Specific Q&As

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.

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.

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.

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

This means that an alternative supplier (not BT) has said that they will be providing superfast broadband by the end of 2019. These tend to be smaller 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.

We are not able to intervene in areas where a provider has said that they will be rolling out superfast broadband.

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 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.

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.

 

What if I am connected to the upgraded cabinet but can’t get superfast speeds?

If you are some distance from the upgraded cabinet then you may not achieve superfast speeds. This is because the broadband signal degrades rapidly over a copper connection. 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.

To see if additional work 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

I’m in a high demand area. It says BT are working to provide additional capacity. What does this mean?

BT aim to provide extra capacity as soon as possible for those parts of the network where they are experiencing high levels of demand. Catering for additional demand in an area can take time to plan and they also need to increase the infrastructure to accommodate the extra equipment needed. In a number of cases, BT may even need to supply an additional fibre cabinet. You should, however, be able to order the service ready for when the additional capacity goes live.

Once my new fibre cabinet is connected to the exchange, what then?

That is entirely up to you. We are installing a wholesale network, which means that once your cabinet has gone live any Internet Service Provider (ISP) can offer you high speed broadband (subject to availability) and there are a wide range of packages available.

Do check though that you are able to actually achieve the speeds that are advertised as the geographic issues mentioned on our website will apply in all cases. You can check which cabinet you are actually connected to by using the BT DSL checker.

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.

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.

 

I have been told that my cabinet has reached capacity, what does this mean?

When a cabinet is installed BT know how many properties will be connected to it and make an assumption about how many of the available connections will be taken up. If the take-up is higher than anticipated then BT will need to add additional capacity by installing new connections cards into the cabinet.

BT Openreach actively monitor each cabinet and will automatically order the new cards, so that in many cases the upgrade will happen before the cabinet reaches capacity. On occasion, however, take-up is not only higher than expected but also happens very quickly, so that the cabinet reaches capacity and there is a short delay before more orders can be taken.

It would not be feasible for CSW Broadband to specify a higher capacity in every cabinet just in case it reaches capacity quickly. For one thing, this would add considerably to the cost of cabinets and would result in less overall coverage for the project – with fewer communities having the opportunity to benefit from faster broadband.

Upgrades once the cabinet has gone live are carried out by BT Openreach on a “business as usual” basis, and at no cost to CSW Broadband. The best thing to do is to ensure that you order the new service as soon as you know that superfast broadband is available in your area.

BT aim to provide extra capacity as soon as possible for those parts of the network where they are experiencing high levels of demand, however catering for additional demand in an area can take time to plan and BT also need to increase the infrastructure to accommodate the extra equipment needed. In a number of cases, BT may even need to supply an additional fibre cabinet.

Once a cabinet is full, the ISPs are told that this is the case. Currently only one ISP (Plusnet) allows customers to join a waiting list at this point. The other ISPs, including the large ones, do not allow customers to join a list.

Openreach are actively encouraging ISPs to adopt a customer waiting list and it is anticipated that more ISPs will adopt this approach within the coming months, thereby enabling replenishment activity to prioritise cabinets with greater numbers of waiting customers.

However, at this stage, all Openreach has visibility of is that the existing capacity is fully utilised. It does not know how many potential customers are waiting, if any.

Therefore, if you know that your cabinet is at capacity please let us know. BDUK have advised that Openreach are willing to receive this information from local projects, and use it to prioritise replenishment works. Please email us with your property details and landline number, and the cabinet to which you are attached.

We will continue to monitor this situation.

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.

My cabinet has gone live but my chosen provider is not offering a service in my area – why?

We are installing a wholesale fibre network and there will be a wide choice of providers. The decision as to whether to offer a service is a purely commercial one that each provider will take. We cannot influence this, but if you were to run a local campaign to encourage people to register their interest with a particular provider that might help your case. We are unable to get involved in influencing providers’ commercial decisions.

My cabinet has gone live but I cannot get superfast speeds – why?

There are a number of issues that can impact on the speeds that you can achieve. The key factor is the distance from the cabinet. The final part of the delivery uses the existing copper cabling, and broadband speeds degrade quickly over copper. Therefore, the closer to the cabinet you are the faster speeds you will achieve.

For more information, we have some useful self-help guides on our website on a range of broadband issues including how to improve your broadband speed and alternative technologies for broadband in rural areas.

We are getting increasing numbers of enquiries about the condition of the local copper networks. As many of these were installed many years ago and were not intended for data transmission this is hardly surprising. Unfortunately this is outside the remit of this project. Our role is to install the fibre and the new cabinets, then the network is handed over to Openreach who run it and sell services on to the ISPs.

The only option that you have to get your copper network upgraded is to refer back to your ISP, who will then contact Openreach. Openreach sells a wholesale service to the ISPs, so doesn’t deal directly with the end users. If your ISP is unable (or unwilling) to help, then we suggest that you contact Ofcom who are the regulators for the industry.

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 trialling 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.

I haven’t changed my broadband package, but since the local cabinet was upgraded to fibre my connection has deteriorated – why is this?

When the new fibre cabinet is installed, the fibre spine brings superfast broadband to that cabinet. However, the copper lines connected to the existing cabinet are still used for the “last mile” between the old cabinet and the premise. Unfortunately, copper connections are very susceptible to electromagnetic interference, this is known as crosstalk. This particularly occurs when copper lines are in close proximity to each other, for instance in the multicore cables connecting a group of premises to the original copper cabinet.

When a cabinet is upgraded to fibre, the change in modulation introduced by the new technology may create more crosstalk and this can occasionally result in a slow-down in copper broadband connections.

BT are trialling solutions to this problem for lines connected to the new technology, and this solution may also improve existing connections. We hope to see this implemented in our area in the future. If you are interested in the technical side of this, you may be interested in this article: http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/6811-openreach-vectoring-trial-to-expand-to-100-cabinets.html