Newsletter — June 2019

Over 69,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • Your chance to win £100 in Amazon vouchers
  • CSW Broadband Project updates
  • Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme launched
  • Ofcom – End of contract alerts for UK broadband customers
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

Your chance to win two prizes of £100 in Amazon vouchers

We’re giving you the chance to win two sets of Amazon Gift Vouchers both worth £100 each!

All we want you to do is submit a case study telling us how being able to connect to superfast broadband, thanks to the work of the CSW Broadband Project, has benefited your household or your business. It will only take you around 5 minutes of your time to complete.

Submitting a case study is really helpful for us when we are applying for additional funding to take the fibre network even further – allowing us to help those living in areas that are still waiting to experience the benefits of superfast broadband.

For your chance of winning one of the two prizes up for grabs – simply download the relevant case study template, fill it in and returned to us at broadband@cswbroadband.org.uk by 5pm on Friday 5th July 2019.

All entries received by that deadline will then be entered into a draw, which will take place during the week beginning 8th July and the lucky winners will be contacted by either email or phone.

CSW Broadband Project updates

We have seen a great deal of activity in recent weeks with over 60 new cabinets / structures going live since the last newsletter was sent out at the end of April.

Communities benefiting from these upgrades included parts of:

Ashorne, Bidford on Avon, Buckley Green, Blunts Green, Burton Hastings, Chadshunt, Chessetts Wood, Fulready, Hampton in Arden, Hampton Lucy Hockley Heath, Kenilworth, Kineton, Kitebrook, Ladbroke, Lapworth, Leamington Spa, Langley, Loxley, Meriden, Middleton, Morton Bagot, Offchurch, Pillerton Hersey, Preston Bagot, Ryton on Dunsmore, Rugby, Salford Priors, Solihull, Stretton on Dunsmore, Ufton, Wellesbourne, Weston on Avon, Willey, Wishaw, Withybrook & Wood End.

As a result, over 69,000 properties across Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire are now able to connect to the fibre network thanks to the work of the CSW Broadband Project.

As before, once we have received confirmation that a particular cabinet or structure upgrade is complete, we will email all affected residents whose details we have listed on our database.

Remember that once your property has been upgraded, you won’t get a superfast service automatically. You need to order the improved service with your chosen ISP (Internet Service Provider) to benefit from the upgrade.

To check on your property’s superfast status, enter your landline number or address into the BT Broadband Availability Checker. Our How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker webpage will help you make sense of the Broadband Checker results.

You might like to use a broadband comparison site such as MoneySavingExpert.com, Broadband Choices, Broadband Genie or uSwitch to find a fibre broadband package to suit you and your family’s needs.

Finally, if your property has benefited from an FTTP upgrade, our Fibre to the Premise webpage provides you with invaluable information on ordering an FTTP service and the subsequent installation process.

Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme launched

The Government has officially launched their new £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme, part of their “outside in” strategy, which will help fund full fibre broadband connections to some of the hardest to reach areas across the UK.

Currently, only around 7% of homes and businesses across the UK can access a Gigabit (1Gbps) speed capable “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband network.

However, the Government wants to ensure that the country’s broadband infrastructure is fit for the future and has an ambitious target to “delivering a nationwide full-fibre to the premises network” by 2033 as outlined in last year’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR).

Much of this will be delivered through competitive commercial investment across the UK but the FTIR also identified that around 10% of the country would need additional funding to ensure that the hardest to reach areas are not left behind and are connected at the same pace as the rest of the country.

The Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme is the first step in this process.

There are two approaches to delivering the RGC programme:

1) Fostering Local Rural “Hub Sites. A hub site is really just a public sector building, which is deemed to be eligible for intervention and aligns with qualifying criteria set by the BDUK programme. Initially this will start by connecting primary schools to “gigabit-capable” connections.

Other public buildings will then be added throughout the course of the programme (e.g. health sites and community halls). The idea being that you not only help to connect those hub sites, but also bring the fibre deeper into a remote community and thus provide a network that other commercial ISPs can build upon in order to reach surrounding homes and businesses.

2) Vouchers. The new RGC vouchers will offer up to £3,500 for small businesses and up to £1,500 for residents. The increased value of the vouchers – compared to the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) -reflects the higher cost of deployment in these harder to reach areas.

As with GBVS, it will still be possible to aggregate the vouchers in order to help tackle larger deployments.

The CSW Broadband Project will now be looking into both of these solutions as a means to take the fibre network into harder to reach areas within the CSW sub-region and we will update you on developments regarding this in due course.

Ofcom – End of contract alerts for UK broadband customers

Broadband, pay-TV, mobile phone and landline customers must be told when their contracts are about to end and also be informed of their providers’ best available deals under new rules announced by Ofcom last month.

At present it is a fairly common practice for major telecoms providers to try and attract new customers by offering big price discounts on their first minimum contract term (lasting up to 12-24 months).

However, not all ISPs are clear enough about how much customers will pay after this initial term has ended. Consumers who remain with their provider and don’t haggle for a better price after the minimum contract term has ended often end up paying more than new customers.

Through the new system, Ofcom aims to help tackle this so-called “loyalty penalty” and help users avoid overpaying for such services.

Relevant companies have nine months to update their systems and must start sending out the notifications to existing subscribers from 15 February 2020.

Service providers will need to text, email or send a letter to their customers between 10 to 40 days before the end of their contract stating:

  • the date their contract can be terminated without a penalty
  • the price they have been paying
  • any changes to the price or service that automatically come into effect after the date
  • how much notice they need to give to cancel the deal
  • the best alternative subscriptions on offer, including the prices charged to new customers

For those who are interested, the ISP Review’s ‘Ofcom Force End of Contract Notices for UK Broadband and Mobile’ article has further information regarding this.

 Copy for your own website or newsletter

As always, we have a range of short articles of around 300 words that can be downloaded for use in your own newsletters / websites should you wish to use them.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Questions and Answers (Q&A’s) that residents have raised recently. Our website has a full set of Frequently Asked Questions, which are regularly updated.

What sort of broadband speeds can I realistically expect if I’m upgraded as part of the CSW Broadband Project?

If your property has benefited from a Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) upgrade, then you could achieve a final connection speed of up to 80Mbps (megabits per second).

However, this may vary depending on a number of factors including: the distance from your property to the street cabinet it is connected to, the local geography, the local copper network and the condition of the wiring within your property.

The UK Government defines ‘superfast’ broadband as download speeds of over 24Mbps, while the EU defines it as 30Mbps.

If your property has benefited from a Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) upgrade, then you could achieve speeds of up to 330Mbps or even up to 1Gigabyte (1000 Megabytes) with some of the upgrades that have recently been deployed.

To find out what speeds you can currently achieve, either enter your landline number or address into the BT Broadband Availability Checker.

Our How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker webpage will help you make sense of the results.

What is FTTP on Demand?

We have had many enquiries recently where the BT Broadband Availability Checker suggests that a product called ‘Fibre on Demand’ is available to residents, offering speeds of up to 330Mbps.

This is NOT the same as the native Fibre to the Premise, (listed as WBC FTTP on the BT Broadband Availability Checker) that is being installed to many areas through the CSW Broadband Project.

Although these two solutions function in identical ways, their cost, contract and deployment methods have tended to be very different.

With the WBC FTTP that we are installing, the fibre optic cable will have been installed outside your property (e.g. down your street), which makes it fairly cheap to get connected.

By comparison, Fibre on Demand is designed to be requested ‘on demand‘, in Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) capable areas. Residents requesting this service will then pay for the installation of fibre from the cabinet to their property, which can prove to be extremely expensive.

Because of the high costs involved (and often the requirement for a much longer than standard contract), very few providers actually offer Fibre on Demand. Cerberus Networks and FluidOne are two that we are aware of but there may be others as well.

Fibre on Demand is therefore likely to remain a niche product for those who are prepared to pay the additional installation charges and a higher ongoing monthly cost.

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops:

Follow us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn

Posted in Project News, Newsletter Archive | Comments closed

Newsletter — April 2019

Over 68,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • CSW Broadband Project updates
  • Automatic compensation for broadband users goes live
  • Best UK broadband providers to haggle with for a lower price
  • Better Broadband Voucher Scheme relaunched
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

CSW Broadband Project updates

Thanks to the work of the CSW Broadband Project, over 68,000 households and businesses are now able to get high-speed broadband across the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire sub-region.

Communities benefiting from recent superfast upgrades include parts of Abbots Salford, Berkswell, Bidford on Avon, Chessett’s Wood, the Claverdon area, Compton Verney, Coughton, Dodwell, Danzey Green, Earlswood, the Fillongley area, Hatton, Hockley Heath, Meriden, No Man’s Heath, Rugby (Berrybanks area), Stretton on Dunsmore, Tiddington, Ullenhall, Upton area, Willoughby and parts of the Wixford area.

As mentioned in the previous newsletter, some delays to the advertised programme are inevitable when, for example, previously unforeseen engineering issues arise.

Where possible, the Contract 2 – Delayed Upgrades table on our Rolling 12-month Plan is regularly updated to try and give affected residents an overview of the reasons for the most serious delays along with the dates that Openreach expect the work to be completed by.

While work continues on delivering the final Contract 2 structures, work has also started with regard to Contract 3, the next phase of our project. Over 220 Contract 3 structures have been surveyed and reviewed and are now in the delivery phase.

Contract 3 is very different from Contracts 1 and 2 in that:

  • We have been getting information down to property-level (rather than postcode level) and this has been displayed on our Latest Map for some time now. Therefore, if your property is marked with a yellow star on the map or has the status of ‘Contract 3’ on our Check Your Property tool, then it is due for upgrade under Contract 3.
  • There are increasing amounts of Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) in Contract 3. This brings its own challenges as FTTP involves far more civil engineering issues.
  • Contract 3 has a very short programme time. Under the terms of the contract, Openreach are aiming to complete all Contract 3 builds by the summer of 2020.

We are currently in the process of checking a whole load of Contract 3 data that we have recently received from Openreach. Once this has been completed, we will publish a list of Contract 3 structures that are in build on our Rolling 12-month plan.

However, due to the short programme time, we will not be giving proposed completion dates, except that all work is due to be completed by the summer of 2020.

As before, once we have received confirmation that a particular structure upgrade is complete, we will email all affected residents whose details we have listed on our database.

Please let us know if your contact details (e.g. email address) change at any point so that we can update our records and keep you up to date with what is happening in your area.

Residents not already signed up to receive our newsletter can register for this and other relevant project updates at www.cswbroadband.org.uk/register

Automatic compensation for broadband users goes live

Five UK broadband and landline providers – BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen – who together serve around 90% of landline and broadband customers in the UK, will now automatically compensate customers when services do not work.

Ofcom estimate that there are 7.2 million cases each year where broadband or landline customers suffer delayed repairs, installations or missed engineer appointments but as of April 1st customers who experience these issues will now be compensated without even having to ask.

Under the terms of the agreement, if an engineer does not arrive on schedule or cancels within 24 hours, the compensation will be £25. If a service stops working and is not fully fixed after two working days, customers will be entitled to £8 a day in compensation.

There will also be £5 per day offered for new services not starting on time.

Two other providers, Hyperoptic and Vodafone will begin automatic compensation later this year, while EE plans to start paying compensation automatically in 2020.

Plusnet have also committed to the scheme but has not provided a timescale for when it will begin providing automatic compensation.

Please visit the Ofcom website for further details on the automatic compensation scheme.

Best UK broadband providers to haggle with for a lower price

A recent survey has revealed that most UK consumers who haggled for a lower price with one of the largest fixed line broadband ISPs or mobile network operators were successful in saving money.

As ISP Review note in their recent article on the best UK Broadband Providers to haggle with, it’s no secret that you could save a lot of money through a bit of haggling but only around 10% of consumers actually do this with the majority of broadband ISP customers tending to remain with their ISP for at least 3 years.

However, remaining loyal to your ISP provider can actually end up costing you money.

ISP Review advise that even if you are generally happy with the service you are receiving from your ISP it is worth trying to haggle with them around the end of your contract or following a price hike and their Tips for Cutting Your Broadband Bill Without Switching ISP provides some helpful advice for doing this.

Better Broadband Voucher Scheme relaunched

The Better Broadband Voucher Scheme is a UK-wide government subsidy scheme which provides an affordable, basic broadband installation to homes and businesses that are unable to access a broadband service with a download speed of at least 2 Mbps – and who will not benefit from the superfast broadband roll out within the next 12 months.

Since its launch in December 2015, the scheme (previously known as the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme) has boosted the broadband speeds of more than 20,000 homes and businesses in some of the hardest to reach areas of the UK, including around 400 properties within the CSW Broadband region.

Households and businesses that are eligible to take advantage of the scheme have the installation and hardware costs of their connection subsidised to ensure their first year costs are no more than £400.

To find out more about the scheme and whether your premises could be eligible please go to: https://basicbroadband.culture.gov.uk/

Copy for your own website or newsletter

As always, we have a range of short articles of around 300 words that can be downloaded for use in your own newsletters / websites should you wish to use them.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Questions and Answers (Q&A’s) that residents have raised recently. Our website has a full set of Frequently Asked Questions, which are regularly updated.

Once the upgrade is complete, will I automatically get a superfast service?

No. To take advantage of superfast speeds, you must order a superfast broadband package through your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP). This is what we suggest you do.

First of all, enter your landline or address into the BT Broadband Availability Checker.

If superfast is available, either ‘VDSL Range A & B’ (for an FTTC – Fibre to the Cabinet upgrade) or ‘WBC FTTP’ (for a Fibre to the Premise upgrade) will be listed under ‘Featured Products’ with the speeds you are likely to achieve.

Our How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker webpage will help you make sense of these results.

We then suggest that you use an impartial comparison site (such as those listed below) to find and order a superfast package, which meets your usage needs and requirements:

If you have benefited from an FTTP upgrade, the ordering process is slightly different. Our Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) webpage provides you with all the information you need to order an FTTP service.

My upgrade 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 are indicative only. As we move through the rollout, we are getting to more challenging areas and are finding more unforeseen problems.

Where there is a delay, the reason for this will be listed on the Rolling 12-Month Plan.

A number of the planned cabinet / structure upgrades show that the delay is due to civil engineering work being required. This is often due to blocked or collapsed ducts, which may require road closures, and these can take 3 months to come into effect.

Occasionally, when one problem has been fixed, another may manifest itself further down the line. Although visual surveys are carried out, it is not possible to know what is happening under the ground until the actual work commences.

We will not be able to bring regular updates or a lot of details about what is happening – just doing that would tie up a lot of valuable resource for the CSW Broadband team and for the contractor.

However, we will give an indication of the status on any delayed structures as the work progresses.

Contract 2 is due to complete by the summer of 2019, whilst Contract 3 work is due to be completed in the summer of 2020.

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops:

Follow us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn

Posted in Project News, Newsletter Archive | Comments closed

Newsletter — February 2019

Over 67,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • CSW Broadband Project updates
  • Campaign to increase take-up of broadband in already upgraded areas
  • More ISPs now providing FTTP services in the CSW Region
  • Top tips to protect your children/grandchildren on the internet
  • Rural Rugby – Sowing the Seeds for a Stronger Rural Community Event
  • Case Studies needed – Tell us your story
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

CSW Broadband Project updates

Over 67,000 households and businesses are now able to get high-speed broadband across the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire sub-region thanks to the work of the CSW Broadband Project.

Communities that have recently benefited from superfast upgrades include parts of Arley, Ashorne, Barton, Bidford on Avon, Brinklow, Broadwell, Burmington, Burton Hastings, Chadwick End, Church Lawford, Clifford Chambers, Fillongley, Goldicote, Hampton in Arden, Henley in Arden, Kings Newnham, Kingsbury, Long Marston, Little Compton, Maxstoke, Monks Kirby, Stratford upon Avon, Wolverton and Wolston.

As mentioned in the last newsletter, although CSW is pleased with this progress, we realise that there is still a great deal of work to do in the remainder of Contracts 2 and Contract 3 as we take the fibre network even further.

Unfortunately, some delays to the advertised programme are inevitable when, for example, previously unforeseen engineering issues arise. Where possible, the Contract 2 – Delayed Upgrades table on our Rolling 12-month Plan is regularly updated to try and give affected residents an overview of the reasons for the delay along with the dates that Openreach expect the work to be completed by.

With regard to the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Programme, CSW Broadband has now issued the Invitation to Tender and providers now have a period of around six weeks in which to submit their bids for this programme of work.

In line with Government requirements, the project will focus on bringing Ultrafast (1Gbps) connectivity to around 450 public buildings across the region but it is hoped that the successful bidder may also decide to use the new fibre as a springboard to cover a wider area (e.g. residential properties within that area).

However, for State Aid reasons that cannot be part of the tender evaluation.

 

Campaign to increase take-up of broadband in already upgraded areas

We have now emailed over 170 parish / town councils with bespoke content for their websites giving details of the communities (within their respective geographical boundaries) that have already benefited from a CSW upgrade.

This website content also provides information about the benefits of broadband as well as details on how residents can find and order a broadband package to suit their needs if they haven’t done so already.

A number of councils have replied to say that they will be uploading this valuable information to their respective websites and it is hoped that by helping us to ‘spread the word’ it will help to increase the take-up of superfast broadband across the CSW region, particularly to those residents who may not know that their connections have been upgraded. Check your local parish/town council website for further details.

We have also carried out the first of two proposed mailshots to around 8000 already upgraded properties within the CSW region where the take-up of broadband services has been slower or lower than expected.

As with the work we have been doing with the parish and town councils, the purpose of this mailshot campaign (funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Superfast Take-Up Fund) is to try to increase the take-up of superfast broadband services in CSW upgraded areas.

The more residents take up these services, the more money (Gainshare) we get coming back into the project for potential re-investment to help us to extend the network to even more communities within our area.

More ISPs now providing FTTP services in the CSW Region

Although only a few Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were initially offering Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) packages when FTTP solutions first started being rolled-out a few years ago, the picture has now changed considerably with more and more ISPs offering FTTP packages across the CSW sub-region.

This is great news for both local residents and businesses who have benefited from an FTTP upgrade as they now have more choice than ever before in finding an ISP and a package to suit their individual needs.

Our Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) webpage, which provides valuable information and advice on ordering an FTTP service, now has an updated list of all the ISPs who have stated that they now provide FTTP broadband packages to residents and businesses across the CSW Region.

Top tips to protect your children/grandchildren on the internet

As parents, we tend to worry about every little detail of our child’s life and in today’s society, we have one more worry; concerns about the dangers that technology poses to our children, even from an early age.

There are many things to consider when it comes to keeping your child safe online. The Ultimate Parental Guide to Protecting Your Child on the Internet is a really useful online resource which provides information and advice on a wide-range of issues including: Keeping Younger Children Safe, Setting Limits, Parental Controls, Educating Your Teens, Sexting, Cyberbullying and much, much more.

CSW Broadband’s Self-Help Guides webpage contains links to a wide-range of other self-help guides regarding broadband issues and staying safe online, which you might also find useful.

Rural Rugby – Sowing the Seeds for a Stronger Rural Community

‘Rural Rugby – Sowing the Seeds for a Stronger Rural Community’ is an information and networking event for anyone living or working in the rural areas of the Rugby borough.

Warwickshire County Council is running the event in collaboration with the Warwickshire Rural Community Council. Local residents will have the opportunity to talk to local groups and organisations and to pick up lots of useful information on subjects as diverse as tackling rural crime and cyber crime, rural transport services, how to reduce your energy and utility bills, adult and community learning opportunities and support services for carers.

CSW Broadband will also be attending should local residents / businesses have any broadband related issues that they would like to discuss.

The event is due to take place between 09:30 and 12:30 GMT on Friday 1st March 2019 at the Wolston Leisure & Community Centre, Manor View, Coventry, CV8 3GT.

For more information about services which will be attending and what you can learn more about, visit Rural Rugby – Sowing the Seeds for a Stronger Rural Community or email Jennifer McCabe at jennifermccabe@warwickshire.gov.uk

Case studies needed – Tell us your story!

If superfast broadband has made a real difference to your life or business, why not tell us about it by submitting a case study.

We regularly appeal for case studies but sadly very few people respond. Submitting a case study is really helpful for us when we are applying for additional funding to help us take the fibre network even further – to help those in areas that are still waiting to experience the benefits of superfast broadband.

All we need is a few lines telling us of the difficulties you experienced before you had superfast broadband and how life has improved since your property was upgraded.

Submitting a case study is also a great way of gaining some free publicity to promote your company if you are a business owner. So, if you would like to help us help others, why not submit a case study today!

Copy for your own website or newsletter

As always, we have a range of short articles of around 300 words that can be downloaded for use in your own newsletters / websites should you wish to use them.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Questions and Answers (Q&A’s) that residents have raised recently. Our website has a full set of Frequently Asked Questions, which are regularly updated.

How do I switch to a different broadband provider?

You may wish to transfer broadband 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 also important that you check that the new service you wish to sign up to is available in your area. A couple of useful and impartial sources of advice are the Which? broadband speed checker and Moneysaving Expert which has lots of advice about switching provider.

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

 

Can CSW Broadband influence how much suppliers charge for their services?

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 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 to find a deal that is right for you (see previous FAQ above for links to comparison sites/websites offering impartial advice).

Ofcom also launched their Boost Your Broadband campaign recently, which also provides some very useful advice on how you get better broadband deals.

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops:

Follow us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn

Posted in Project News, Newsletter Archive | Comments closed

Newsletter — December 2018

Over 65,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • Over 65,000 premises now able to connect to the fibre network
  • Superfast Take-up funding secured
  • Superfast broadband in your area – info for parish councils
  • Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme & Gigabit Voucher updates
  • Free support and advice on IT and broadband for businesses
  • How to save money shopping on Amazon
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

Over 65,000 premises now able to connect to the fibre network

Over 65,000 households and businesses are now able to get high-speed broadband across the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire sub-region thanks to the work of the CSW Broadband Project over the last four and a half years.

This is a real step-change and shows that this public investment is making massive improvements to our local infrastructure in areas that would not have been reached through commercial providers’ broadband roll-out plans.

While CSW is pleased with this progress, we realise that there is still a great deal of work to do in the remainder of Contract 2 and Contract 3 as we take the fibre network even further.

Now that we are reaching out into more challenging areas and using technologies that are more complex, some delays to the advertised programme outlined on our Rolling 12-month Plan webpage are, unfortunately, inevitable.

Wherever possible, the Contract 2 – Delayed Upgrades table on our Rolling 12-month Plan aims to give residents an overview of the reasons for any delays along with the dates that Openreach expect the work to be completed by. We will obviously update this information should any further delays occur to try and keep you in the loop.

 

Superfast Take-up funding secured

The CSW Broadband Project recently submitted a bid to DCMS – The Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport – for a slice of their Superfast Take-up Fund. The purpose of this funding is to help projects like ours ‘spread the word’ about the availability of superfast broadband so that residents are able to take full advantage of these services for both business and home use.

We have now received confirmation that we have been successful in our bid. We will be using this funding to target areas that already have superfast broadband but where take-up of these services has been lower and slower than expected.

Although our project is already performing well above the national average, we believe that these targeted activities will help to drive take-up of superfast broadband services even more, bringing more gainshare back into the project for re-investment, enabling us to extend the network in our area even further.

Superfast broadband in your area – info for parish councils

Once a cabinet goes live, we aim to inform as many people as we can within that community who will be able to benefit from that upgrade. However, despite an extensive database of over 11000 contacts across the CSW region, we need further help to ‘spread the word’ about where superfast broadband is available.

A relatively cheap and effective way of doing this is to collaborate with local parish councils by providing customised content, which they can upload to their website. Through January and early February, we will therefore be emailing each parish council where the CSW Broadband Project has extended the fibre network, outlining the benefits of broadband as well as providing information on:

  • The name of the cabinet / structure that has been upgraded and the area served by the upgrade
  • How residents can find out if they have benefited from one of the upgrades in their area
  • What residents and businesses need to do to order a superfast broadband service

 

Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme & Gigabit Voucher updates

The Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme that was set up by the UK government to provide access to a subsidised broadband installation to homes and businesses that were unable to access a broadband service with a download speed of at least 2Mbps and who weren’t going to benefit from the superfast broadband rollout, is due to end on 31st December 2018.

As it currently stands, applicants can apply for vouchers up until 31st December but no applications will be accepted after this time. However, discussions about the future of the scheme are currently ongoing and we will update residents of any decision that is reached regarding this in our next newsletter.

In November, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport also made changes to the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, meaning that the maximum amount that can be claimed for a business voucher was reduced from £3,000 to £2,500 to make sure that the scheme reaches even more people with full fibre connectivity.

Residents are still able to benefit from the scheme with a voucher worth up to £500 if used as part of a group project. To find out more about the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

 

Free support and advice on IT and broadband for businesses

Businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire are being urged not to let slow broadband or outdated IT stand in the way of growth and to tap into free advice and support.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce says that sluggish broadband speeds and a lack of knowledge of which technology can help a business to grow is holding back hundreds of companies from expanding.

The Chamber is offering free, impartial advice and support to businesses across the region to help them make better-informed decisions about finding the right systems and about the funding available, depending on eligibility, to increase broadband speeds.

Neil Batchelor, a Chamber ICT advisor said: “Better IT and faster broadband can boost a business’s bottom line – it’s just important to understand what steps to take to ensure you are investing in the right technology, not just for growth now but for the future.”

This activity forms part of the Project: ‘Extending superfast network and building SME ICT capability across Coventry and Warwickshire’. If you want to upgrade your broadband or IT systems but are not sure what to do next, contact the Chamber on 024 7665 4321 or email ict-advisors@cw-chamber.co.uk

How to save money shopping on Amazon

Amazon is the biggest name in online shopping and most of us have shopped with them at some point because it is often so cheap and convenient. However, Money Saving Expert’s recently published Amazon Deals Finder guide gives 23 tips to help slash prices and save even more money when you shop with them.

The link above will also take you to the Amazon Discount Finder Tool, which finds secret 75%+ off bargains on electronics, clothes, beauty products and more. It also provides details on how you can track price reductions and beat delivery charges – ideal if you are looking for some last minute Christmas bargains.

Copy for your own website or newsletter

We have short articles of around 300 words that can be downloaded to use in your own newsletters of on websites. These are updated monthly.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Q&A’s raised recently. Our website has a full set of Q&As, which are regularly updated.

What is FTTP on Demand?

We have had many enquiries recently where the BT Broadband Availability Checker suggests that a product called ‘Fibre on Demand’ is available to residents, offering speeds of up to 330Mbps.

This is NOT the same as the native Fibre to the Premise, (listed as WBC FTTP on the BT Broadband Availability Checker) that is being installed to many areas through the CSW Broadband Project. Although these two solutions function in identical ways, their cost, contract and deployment methods have tended to be very different.

With the WBC FTTP that we are installing, the fibre optic cable will have been installed outside your property (e.g. down your street), which makes it fairly cheap to get connected.

By comparison, Fibre on Demand is designed to be requested ‘on demand‘, in Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) capable areas. Residents requesting this service will then pay for the installation of fibre from the cabinet to their property, which can prove to be extremely expensive.

Because of the high costs involved (and often the requirement for a much longer than standard contract), very few providers actually offer Fibre on Demand. Cerberus Networks and FluidOne are two that we are aware of but there may be others as well.

Fibre on Demand is therefore likely to remain a niche product for those who are prepared to pay the additional installation charges and a higher ongoing monthly cost.

Will I automatically get a superfast service once the new fibre cabinet is connected to the exchange (or is FTTP enabled)?

No. To take advantage of superfast speeds, you will need to order a superfast broadband package through your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP). This is what we suggest you do.

First of all, enter your landline or address into the BT Broadband Availability Checker.

If superfast is available, either ‘VDSL Range A & B’ or ‘WBC FTTP’ will be listed under ‘Featured Products’ with the speeds you are likely to achieve. Our How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker webpage will help you make sense of these results.

We then suggest that you use an impartial comparison site such as Money Saving Expert or uSwitch to find and order a superfast package, which meets your usage requirements.

If you are able to order an FTTP service as a result of the upgrade work that has been carried out in your area, our Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) webpage will provide you with more information on this process.

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops:

Follow us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn

Posted in Project News, Newsletter Archive | Comments closed

Newsletter — October 2018

Over 64,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • Gigabit Vouchers Event
  • When is a scam not a scam?
  • Let’s make
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

Gigabit Vouchers Event

Around 60 people attended the Gigabit Voucher event in Stratford. There were 20 suppliers and partner organisations present, so that visitors had the opportunity to speak to a good range of providers about their requirements.

This was an important event, since the Gigabit Voucher Scheme is administered centrally by DCMS and all interface with suppliers is usually carried out on online. Not a lot of help when you have a very poor Internet connection!

A further event is planned for 27th November in Nuneaton. It will run from 11-3 at the Town Hall on Coton Road. If you are a supplier and would like to take a stand, or just want to find out more, please contact either Matthew Bird or Chris Lawes at: econdev@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk

To find out more about the Gigabit Voucher Scheme visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

When is a scam not a scam?

Do you know how to tell if something is a genuine offer or piece of useful information, or if it is a mischievous or even malicious attempt to deceive you? Of course not! Most scammers rely on the fact that we are honest, and we trust that everyone else behaves in the same manner.

Sadly, as regular news reports will attest, scammers come in many shapes and sizes, and will employ some clever tactics to fool us into trusting what we are presented with. So, what should you do if you are not sure about something?

A great resource is https://www.hoax-slayer.net This website covers both online and offline scams and sections information into different categories, such as Health and Wellbeing, Hoaxes, Scams, Malware, Bogus Warnings, Fake News, Misleading, True, Politics and many more.

It makes a fascinating read!

Let’s Make

Warwickshire County Council is showing its commitment to the digital agenda by providing access to new technologies and helping people to improve their digital skills through the launch of two Let’s Make spaces in Nuneaton and Rugby libraries.

The spaces, which officially launched in May, offer local communities free access to technology and facilities for exploring ideas and making things. They give people of all ages the opportunity to create together but also to socialise and learn.

The spaces offer all kinds of creative kit from digital embroidery to 3D printing, robotics to virtual reality.

While everyone can use the Let’s Make facilities and improve their digital skills, there is a focus around families, particularly young people to get them engaged and enthused with technology.

Nationally we have a digital skills shortage and libraries are well-placed to help because of their wide reach, and their ability to attract audiences who might be put off by more formal learning opportunities.

The Let’s Make spaces will continuously develop as technology advances and will promote creativity and entrepreneurship within local communities, helping to improving employment prospects.

While there are two main geographical bases for the spaces, which are proving to be incredibly popular, Let’s Make will also be going on tour to other libraries around the county.

Copy for your own website or newsletter

We have short articles of around 300 words that can be downloaded to use in your own newsletters of on websites. These are updated monthly.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Q&A’s raised recently. Our website has a full set of Q&As, which are regularly updated.

How will I know when my cabinet has gone live?

The best way to see if your connection is live yet is to use the Openreach DSL checker. It will tell you when your cabinet is ready to accept orders.

To use the checker, either enter a Openreach 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!

Our How to Use the BT Line Checker webpage will help you make sense of the results.

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.

What sort of broadband speeds can I realistically expect if I’m upgraded as part of 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 in theory capable of 1Gb (1000 Mb), 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.

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops:

Follow us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn

Posted in Project News, Newsletter Archive | Comments closed

Newsletter — September 2018

Over 63,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • New map – updated Open Market Review
  • If your area has now been “released” by a company
  • Gigabit Vouchers Event
  • Case Study – Nuco International
  • Setting up an “Accountable Body”
  • Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund (LFFN)
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

New map – updated Open Market Review

Before going out to tender for Contract 3, we were required to carry out an Open Market Review, which meant that we asked all of the commercial broadband providers where they had plans to provide services before the end of 2019. This is because, as a publicly funded project, we obviously cannot spend money where there is already planned superfast broadband provision.

As a result of the information that we received, when our procurement was carried out it only included those areas where there was no planned provision before the end of 2019. Because some of the providers are smaller companies (known as AltNets) their coverage has been marked with a pink circle and denoted as “Under Review”. We carried out the first review last year, which resulted in no significant change.

However, the 2018 review has just been completed, and this has resulted in some very significant changes in the proposed coverage across the area. For instance:

  • ITS – This business had originally planned to cover a very large area of south Warwickshire with wireless broadband. However, the business has undergone a restructure and has new management in place. The focus of the business is now on fibre rollouts, and ITS now considers wireless as an infill measure rather than the only available solution. This means that the business case that they used to develop their original response to the Open Market Review has changed considerably and, as a result, the latest return from this company has released much of the area that they had originally planned to cover.

If your area has now been “released” by a company

This means that there is no longer any planned coverage in the area. CSW broadband has already contracted all of the funding that is currently available, but now that the area has been released it may be considered for inclusion in any future modelling if we are successful in attracting additional funding.

This does not mean that you have to wait for an indefinite period of time, however. The Government has launched the Gigabit Voucher Scheme, which is ideal for most areas where there is no planned coverage. Gigabit vouchers can be used by small and medium-sized businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a full-fibre gigabit-capable connection.

Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project, which also includes businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500.

One gigabit is the same as 1,000 megabits – so it’s a big leap forward in connection speeds that could benefit you and your home or business into the future. Once the infrastructure is installed, you don’t have to pay for a full Gigabit service, as there are packages available to suit all requirements.

The scheme is supplier-led, so in the first instance you need to choose which supplier you wish to use. Most suppliers will help you to get community projects off the ground, so that the whole of your village or the wider area can benefit.

For full details about whether you are eligible for a voucher and to connect you to a full fibre broadband supplier, go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

Please note: CSW Broadband has no involvement in the administration of this scheme, and we are unable to respond to queries about it.

Gigabit Vouchers Event

Because choosing a Gigabit Voucher supplier can seem to be quite a daunting task, we are arranging an event with Stratford District Council to enable residents and businesses to meet a selection of suppliers and to discuss your specific requirements with them.

The event will be held on THURSDAY, 20th SEPTEMBER from 11am – 3pm at Stratford District Council’s offices, Elizabeth House, Church Street, Stratford CV37 6HX.

This is a drop-in event, and you are advised to arrive early so that you can maximise the opportunity to talk to as many suppliers as possible. The event is open to all, residents from across the CSW Broadband project area, parish councils, community groups and businesses.

Ten suppliers have so far committed to attend the event, in addition to the Warwickshire Association of Local Councils (WALC), Rural Community Council and, of course, members of the CSW Broadband team.

We hope to see you there!

Setting up an “Accountable Body”

If you do decide to set up a project to use the Gigabit Voucher Scheme, then you will need an “Accountable Body”. This might be a Community Interest Company, or similar. You don’t have to go it alone. In the first instance, contact Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action who are able to give advice and guidance on the best route to take, and how to set up your Accountable Body. They are a mine of information for all sorts of community and voluntary enterprises, and also have information about funding streams for voluntary groups!

Case Study – Nuco International

Nuco International, based at the Meriden Business Park on the edge of Coventry, are experiencing the benefits of gigabit capable speeds following the completion of their upgraded broadband connection, supported by the pilot of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme in Coventry & Warwickshire.

Up until December 2017, the company had enjoyed download speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 40 Mbps with a full fibre cabinet sited on their business park with a copper connection from the cabinet to the business. This was more than enough for their IT needs until they decided to migrate to cloud-based Microsoft Office 365. It quickly became apparent that the increase in data traffic to and from the cloud had an impact on the speed of connectivity.

Nuco International’s IT & Project Manager, Mark Langan, contacted their local supplier, Glide (formerly WarwickNet) to enquire about an affordable solution that would be scalable and allow for further transitions to the cloud. Installation was complete by February 2018 and the £3,000 cost of the installation was paid through the gigabit voucher scheme (excluding the VAT).

He said: “We were already keen on upgrading our infrastructure to a full fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) connection but the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme made it a much more cost-effective solution. We’re now getting three times the speed for no extra cost.

The process of upgrading to full fibre to our office was relatively hassle free. The support team were on hand and sorted out everything within a day.”

Nuco International now enjoys ultrafast download speeds of 250 Mbps and upload speeds of 50 Mbps. Mark added: “It’s allowed us to think about what else we can put in the cloud. The next thing we’re looking at is transferring our hosting servers so it’s great to have the option and the infrastructure in place. We’ve got an office in Hong Kong and, with operations continuing to grow, transitioning to the cloud will allow us to increase our scalability.”

The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme now operates nationally and the Government has allocated £67 million for more businesses to benefit from vouchers worth up to £3,000. Businesses in Coventry, Solihull & Warwickshire can access more details about the scheme by visiting https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

Local Full Fibre Networks Programme

Due diligence work has been ongoing, and we are now working towards issuing the Invitation to Tender during the autumn. In line with Government requirements, the project will focus on bringing Ultrafast (1Gbps) connectivity to public buildings. The successful bidder may decide to use the new fibre as a springboard to cover a wider area, but for State Aid reasons that cannot be part of the tender evaluation.

Copy for your own website or newsletter

We have short articles of around 300 words that can be downloaded to use in your own newsletters of on websites. These are updated monthly.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Q&A’s raised recently. Our website has a full set of Q&As, which are regularly updated.

My area is no longer shown as having any planned coverage. What can I do?

Since we have received new information from the commercial suppliers, some areas which were due to be covered are now no longer expected to achieve superfast speeds without further intervention. If CSW Broadband is successful in achieving additional funding, then these areas can be considered for being including in the modelling. However, there is no guarantee that any further funding will be forthcoming, or which areas it could cover.

The best solution, therefore, is to investigate the Gigabit Voucher Scheme (see above).

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops:

Follow us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn

Posted in Project News, Newsletter Archive | Comments closed

Newsletter — July 2018

Over 62,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • Map updated – some AltNet details now shown
  • Contract 3 update
  • £1m Growth Deal funding secured
  • Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund (LFFN)
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

 

Map updated – some AltNet details now shown

Our map has been updated. The latest version reflects the following changes:

  • New data from Openreach. The new data reflects a complete overhaul of the records that are held by Openreach. Some premises that were previously unknown have now been marked up according to their current status, whilst others that actually have superfast speeds available but were not marked as such have also been updated. If you still have an amber triangle on your property, please get in touch with us, even if you have done so before
  • Some of the providers (AltNets) have given permission for us to show their areas of coverage. These are denoted by a letter inside the pink circle. Where there is no letter we have not been given permission to identify the provider
  • Contract 2 defined. Purple stars denote where we believe that Contract 2 coverage should reach. However, as the data for Contract 2 was only provided down to postcode level we have had to take a best estimate on this. Contract 2 completes at the end of 2018, and more information can be found on our rolling 12-month plan
  • Contract 3 coverage is clearly defined. As we have property-level information for Contract 3, we have been able to mark the map more accurately right down to property level. See below for more information about Contract 3

The new map can be found at: www.cswbroadband.org.uk/latestmap

Contract 3 update

We are starting to see some of the very early survey information coming through for Contract 3. However, at this stage we still don’t have any detail as to where work will be starting. Contract 3 is very different from what has gone before:

  • We will be getting information down to property-level, and this has been reflected on our maps for some time now, so that you can see if your property is due for upgrade under Contract 3 (as marked with a yellow star)
  • There will be increasing amounts of Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) in Contract 3, this brings its own challenges as FTTP involves far more civil engineering and so blocked ducts issues etc increase exponentially
  • Contract 3 covers a much wider area than previously, as we will be working in areas of Coventry for the first time
  • Contract 3 has a very short programme time. Under the terms of the contract with Openreach all work should be completed before the end of 2019

Taking into account the above factors, we hope to be able to announce areas as work starts (as previously) but will not be giving proposed completion dates, except that all work to be done under the contract should be complete by the end of 2019.

As previously, as the service goes live in each area we will be emailing those people for whom we have details in our database. That is why it is particularly important to make sure that we have your current details, and to encourage others to register. Simply visit www.cswbroadband.org.uk/register

£1m Growth Deal funding secured

We have now signed and sealed the agreement for £1m Growth Deal funding through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership. This forms the final part of the funding jigsaw for Contract 3.

Local Full Fibre Networks Programme

Due diligence work has been ongoing, and we are now working towards issuing the Invitation to Tender during the autumn.

Copy for your own website or newsletter

We have short articles of around 300 words that can be downloaded to use in your own newsletters of on websites. These are updated monthly.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Q&A’s raised recently. Our website has a full set of Q&As, which are regularly updated.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to do all work in an exchange area at the same time?

This is not as straightforward as it may appear. We are about to start work on Contract 3, with Contract 2 still running. Throughout the project we have done what is possible as funding becomes available. Inevitably, this means that some areas will be later in the programme than others. This may be because some are harder to reach, or because they do not score highly on our benefits index. The index 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.

Should we go it alone and look for a community solution?

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 largely 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

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 largely 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

Before considering a community-funded scheme you should bear in mind that these take time to organise, and require local activists to lead the project. Having said that, it is entirely possible for a community to decide to raise funds and employ their own solution.

You should bear in mind that smaller suppliers do not always have the resilience of the larger companies. If you were to go with your own solution and employed a small company, then you could be facing sustainability issues further down the line.

You should also be aware that once an area has superfast broadband then our project may consider it to have turned grey on the map and may no longer consider it for inclusion under our funding.

On the other hand, if it is not considered to be a grey area we may later come along and upgrade the network, which could cut across the business case for any community-led solution.

One final consideration is whether your chosen solution will offer a wholesale network. This means that any Internet Service Provider can use the network to provide services to its customers.

By offering a range of providers the idea is that there will be competition which will lead to a choice of packages and a range of price-points. You will not have that with a single-supplier network.

You could, of course, choose to pay Openreach, or another major provider, to upgrade the infrastructure in your area, but the costs are likely to be significant. Should you choose to follow this route then you may want to take a look at the Community Fibre Partnerships website.

Of course, any community solution will need to be paid for! A good place to start is the Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme. Gigabit vouchers can be used by small and medium-sized businesses and the local communities surrounding them, to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection.

One gigabit is the same as 1,000 megabits – so it’s a big leap forward in connection speeds that could benefit you and your business into the future.

Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project, which also includes businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500 per residential premise.

Vouchers can be aggregated so that if, for example, a village or wanted to upgrade its connectivity then as long as there are businesses involved the vouchers can be pooled together to form one project covering the entire area. This would ensure best value for all concerned and would reduce costs overall.

To set up a local project it would be necessary to go through a supplier (as with single user vouchers). It is expected that the combined value of vouchers claimed by businesses in a scheme will be greater than the combined value of the residential vouchers. For the purpose of the scheme, a business could be someone operating from home or, potentially, working from home.

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.

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops:

Follow us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn

Posted in Project News, Newsletter Archive | Comments closed

AltNets Contribute to Broadband Coverage

For the first time, the CSW Broadband Project is able to show on the project map some of the AltNets (Alternative Network Providers) who have, or will be, providing superfast speeds to properties in Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull.

Before going out to tender for Contract 3, CSW Broadband asked all known providers where they have existing coverage, or are planning to provide superfast coverage, by the end of 2019.

The information was provided in strict commercial confidence, so until now it has not been possible to tell people who will be providing superfast broadband in their area.

Things are changing, and some of the smaller providers (known as AltNets) have now given permission for their current and planned superfast coverage to be displayed. The information is shown on the CSW Broadband website at: www.cswbroadband.org.uk/latestmap

Properties shown with a purple star are part of the CSW Broadband Contract 2, which is due to complete at the end of 2018. Contract 3 properties are shown with a yellow star, and should be complete by the end of 2019.

Those properties that are to be covered by AltNets are shown with a pink circle and, where the information can be publicised, a letter will denote the AltNet provider for each property.

Unfortunately, some of the AltNets (and major providers) have chosen not to make public the areas that they intend to cover.

Cllr Kam Kaur, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Customer and Transformation for lead partner, Warwickshire County Council, said: “Being able to display this information is great news. For the first time, people whose homes and businesses are to be covered by Altnets can see (in most cases) who should be providing the coverage and so can contact the provider directly for updates.

“CSW Broadband will continue to carry out annual monitoring of the coverage provided by AltNets and, if they are not able to meet their stated ambitions then the CSW Broadband team would have the option to de-scope parts of the area, which could then be brought into the CSW Broadband project should further funding become available”.

For regular updates about the CSW Broadband project residents and businesses are urged to register at: www.cswbroadband.org.uk/register

Posted in Project News | Comments closed

Newsletter — May 2018

Over 61,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Latest modelling received from Openreach
  • Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund (LFFN)
  • Gigabit vouchers scheme extended – could you upgrade your area using these?
  • How to save money on Amazon
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

 

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

One of the biggest changes to UK data privacy law comes into effect on 25 May 2018. The General Data Protection Regulation, also known as GDPR, means that you’ll have more control over how your data is used and it ensures that organisations protect your personal data better.

To reflect these changes and new obligations, we’ve updated our privacy notice which now tells you what we do with your personal data, how it’s used and your rights as an individual under the new law. The new privacy notice will be available at https://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/about-the-project/data-protection-gdpr/

Latest modelling received from Openreach

The CSW Broadband team has finally received the latest modelling from Openreach. This takes into account the fact that Contract 3 was originally split into 3 Lots, which were all won by BT after a very thorough EU procurement exercise.

The modelling won’t change which premises are to be covered, but it does give a clearer indication of the sequencing of the rollout. Our data team are now working on the information and we will be updating the website in due course.

Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund (LFFN)

Members of the CSW Broadband team went to London recently to present on our proposals. The information was well received, and the due diligence process is continuing. Although we still don’t know whether the bid will ultimately be successful, we now have the confidence to commence the early stages of the procurement process.

To that end, a Suppliers Day was held on 16 May 2018. A number of local and national suppliers were represented and a good level of interest was shown in the project, so that we now have confidence as we move into the procurement stages that we are likely to get good quality bids coming forward.

Gigabit voucher scheme extended – now includes residential

Gigabit vouchers can be used by small and medium-sized businesses and the local communities surrounding them, to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection. One gigabit is the same as 1,000 megabits – so it’s a big leap forward in connection speeds that could benefit you and your business into the future.

Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project, which also includes businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500.

Vouchers can be aggregated so that if, for example, a village or wanted to upgrade its connectivity then as long as there are businesses involved the vouchers can be pooled together to form one project covering the entire area. This would ensure best value for all concerned and would reduce costs overall.

To set up a local project it would be necessary to go through a supplier (as with single user vouchers). It is expected that the combined value of vouchers claimed by businesses in a scheme will be greater than the combined value of the residential vouchers.

For full details about whether you are eligible for a voucher and to connect you to a full fibre broadband supplier, go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

Please note: CSW Broadband has no involvement in the administration of this scheme, and we are unable to respond to queries about it.

How to save money on Amazon

Most of us shop on Amazon at some point as it is just so convenient! However, did you know that there are ways to save a considerable amount of money? You just have to be savvy to the various tips and tricks that the pros use.

There is a great article on MSN which gives lots of ideas to save money and, let’s face it, we’re all up for a bargain!

Copy for your own website or newsletter

We have short articles of around 300 words that can be downloaded to use in your own newsletters of on websites. These are updated monthly.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Q&A’s raised recently. Our website has a full set of Q&As, which are regularly updated

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.

Can CSW Broadband influence how much suppliers charge for their services?

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.

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops:

Follow us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn

Posted in Project News, Newsletter Archive | Comments closed

Newsletter — April 2018

Over 61,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund (LFFN)
  • EAFRD
  • Gigabit vouchers scheme extended – now includes residential properties
  • Broadband on new developments
  • What does Google know about you?
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund (LFFN)

We were informed just before Easter that our bid to the LFFN has been successful, subject to due diligence. Team members will be going to London at the end of April to meet the LFFN team and to answer questions arising from the bid. It is not known when we will hear the final outcome.

The CSW Broadband team are now investigating procurement options. We will need to procure the Public Sector Building upgrades, as per the bid, which is essentially a typical public sector procurement exercise.

However, we will also need to ensure that the bidders advise what local coverage of residential and business properties they expect to achieve, even though that is not part of the work that is funded through the project.

Market engagement has already started, as we need to understand what suppliers are realistically able to deliver as it would be a waste of time for them to specify something that is simply not deliverable.

EAFRD

EAFRD focusses on connectivity to rural businesses that would not otherwise be upgraded. The bid has been delayed as we are awaiting details from Openreach of the additional coverage that they are putting into Contract 3, so that we can then establish where the final eligible premises will be.

With the deadline of 31st May fast approaching, we are doing all that we can to ensure that a fully compliant and well-argued bid is submitted in good time.

Gigabit voucher scheme extended – now includes residential

In the Spring Statement the government committed to a vision of a full fibre Britain. As part of this commitment, a £67 million Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme has been announced.

This is an extension of the pilot scheme that was previously run in Coventry and Warwickshire, but with one important change – residential premises can now also benefit.

Gigabit vouchers can be used by small and medium-sized businesses and the local communities surrounding them, to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection.

Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project, which also includes businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500.

One gigabit is the same as 1,000 megabits – so it’s a big leap forward in connection speeds that could benefit you and your business into the future.

For full details about whether you are eligible for a voucher and to connect you to a full fibre broadband supplier, go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

Please note: CSW Broadband has no involvement in the administration of this scheme, and we are unable to respond to queries about it.

Broadband on new developments

We are seeing almost daily enquiries from owners of properties on new developments asking when we will be going to their areas. The simple answer, generally speaking, is that we won’t!

Before CSW Broadband went out to tender in 2017 for Contract 3, we carried out an Open Market Review in 2016. Under this process, suppliers were sent lists of premises that appeared at that time on the Ordnance Survey AddressBase.

The data for this originates from the District or Borough Authorities, who enter the information into the Property Gazeteer. Therefore, the data can only include homes that have been built and registered, and is only as up-to-date as the District or Borough Authority data at that time.

If a property had not yet been built, or was not registered, then it could not be included in the data that was sent to suppliers.

It is not unreasonable to expect the developers to include broadband in their on-site infrastructure, and many do, however many people buy homes and expect that broadband will be provided, only to be disappointed once they move in.

To complicate the issue, there is an EU standard that required newer homes to be built as “internet ready”, so they will have network wiring around the property. However, that does not necessarily mean that there will be any connectivity from the property to the fibre network.

Buyers of any property, new or old, are strongly recommended to check the broadband connectivity situation, if it is important to them, before they buy. Don’t just take the salesperson’s word for it!

What does Google know about you?

There has been a lot in the media lately about personal data and the extent to which it is harvested, kept and shared by the services that we use every day.

Not all of this is necessarily harmful or malevolent – and some of it is essential if we are to be able to make sure of all those shortcuts and timesaving features that we take for granted.

However, it does help to know what is being kept so that you can make some informed choices.

This article on MSN gives an account of how one person tracked what data Google had harvested about him. This included (if you use these services):

  • Everywhere that you visit from the day that you turn on your telephone
  • Search and phone histories
  • Creating personalised advertisement profiles based on the websites visited
  • Every App and Extension used, who you talk to and who you follow on social media
  • All of your YouTube history – so they know what you are interested in and any potential life changes
  • Your bookmarks, email contacts, photos, who you’ve bought products from
  • Your calendar, location history, music you’ve listened to, Google books you’ve purchased, phones you’ve owned, steps you walk in a day …

You get the picture!

We would re-iterate that allowing Google to store this data enables you to make free use of some very sophisticated FREE services that we all take for granted. However, if you would like to know more, including how to stop the storage of data, this very interesting article will tell you more.

Google are not the only company doing this, and reading the article may give you the opportunity to consider what other companies might be collecting, and then to take a considered decision before clicking on the button to simply accept the terms and conditions.

Copy for your own website or newsletter

We have short articles of around 300 words that can be downloaded to use in your own newsletters of on websites. These are updated monthly.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Q&A’s raised recently. Our website has a full set of Q&As, which are regularly updated.

Once my new fibre cabinet is connected to the exchange (or FTTP is enabled), what then?

That is entirely up to you. We are installing a wholesale network, which means that once your cabinet has gone live (or FTTP has been enabled) 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 cases where a new cabinet is involved. You can check which structure you are connected to by using the BT DSL checker.

Our handy ‘How to use the BT Line Checker’ webpage will help you make sense of the DSL Checker results.

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.

You will also 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.

My phone line is connected to a cabinet that is not upgraded. How can I get it moved to a fibre-enabled cabinet?

It is an operational matter for BT as to which cabinet they connect your landline to. There is a legal obligation to provide a copper telephone connection, but not for a fibre broadband connection.

In some areas, BT are carrying out CuRE (Copper Re-Arrangement) work, which does involve moving lines from one cabinet to another. In other areas we are seeing FTTP (Fibre to the premise) installations, in which case the cabinet is irrelevant.

You can check which structure you are connected to and what speed is available to you now by using the BT DSL checker.

As mentioned earlier, 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.

To see if anything is planned in your area for the future, 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.

This information was largely 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.

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops:

Follow us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn

Posted in Project News, Newsletter Archive | Comments closed