Welcome to the world’s most expensive broadband?      




Well it’s official. We’ve had the formal notification. To quote,


“As discussed the detailed quote provided by Openreach to upgrade your connection under the Universal Service Scheme is

 £ 104,311.20    ”


So there you have it. I must admit that it struck me that this wasn’t so much a quote as a case of them saying, ‘Bog off and bother somebody else, kid.’


They were supposed to send me a breakdown of the cost, and now they have.

The quote received from Openreach is £ 104,311.20


Total Homes Passed=10

Network: Cables and Jointing=30%

Network Build Civils=60%

Planning and Other Issues=10%

I confess that if anybody presented me with this as a tender for a job I wanted doing, I’d probably glance at it, giggle, and drop it in the round filing cabinet before looking at the tenders from the professionals.

What did intrigue me was the comment about the number of homes passed. We had a quick look at Google maps to work out which they would be. Whether Openreach want me to negotiate with everybody to chip in I’m not sure. Or perhaps they just expect me to pay for it all and then they can phone them up and offer them a cheap connection? But one of the potential people on the route did ask Openreach about getting broadband a couple of years ago and was told they could have it for £10,000. They walked away from it. I suspect most of the ten will share the same robust disdain for being screwed. Indeed in some cases they’ll already have moved over to mobile broadband. So I would rate the chances of getting any of them to go shares on £104,311.20 as zero.

I decided to run through a few costs to produce a rough and ready estimate of my own. Now the nearest cabinet to us with fibre to it is just under two miles away, so we’ll call it three kilometres. This cabinet, Cab 26, is the one we’re connected to now. Admittedly our connection is an ad hoc assortment of elderly copper and nicely rotting aluminium but that’s beside the point. Cab 26 is the cabinet they have hooked in all those locally who get fibre broadband. Indeed the fibre optic cable that runs past the top of our lane to serve the village apparently comes via there. To the best of my knowledge the cable to the village is ducted, so they’d only have to thread a new cable through the existing ducting. However let us assume that we need to dig a trench the full way. It’ll be easy enough as it’s along a very wide grass verge on the side of the main road. Then when it gets to the top of our lane let’s assume we can bury it rather than string it from the poles that are already there.


So I got a quote from the chap I turn to whenever I need a digger. He’s dug and backfilled for water, gas, and electricity and he cannot see any problem with doing an armoured fibre cable. (Somebody I know who has done fibre optic cable work all round the world has mole ploughed the cable in in the past.)

Anyway, his bill for digging and backfilling the three kilometres would be £4,000.


Trying to find a price for cable itself is tricky. The chap I know who has laid cable all round the world reckoned they used to estimate it at £500 a mile. But he worked with people who dealt in serious, ocean spanning quantities. I googled prices for cable, and there, tucked away amongst all those companies just trying to sell me broadband, I found one selling cable. I went onto the page and ended up in a chat with a lady in China! I confess I only realised it was China when she asked if we had a Chinese shipping agent! But they could provide me with direct burial type 12 core fibre cable, fob Shanghai for $386.88/km. So the cable would cost £878.59 plus shipping. It’s not a long way from my neighbour’s estimate of £500 a mile. You do then wonder just how much Openreach are charging to connect up at each end?


But I realise these are very simplified figures. So I thought I’d look round for somebody more professional who knows how to charge. So on an American website, I found a company that does a lot of connecting rural areas. This company was quoting between $18,000 and $22,000 per mile. Reading it, this sounded like they were doing it properly with ducting so that you could add other customers later and there’d be access points and suchlike. If you’re putting in ducting, there is obviously a considerable extra cost, but then you do get to use cheaper cable. (I was quoted, Duct type 12core :$285.71/km fob Shanghai.)

They also estimated that the cost of connecting to the house was perhaps $750. So let’s say getting us broadband will take two miles worth of work, and say the cost is $40,000.  That’s £30,279.63 in ordinary money.

We’re struggling to get to a third of the Openreach estimate here. I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to pad out the bill.


Now people have suggested we go for mobile broadband. If we had useful mobile signal inside the house we would consider it. Others have suggested we put together a ‘community scheme.’ The problem is, the community has been done, we’re the ones that weren’t worth putting on the scheme. By my reckoning we’ve got half a dozen households to connect up and they don’t really fit into the same scheme. None of them have the slightest interest in broadband at this price.

And remember it’s not as if we’re all that isolated. I can walk to the telephone exchange in the middle of town in an hour and ten minutes.


Never mind, there’s always a good book to turn to



The fourth of these collections of anecdotes, rants, pious maunderings and general observations on life. Yes we have dogs, quads, sheep and cattle, but in this one we follow the ‘lambing year.’ It starts with ewes being put to the tup in late autumn and finishes in summer with the last of the laggards lambing.
But as well as this we have endless rain, as well as sleeping in a manger. Be brave and you’ll meet young ladies in high heeled cowboy boots, Sir John Moore of Corunna, brassieres for cows, and, incidentally, David Essex.


As a reviewer commented, “Yet another quiet, but highly entertaining, amble through Jim Webster’s farming life, accompanied by Sal, his collie extraordinarie.
Sheep, cattle, government eccentricities and wry observations are all included.”

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53 thoughts on “Welcome to the world’s most expensive broadband?      

  1. Jack Eason August 28, 2020 at 5:15 am Reply

    Sureley they jest???

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 5:20 am Reply

      Well I’m certainly not going to pay it!

      • Jack Eason August 28, 2020 at 5:30 am

        BT is dear enough!!!

      • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 6:11 am

        It would be cheaper to buy a terraced house in town to use as an office!

  2. Eddy Winko August 28, 2020 at 5:17 am Reply

    I just remembered about something I looked at many years ago, satellite broadband. Not sure if that might work for you. https://www.satelliteinternet.co.uk/

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 5:20 am Reply

      The problem with satellite is latency. The signal can travel 60,000 miles to the satellite and back and you pick up a lot of latency in that. So zoom meetings etc get tricky. We have enough latency with out system, a high ping number and you’ve finished speaking before you hear your voice coming back to you out of the machine!

  3. Sue Vincent August 28, 2020 at 5:36 am Reply

    Daylight robbery…

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 6:11 am Reply

      At least Dick Turpin had the decency to wear a mask 🙂

      • Sue Vincent August 28, 2020 at 6:23 am

        Ah, but corporations are above th elaw…or seem to think so 😉

      • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 7:28 am

        Well they’ve no meaningful competition 😦

      • Sue Vincent August 28, 2020 at 9:13 am

        Never a good situation…

      • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 9:16 am

        never. The only thing that keeps politicians honest is that they are easily replaced if we don’t like them. This idea ought to be more widely accepted 🙂

      • Sue Vincent August 28, 2020 at 5:34 pm

        And reminders posted 😉

      • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 5:45 pm

        indeed 🙂

  4. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt August 28, 2020 at 6:07 am Reply

    They write this up and send it to you with a straight face? What about your farm tells them you have this much money sitting around gathering dust?

    Unbelievable. Carrier pigeons, all the way.

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 6:11 am Reply

      When push comes to shove, you can at least eat the pigeon 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt August 28, 2020 at 6:21 am

        I have an exchange in NETHERWORLD:

        “After I offer me congratulations, from a desolate and devastated heart.” He put soul into it.
        She seemed a mite confused. “Thank you?”
        “Whilst I had the honour of holding yer hand, how could I miss the upstart ring cozying up to yer diamond? The wedding band?” He stood, bowed to the camera. “Brian, ye are proven the better man. I salute ye.”
        “Clown!” But she laughed as he resumed his armchair.
        “Yer obedient jester, m’lady.” He slumped, dejected. “I leave ye one minute…”
        “Four months, and not a word.”
        “Me most profound apologies, m’lady. They held me captive.”
        “No carrier pigeons?”
        “We ate them, m’lady.”
        “Likely story.” A very stern look from his hostess—she was enjoying this.
        “Cross me heart.” Follow the lady’s lead. He stared pointedly at her ring, raised his gaze to hers. “Ye’ve made me punishment eternal.”
        She shook her head in amusement, segued firmly back into control of her own show. “And the dirt you promised me?”
        “No dirt, m’lady. Work, work, work.” Careful!
        “All the time.”

      • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 7:27 am

        nicely done 🙂
        That’s the sequel to https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017AZLTLG/ isn’t it?

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt August 28, 2020 at 8:34 am

        Yup. I’m trying to get it finished, but the brain fog was heavy during most of August. It has just cleared up (long story), and I hope to get the next chapter finished tomorrow.

        I have fun with it – but you mentioned eating pigeons, and the brain said it had something on that topic.

      • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 8:51 am

        Glad things are moving forward 🙂

  5. beetleypete August 28, 2020 at 7:38 am Reply

    We have our phone line connected from inside the loft to a pole which is visible in a lane nearby. The nearest conection box for the exchange is about 500 yards away from the house. Yet we have fast fibre-optic broadband via EE, and it costs £33 a month including the off-peak calls from the house phone. There are no cable-runs in Beetley, it’s all done from poles. So I don’t get why you can’t have something similar. Strange.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 8:08 am Reply

      We have to have ‘fibre’ (which is to cab 26) to get above dial-up speed
      Our problem is that at 3km we’re at the limits of viability from the cabinet, and it’s not helped by the fact that apparently (according to Openreach engineers over the years who’ve worked on the system) our connection has aluminium wire in it which is good enough for phone calls but not for internet 😦

      • beetleypete August 28, 2020 at 8:13 am

        Ah, then it must be that distance from the cabinet that is crucial. Sorry to hear that, Jim.
        (There is a farmer not too far from here who has to drive to a layby on the A47 to get a connection faster than dial-up so he can do his farm accounts. It was on the local news.)

      • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 8:50 am

        It’s quite funny when the Openreach engineers come out, they use the BT mobile network (I think it’s EE) and they have to walk down the lane to get enough signal to talk to the machine they’ve plugged into our telephone wire 🙂

  6. jenanita01 August 28, 2020 at 9:31 am Reply

    I find it impossible to believe that cables must be lain under ground for broadband. They don’t need to do that for mobile phones… How long was it before you stopped laughing?

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 9:42 am Reply

      I must admit that the first emotion was stunned disbelief. Under the universal service obligation government chips in £3,400. So I did assume that the cost would be in that sort of ball park!

      • jenanita01 August 28, 2020 at 6:07 pm

        My first thought was it has tone a misprint. Either that or someone’s having a laugh!

      • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 6:31 pm

        We were told the figure first and I asked him to repeat it!

      • jenanita01 August 29, 2020 at 8:35 am

        I think I would have had hysterics!

      • jwebster2 August 29, 2020 at 8:46 am

        I was tempted by that option 🙂

      • jenanita01 August 29, 2020 at 6:43 pm

        I would have!

      • jwebster2 August 29, 2020 at 6:47 pm

        It’s certain one of the rational responses

      • jenanita01 August 30, 2020 at 10:26 am

        That, and screaming!

      • jwebster2 August 30, 2020 at 10:27 am

        In a perfect world you ensure that others do the screaming 🙂

  7. The Story Reading Ape August 28, 2020 at 9:46 am Reply

    You could try a dongle, Jim, it would boost whatever signal you’re currently getting. 🤔

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 9:49 am Reply

      twice nowt is still nowt 😦
      None of the companies reckon we can get adequate signal in the house, which is why we could apply for the universal service obligation

  8. Cathy Cade August 28, 2020 at 12:43 pm Reply

    I recommend you publicise this in as many letters to national and local newspapers and influential journals as you can find addresses for (with scans of the paperwork you have). Some journalist looking for a topic will surely ask them to justify this figure plucked from the air.

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2020 at 1:12 pm Reply

      I should have finished the piece with the old line ‘foreign papers please copy’ 🙂

      But yes, sound advice

  9. Widdershins August 29, 2020 at 8:02 pm Reply

    Perhaps you can send your ‘revised’ figures back to them and see what happens!

    • jwebster2 August 29, 2020 at 8:14 pm Reply

      I’m working on the best way of doing it 🙂

      • Widdershins August 29, 2020 at 9:41 pm

        Heh, heh, heh. Excellent.

  10. acflory September 1, 2020 at 12:42 am Reply

    Australia is in the process of replacing ‘some’ of the old copper cabling with fibre optics, but the cheapo solution chosen isn’t that great. In my suburb [outer fringe of Melbourne] we’re currently on ADSL2 [broadband via the phone landline]. My neighbour, however, has a satellite dish on his roof. I don’t know how much it cost to install, or how much it costs to maintain, but he’s in IT and seems happy with the service. Maybe satellite is a cheaper option for you as well?

    • jwebster2 September 1, 2020 at 4:39 am Reply

      For the money Openreach want to charge me, I could probably launch my own satellite.
      I’ve steered away from it so far because you can have problems with latency which is more important than it was even four months ago because everybody now uses zoom (or equivalent. ) Even with our current system the latency is bad but not at satellite levels and it can be a bit disconcerting when you say something and hear it come back through the computer several seconds later in the middle of somebody else speaking

      • acflory September 2, 2020 at 2:36 am

        I’ve never had a satellite connection but yeah, that would be disconcerting! I hope you get something sorted coz we’re going to need our www more now than ever.

      • jwebster2 September 2, 2020 at 4:34 am

        I’ve been talking to the other six households involved. One did look at satellite and apparently we cannot get it here because the satellite is too low on the horizon compared to the hills on the other side of Morecambe Bay. But we’re going to see if we can have a meeting with Openreach to get them to discuss a sensible scheme

      • acflory September 2, 2020 at 12:58 pm

        Gah…it sounds like you’re in a ‘black spot’ when it comes to broadband. Good luck. 😦

      • jwebster2 September 2, 2020 at 1:09 pm

        we’re well and truly in a black spot. I was talking to a neighbour and we probably cannot get satellite (he cannot, the hills block it)

      • acflory September 2, 2020 at 1:24 pm

        You’d think in this so-called digital age the powers that be would ensure that everyone had decent coverage. 😦

      • jwebster2 September 2, 2020 at 2:06 pm

        I don’t think governments think of it as their problem any more than they think it’s there duty to provide everybody with a netflix subscription
        I suspect governments are still on the cusp of transition when they realise that actually they need us to be on broadband so they can react with us

  11. xantilor September 5, 2020 at 8:21 pm Reply
    • jwebster2 September 6, 2020 at 4:10 am Reply

      In my defence somebody irritated me when I was bored 🙂

  12. Jack Eason September 7, 2020 at 5:36 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    …and I thought BT was expensive!

    • jwebster2 September 7, 2020 at 8:58 am Reply

      It’s cheaper to buy a new house!

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