Ultrafast gigabyte broadband to come to Ludlow but telegraph poles are needed in some areas

Ultrafast gigabyte broadband to come to Ludlow but telegraph poles are needed in some areas

Ludlow is to be upgraded over the next couple of years to Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). That replaces the copper cable between the green cabinet and your house or business (FFTC) with fibre all the way. That will increase potential broadband speeds from 30Mb to 40Mb to up to 1Gb. The entire town should have ultrafast gigabyte broadband within two years. It will not just be faster. It will be more reliable.

But there are some drawbacks. Some streets do not have telecoms ducting. The current plan is to erect telegraph poles in these areas and run cables overhead. The alternative would be to dig up the roads, people’s drives and sometimes gardens to install the new fibre cables. That will be much more expensive and could lead to the work being delayed.

I am old enough to remember when the only phone was the call box the other side of the church. When the phone came into the home it had to be in the hall. You could only have brown and green. You couldn’t use the phone if a neighbour was also using your shared “party line”. Those phones redefined the word party. Calls to distance parts had to be booked weeks in advance at Christmas. But in those days, TV was black and white and it seemed to be snowing everywhere including on the moon.

When Star Trek came along, we thought having a phone in your pocket was never going happen. Videophones on the wall? It was distant future. Probably never.

Now we have households full of kids watching movies, playing games and skyping their mates with devices that fit in their pockets.

Broadband speeds in Ludlow town are reasonable with households and businesses getting up to 30Mb download on copper connections to their premises. But as the way we work changes, the way we learn evolves, and way we meet and talk changes, we are not going to be well served by current broadband speeds. Movies, Zoom, Teams, online learning, telemedicine, gaming and more.

It’s a myth that older people don’t use the internet. Their demands might not be as high, until the grandkids drop by that is.

We are beginning to move to telemedicine, a little faster due to epidemic, but we have some way to go. I am much more comfortable to talking to my GP or a nurse if I can see them but I don’t have to leave my home to do it. Medical professionals learn a lot when seeing people too. Incipient signs of depression and other problems that may not be the purpose of the appointment.

Some people will not want to upgrade. It won’t be compulsory. But the ability to have a superfast broadband connection is already a factor in house prices. People buying want evidence of connectivity.

The issue is the telegraph poles. The Bringewoods, the Stantons and Whitbatch Close do not have telecom ducts. (Fishmore View does.) Notices are being displayed about erection of telegraph poles. Wherever possible, these poles will be close to streetlights to minimise visual disruption.

The alternative is to dig up the roads to install ducts. Drives will also need to be dug up  and sometimes gardens. That will cause a lot of disruption.

The costs will be much higher. Using poles to connect a large number of households costs around £50 a household. Installing ducting will cost around £900 a household. Openreach pays the bill but the reality of the world is that if costs shoot up, the priority for upgrading will fall.

This must be neighbourhood decision. If there is clear evidence that most households don’t want telegraph poles erected there will need to be a rethink. That could delay gigaspeed broadband rollout by years. You should contact cemwandmarches@openreach.co.uk.

I welcome this upgrade. I don’t welcome the poles. But we have an opportunity for our rural town to join the gigabyte world. I think it is a good thing.

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