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.
We are delighted to report tangible progress in delivering Hyperfast Broadband to Preston Richard Parish.
This week has seen:
+ Connections at Crooklands
+ Connection at Millbrook
+ Installation of the Head End (main cabinet for the project) at the Village Hall.
And to explain the “small steps”. It’s an old proverb - ”the longest journey starts with a small step”.
At Crooklands and Millbrook some residents were fortunate that they were at home when B4RN technicians called to fit the house kits inside the property. Fortunate because the “lockdown“ kicked in almost immediately afterwards which means further fittings are on hold. However those that had been fitted could be completed by one person outside the house without breaching the regulations. So a small but important step forward - and one which moves Hyperfast broadband in our parish that bit closer.
Both Crooklands and Millbrook are currently fed from the Preston Patrick Cabinet but the digging to link them has been carried out by Preston Richard volunteers.
The rest of Endmoor will be fed from the Head End at the Village Hall and that was delivered today. Note the “low tech“ transfer system - rollers - as used to move the stones when the pyramids were built. This “Head End” will be the central point from which all the properties in the rest of the parish will be fed.
We are working on establishing the links from both Preston Patrick and Stainton to the Head End but we are held up at the moment by the lockdown regulations of no more than 2 people together and the 2 metre rule. This means our “dig days” have had to be suspended temporarily.
In the meantime - congratulations to those residents who now have “the connection”. Enjoy your good fortune - and to all other residents and businesses let’s hope the delay in rolling out “the connections” to you won’t be delayed too long.
And to the Parish Council and those who joined in the “dig days” before lockdown - many thanks. We couldn’t have got this far without your help.