Newsletter — January 2020

Nearly 72,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • More Contract 3 builds announced
  • CSW Broadband Project updates
  • Useful advice if you are thinking of changing your ISP in 2020
  • 37 ways to improve your internet speeds
  • Openreach to extend Full Fibre network into 200 rural locations
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

More Contract 3 builds announced

Over the last couple of months, CSW Broadband has given the go-ahead for dozens and dozens of new structures to be built. This means that more and more residents and businesses, across the length and breadth of the Solihull and Warwickshire sub-region, will soon be able to take advantage of a fibre broadband connection.

Some of the communities that will benefit from the latest batch of upgrades include parts of:

Arley, Avon Dassett, Bidford on Avon, Birchmoor, Burton Hastings, Copston Magna, Corley, Frankton, Kenilworth, Keresley End, Meriden, Middleton, Napton, Nether Whitacre, Over Whitacre, Polesworth, Priors Marston, Ratley, Stockton, Stretton on Dunsmore, Warton and Wootton Wawen.

The full list of what CSW has approved to be built so far in Contract 3, along with the communities that will benefit from these builds can be found at in the Contract 3 table on our Rolling 12-month Plan webpage.

CSW Broadband Project updates – Contract 3

Another 30 Contract 3 cabinets / structures have gone live since the last newsletter was sent out at the end of November. Communities benefiting from these upgrades included parts of:

Alcester, Bascote, Bearley, Berkswell, Birchmoor, Cawston, Churchover, Kenilworth, Kingsbury, Kytes Green, Ladbroke, Leamington, Meriden, Napton on the Hill, Nuneaton, Polesworth, Sawbridge, the Banbury Road & Gallows Hill area of Warwick and Woolscott.

As a result, nearly 72,000 properties across the region are now able to connect to the fibre network thanks to the work of the CSW Broadband Project.

As always, once we have received confirmation that a particular cabinet or structure upgrade has been completed, we will inform as many of the affected residents as possible.

Remember, once your property has been upgraded, you won’t get a faster 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, Choose 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 information on ordering an FTTP service and the subsequent installation process.

Useful advice for if you are thinking of changing your ISP in 2020

Consumers in the UK face a bewildering choice of providers and networks when trying to find a new home broadband ISP and this is only likely to get worse as a growing number of new ISPs enter this highly competitive market.

If you are looking for a new ISP but find the myriad of options available to you a little bit confusing, the ISPreview’s, The UK Best Home Broadband ISP Options for 2020 may be able to help.

In the article, their editor’s annual pick aims to highlight some of the top ISP options in terms of quality and affordability that are available to you.

Consumer champions Which? have also recently published their report into the best and worst UK broadband providers for 2020.

They note that while the best broadband companies offer a great service at a great price, provide a fast connection that you can rely on, and are on hand to help in the rare instance that something goes wrong, many broadband providers still don’t deliver on those fronts.

While you have to pay to download the whole report, it is worth noting that this survey is based on the real-life experiences of thousands of customers across the UK and may prove to be money well spent if you are thinking of changing broadband provider and would like further information on choosing your next ISP.

For more information on this, visit: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/broadband-deals/article/best-broadband-providers

37 ways to improve your internet speeds

For some residents, even achieving a fairly modest broadband speed can be quite a challenge, particularly if they are living in areas that haven’t yet been upgraded or where they can achieve faster but not yet superfast broadband speeds.

If you are fed up of YouTube or Netflix buffering all the time then Broadband Savvy’s ‘How To Improve Internet Speed’ guide might be able to help. This useful resource contains 37 different methods that you can try to improve your internet speed – all of which have been tried, tested and proven to work by the authors.

The guide provides valuable information on how to test your internet speed, how to access your router settings, how to improve you WiFi speed and top tips and helpful hints on how you can make general improvements to the speeds you are currently able to achieve.

Each of the methods you can try are broken down into an easy to follow step-by-step actions and any technical jargon is explained so that it is easy to understand. So, if you are fed up with slow broadband speeds, some of these methods might be worth a try.

Openreach to extend Full Fibre network into 200 rural locations

On 27th January 2020, Openreach announced that they were going to widen their Full Fibre network build programme to include 250,000 homes and businesses in more than 200 rural locations across the UK – including some in the CSW region.

This builds upon Openreach’s existing programme to provide four million homes and businesses with access to Full Fibre technology by the end of March 2021 but will see them extending the network into market towns and villages in the more rural areas of the country.

The six communities that will benefit from this programme within the CSW region are: Bidford on Avon, Coleshill, Henley in Arden, Hockley Heath, Lapworth and Wootton Wawen.

The fibre infrastructure that CSW Broadband has already had the foresight to deploy in these areas has acted as a springboard for this work. By using this existing resource as the foundation for their Full Fibre network extension, Openreach will be able to provide these communities with an ultrafast, ultra-reliable broadband service that will be fit for purpose for decades to come.

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?

This depends on the type of upgrade that your property has benefited from.

If your property has received 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 cabinet it is connected to, the local geography, the local copper network in your area and the condition of the wiring within your own property.

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

However, 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 — November 2019

Over 71,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • CSW Broadband Project updates
  • Completed fibre upgrades in your area – info for parish & town websites
  • ISP complaints & advice
  • CSW website – content review
  • Case Studies needed – Tell us your story
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

CSW Broadband Project updates – Contract 3

Another 39 Contract 3 cabinets / structures have gone live since the last newsletter was sent out at the end of September. Communities benefiting from these upgrades included parts of:

Alvecote, Ash Green, Astley, Aston Cantlow, Balsall Common, Bearley, Birchmoor, Brailes, Bretford, Curdworth, Easenhall, Fillongley, Hampton in Arden, Harborough Magna, Kitebrook, Knowle, Leamington Spa, Little Compton, No Man’s Heath, Polesworth, Radway, & Shipston on Stour and the Chase Meadow area of Warwick.

As a result, over 71,000 properties across the region are now able to connect to the fibre network thanks to the work of the CSW Broadband Project.

Once we have received confirmation that a particular cabinet or structure upgrade is complete, we will inform as many of the affected residents as possible.

Remember, once your property has been upgraded, you won’t get a faster 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, Choose 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 information on ordering an FTTP service and the subsequent installation process.

CSW Broadband Project updates – LFFN Programme

The Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme is designed to stimulate commercial investment in full fibre networks in both rural and urban locations across the whole of the UK.

The CSW Broadband Project successfully bid for a £5.7 million slice of the money available for this programme and in line with Government requirements, we will use this money to focus on bringing Ultrafast (1Gbps) connectivity to around 320 public buildings across the region.

It is hoped that the successful bidder may also decide to use the new fibre network as a springboard to cover a wider area (e.g. residential properties within that area).

After a lengthy tendering, evaluation and assurance process, BDUK – the government body who oversee our project activities, have finally given CSW the go-ahead to award the contract and we will have more news on this in January’s newsletter.

Completed fibre upgrades in your area – info for parish & town council websites

We have now completed our campaign to provide nearly 200 local parish / town councils with bespoke content to publish via their websites and / or newsletters with regard to fibre upgrades that the CSW Project has already completed in their area.

As mentioned in the last newsletter, the purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness amongst local residents, particularly those who may not know that they can now take advantage of a fibre broadband service.

Each parish / town council area where we have completed work has now been provided with information on:

  • The name of the upgraded cabinet/structure and the communities (road names and/or postcodes) benefiting from that upgrade
  • Details of how residents can find out if their specific property has benefited from one of those upgrades
  • Details of how those residents can find/order a fibre broadband package to suit their individual needs

We have urged all the contacted councils to publish this content online for the benefit of local residents, so please visit your local parish or town council website for more information.

ISP Complaints & Advice

Ofcom have recently published their Telecoms and pay TV complaints Report for Q2 (April to June) of 2019. With regards to consumer complaints about fixed line broadband, the report shows that Vodafone generated the most broadband complaints per 100,000 customers while Sky generated the fewest.

Ofcom does not itself deal with individual complaints but they do monitor them and can take action if enough people raise a problem.

If you have an issue regarding the service that you are receiving from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) the ISP review website’s ISP Complaints and Advice section contains detailed information and advice on problems that consumers often experience with their broadband ISPs and how to get them resolved.

CSW website – content review

We are currently in the process of overhauling, editing and updating our website. So far we have concentrated on looking at the existing content – stripping out information that was ‘surplus to requirements’ whilst ensuring that the vital content that residents use and need is retained.

This is obviously very much a work in progress and there is still a lot of work to do before this content review is completed. For example, we still need to update the FAQs, the data in the Check Your Property Tool and also the Latest Map in the near future.

As always, we try to provide residents with what we think will be useful information or information that they have asked for when they contact us.

However, if there is something broadband related that you would also like to see more information on, please email us at broadband@cswbroadband.org.uk with the details and we will seriously consider adding content on that subject to our website in the near future.

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 will I know when my connection has gone live?

Once a particular cabinet / structure upgrade has been completed, we always try to inform as many residents as possible that they can now benefit from an improved service.

With the restricted marketing budget that we had during Contracts 1 & 2, we emailed all affected residents whose details we had on our database as well as local broadband champions, parish councils and district councillors, informing them of the completed upgrade and encouraging them to spread word of the upgrade to other local residents on our behalf.

We announced upgrades via our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and as noted earlier, we have also provided nearly 200 parish / town councils with bespoke information giving details of the upgrades and the local communities benefiting from those upgrades for them to publish on their websites and/or newsletters.

We will continue with all of the above activities during Contract 3 – the current phase of the CSW Project and if our budget allows, we will also try to mail leaflets directly to all affected residents so that they can take advantage of the benefits of a fibre upgrade to their property, if they wish to do so.

If you would like to check yourself if your connection is live, simply enter your landline number or address into the BT Broadband Availability Checker.

If fibre is available, either ‘VDSL Range A & B’ (if you have received a Fibre to the Cabinet upgrade) or ‘WBC FTTP’ (if you have received a Fibre to the Premise upgrade) will be listed in the ‘Featured Products’ column of the results table along with the speeds you are likely to achieve.

Our How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker web page will help you make sense of the Availability Checker results should you require any further help.

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

We have no influence over the prices charged by commercial internet service providers (ISPs). 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 wholesale network is available to all suppliers on an equal basis, it is a purely commercial decision on the part of each individual ISP as to which packages they offer and at which price range.

There are a number of comparison sites where you can compare the different packages available from different ISPs such as: MoneySavingExpert.com, Broadbandchoices and Broadband Genie, uSwitch or Cable.co.uk to help you find a deal that suits your needs and price range.

It is also worth noting that with Black Friday just around the corner, different ISPs will be offering potential customers some great deals in terms of broadband packages and prices over the next couple of weeks, so keep a look out for these as well.

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 2019

Over 71,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • Introducing Connecting Solihull & Warwickshire
  • CSW Broadband Project updates
  • Fibre upgrades in your area – info for parish council websites
  • 17 online scams you should be aware of
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

Introducing Connecting Solihull & Warwickshire

Following a series of negotiations, Coventry City Council has decided to *withdraw from any further activity with the CSW Broadband Contract 3 programme being carried out in conjunction with BDUK.

A mutually agreed statement on behalf of Coventry City Council and the CSW Project states:

“Coventry City Council has decided to withdraw from any further activity with the CSW Contract 3 programme in conjunction with BDUK. CSW will now remodel the programme to take fibre broadband to even more communities within the Solihull and Warwick region. Any queries relating to the digital infrastructure work taking place in Coventry should be directed to digitalinfrastructure@coventry.gov.uk

The CSW Project has now therefore rebranded as ‘Connecting Solihull & Warwickshire’ and we have also adapted our logo (above) to reflect this recent change of circumstances and future works.

*NOTE: Some works within the Coventry City Council (CCC) boundary were already in build or had been completed before CCC decided to exit the CSW Project. CCC have paid CSW/BDUK in full for the cost of these builds.

Any inquiries relating to digital infrastructure work in Solihull and Warwickshire should continue to be directed to broadband@cswbroadband.org.uk

CSW Broadband Project updates – Contract 2

Over the summer, Openreach reached and surpassed their contractual target for the number of properties they were due to upgrade for Contract 2 of the CSW Broadband Project.

Despite achieving this, there were a small number of structures which were not built as part of Contract 2 as had been originally planned due to spiralling costs.

As with all similar BDUK projects up and down the country, cost caps are built into each contract to ensure that the build costs for each structure do not get out of control – particularly as we get into the more rural areas where costs can become prohibitive.

After suppliers, in CSW’s case Openreach, had identified a number of builds around the country where the cost cap would be seriously exceeded, BDUK (who oversee our project) agreed that up to 6% of the most expensive builds in each project could be put forward to be de-scoped.

CSW reluctantly agreed to this proposal but only on the proviso that Openreach included all the affected properties from the 4% of terminated Contract 2 builds within our area in their planning for Contract 3 of the CSW Project – where more generous cost caps are in place and more money is available.

Openreach are now re-modelling part of the Contract 3 build plan to accommodate these properties and we will include further updates in future newsletters as soon as we have more news on this.

CSW Broadband Project updates – Contract 3

To help counteract the issues outlined above, Openreach have now introduced a far more transparent modelling, surveying and planning process for the CSW Contract 3 build programme, which is now well under way.

Once the build plans have been prepared, they are then passed on to the CSW team to be scrutinised and verified.

It is only when CSW are happy with the proposed build plan and any associated costs for a particular structure that it gets the go ahead to progress to the build phase and is then added to the list of verified builds in the Contract 3 table on our Rolling 12-month Plan webpage.

Numerous structures have already been added to the Contract 3 table and this will be continually and regularly updated as more and more structures pass through the new verification process.

Some local communities are already benefiting from the completion of Contract 3 builds including parts of:

Aldermans Green, Allesley, Balsall Common, Bedworth, Bidford on Avon, Bretford, Brinklow, Corley, Coventry, Curdworth, Dunchurch, Foul End, Kenilworth, Kingsbury, Langley, Middleton, Nuneaton, Oldberrow, Old Milverton, Studley, Ullenhall, Warton, Warwick, Wolston & Wolvey.

This means that to date, over 71,000 properties across Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire are now able to connect to the fibre network thanks to the work of the CSW Broadband Project in Contracts 1, 2 and 3.

Fibre upgrades in your area – info for parish council websites

Once a cabinet or FTTP structure goes live, we aim to inform as many people who have benefited from that upgrade within the local community as we can.

As well as our usual marketing activities, we found that a really effective way of ‘spreading the word’ was to provide local parish councils with bespoke content for their websites and/or newsletters.

This proved to be very successful when we did this earlier in the year and so during October and November 2019, we will be again be emailing around 180 parish and town councils with updates on CSW Broadband upgrades in their areas, including information on:

  • The names of the cabinets / structures that have been upgraded and details of the areas served by those upgrades
  • Details of how residents can find out if their specific property has benefited from those upgrades
  • Details of how those residents can find/order a broadband package to suit their individual needs

The aim of this campaign is to increase awareness, particularly with residents who are not on our database and so may not yet know that fibre broadband services are now available in their area.

It would therefore be really useful if parish councils could help us by uploading this information to their websites or use it in their newsletters once they have received it.

17 common online scams you should be aware of

Internet scamming is a global phenomenon that is on the rise. In 2018 alone, people around the world lost nearly £650 million to online scams. Although cybercrime doesn’t threaten our lives or physical well-being it can do irrevocable harm to our financial stability and peace of mind.

Your email and your phone are the two most common places for scammers to try and get you and although no one thinks they can become a victim of an online scam until it happens to them, even the most cautious of us can slip up.

BroadbandSearch have put together a really useful guide entitled, 17 Common Online Scams (Be Aware) and although from an American website, it contains valuable advice and information on a variety of online scams, how to stay safe online and what to do if you do fall victim to a scam wherever you live in the world.

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 is the process for ordering and installing an FTTP service?

Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) is now increasingly being rolled out to homes and businesses across the CSW region. However, compared to an FTTC upgrade the installation process in particular is quite different.

If FTTP is available at your property, ‘WBC FTTP’ will be listed under ‘Featured Products’ on the BT Broadband Availability Checker results page after you have entered your landline number or address into the checker, along with the speeds you are likely to achieve.

If you need further help making sense of the results returned by the checker, visit our ‘How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker’ webpage.

‘WBC FTTP’ should not to be confused with the far more expensive FTTP on Demand – a separate commercial product offered by BT which is NOT being installed through the CSW Broadband Project.

As FTTP is still a relatively ‘new’ technology (only 8% of the UK can get a full fibre connection) not all ISPs are yet offering FTTP packages. A full list of all the ISPs who have stated that they offer residential and business packages across the CSW region can be found on our Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) webpage.

Different ISPs may have slightly different installation processes so it is difficult to generalise here, but typically it will involve either a one or two stage fibre install.

A two stage fibre install may involve the running of fibre from either a manhole or pole to the property, terminating in a grey box on the exterior of your property called a Customer Splice Point (CSP). The second then involves connecting the CSP to equipment installed inside your property. A single stage installation is only likely to involve the latter stage of the two-stage process.

The ISP providing your FTTP package will obviously be able to tell you more about the installation process and what is involved when you place your order for their product.

If you have recently ordered an FTTP service from an ISP and would like to send us details of your experiences of their installation process, please email us at: broadband@cswbroadband.org.uk

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.

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 — 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:

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