
You may have heard lots of people talking about full fibre connectivity and gigabit-speed internet lately – but what is it? And why now?
Put simply, full fibre enables near limitless volumes of data to be delivered reliably at speeds fit for the 21st Century, underpinning everything from streaming and gaming to autonomous vehicles, 5G mobile, and more.
At CityFibre, we believe full fibre is going to transform life for UK residents. This is why we’re investing over £40m in futureproofing Northampton and delivering a town wide network that will give almost every home and business access to next-generation full fibre connectivity.
We’ll have things in place and back to normal as soon as possible but, for those interested in knowing more about what it entails, here’s a step-by-step guide to the installation process.
Well, it’s hard to deny just how essential reliable digital connectivity is to our lives these days. It’s something which has really come to the fore over the last year with many of us switching to home-working or home-learning and relying more heavily on online platforms to keep ourselves entertained, access essential services, do our shopping and keep in touch with loved ones.
The UK’s infrastructure is long overdue an upgrade and new technology means our legacy copper networks are no longer fit for purpose. The Government and local councils have ambitious plans to roll-out full fibre, recognising this as key infrastructure. Therefore, we’re investing in rolling-out full fibre in Northampton to make sure it doesn’t fall behind and everyone can benefit from the digital age.
What’s going to happen?
We are expanding our network and this means that we’ll be undertaking a wide-scale construction project throughout Northampton. The result will be a fit-for-purpose and future-proof digital infrastructure that will provide huge and wide-ranging benefits to the entire community for years to come.
In order to manage disruption, we’re working closely with local councils to coordinate with other road works and construction projects that are taking place. All works will receive individual permits, that have been approved by the council’s Highways team.
In addition, all sites will be reinstated to nationally agreed standards and will be inspected and signed off by the Council Highways team.
And the building process itself?
In Northampton we are taking a hybrid approach to build, meaning we use as much existing telecoms infrastructure as possible to minimise disruption. We use ducts and poles that are already in place, put up new poles so homes can be connected aerially and undertake build work when we have to.
When we do have to build, there are several steps required which we try to deliver as efficiently as possible. This usually only takes a few days but varies depending on site conditions. For those interested, below is an outline of the steps we take:
- Setting up site: Most work usually takes place in the pavement rather than the road itself and we always try to keep traffic moving. In Northampton we’re working with Granemore Group as the main contractor to construct the network. They’ll have CityFibre logos on their clothing and the banners around the site so you’ll know who they are.
- Laying the ducts: Once the site is set up, our construction team digs narrow trenches to hold the protective ducting through which the fibre optic cables run. Trenches sometimes pass driveway entrances, but when this happens, we make sure they’re covered until the work is done so cars can cross easily, and if any access is needed during works our supervisors on site will always help and provide access in a safe and timely manner. We also take care when working near trees and other plants to ensure roots are not damaged. At each property we go past, a small connection box (about the size of a mobile phone) is built into the pavement. Then, when the residents take up a service, full fibre is simply extended from the connection box into the home.
- Reinstating the pavement: After the ducts have been installed, we put the pavement back the way we found it. We make sure to try and lay existing paving slabs or cover the trenched area with tarmac so that it matches the rest of the pavement. New tarmac can sometimes appear to be darker than the rest of the pavement but this fades over time.
- Full fibre installation: When construction work in each street is completed, our engineers feed the cables through the duct to the nearest fibre cabinet. This connects the street to the wider network and brings gigabit-capable full fibre broadband within reach of each home. This doesn’t take long and shouldn’t create any further inconvenience for residents.
- Get connected: Once the above steps have been completed, you’re ready to connect. Get in touch with our ISP launch partner, Vodafone, and connect to Vodafone’s Gigafast Broadband services www.vodafone.co.uk/Gigafast
We appreciate that large scale works in the local area can be frustrating for residents, which is why CityFibre puts a strong emphasis on communicating with residents and local stakeholders to keep everyone informed about what we are doing and why it will be beneficial.
Our usual practice will see a team of “door-knockers” visiting each neighbourhood roughly two weeks before work commences to speak to residents and leave behind useful information. In the week before work commences, further communication takes place, particularly related to car parking. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions this has not been able to take place in every case but we’ve tried to keep residents informed via leaflet drops, social media, advertising and other channels.
Our build partners will also be dropping letters through doors a few days ahead of works to provide further details and our onsite supervisors will be happy to help with any queries.
To get in touch or keep up to date on the latest CityFibre news, you can reach us via:
- A 24 hour helpline number available at: 0330 053 6088
- To find out if you can connect your home to full fibre broadband now, enter your postcode in our postcode checker: https://www.cityfibre.com/gigabit-cities/
- For further information on CityFibre and what it means for Northampton visit: https://www.cityfibre.com/gigabit-cities/
- To keep up to date via social media, follow us on Twitter @CityFibre
Residential services are available via Vodafone, register your interest in Gigafast broadband: Vodafone.co.uk/gigafast