Things are moving quickly. Fibre has been blown from the main cabinet at the Village Hall to Millbrook where it will join up with our connection to the outside world.
Today, Tuesday, work started on fitting out the main cabinet (Head End) and it is hoped to finish that this week. Add that to the sterling work from 21 volunteers last weekend and, fingers crossed, we should see our first live connections very soon.
It might have been raining but it turned out to be a Red Letter day for the Preston Richard Parish Broadband project.
Because this was the day we connected the wider B4RN network to our Main Cabinet at the Village Hall - so bringing secure, fast, broadband for Preston Richard within touching distance.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of this step in the project - it absolutely underpins everything.
The plan was for the route to go from Gatebeck Farm to the Village Hall. We had previously dug from each end but had a 70 metre gap in the middle. So fuelled by bacon butties, kindly provided by Katy and Loz Lawrence, a small band of volunteers braved the miserable conditions to complete the link.
Sod’s law applied - we worked in the rain and when finished the sun came out.
We are now waiting for B4RN to blow the fibre for this link, at which point the main cabinet will be live and we can expand the local network through the village and beyond.
Doing their daily exercise many residents have noticed rolls of ducting outside a number of properties
and we have been asked “are these anything to do with B4RN; what are the different colours for; why are there different sizes?”
All good questions - so we’ve asked Glenn Smithers, our “technical guru”, to explain.
“There are 3 different colours, orange, purple and black, and 3 different sizes - 7mm, 16mm and 50mm (purple). The purple is used particularly when we are doing “infills” - stretches of work which we have to deal with out of sequence for a variety of reasons.
The goal of the Broadband team is to provide every property in the parish with B4RN’s hyperfast fibre broadband service. This will be done by running a core route from the main cabinet (the Head End) at the Village Hall around the Parish. Individual properties will be served by “spurs” running from that core route. These spurs distribute the optical fibres through which the signal is sent. The fibres are very thin - approx. 1/10th the thickness of a human hair.
Core Route cable is a large cluster of individual fibres formed into a single cable. This makes it easier (and cheaper) to feed it round the parish in 16mm orange ducting.
The core route cables feed into chambers where the individual fibres are split out into 7mm orange ducting to feed individual properties. Over time the orange ducting will deteriorate under UV rays so when it is above ground black 7mm ducting is used.
The core route cable comes in different sizes with the largest made up of 12 smaller cables each containing 24 optical cables (288 in total). Two fibres are connected directly to each property (one to use, one a back up). A 288 fibre core route cable can serve 144 properties.
The network for our parish is made up of 7 core routes which require 7 miles of 16mm ducting and a staggering 38 miles of 7mm to enable us to reach every property.”
Thanks Glenn. Now, you may ask “how does it connect to the devices I use?” - and we will answer that next time.
In the meantime - what’s happening? The Lockdown restrictions have stopped much of our work but we have been able to continue with some of the groundwork whilst sticking to the regulations (by having only 2 persons working and maintaining the requisite social distancing) although this means that progress is slower than normal.
The Head End cabinet has been installed and ducting is being laid from there towards the school and eventually to the Route 1 chamber opposite the L & W Wilson entrance.
Additionally some property owners have been able to carry out the necessary trenching work on their own land. Our thanks to St Patrick’s school and all the property owners involved.