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How to get FTTH to your Suburb

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

One of the questions I get asked the most is how we got FTTH to our suburb. We have had FTTH for almost 5 years, and I was very involved in canvassing the Network Operators (NOPs) to lay fibre. 5 years later about 90% of our 330 homes are connected to fibre, most of which are on premium packages. Please note, the process will need to be tweaked as your suburb will be different to mine. However, most of the principles will remain the same.

The below experience is more applicable to suburbs and will need to be tweaked for estates and apartment buildings.

Our Suburb

Our properties are generally pricey with high LSM residents with an average age of over 50. Our ADSL was terrible which on a good day was 3.2 Mb/s. Outages and complaints were frequent. All this made us low hanging fruit for the NOPs.

On the other hand, our property boundaries are over 50 metres in length and the houses are well set back from the boundary. This made our suburb expensive to roll out.

Motivation Process

This process is to get your suburb's residents on board and motivate why the NOP should install Fibre

  1. At the outset be Network Agnostic - Focus on the guarantee of someone bringing you Fibre ASAP and don't play favourites with the NOPs. Remember the NOP you like the most may put you on their long term plan and the one you favour a lot less may be keen to start now. All NOPs will say they want to service your suburb. Far fewer will be keen on doing it now.

  2. Get the Residents Association and/or Neighbourhood Watch on your side - They lend you credibility that you aren't trying to sell them something. They will also have a database of email addresses

  3. Send an educational email to the residents, promoting Fibre as a concept. Don't mention any NOPs. We use MailChimp to reach our residents.

  4. Send Short Survey to gauge interest. I just used Google Forms and Sheets and the people were very engaging. We got about 60% percentage poll. I have attached the survey we used in our submission to the NOPs

  5. Using the survey results, write a Business Case document motivating why the NOP should come to your suburb. The business case will relay the aggregated data from your survey without revealing any personal data.I have attached an edited version of ours here. Remember this was done six years ago so there is a lot I would change.

  6. Send the document to all the NOPs. Here is a sample of the document we used

NOP Commitment Process

This process is to convince the NOP to commit to laying Fibre in your suburb. Again be NOP agnostic throughout this process. Remember the goal is to get Fibre soon, not to get the NOP you like.

Do the Following

  1. If you have written a good Business Case you will get feedback and way too many promises.

  2. Remember who you are representing - You need a NOP that serves your residents needs, and not just yours. Keep your residents informed and try to educate them. Remember many residents won't understand the difference between FTTH, Wifi etc.

  3. Some of the NOPs will want you to send 'Order Forms' out to your residents and they will say they will install if there is X% sign up. I would advise against doing this because there is no guarantee you will get X% and even less guarantee to NOP will deliver.

  4. Be nice to all NOPs, even the ones you don't favour.

  5. Push Open Access very hard.

  6. Focus on the NOPs guarantee to install Fibre

Don't do the following

  1. Don't make price your key point - I have already seen cases whereby this was done and service quality (backhaul etc.) was poor. If you push price lower they may de-prioritise the rollout.

  2. Don't worry about bundled services (TV, security etc.)

  3. Don't slam the door on any NOP.

  4. Don't project your preferences as those of your residents, and don't bow to the loudest voices. The loudest voices could well be talking nonsense and are not representative

  5. Don't try and be the NOP's manager - Instead try and help them. You have the link to the community so you can help them be successful. NOPs want an installation where the community supports them. Being too difficult will probably backfire.

When our suburb entered the process, there were only a few NOPs laying fibre, most of which were in their pilot stages. Having said that, the response level was high with most NOPs showing enthusiasm. Some of the NOPs were keen but said they would not be able to start for some time. This demonstrated why committing to one NOP early on is such a big mistake. Our strategy was to encourage them all to compete. Whoever wins, wins.

Rollout Process

Once the rollout begins, you end up with new challenges. There is still much more you can do to smooth the process. It is worth it to have good liaison between yourself and a senior person at the NOP. You made it happen and so the residents will both thank you and blame you. Warn your residents of the rollout and inform them of the progress. Our biggest challenge was the NOP not being able to get access to properties to run aerial fibre. This holds up the project. Other suburbs had problems with pavements being dug up. When the rollout is almost complete, you will find that some little pockets have been left out. Your influence at the NOP will fill those holes.

Good luck, if you have any questions about FTTH or your career please email me.

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