There is always a likelihood that plans as currently envisaged, and as shown on the When and Where map, whether these are subsidised plans or commercial, will change. The need for change is always a risk until physical delivery of the network has been completed. This is one of the reasons why forecast delivery timescales on the Roll Out Schedule or in response to enquiries are always caveated.
The risk of change is because there are always 'unknowns' which may affect the timescales, cost or technical solution and which ultimately could mean elements of the plans have to change, or by exception sometimes can’t be delivered. This means plans could come forward earlier than expected or be delivered later than envisaged. Some of the reasons for this are set out below: The plans of private sector telecoms providers may change over time. This could be an extension of their investment or a withdrawal of plans in the event that factors affecting commercial viability change. Local authorities have no influence over commercial telecoms plans.
Subsidised roll out plans being delivered with Openreach and Gigaclear are first developed based on initial 'desk top' modelling work. This draws on best known information about the area and existing networks but without the benefit of physical on site surveys in the first instance. This is a pre-planning phase. In order to test whether these plans are viable and are deliverable within the envisaged timescales, further planning and on-site survey work needs to be undertaken. Examples of issues which have the potential to affect plans include incidences such as:
the discovery of blocked or collapsed ducts needed to lay the fibre;
difficulties securing wayleave agreements with private landowners which grant a telecoms provider access to private land to lay fibre and maintain it. Without permission, network can’t be laid and alternative routes would need to be designed. If there is no viable alternative, this can mean telecoms providers are unable to access some properties;
having to cross rivers, railway lines or major roads like motorways or trunk roads such as the A43 or A45. Bridges over rivers may not always accommodate fibre as the depth of road surface may be too shallow or it could be an ancient bridge and not structurally compatible for network crossings; or,
there could be very high costs to connect a power or backhaul supply which could challenge value for money of a proposed solution.
Similar principles may also apply to other providers as their plans come forward. Another potential reason why plans may change is that the network build to serve any particular locality is being managed as part of a much wider programme of civil engineering works for the Superfast Northamptonshire project and this involves rolling out fibre in different parts of the county at one time. Resources are managed to ensure the programme as a whole remains on track which can sometimes mean that the timescales to serve a particular locality within that programme may have to change.