Specific Q&As

Does everyone in the UK have access to broadband?

Everybody has access to some sort of broadband. For instance satellite is available just about everywhere, and wireless technologies are available in a growing number of places. We have also been getting some good reports from people who have moved to mobile broadband. Some are achieving speeds of around 70 Mbps! This technology relies on a good mobile broadband connection so it is important to use the mobile coverage checkers available on mobile broadband supplier websites before committing. You can access a mobile broadband connection by subscribing to a data plan with your chosen mobile operator; this can usually be done using a mobile device, a dongle, or a 4G router.

When considering this option, it is important to take into consideration your data usage. Searching around for an unlimited data package can pay off, especially if you do a lot of streaming or playing videos on YouTube.

Everybody in the UK is covered by satellite broadband. This means that almost everybody could have access to broadband internet. Satellite broadband, however, is more expensive than fixed solutions and has limitations in its use which may make it unacceptable to certain businesses and households.

Wireless solutions are increasingly becoming available and affordable. These overcome many of the issues that may be faced with satellite installations, but do rely on line of sight to the local aerial.

Under Contract 1 BDUK has committed to make available over 2Mbps to all properties by 2016. This is through the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme that will cover the installation costs of broadband using alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite. If a community get together they could even pool their vouchers to get a new fibre cabinet installed. Rental and ongoing costs will fall to the user. Mobile connections are not eligible for the scheme.

Will I need a telephone line to get broadband?

Access to broadband is most common across Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire through ADSL – which requires a telephone line. This is what is being delivered through the CSW Broadband project. Also popular in some urban areas are cable services via Virgin Media, which often includes a telephone line as part of the package.

However, there are other ways to receive broadband that do not need a telephone line:

  • 3G mobile phones
  • Satellite
  • FTTP (Fibre to the Premise) – only available in some areas
  • Wi-Fi connectivity in town and city centres

For a description of each of these technologies please see our Jargon Buster.

Why does my broadband run slower at different times of the day?

There are several reasons why the speed you get from your broadband varies:

Is more than one person using your internet connection at certain times?

  • For example, if you have a home network and your son is downloading a movie and your daughter is playing an online game on her X-Box whilst you’re browsing the web, you will notice a drop in internet connection speed.

Are you using the connection at a peak time of day (such as evening)?

  • General volume of traffic on the internet as a whole at peak times (including national and international usage) will cause slower traffic.
  • As most broadband connections are shared with others, your peak time usage is likely to coincide with their use too.

This is known as the “contention ratio”. A typical consumer contention ratio is 50:1, which means you share the circuit with up to 49 other users. If all these users decide to use the internet at the same peak time, the speed for all will be slower. Generally, if you are a heavy broadband user, choosing a service with a smaller contention ratio would be a better option for you.

  • If your internet service provider (ISP) determines that you are a very heavy user, they may restrict your speed at certain times of day.

This is called “throttling” or “traffic shaping”. It is used by some ISPs to ensure that all their customers have their fair share of broadband access. Although you may have an unlimited download package, this technique would probably be covered by the ISP’s Fair Usage policy. Only a very small number of users would fall into this category – normally less than 0.1% of customers.

I live in an area with aluminium cabling – does this matter?

It may do. Whilst aluminium conducts broadband as well as copper, it does degrade and may become brittle. Therefore, if a connection is working and is left alone it will be fine, however if there is any disturbance (for instance an engineer working in the local cabinet) then it is more prone to problems than copper.

I am on a new housing development, why don’t I have superfast broadband?

The National Planning Policy Framework does not require broadband infrastructure on new developments. We have worked with our Local Planning Authorities to put a requirement into their Local Plans and Local Infrastructure Plans. We are also briefing local MPs on the need for action to prevent the creation of a new digital divide – whereby existing properties will be connected through this project but new properties will not.

For anyone thinking of moving house the advice is to not just assume that broadband is available, but if this is important to you to check that it will be provided before buying.

To see if anything is planned in your area, either through this project or from commercial providers, use our unique property checker, which shows the currently planned status (down to property level) up to the end of 2019.

You simply need to enter your postcode and you will then see a list of premises and their status. The information was derived from the Open Market Review and Public Consultation that we carried out in preparation for the Contract 3 procurement.

If the coverage has been promised by the commercial provider, then we are bound by commercial confidentiality and cannot give further details. However, if the upgrades are planned through the CSW Broadband project then you can see the status on our latest map and on the Rolling 12-Month Plan.

There are a number of reasons why we may not be able to bring broadband to a development, and depending on the age of the properties they could include:

  • It is an unfortunate fact that many developers build new homes but give no consideration to broadband connectivity and do not provide the necessary infrastructure. Rather surprisingly, whilst there is a legal requirement to offer a copper telephone line to new properties, there is no such requirement to offer fibre connectivity. We have been working with the Local Planning Authorities to develop planning policy for this, but until it becomes a national requirement it will be difficult to enforce
  • The roads have not been adopted. When we plan our rollout, infrastructure providers can only go to existing properties where the roads have been adopted. This is because the developers are unwilling to give permission access the roads to put in the necessary infrastructure. It also means that the roads will be brought up to an adoptable standard (i.e. good road surfaces) and then they will need to be dug up again at some future stage to install the fibre network. It may take some considerable time until the roads can be adopted, often until the whole development is completed.
  • Your roads may have been adopted but you may be some distance from the existing networks, which makes it more difficult (and therefore more expensive) to cover your area. In that case your area would be considered to be white on our maps, meaning that it is waiting for additional funding to be made available

It might be worth your while putting pressure on the developers as they are presumably still building houses and will want to sell them.

We are currently going through the procurement process for Contract 3. We will not know until the late autumn who the provider(s) will be and what coverage will be achieved, but if you sign up for our regular newsletter we’ll keep you posted on progress.

You may also have heard that Virgin Media is extending its fibre network. They will need to prove a business case to go to an area, so they are asking for registrations through a project called Cable My Street. It may be worth your while registering and getting your neighbours to do the same. Unfortunately any registration campaign that you may choose to run would be outside the remit of our project.

We have been getting some good reports from people who have moved to mobile broadband. Some are achieving speeds of around 70 Mbps! This technology relies on a good mobile broadband connection so it is important to use the mobile coverage checkers available on mobile broadband supplier websites before committing. You can access a mobile broadband connection by subscribing to a data plan with your chosen mobile operator; this can usually be done using a mobile device, a dongle, or a 4G router.

When considering this option, it is important to take into consideration your data usage. Searching around for an unlimited data package can pay off, especially if you do a lot of streaming or playing videos on YouTube.

Under Contract 1 BDUK has committed to make available over 2Mbps to all properties by 2016. This is through the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme that will cover the installation costs of broadband using alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite. If a community get together they could even pool their vouchers to get a new fibre cabinet installed. Rental and ongoing costs will fall to the user. Mobile connections are not eligible for the scheme.

 

Why won’t I get superfast broadband?

We always knew that the funding would be insufficient to cover the whole of the area, and that is simply because some places are more challenging than others. This may be because of geography – perhaps they are more remote from existing infrastructure, because of the local topography, or because of other issues.

To see if anything is planned in your area, either through this project or from commercial providers, use our unique property checker, which shows the currently planned status (down to property level) up to the end of 2019.

You simply need to enter your postcode and you will then see a list of premises and their status. The information was derived from the Open Market Review and Public Consultation that we carried out in preparation for the Contract 3 procurement.

If the coverage has been promised by the commercial provider, then we are bound by commercial confidentiality and cannot give further details. However, if the upgrades are planned through the CSW Broadband project then you can see the status on our latest map and on the Rolling 12-Month Plan

We are currently going through the procurement process for Contract 3, and this has been structured to appeal to a wide range of providers, offering different technologies. This is a full OJEU-compliant procurement and the process will take some time. We should be able to publish the additional coverage by the late autumn of this year.

The current national target is that the final 5% should receive a minimum of 2Mbps, although in practice this may be anything up to 23.99Mbps – at 24Mbps (30Mbps for contracts signed from 2017 onwards) it becomes superfast.

Most communities are currently served by a green cabinet, which serves as a distribution point for the copper which runs from the exchange and is then split at the cabinet to serve each property. Our programme involves the installation of an additional cabinet which is fed by a fibre connection from the exchange, and then links in to the existing green cabinet so that the final distribution is via the copper network.

As broadband signals degrade over lengths of copper, the current distance from the cabinet over which superfast broadband can currently be achieved is around 1km. However, this will be dependent on a number of factors, including the quality of the existing copper connection and conditions at the property itself.

The positioning of the new cabinet is crucial as it has to be near the existing cabinet, but unlike the existing cabinet the new one also requires a power supply. There are also highways and other issues to be considered.

Some of the existing green cabinets are over 1km from the local communities, for instance where a cabinet serves a number of villages, and so we simply will not be able to achieve superfast speeds using the technology that is funded under the current programme.

Our ultimate aim is to achieve the 2020 EU targets with each property receiving a minimum of 30Mbps, and we are actively seeking funding to help us to achieve that.

For some properties there is no cabinet and the property is connected directly to the telephone exchange. In these instances it is necessary to install both a copper cabinet and a fibre one, which can create difficulties for us in letting people know what is happening in a particular area.

The best thing is to register for more information through our website. We will send you our e-newsletter, which comes out once a month and contains project updates, information about local meetings and events, broadband news, FAQs, and more.

By providing us with your landline number and address we can also send specific information as we learn more about what is happening in your area.

We have been getting some good reports from people who have moved to mobile broadband. Some are achieving speeds of around 70 Mbps! This technology relies on a good mobile broadband connection so it is important to use the mobile coverage checkers available on mobile broadband supplier websites before committing. You can access a mobile broadband connection by subscribing to a data plan with your chosen mobile operator; this can usually be done using a mobile device, a dongle, or a 4G router.

When considering this option, it is important to take into consideration your data usage. Searching around for an unlimited data package can pay off, especially if you do a lot of streaming or playing videos on YouTube.

Under Contract 1 BDUK has committed to make available over 2Mbps to all properties by 2016. This is through the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme that will cover the installation costs of broadband using alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite. If a community get together they could even pool their vouchers to get a new fibre cabinet installed. Rental and ongoing costs will fall to the user. Mobile connections are not eligible for the scheme.

Can we tap into a private line?

No. A private line is just that. Businesses can purchase a high-speed leased line. They will pay several thousand pounds for installation and a high usage charge. These lines run on a different network and are therefore not available for use by communities or individuals.

How do I switch to a different broadband provider?

You may wish to transfer suppliers for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Poor quality of service
  • You need additional features that your current internet service provider (ISP) does not offer
  • You think the deal you are subscribed to is not providing good value for money
  • You are moving house/business premises

First of all, check if the contract period you signed for with your existing supplier has expired. Contracts are generally for either 12 or 18 months. Most contracts require you to give a month’s notice, even after the initial 12 or 18 months. If it hasn’t expired, you may be liable for a cancellation fee or even the balance of the fee until the contract runs out. It’s your choice if you decide you want to buy yourself out of a contract that hasn’t yet expired.

It is important that you check that the new service you wish to sign up to is available in your area.

There are impartial sources of advice, such as:

You can also use various comparison websites to check this – we’ve listed a few below. Please remember that comparison sites work by receiving a commission from the ISPs and may not list all of the available options. Therefore you may want to try several such sites before making a decision.

I can’t get fibre or mobile broadband and the satellite providers that I’ve come across are too expensive.

There are a wide range of satellite providers and (just as with fixed broadband) they each have different packages with different pricing structures. Unfortunately satellite broadband won’t suit everybody as the technology is different so it may not be as effective for some applications.

Under Contract 1 BDUK has committed to make available over 2Mbps to all properties by 2016. This is through the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme that will cover the installation costs of broadband using alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite. If a community get together they could even pool their vouchers to get a new fibre cabinet installed. Rental and ongoing costs will fall to the user. Mobile connections are not eligible for the scheme.

Why aren’t additional cabinets being installed for properties that are too far from the exchange?

A range of technologies are being used for properties on longer lines. The choice depends on the distance involved, how many properties are clustered together (and how many are outlying from these), and other variables. Each case will be determined on its own parameters and the most appropriate solutions will be employed.

We are currently going through the procurement process for Contract 3, and this has been structured to appeal to a wide range of providers, offering different technologies. This is a full OJEU-compliant procurement and the process will take some time. We should be able to publish the additional coverage by the late autumn of this year.

Are you looking for technical solutions where there is currently no cabinet?

We have already started to upgrade exchange-only lines in some areas. This involves installing both a copper cabinet and a fibre cabinet. We are also installing All-in-One cabinets and Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) in some places.

The choice of technology is dependent on a number of factors and is location-specific, so it is not possible to say which will be used in each location. Unfortunately we are unable to carry out our usual communications in these areas as we don’t know which properties will benefit from the new service until it has actually gone live.

As soon as we get the data about connections to specific properties we will send an email to those who are on our system. To ensure that you are receiving the latest information, the best thing to do is to register your details through our website. 

To see if anything is planned in your area, either through this project or from commercial providers, use our unique property checker, which shows the currently planned status (down to property level) up to the end of 2019.

You simply need to enter your postcode and you will then see a list of premises and their status. The information was derived from the Open Market Review and Public Consultation that we carried out in preparation for the Contract 3 procurement.

If the coverage has been promised by the commercial provider, then we are bound by commercial confidentiality and cannot give further details. However, if the upgrades are planned through the CSW Broadband project then you can see the status on our latest map and on the Rolling 12-Month Plan

We are currently going through the procurement process for Contract 3, and this has been structured to appeal to a wide range of providers, offering different technologies. This is a full OJEU-compliant procurement and the process will take some time. We should be able to publish the additional coverage by the late autumn of this year.

Can CSW Broadband influence how much suppliers charge for their services – particularly for those in white areas?

We have no influence over the prices charged by commercial providers. Our role is to extend the wholesale fibre network as far as possible, and we are doing this through the contracts that we hold with BT Openreach.

As access to the network is available to all suppliers on an equal basis it is a purely commercial decision on the part of an ISP as to which packages they offer and at which price range.

The best thing is to shop around for a deal that is right for you. Please remember that price comparison sites work by receiving a commission from the ISPs and may not list all of the available options.

Therefore, you may want to try several such sites before making a decision or for independent advice got to MoneySavingExpert.com.

I am still in a white area on the map. Does that mean I get nothing?

You are in an area that is awaiting further funding. We are doing all that we can to bring in additional funding to take the network further and are currently going through the procurement process for Contract 3. This contract has been structured to appeal to a wide range of providers, offering different technologies. This is a full OJEU-compliant procurement and the process will take some time. We should be able to publish the additional coverage by the late autumn of this year.

The best thing is to register for more information through our website. We will send you our e-newsletter, which comes out once a month and contains project updates, information about local meetings and events, broadband news, FAQs, and more. By providing us with your landline number and address we can also send specific information as we learn more about what is happening in your area.

We have been getting some good reports from people who have moved to mobile broadband. Some are achieving speeds of around 70 Mbps! This technology relies on a good mobile broadband connection so it is important to use the mobile coverage checkers available on mobile broadband supplier websites before committing. You can access a mobile broadband connection by subscribing to a data plan with your chosen mobile operator; this can usually be done using a mobile device, a dongle, or a 4G router.

When considering this option, it is important to take into consideration your data usage. Searching around for an unlimited data package can pay off, especially if you do a lot of streaming or playing videos on YouTube.

Under Contract 1 BDUK has committed to make available over 2Mbps to all properties by 2016. This is through the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme that will cover the installation costs of broadband using alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite. If a community get together they could even pool their vouchers to get a new fibre cabinet installed. Rental and ongoing costs will fall to the user. Mobile connections are not eligible for the scheme.

We also have a range of fact sheets and other information in our About Broadband section of our website.

My property has a red star on it on the map, what does this mean?

You are in an area that is awaiting further funding. We are doing all that we can to bring in additional funding to take the network further.

The best thing is to register for more information through our website. We will send you our e-newsletter, which comes out once a month and contains project updates, information about local meetings and events, broadband news, FAQs, and more. By providing us with your landline number and address we can also send specific information as we learn more about what is happening in your area.

We have been getting some good reports from people who have moved to mobile broadband. Some are achieving speeds of around 70 Mbps! This technology relies on a good mobile broadband connection so it is important to use the mobile coverage checkers available on mobile broadband supplier websites before committing. You can access a mobile broadband connection by subscribing to a data plan with your chosen mobile operator; this can usually be done using a mobile device, a dongle, or a 4G router.

When considering this option, it is important to take into consideration your data usage. Searching around for an unlimited data package can pay off, especially if you do a lot of streaming or playing videos on YouTube.

Under Contract 1 BDUK has committed to make available over 2Mbps to all properties by 2016. This is through the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme that will cover the installation costs of broadband using alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite. If a community get together they could even pool their vouchers to get a new fibre cabinet installed. Rental and ongoing costs will fall to the user. Mobile connections are not eligible for the scheme.

We also have a range of fact sheets and other information in our About Broadband section of our website.

My property does not have a star on it on the map, what does this mean?

This means that superfast broadband may be available now, or should be by the end of 2019. This may be either through the CSW Broadband rollout or through commercial providers. Because this information is provided in commercial confidence we are not able to state which provider has said that they will go to particular areas.

Superfast broadband may be available in your area now. To find out use either the BT or Virgin line checkers. The How to use the BT DSL Line checker page on our website contains a handy guide to interpreting the results of the BT checker. We do not have checkers for independent providers, so you may have to ask around locally.

If broadband is not yet available, it should be by the end of 2019. To see whether you are in the CSW Broadband programme you should first check our interactive map. We regret that we have no information about commercial providers’ rollout plans.

Some areas local to the exchange are still white, is this because they are deemed to receive a sufficiently good service without being upgraded?

It is possible that properties close to the exchange are on Exchange Only (EO) lines – in other words they do not have a cabinet between the exchange and their property and so are unable to benefit from the technology that is being used for the main areas.

We have already upgraded some EO lines. This is more complicated (and more expensive) as there are greater engineering challenges. For instance, because EO lines don’t have the copper lines routed through a copper cabinet (PCP) there is no aggregation point to which we can connect the fibre cabinet (DSLAM).

Therefore, we have to install two cabinets and this creates additional challenges in terms of location in addition to the ones that we face for all DSLAMs with regard to the availability of power, avoiding existing services, road safety issues etc. Contract 2 includes a considerably higher percentage of exchange only lines, and a lot of the more challenging locations that could not be brought into Contract 1.

It should be noted that because of the nature of the installation, it is not until the exchange only lines have actually been connected up to the new cabinets that we will know which properties will be able to benefit from the superfast broadband service. This creates challenges for us in terms of letting people know that the service is available!

To see if anything is planned in your area, either through this project or from commercial providers, use our unique property checker, which shows the currently planned status (down to property level) up to the end of 2019.

You simply need to enter your postcode and you will then see a list of premises and their status. The information was derived from the Open Market Review and Public Consultation that we carried out in preparation for the Contract 3 procurement.

If the coverage has been promised by the commercial provider, then we are bound by commercial confidentiality and cannot give further details. However, if the upgrades are planned through the CSW Broadband project then you can see the status on our latest map and on the Rolling 12-Month Plan

We are currently going through the procurement process for Contract 3, which has been structured to appeal to a wide range of providers, offering different technologies. This is a full OJEU-compliant procurement and the process will take some time. We should be able to publish the additional coverage by the late autumn of this year.

We have been getting some good reports from people who have moved to mobile broadband. Some are achieving speeds of around 70 Mbps! This technology relies on a good mobile broadband connection so it is important to use the mobile coverage checkers available on mobile broadband supplier websites before committing. You can access a mobile broadband connection by subscribing to a data plan with your chosen mobile operator; this can usually be done using a mobile device, a dongle, or a 4G router.

When considering this option, it is important to take into consideration your data usage. Searching around for an unlimited data package can pay off, especially if you do a lot of streaming or playing videos on YouTube.

Under Contract 1 BDUK has committed to make available over 2Mbps to all properties by 2016. This is through the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme that will cover the installation costs of broadband using alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite.

If a community get together they could even pool their vouchers to get a new fibre cabinet installed. Rental and ongoing costs will fall to the user. Mobile connections are not eligible for the scheme.