I live in the centre of a major Scottish city, which has according to wikipedia has an urban population of 1.75 million people. That’s no small number of people. I just assumed when I bought my place, that being in a large new development that when infinity began rolling out that it’d be available pretty much after launch. Well thanks to the mystery of BT Planning, I’ve sat for the last 5 years and watched as promised date after promised date has slipped.
Late in 2014 it became abundantly clear that BT had no interest in enabling us, all the vague excuses piled up and I realised it was going to have to be a DIY approach for our building. First the facts- our building is just over 7 years old, is a steel frame building with inbuilt ducting and services and false ceilings. All these things make it super easy to install services. Secondly, the location and pricing of the building means that there’s a lot of young professionals, and home workers (i.e. a captive market). To me it made no logical sense that the building hadn’t been enabled (I’ve actually come to get information that makes me believe it’s not a technical reason but a planning/political reason holding us back).
So i began my search, which in all honesty I was expecting to be fruitless. I mean- if BT the largest telecoms group in the country can’t get us cable who can! My first port of call was Virgin, where I reached out and got positive noises from they cable my street team. I registered my interest, had a few neighbours do the same, and had good conversations with one of their outreach managers on twitter. After 6 months though we had no committal, no in person engagement and weren’t going anywhere.
Frustrated I looked at the market again and came across Hyperoptic – a company which on paper our building was purpose made. I have to confess that due to travel I didn’t make the first approach, but a neighbour picked up the baton and made the initial contact. I got re-involved in summer of 2015, after which time I assumed the role of Hyperoptic Champion for the building, and pushed the project. I started by joining our residents association, primarily for a single task (i.e. getting the fibre fitted) and began to work with the excellent John McCabe at Hyperoptic. Our residents association really lacked social media skills, a domain name and a Facebook forum later I had the ability to outreach to folk and begin campaigning.
I started by speaking to neighbours I new in person, however it’s a big development so I probably only knew 20percent of the folks in the development. Hyperoptic require residents to register interest on their page, and have a very transparent tracker. To assist I was sent marketing flyers and materials, which allowed me to do a mail drop. I took the basic materials, and made them a bit more personal by branding and explaining a few things on an accompanying letter. I mail dropped them in early September, and by the end of that same month we were showing the adequate number of registrations to move forward.
Hyperoptic were true to their word and surveyed the building, reporting back that they’d be able to fit the service with no issues. The only fly in the ointment was the lack of service hatches in the ceilings outside the units. Hyperoptic offered a solution of installing these hatches and picking up the cost. (The truth being that we should have had these in anyway). As is typical we had the doubters who though that these small hatches would “spoil the look” but to be frank I never accepted that given that we have smoke detectors, lights and so forth already there. Anyway, a vote sent out by the factor saw no significant objection and we were green light to get the way leave signed to get Hyperoptic in and fitting.
The internal cabling is high quality Cat6e, I’m not 100percent sure of the switch infrastructure but effectively the fitted network should be able to support 10gigs and beyond (technology permitting). Cabinets were installed in the basement levels where the switches are housed, and cat6E cabling was run first below in the carparks, and then up through the 3 blocks of the building (10 storeys). The install is first class, to the point where in a straw poll of folks visiting my house I said- do you notice anything? – to which the answer was – what?
Fibre install has been a bit of a bear, with the contracts (BT) wasting dates, and making delays, however we have the fibre into the basement, and jointing is to go ahead. I’m already confident this service will have massive benefits to our residents. To go from a 14meg internet connection which is beginning to struggle to support multiple over the top media services, to a symmetric 1gig service is going to be a huge change, and I’m going to blog about how it affects the day to day of what and how we utilise media. Stay tuned for more articles.