Most of you would have noticed by now that fibre is being deployed all over Glenwood and surrounding areas. This is a brief story of how we got the ball rolling and brought fibre to the area.
Before Covid hit, our lives were mostly online like most of the world. Using the internet for freelance work, entertainment, and everything in-between to keep afloat. We got the ball rolling in January 2020 after we had discovered that the Fibre Network Operator (FNO) that we had an order with cancelled and fled the area. Vumatel was planning a rollout but were met with force, and in the end, had to cancel all their plans for a rollout.
We desperately needed low-latency fibre for our online gaming, high speed for work and reliability to keep us connected without having to worry about data caps and usage limits. Have a 4G video you need to upload? Well, start uploading it and go to bed. That was just how things worked on ADSL and LTE, half the time it would fail too.
But before I get carried away, let’s bring more to how we brought fibre to the area.
Phase 1: Research
Sure we had some history and experience in the fibre and ISP industry, but for this to work, we really had to throw ourselves out there, call multiple companies, arrange meetings and meet people.
Looking at some old emails, we reached out to 19+ Network Providers (FNO’s) regarding the Glenwood project we had started. Back then all we had was a basic website, some google documents and had to manually track everything.
Let’s boil that 19+ Networks down to 11. Here are the networks we pleaded with, brought up project plans, showed interest to and gave them the lowdown on the area and feasibility.
- Link Africa
- Link Layer
We do have a rundown for all the FNO’s mentioned above, but we can group them all into three categories.
1.) Not Interested – Some were just too busy, spent their budget or were not even considering the possibility of a rollout.
2.) Absurd requirements – Grinding our gears, these FNO’s were happy to open up communication but in the end, required numbers like 5000 pre-orders or absurd pricing for the end-user (customers).
3.) The “Let’s give it a shot” Providers – In the end, these were our last hope. We had got in contact, prepared all the information but had a whole ocean to swim against to get the ball floating, let alone rolling.
Phase 2: Interest and Plans
It is now February and things are going well. We started gathering over 200 interest forms (which grew to over 600 to date) for the area. Our three FNO contenders: Lightstruck, 123Net, and Link Layer.
The race was on! We sadly need to leave out a lot of details to make this easier to read, shorter and to protect some of the people who assisted us.
123Net were willing to roll out in the area. After lengthy discussions, meetings sharing of plans and ideas, we were ready to rock. At the same time, we had Lightstruck also preparing themselves for a feasibility check, but back to the topic at hand.
After only two months of a feasibility check, 123Net were happy with our planning, ideas and were even willing to assist us on the sales front. Affordable, great packages and overall a high hopes promise to bring fibre to the area.
The fizzle. To cut things short. Communication went silent for well over a month, our interest gatherings for fibre had skyrocketed and things were getting serious. We worked tirelessly with planning, financials, security for the area and way more than we should have.
Time. Yes, two more months of time had passed, no fibre rollouts in sight, Lightstruck had also gone quiet and the worst news of all was covid spreading throughout China. If only we had taken it seriously then looking back.
In August 2020 we had to call the project dead with 123Net. From high hopes, they had their own network to look after, business to run and were busy with their project up in Phoenix. We felt like we had just wasted over 6 months of hard work, but it wasn’t in vain and we weren’t going to give up.
A rather quick one. Link Layer was a breath of fresh air, we contacted them in March 2020.
The team was responsive, active and were happy to assist us in bringing fibre to the area. We were, however, juggling three FNOs, COVID and starting our company. Eventually, we came to an agreement, we could not reach the interest that would have been required for them to consider a rollout to the area. They were clear about what would be needed and we had to call it off there.
This one could get lengthy, so why don’t we try to cut it down as much as we can. We approached Lightstruck in June to see if they would be interested in rolling out to the area. They were happy to assist and we started planning. In hindsight, we should have been a little more secretive about our plans, but we were really happy to see another provider assist us.
We handed over the interest numbers for the area, as a simple example we did over 3 months of surveying the area and here is an image of our first phase of rollouts.
As you can see in the above image, this is just one of the hundred documents we had on the plans for this area. But things started getting a little crazy on the interest side. We had to start expanding our planned coverage. If we had to show you the interest “dots” we like to call it, you wouldn’t even see the map properly as we reached over 500 interest locations, some even all the way in Asherville (Sydenham).
Looks familiar, doesn’t it?
Phase 3: The Silence
“Please not the silence” was one of the first things that came to our minds after we hadn’t heard back from the rollout teams and FNO’s after a while. We kept busy with 123Net and were full steam ahead, which ended up being a waste of time for us.
Time skip! September 2020 rolls around and we had more paperwork than I had ever seen, sheets, interest forms, calculations, NDA’s and not to mention the pure amount of interest and noise from the Glenwood community. We had made a splash and the wave was growing.
Out of nowhere, we heard a little birdy talking about Lightstruck rollouts, their plans, and fibre interest they were gathering. Bringing fibre to the area. It was not smoke and mirrors though, they had started their process and were going to stick to it.
We reached out and boom, those months we wasted had gained value once again and we were back to bring fibre to the area.
Phase 4: The Gold Rush of Fibre
January 2021 rolls over and it was a madhouse, we all wanted to shove covid off a cliff and wanted a fresh start to 2021. Lightstruck was in full swing and construction was starting. We noticed there was a new company on the block though, Yutilti.
Some notes: Covid has been rough on everyone, we wish everybody the best and hang in there. In 2020 and for the rest of 2021 we really want to get people connected. Fibre is a necessity in this home-bound lifestyle lockdown has us in.
Things were going smoothly and the pace was picking up, any moment now the community would see we did it. Our long journey to bring fibre to the area.
Phase 5: The Chaos
We had approached a new time for Glenwood, one where all the pavements would be dug up, driveways crossed, sand everywhere, and honestly, we get it. We have tried our best to resolve and bring up any problems with the FNO’s and they are quite happy to assist.
The Everything Glenwood Facebook group had banished all fibre activity from being posted. This did get us down as we were really excited about our achievements and just wanted to help. The roadworks and construction won’t be a permanent thing, once the rollout is finished it will be patched and go back to normal. Just this time, normal will mean a high-speed reliable internet connection.
Extra chaos got thrown in. Metrofibre had started trenching in the area alongside Lightstruck. Two FNO’s were battling it out, with the pavement being the warzone.
During this time you may have noticed a pamphlet from Ghostfibre in your mail, while we might have been silent, we were busy.
In due time the chaos brought by a fibre rollout will pass, just like everything in the country and the good old saying.
Phase 6: The Beginning of the End
Yes, we are nearly at the end, well at least the end of this story and the start of where fibre is being deployed and homes are getting connected. Sure we left out a ton of details, but that is our story of how we brought fibre to the Glenwood area.
We are proud to introduce our new website and work forward as an Internet Service Provider to bring everybody a reliable, low latency fibre connection.
You might even see us around with our purple and blue designs around the area with a little Ghostbunny ™ logo on it, we are based in Glenwood after all.
Our story has only just begun! Not bad for a two-person company huh?