Specific Q&As

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.

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.

My area is shown as amber on the rollout map, what does this mean?

Amber areas are currently under investigation for Contract 2. This is all subject to survey and there is a lot of work still to do before we can give details of when the rollout will actually occur in every area. The rollout commenced in early 2016 and will continue until 2019. However, we are working to accelerate this and over the next few months will be working closely with BT to ensure that we gain maximum efficiencies from the programming. This approach has borne fruit with Contract 1.

The work is being announced in Waves, with new Waves coming on-stream every 3 months. Each Wave may take up to 12 months to build, so that several Waves will be running at any time.

Mapping the coverage is difficult. It is done by postcode, but telecoms infrastructure does not follow postcodes. In fact, as the surveys progress we are finding that we have some postcodes that are served by a number of cabinets, and some cabinets that serve properties in more than one postcode. When you factor in the fact that some properties may be served by exchanges or cabinets that are several miles away you can see the difficulties!

Until we get the announcement of which cabinets are to be upgraded at the start of each Wave we are unable to say which properties will be able to connect to the new service. We are pushing for earlier information but, because of the need to complete survey work, it is hard to be any more precise.

As we move further into the programme we are seeing the introduction of different technologies such as FTTP (Fibre to the Premise), and also more Exchange Only lines. Because of the nature of this work it is not possible to determine until the service goes live which properties will benefit from the superfast service, which is why it is so important for you to register through the website and provide us with the information we need so that we can contact you once the service is ready to order from a selection of Internet Service Providers.

Until the service has gone live at a particular property it is not possible to say with any degree of certainty what speeds will actually be achieved, since there are so many variables.

 

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

There is currently no planned superfast coverage here, but the area is in scope for consideration under Contract 3. We will not know until the procurement process is completed which areas will be included in the Contract 3 rollout, and hope to be able to map the additional coverage during the late autumn of this year. If you register your details with the CSW Broadband team we can keep you updated on progress in your area.

In the meantime, 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.

Why doesn’t the map show more detail for Contract 2?

The current mapping of Contract 2 is indicative only and subject to change in terms of coverage. There is a lot of surveying and planning work to be completed, and it is only when the detailed surveys have been completed just before a building of a Wave is about to start that we can have a reasonable degree of certainty about the deliverability of specific infrastructure.

Waves are released quarterly and each may take up to 12 months to complete, so that several Waves may be running at any one time. As each Wave is announced the colour of the areas will change on the map, and the information that we have will appear on the Rolling 12-Month Plan.

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.

I am on the fringes of two differently coloured areas on the map. What does this actually mean for me?

The mapping is not an exact science! The maps are prepared using postcodes, but unfortunately telecoms technology does not follow postcodes. For instance, one cabinet may cover properties in a number of different postcodes or one postcode may be served by a number of different cabinets.

Therefore by upgrading a cabinet we may also be upgrading properties in a different postcode, whilst some of the properties in the relevant postcode are served by a different cabinet and so may not benefit.

The best thing is to check on the BT DSL checker which cabinet you are actually connected to. For the best results you will need to be able to enter a BT landline number for your property. If you do not have this then you can use your address, but it may be less accurate.

Do not use the postcode checker as that covers too wide an area to be of any use.

Once you know exactly which cabinet you are on you can then to look on our Rolling 12-Month Plan to see what the status is of your cabinet or area.

Why does my area show both a colour and a hatched area on top of each other?

This is simply because of the way in which different technologies work. Our rollout, together with that of some alternate providers, is currently based on upgrading cabinets.

The mapping is done by postcodes, but unfortunately this technology does not follow postcodes. For instance, one cabinet may cover properties in a number of different postcodes or one postcode may be served by a number of different cabinets.

Therefore by upgrading a cabinet we may also be upgrading properties in a different postcode, which may be covered by a different supplier at the same time, which is unavoidable.

In some areas there may be providers of wireless broadband. Because wireless does not use cabinets its coverage works differently and so some properties may have a choice of technology.

It should be noted that the CSW Broadband project is providing a wholesale network so that all properties using the fibre network will automatically have a choice of Internet Service Provider.

 

How will people find out when their area is due to get fibre broadband?

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

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.

How have you decided your roll-out plan?

The strategic ambitions of the CSW Broadband project are to:

  • Ensure a network deployment that contributes the most to the underlying fibre infrastructure across the sub-region;
  • Benefit the maximum number of citizens;
  • Remove the barrier of connectivity for businesses to do business in the sub-region;

The rollout strategy is based on engineering logic taking into account many factors including local demographics and geography, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service. Due to the size of the project, it must be conducted in stages, meaning some areas will be upgraded before others.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to upgrade all cabinets connected to an exchange?

This is not as straightforward as it may appear. Not all cabinets were due for upgrade during Contract 1, or even under Contract 2. This may be because some are harder to reach than others, or because they do not score highly on our benefits index. This was developed at the outset of the project and prioritises areas across the whole project area.

The priorities for the project are to:

  • ensure a network deployment that contributes the most to the underlying fibre infrastructure across the sub-region
  • remove the barrier of connectivity for businesses to do business in the sub-region
  • develop a mechanism that ensures that local outcomes reflect the amounts contributed
  • benefit the maximum number of citizens.

The key one of these priorities is to get the fibre as far as possible, therefore not all infrastructure off a single exchange will be upgraded at the same time.

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.

What if my property is on the border and is served from an exchange in a different Local Authority?

We anticipate that this will apply only to a very small number of premises. Geographic coverage is negotiated between neighbouring authorities to ensure each premise is covered, but funded only once.

You said I would get 2Mbps but whenever I check my speed it is lower than this – why?

This could be because you are in an area where we haven’t carried out any work yet. Also, speeds within premises are affected by a variety of factors including internal wiring, the age of your computer, the type of router you use and the number of applications you are running. We do have advice on our website about things that you can do to improve your broadband speeds.

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.

How much of the project’s fibre deployment will be FTTC and approximately how much will be FTTP?

Almost all will be Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) as it offers the best value for money solution to get fibre as far as possible. Getting Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) can extremely expensive in rural areas, although this is now being rolled out in some places. There are new technologies, such as Fibre to the Remote Node, coming through that will enable a cabinet connection to be taken still further.

Will the network be open to competition?

Yes. Under Contract 2 the network is being built by Openreach, BT’s local network business, and will be open to all communications providers on an equal basis. Currently around 80 Communications Providers are trialling or offering fibre broadband services over BT’s network. This will enable people to choose the provider and broadband package that best suits their need.

We do not yet know who the Contractor(s) will be for Contract 3, but the requirement for a wholesale network that is open to all providers will remain.

It looks as though the decisions were made on a postcode basis – why?

The area shading on the map is calculated by postcode areas. This is the standard BDUK methodology. Clearly telecoms infrastructure does not align with postcodes, which is one reason why we are saying that the actual rollout will depend on surveys and that the area shading on the map is indicative only.

In fact, we have already identified that some postcodes are served by a number of existing cabinets, and that some existing cabinets serve a number of different postcodes. Therefore, the footprint of properties that will achieve superfast broadband is likely to differ significantly from the postcode information that is given on this map.

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.

Why can’t you provide interim solutions for those who will have to wait a long time for their area to be upgraded?

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 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 think about 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.

I was in a white area under Contract 1, which meant that I could expect 2Mbps by 2016 but my location now appears to be covered in Contract 2. What does that mean in practice?

The current mapping of Contract 2 is indicative only and will be subject to change as the surveys progress. Moving from a Contract 1 white area to potential coverage under Contract 2, means that instead of getting the Universal Service Commitment of 2Mbps, you could achieve superfast speeds. We can’t, at this stage, say when that improvement will be coming.

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.

When will you be able to show timings for Contract 2?

Further information is released in Waves at 3-monthly intervals. As we are now reaching more complex areas each Wave will take up to 12 months to complete, so there could be up to 4 Waves running at any one time.

What technologies will be used in Contract 2?

The contract has deliberately been written to be technology agnostic. This is because the pace of change is accelerating and we want to be able to take advantage of new advances as they become available. The most appropriate available technology will be chosen for each location.