Specific Q&As

What is the difference between NGA and superfast broadband?

Next Generation Access refers to the actual infrastructure – i.e. the fibre network, whilst superfast is a term that refers to the speed that is achieved.

The current UK definition of superfast is 24Mbps or above (30Mbps for contracts signed from 2017 onwards), and in order to deliver that we need an NGA-compliant network in place.

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.

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.

Do I need any other equipment?

Your internet service provider will normally provide you with the means to connect to the internet through their service – a broadband modem. Often, the modem provided has an inbuilt router, which allows you to share your internet access between several devices, although modems may also be bought separately.

Routers usually have Wi-Fi wireless capability – this allows you to create a simple Wi-Fi network in your home or business. This allows you to share internet access across PCs and Apple Macs – and also such equipment as games stations (e.g. the Nintendo Wii), Wi-Fi enabled Smart Phones (e.g. Apple iPhones) or even Amazon Kindle e-readers.

I am a Service Provider, what do I do?

We are keen to ensure that broadband service providers are aware of the location of the newly built infrastructure and how to get access to it. Service providers can register with BT Openreach via their website to get this information.

My area is shown as pink on the rollout map, when will our service go live?

Your area is showing as pink on our map, and work is underway in this area. You can find a list of the structures in the Wave on our Rolling 12-Month Plan. Waves start at 3-monthly intervals and each Wave could take approximately 12 months to complete once it enters the build stage, meaning that there will be more than one Wave running at any time.

There may be two shades of this colour on the map, the darker shade shows which areas we estimate will achieve superfast speeds and the lighter shade indicates areas where properties may be connected to the fibre but the achievable speeds may fall below superfast (based on the distance from the cabinet).

As we always make clear, there is a lot of surveying and other work to take place, so 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. The map has been developed using data based on postcodes, and telecoms infrastructure does not follow postcodes. This means that the colour coding on the map can only provide an estimated network coverage.

Please use the BT DSL checker to establish which cabinet your property is 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 BT postcode checker as that covers too wide an area to be of any use. You can then check the specific cabinet on our Rolling 12-Month Plan. 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.

Please note that our map will only return results for the BT Openreach infrastructure. Virgin Media and other broadband providers may also be offering services in your area, so you should check elsewhere as well if you are not due for upgrade as part of the CSW Broadband rollout.

The area mapping can only give generic information about a postcode area. However if you zoom into the map you will see what information we hold about your specific property.

The two levels of information on the map are:

Area-level mapping: This shows our understanding of postcodes that are to be upgraded, and is derived from the information given in the BT tender returns. As telecoms infrastructure does not follow postcodes we do not know from this data which premises will be upgraded. The contract only provides a total number of premises upgraded at the Ward level and not for each Postcode, which further complicates matters when we are looking at who is likely to receive a superfast broadband service.

Property-level mapping: This shows our understanding of the status of each property based on information taken from the following sources:

  • Open Market Review and Public Consultation that was held and the end of 2016. During this process all commercial providers were invited to submit information about their rollout plans to the end of 2019. **
  • Contract 2 coverage for the CSW Broadband project.
  • State Aid approved Contract 3 potential intervention area.

** 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.

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

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

Your area is showing as orange on our map. Parts of these areas are in Wave 7, which started in July 2017. You can find a list of the structures in the Wave on our Rolling 12-Month Plan. Waves start at 3-monthly intervals and each Wave could take approximately 12 months to complete once it enters the build stage, meaning that there will be more than one Wave running at any time.

There may be two shades of this colour on the map, the darker shade shows which areas we estimate will achieve superfast speeds and the lighter shade indicates areas where properties may be connected to the fibre but the achievable speeds may fall below superfast (based on the distance from the cabinet).

As we always make clear, there is a lot of surveying and other work to take place, so 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.

The map has been developed using data based on postcodes, and telecoms infrastructure does not follow postcodes. This means that the colour coding on the map can only provide an estimated network coverage.

Please use the BT DSL checker to establish which cabinet your property is 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 BT postcode checker as that covers too wide an area to be of any use. You can then check the specific cabinet on our Rolling 12-Month Plan. 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.

Please note that our map will only return results for the BT Openreach infrastructure. Virgin Media and other broadband providers may also be offering services in your area, so you should check elsewhere as well if you are not due for upgrade as part of the CSW Broadband rollout.

The area mapping can only give generic information about a postcode area. However if you zoom into the map you will see what information we hold about your specific property.

The two levels of information on the map are:

Area-level mapping: This shows our understanding of postcodes that are to be upgraded, and is derived from the information given in the BT tender returns. As telecoms infrastructure does not follow postcodes we do not know from this data which premises will be upgraded. The contract only provides a total number of premises upgraded at the Ward level and not for each Postcode, which further complicates matters when we are looking at who is likely to receive a superfast broadband service.

Property-level mapping: This shows our understanding of the status of each property based on information taken from the following sources:

  • Open Market Review and Public Consultation that was held and the end of 2016. During this process all commercial providers were invited to submit information about their rollout plans to the end of 2019. **
  • Contract 2 coverage for the CSW Broadband project.
  • State Aid approved Contract 3 potential intervention area.

** 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.

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

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.

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.

My cabinet is part of the rollout – can you tell me what stage of the upgrade the cabinet is at?

We estimate that each Wave of cabinets will take approximately 12 months to upgrade and, unless the cabinet becomes delayed in its upgrade, we do not track the individual statuses of each one.

If there are any problems with the upgrade of a cabinet, we list ‘Reasons for Delay’ on the Rolling 12-Month Plan on our website.

If you would like to be notified of when your cabinet goes live, please register your details on our website.

My cabinet is showing as delayed because civil engineering works are needed, what does this mean?

If your cabinet is listed on the Rolling 12-Month Plan as requiring civil engineering works, there may be any number of reasons for this. The most common is when a blockage is found in the duct and the fibre cannot be blown through.

If this is the case then digging will have to take place to repair the ducts – and the problem is that there may be more than one blockage, which would require more digging! As we move into the more rural areas we are likely to see more and more of these problems.

Unfortunately, we do not have timescales for works delayed by civil engineering due to the unpredictable nature of the problem. However, the engineering teams are going as quickly as they can to resolve these issues.

If you register for more information, we can email you to let you know when your cabinet goes live.

How do you decide where you’re going to put a new fibre broadband cabinet?

When planning our rollout programme, BT need to ensure the new fibre broadband cabinet is located within 100 metres of its associated telephony connection cabinet (copper cabinet). They also need to make sure there is enough access to power and existing infrastructure.

Other things they consider are that the cabinet doesn’t get in pedestrians’ way, or pose a danger to road users. Plus they have to survey for other utility companies’ underground structures and obstacles.

BT have to take into account the visual impact in some areas and make sure they’re not putting the security of adjacent properties at risk. Ease of access for installation and maintenance are also important considerations in the decision of where to place new fibre broadband cabinets.

My cabinet was scheduled for completion by now, when will it be done?

We have always stated that the timings given on the Rolling 12-Month Plan and the maps are indicative only. A Wave will run for approximately 12 months, with a number of Waves running at any one time.

However, as we move through the rollout we are getting to more challenging areas and are finding unforeseen problems. Where there is a delay, the reason for this will be listed on the Rolling 12-Month Plan.

A number of cabinets show that the delay is due to civil engineering work being required. This is often due to blocked or collapsed ducts, but as holes are dug and we get a better understanding of what the issues are this information will be updated. Please bear with us in the meantime.

How will I know when my cabinet has gone live?

The best way to see if your cabinet is live yet is to use the BT DSL checker. It will tell you when your cabinet is ready to accept orders. To use the checker, either enter a BT landline telephone number (including area code) or your address (you need to click the link below the number box). Please do not use the postcode checker as it is not accurate enough to be of any help!

Don’t forget that you will need to upgrade to a superfast broadband package through your chosen ISP. The access is on a wholesale basis, which means that any ISP can use the infrastructure to provide their services.

Don’t forget that you will need to check out broadband packages carefully to get the one that is right for you. For impartial advice go to the Money Saving Expert website.

We have leaflets that can be distributed to every property that is connected to the upgraded cabinets. To find out more please visit our Become a Community Champion web page.

So once my new cabinet is in place does that mean I can get superfast broadband?

Not immediately. Standing the cabinet is only a very small part of the process to bring superfast broadband to our communities.

Once the cabinet has been stood it needs a power supply, and this entails a different contractor who will probably work to different timescales. It will also require a connection to the existing cabinet. By far the biggest job – or at least the one with the highest number of variables and potential pitfalls is the fibre connection back to the exchange.

There are often problems with blocked or broken ducting, tree roots and other issues to overcome before the fibre can actually be connected through. Once the fibre is in place it has to be connected to the main spines and tested before the new service is ready to accept orders.

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.

Don’t forget that you will need to upgrade to a superfast broadband service with your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP). Access to the network is on a wholesale basis, which means that any ISP can use the infrastructure to provide their services.

Don’t forget that you will need to check out broadband packages carefully to get the one that is right for you. For impartial advice go to the Money Saving Expert website.

We have leaflets that can be distributed to every property that is connected to the upgraded cabinets. To find out more please visit our Become a Community Champion web page.

 

What sort of broadband speeds can I realistically expect if I’m able to get fibre under the project?

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) connection speeds will vary depending on a number of factors but could reach up to 80Mbps. Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) connections – where these are available – are all capable of 330Mbps but your service provider may offer a range of packages to suit different needs. Factors impacting the final speed attained at a particular premise connected by FTTC include the distance from the street cabinet, the geography, the local copper network and the wiring within your home or business.

How is it that some premises will get fibre but not superfast?

Some premises will be connected to the fibre network, but still have speeds of less than 24Mbps due to a number of factors, including the distance to their street cabinet. Additionally, some premises connected to fibre will have speeds in excess of 24Mbps as FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) delivers speeds of up to 80Mbps. The superfast speed has been redefined as 30Mbps for contracts signed from 2017 onwards.

It should be noted that in some areas people have been advised that there is an issue with the condition of the existing copper telephone lines. As many of these were installed many years ago and were not intended for data transmission this is hardly surprising. If this applies to you then the matter should be taken up with your telecoms provider, as it is outside the remit of this project.

BT has a product called Unlimited Faster Broadband that offers up to 18Mbps. Availability will depend on you being able to connect to a fibre cabinet, but your predicted speed being below superfast levels. The availability is likely to depend on the infrastructure between your home and the fibre cabinet.

We have had reports that some residents have experienced difficulties in ordering this service, but we have been assured that the BT sales teams should now be up to speed (pun intended!) with this service. So, if you do experience any problems please let us know and we’ll pass the information on to BT.

Sky is also trialing a product called Sky Fibre Lite, which also offers up to 18Mbps, although this is not yet generally available. This is also fed from the BT Openreach fibre network so does depend on you being connected to a fibre cabinet.

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.

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.