back to article Underground network targets Salisbury: Not the Russian death crew, this time it's Openreach laying fibre-optic cables

The sleepy English city of Salisbury – infamous for the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal last year – is once again the target of an underground network. Yep, Openreach's full-fibre plans. After the mass disruption caused by the Novichok nerve agent, you'd be forgiven for thinking residents might want a bit of peace and …

  1. Korev Silver badge

    Ground-penetrating radar and micro ducting to keep that lovely cathedral untouched

    After the shock of the Notre Dame fire, I can only imagine that some fans of "perfume" will be relieved...

  2. JetSetJim

    Woohoo, well done OpenReach. Adding 20,000 new FTTP homes in the next year, bringing their total up from today's 7% to 7.1%...

    I think they have a little ways to go to meet their targets.. If the other 37 locations are anything similar, then they'll just about top 11% (just shy of 2m homes, rather than the 4m target) by the end of next year.

    And that's assuming they make it to the appointments...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Openreach article on El Reg, comments: "how dare they continue to exist, give it all to B4RN" (and let's ignore the rollout issues faced by both Openreach and its "competitors" because in reality, infrastructure is hard)

      Openreach announcing that they are fully wiring an entire town, alongside their existing multi billion pound plans, alongside the fact that they are still the UK's largest FTTP operator: sarcasm about how they're not going far enough.

      Seems like the commenters here have a problem with BT no matter what. They could probably do FTTP to 100% and give it away for free and people would still moan.

      1. JetSetJim

        I feel entitled to having a problem with BT as they are a complete shit-shower in every dealing I've had with them. I built a house - BT pole on the front lawn, engineer says it has a couple of spare termination points so should be no problem. Gave them 3 months notice to install a line, had all the internal wiring ready in the house. 2 missed appointments, no install. Ring up to escalate, connection request gets cancelled at back office as "we're only running FTTP there", even though there was no fibre in my exchange, but instead they thought it was a different exchange in a different village. Could not get them to reinstate the request for a copper line - they insisted it had to be fibre. Naturally the engineers on the ground could not install a fibre line.

        There may well be some admirable engineers (some I've met) and back office staff, but their processes and administration let them down really badly. This may well be due to a history of chronic uncerfunding, or some other factors - I don't give a crap. Openreach have done a crap job of rolling out fibre to date, and they well be rolling out fibre to a whole town - but I wouldn't be surprised if they balls it up somehow.

        For my house, by pure coincidence, Gigaclear were laying fibre and their sales guy went past. Said they "could do it tomorrow". They did. Nuff said, I was happy with them. The first year or two they fell over a few times, but they seem to have built some network resilience now.

  3. TRT Silver badge


    I seem to recall that's what Jones Cable were up to way back in... ooh... 1992/93. I have to laugh when I see the scars still on the tarmac surface of one footpath that ran next to a grassed verge. The filled in and resurfaced trench runs down the footpath for a few feet, then kicks off sideways into the grass verge, whilst two parallel cut lines carried on down the footpath for another 20 yards or so. I can just imagine the people who were digging it leaning on their shovel, wiping their brows and saying "you know, there has to be an easier way than digging through all this", before looking at the soft earth bank next to the path.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Openreach's Civils Works department

    Do Openreach actually have a Civil's department? Round here, all their civils work is outsourced.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Openreach's Civils Works department

      Not as far as I'm aware they don't. They are civil contractors--- sub-contracted, then sub contracted again--- etc. etc. I would be very surprised if the boots on the shovels actually get to see, let alone use any of this new "kit"

      I smell PR BS on this one.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They've been doing that round my bit of France over the past 18 months. Micro-trenching along the roads, lots of fibre installed. So far they have 15,000 fibre 'lines" available for sale, out of a potential 150,000 when all the equipment is connected. Of that 15,000 available they have actually sold 1,100. Not the world's best RoI so far...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    yeah but


    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: yeah but

      5G is basically 'Wifi, but slightly longer range'.

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: yeah but

        "5G is basically 'Wifi, but slightly longer range'."

        As long as it's not raining or foggy. Not that we need to worry about that sort of thing with our glorious British summers.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Micro trenching?

    Makes me think of google and Louisville, Kentucky. Or in other words, oops, that didn't quite work out.

    1. Ashentaine

      Re: Micro trenching?

      To be fair, Google's botchup was due to their digging the trenches way too shallow in a bid to speed up the process. I think they called it "nano-trenching" and only went down 2 inches, which anyone with a lick of sense could tell you isn't nearly far enough. Granted the 6 inches that microtrenching calls for is less than ideal as well, but at least the cables won't be rising from their graves after a few months like they did in Louisville.

  8. Zarno

    I foresee problems down the road...

    Pun intended.

    The sections where the trenching has happened will end up splitting/cracking/wearing unevenly.

    I've seen it where I'm at, and after a hard winter the potholes/cracks that form lead to more filling, which leads to more next year, till the whole thing needs to be resurfaced.

    Great in theory, but in practice, it only delays the roadwork and makes it cost more in the end.

  9. JaitcH

    Who Micro-Trenches These Days?

    In Canada and VietNam they used pneumatic torpedoes that happily imitate moles (or groundhogs, shrews, gerbils or ferrets) and burrow a tunnel bypassing existing cables, pipes and conduits.

    They are used by telephone companies, cable TV feeds, power and water utilities, gas companies, etc. They are launched by a small hole created by a shovel and continue as long as the a feed is powered or the strike a wall. In Toronto, our condominium had 300 odd homes and the whole place was completed in two days.

    SaiGon / Ho Chi Minh City is completely switching to fibre and all the old cobbled sidewalks are undisturbed except for about 6 bricks where the fibre cable emerges against a building.

    Our office in Buon Ma Thuot, DakLak Prvince, is about 2 kilometres from the nearest fibre junction and we ploughed the fibre and a water line using a BobCat T740 unit.

    Pity the British cable layers don't use current technology.

    1. Tanglewood73

      Re: Who Micro-Trenches These Days?

      I used a pneumatic torpedo to run electric cable up my garden around 20 years ago, so the technology has been around for some time.

      They're tricky to keep in a straight line though unless the ground is all of a similar consistency.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Who Micro-Trenches These Days?

        I don't know the technology but our gas supply must have been installed with something of that nature possibly in that sort of timeframe - there's certainly no sunken remnant of a trench like that for the drain, water & phone. Possibly also the electricity supply and that must have been installed in 1968.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Who Micro-Trenches These Days?

      In Canada and VietNam they used pneumatic torpedoes that happily imitate moles (or groundhogs, shrews, gerbils or ferrets) and burrow a tunnel bypassing existing cables, pipes and conduits.

      Ah, who else remembers Lesley Judd on Blue Peter holding one of those cable-laying mole devices, throbbing like a giant dildo (which clearly hadn't escaped her attention, she was having a hard time keeping her face straight, it was a kid's show). Must have been late 70s?

      Pity the British cable layers don't use current technology.

      Current? BT was using it 40 years ago.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Who Micro-Trenches These Days?

        I'll correct myself, it wasn't Blue Peter, it was BBC Micro Live from 1985, and is on Youtube. The relevant item starts around the 25:20 mark.

        1. JetSetJim
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Who Micro-Trenches These Days?

          Ta for the link, skimming through and seeing what a single frame looks like at any time during the field piece is highly entertaining in this context (e.g. pausing it at 25:52)

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Who Micro-Trenches These Days?

      Pity the British cable layers don't use current technology.

      Could be union rules or something similar even greenies. Same here in the States for the most part. The telcos would save on installation costs and then get to charge a few extra dollars a month. But... <shrugs> I probably won't see coax anywhere near me (I'm a good sized city also) in my lifetime.

    4. macjules

      Re: Who Micro-Trenches These Days?

      Well, try running a torpedo under London streets. If you are very lucky then you might only hit a few vital utilities.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT's fibre plan has been subject to heavy criticism over the years

    BT itself has been subject to heavy criticism over the years...and for good reason.

    Thanks to the Reg commentard that posted a Wikipedia link to Phorm and BT's use thereof. Interesting and disturbing read.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "However, this method hasn't been tried anywhere else"

    Well I guess Bournmouth and York don't count.

    "which of course means things may not go exactly to plan."

    If only there were somewhere with knackered pavements where the thin tarmac infil strip had blown out creating a right mess, and a trip hazard, like Bournmouth and York, that they could go and look at. At least the GPR may keep the number of service strikes below a dull roar.

  12. giggler

    It was an inside job, MI6 likely to try and paper over overtly wild accusations of British government which had already released iffy information to the MSM which was still towing the line even with huge cracks in the story. Ask yourself how a charity bin that gets regularly emptying suddenly has a perfume bottle in it for 16weeks after the Russian's left the UK??

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like