Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Not so Joined Together?

Does anyone know how well the roll out of fibre (Gigabit Jersey) is going? The declared plan was to get all 42,000 domestic properties, plus businesses connected by 2016 (apparently regardless of whether they wanted to be connected!). We taxpaying public put £19million into the project, so I sincerely hope someone in the States is on top of the project plan, progress,and value for our money. My experience and intuition indicates things are perhaps not going too well.

On the recent Bank Holiday Monday we had 3 men from a contract company at our house for 2 hours. It cannot be cheap to pay contractors to work public holidays, so I'm guessing JT wouldn't unless they had to. Another small indication that things are not quite running smoothly is that they went to the wrong address initially (there is another road in the parish with the same name in common usage). Astoundingly given they were working in behalf of the 'phone company is they didn't have our line number (you know the one they were coming to work on) so they could call to locate us! Goodness knows how much more time was lost while they located the right address.

They explained they were trying to locate where the phone lines enter the house, and to do that they proposed pushing the rod from the road end and locating the point from the sound of it hitting the wall. I pointed out there wouldn't likely be much noise if the ingress was, as suspected, below the decking on the wood cladding. Besides I couldn't see the benefit as the first team who had visited had run the rod (a yellow cable like set up on a drum) from inside the house for the 40 metres I told them it would be from the DP to the road. I showed them the DP and conduit. So then they went on the locate the junction box the plan shows is somewhere in the garden garden. I told then we had had had a team up last week to do that too and they had located it in the corner of the garden. (Fortunately Helen had been here to relay that info on that occasion). After some digging about toing and froing they found the junction box and scraped a little soil from the top of it. They then informed us they would have to get a different team out to raise the box and negotiate with us to move some fencing. Net result they had replicated the work of the three previous teams and progressed the whole by the magnificent achievement of removing a couple of inches of soil from a small part of the junction box. It was quite clear they had no idea or paperwork about the previous visits or what they had done.

There's more! The Friday before they turned up we had a letter from JT asking us to confirm their given date for final installation, and saying they expected us to have completed all necessary work for their people to do the install. Bit tricky that as the JT people themselves have not yet worked out what needs doing and are going to have to send at last one more team to us to advise/agree work to be done.

I would like to say at this point that a couple of the individual technicians who tuned up in the different teams were pretty on the ball. They understood it really wasn't a good idea to run cable up the outside of wood clad buildings, especially ones on a timber frame. Everything moves, and unless you use shaped copper fixings you are likely to split the wood, and any hole lets water in and rot begin, oh and the cladding has to be replaced every 20 years or so. Definitely not the place for laser cable.

I have since discovered a couple of other things. First we are certainly not alone in having multiple teams coming each not aware of the other's work on the property. I am also told that the contractors are paid per installation, with JT picking up the problems. The contractors have a quick in quick out mindset and are looking to do the simplest, least work option possible, which of course may not be the sensible or appropriate long term option. That is quite consistent with our experience. Something I have not yet identified is whether the contractors are local companies using local people, local companies using temp off island staff, or even UK companies. I did note two of the teams who turned up here were driving local hired vehicles.

The most recent info I could find on progress was from October last year, saying they had connected 5,000 properties and were on track.
Lets be generous and allow that was December, that means in 10 months they had connected 4000 customers. At 400 per month, it will take over 92 months to connect the remaining 37,000 residential customers. There may be some room to play depending on whether they have for example connected more businesses first. Let's say I have a few doubts about the Gigabit project being completed by 2016.

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