Newsletter – June 2021

Over 75,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • CSW Project updates – Contract 3
  • CSW Project updates – LFFN programme
  • Improving broadband for very hard to reach premises – Government call for evidence
  • Ofcom report offers advice on choosing the best broadband ISPs
  • Millions at security risk from old routers, Which? warns
  • Router Security – How to secure your Wi-Fi at home or at work
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Your questions answered

CSW Project updates – Contract 3

Another 30 Contract 3 structures have gone live since our last newsletter was published at the beginning of March. The communities benefiting from these most recent upgrades include parts of:

Ansley Common, Atherstone, Balsall Common, Barston, Bedworth, Berkswell, Bidford on Avon, Brinklow, Cherington, Corley, Fillongley, Grendon, Marston Jabbett, Meriden, Middleton, Offchurch, Stratford upon Avon, Stockton, Tanworth in Arden, Warwick, Whatcote and Whateley.

As a result of this, over 75,000 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 upgrade has been completed, we will try and inform as many of the affected residents as possible.

With this in mind, we have recently conducted a mail-out campaign to over 6,500 residents and businesses to let them know that their properties have now been upgraded as a result of the work we have already completed in Contract 3.

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 in order 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, BroadbandProviders or uSwitch to find a fibre broadband package to suit you and your family’s needs.

If your property has benefited from an FTTP upgrade, our Ordering an FTTP service webpage provides you with all the information you need.

CSW Project updates – LFFN Programme

Our work on the LFFN Programme is progressing well. As mentioned previously, the CSW Broadband Project, in line with Government requirements, is using the revised total of nearly £3.9 million that we were awarded to bring full fibre gigabit connectivity to 220 public sector buildings across Warwickshire.

All 220 sites have now been surveyed and have moved through to the build phase. We expect that all project sites, which includes a total of 159 schools and 61 other public sector buildings such as libraries and fire stations, will have a live service by the end of September 2021.

Work has already been completed at 47 of these sites with final installations to the other 173 as yet unfinished sites, happening on an almost daily basis.

It is hoped that with the new full fibre network in place that suppliers will then use it as a springboard to bring full fibre to residents and businesses in the wider community as well.

Nearly 200 residential and business properties in close proximity to the 47 completed sites have also been upgraded to full-fibre connections, with many more also due to benefit as the remaining sites are completed.

Once these builds are completed, we will inform the local residents and businesses who will also have benefited from this work, that they can now order an improved service.

Improving broadband for very hard to reach premises – Government call for evidence

The government is currently carrying out an Open Consultation on ‘Improving broadband for Very Hard to Reach premises’.

Through this call for evidence, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) wants to hear the views and experiences of consumers’ broadband connectivity in rural and remote areas of the UK. They are looking for responses from specific groups of stakeholders including rural residents and rural businesses.

The evidence gathered will enable DCMS to assess the options available for delivering improved connectivity to areas where the costs of delivering better digital infrastructure have so far proven to be a barrier to deployment.

Digital connectivity offers rural residents the option to access many services without having to make long or complex journeys and over the last year in particular, has become a key means for accessing, banking services, education and healthcare services to name but a few.

Rural based businesses are also reliant on the need to be able to access fast and reliable broadband and mobile networks if they are to develop, grow and thrive in an increasingly competitive world.

If you are a residential household or business user of rural broadband services and you would like to have your say then you can complete the call for evidence via this online survey. The consultation closes at 11:45pm on Friday 11 June 2021.

Ofcom report offers advice on choosing the best broadband ISPs

Ofcom have recently published their fifth annual report on how service levels compare across the telecoms industry with regards to quality of service, call waiting times, complaints, new service installation times and fault repairs.

The aim of the report, entitled ‘Comparing customer service: mobile, home broadband and landline’ is to allow consumers to look beyond the price and see what level of service they can expect from different providers, helping them to make informed decisions about which provider is best for them.

It also acts as an incentive for providers to improve their customer service, which is never a bad thing!

The report covers customers’ experiences in 2020 and – as usual – is based on data that Ofcom has gathered via a combination of consumer research, submitted customer complaints and data obtained directly from operators.

For those of you who are interested in this but don’t have the time to read the full Ofcom report, the ISP Review website provides an excellent summary of the survey’s main findings.

Millions at security risk from old routers, Which? warns

Millions of people in the UK could be using outdated routers that put them at risk of being hacked in their own homes the consumer magazine, Which? has warned.

The report examined 13 older router models provided to customers by internet service providers such as EE, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Vodafone and found that more than two-thirds had potential security flaws.

Many of these older routers will still be in wide circulation because broadband providers don’t tend to retire them unless they break or the customer switches or upgrades to a different service. The main issues this study found were:

Weak default passwords – A lot of consumers leave default passwords unchanged. However, they can be easily guessed by hackers, are common across devices and could grant someone access. This can be done from outside of the home network, so a hacker could access the router from anywhere in the world.

Lack of firmware updates – These are not only important for performance, they are also needed to fix security issues when they arise. An estimated 6 million homes were using a router that had not been updated since 2018, with around 2.4 million not having had a router upgrade in the last 5 years.

Local network vulnerabilities – While the risk here is lower as a hacker would have to be in the vicinity of the router, vulnerabilities such as this could allow a cybercriminal to completely control your device, see what you’re browsing or direct you to malicious websites.

The study found that not all routers on test were bad though. Old devices from BT and Plusnet had been recently updated and no unfixed vulnerabilities or weak default passwords were found.

Which? provides advice on what to do if you own one of the affected routers listed in the report and also recommends that you ask your provider for an upgrade as soon as you can.

Router Security – How to secure your Wi-Fi at home or at work

The Broadband Genie website also mentions that broadband router security is often overlooked, noting that if the router is not properly configured, your private data and home network – along with everything attached to it – are potentially at risk.

Their guide on How to secure your Wi-Fi at home or in the office provides useful information and advice on topics such as updating the router’s firmware, how to secure the Wi-Fi network and disable things like remote administration, UPnP and PING responses.

While this all sounds a bit technical, the guide provides simple explanations as to what these terms mean and explains how by taking these simple steps, you can help to minimise the risks to your Wi-Fi set up and easily bolster your home broadband router security.

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.

Your questions answered

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.

Why has my upgrade been delayed?

This is a technically challenging project and we always knew that some areas would be more difficult to reach than others – particularly as we get into the more rural areas that we are now building to in Contract 3 – the current phase of the CSW Broadband Project.

The FTTP (Fibre to the Premise) solutions that we are now deploying often require more civil engineering works (e.g. road closures) than the FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) solutions that tended to be deployed for much of Contracts 1 and 2 and these can take up to 3 months to come into effect.

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

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns and restrictions have also had a knock-on effect with regards to the build programme.

We will not be able to bring regular updates or a lot of details about what is happening as doing that would tie up a lot of valuable resource and time for both the CSW team and Openreach, our build partners.

However, we do continue to monitor the build programme closely and as soon as we have confirmation that a build has been completed, we will inform as many of the residents and businesses who will benefit from that build as we can that they can now order an improved service.

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

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) connection speeds will vary depending on a number of factors including the distance your property is located from the street cabinet it is connected to, the local geography, the state of the local copper network and the wiring within your home or business but you could get up to 80Mbps.

Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) connections – where these are available – are in theory capable of 1Gbps (1000 Mbps), but your service provider may offer a range of different speed-related packages to suit different needs.

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

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Newsletter – March 2021

Nearly 75,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • CSW Project updates – Contract 3
  • Useful advice for if you are thinking of changing your ISP in 2021
  • Mobile operators agree new deal to improve UK’s rural coverage
  • BT in talks with OneWeb over rural satellite broadband
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Your questions answered

CSW Project updates – Contract 3

Since our last newsletter in December, another 94 Contract 3 structures have now been confirmed as having gone live. Some of these have been partially live for some time, but we only tend to publish this information once we are sure that all the connections served by those structures have been completed.

Unfortunately, some of the properties which we believed had been upgraded were not showing as such on Openreach’s systems meaning that those residents couldn’t order an improved service. However, now that these issues have been resolved and the data verified, we can now inform you of these upgrades.

Some of the communities benefiting from these upgrades include parts of: Allesley, Aldermans Green, Ansley Common, Arlescote, Arley, Ash Green, Balsall Common, Bascote, Bedworth (Bede Village), Berkswell, Bishops Tachbrook, Bodymoor Heath, Bramcote, Bubbenhall, Burton Hastings, Cliff, Combrook, Copston Magna, Corley, Edstone, Ettington, Frankton, Galley Common, Hampton in Arden, Harborough Magna and Hatton.

Other communities which have also benefited include parts of: Kenilworth, Keresley End, Kingsbury, Knowle, Lighthorne, Long Compton, Meriden, Middleton, Moreton Morrell, New Arley, Newton, Offchurch, Piccadilly, Rugby, Shelford, Shustoke, Solihull, Southam, Stockton, Stretton on Dunsmore, Tanworth in Arden, Temple Grafton, Walton, Warmington, Warwick, Wishaw, Wolvey and Wormleighton.

As a result of this, nearly 75,000 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 try and 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 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, BroadbandProviders or uSwitch to find a fibre broadband package to suit you and your family’s needs.

If your property has benefited from an FTTP upgrade, our Ordering an FTTP service webpage provides you with all the information you need.

 

Useful advice for if you are thinking of changing your ISP in 2021

Consumers in the UK face a confusing choice of different broadband providers and networks, which is getting worse as a growing number of new entrants enter the market. In fact, trying to find a new ISP can sometimes feel like walking through a minefield.

If you are looking for a new ISP but find the myriad of options available to you a little bit confusing, the ISP Review’s new ‘UK Best Broadband ISPs for Homes – 2021’ guide may be able to help by offering a simplified overview of the top options.

The guide puts together the editor’s pick of top ISP options in terms of quality and affordability. The ISPs featured in the guide are picked based on a mixture of criteria, including reader feedback, Ofcom quality / complaint scores, third party awards and reviews from multiple sites, to name but a few.

As well as categorising ISPs by price and quality, a third category – Commendations – also highlights alternative network ISPs that also deserve praise – based on the above criteria.

Consumer champions Which? have also recently published their ‘Best and worst broadband providers 2021’ report.

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 and advice on how to switch to a different broadband provider, see our ‘Questions and Answers’ section later in this newsletter.

Mobile operators agree deal to improve UK’s rural coverage

A number of publications, including Computer Weekly have recently reported that three of the UK’s leading mobile operators have agreed a deal to build and share infrastructure to boost 4G coverage and improve mobile connectivity in hard-to-reach places.

In the first stage of the UK government’s Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme, which aims to support the deployment of 5G and extend 4G mobile coverage to hitherto badly served rural areas, O2, Three and Vodafone are joining forces to build and share 222 new mobile masts to boost rural coverage across the country.

The £1.3bn SRN programme was first proposed in October 2019 and has been made possible through a partnership of the UK’s four major telecoms operators – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone who will work to close almost all partial “not spots” – areas where there is only coverage from at least one but not all operators.

Their initial investment of £532m will then be supplemented by more than £500m of government funding to eliminate total not spots – hard to reach areas where there is currently no coverage from any operator.

The exact location of the masts – most of which will be built in rural areas – are not being disclosed until planning permission has been approved. Construction will start this year and is set to be completed by 2024 in line with the agreement reached with the Government and Ofcom.

The three mobile operators will now engage with local stakeholders and other key parties to ensure what the UK government calls a “timely and efficient” roll-out that delivers 4G connectivity in rural communities, offering customers in very remote areas increased choice and fuller value from their contracts where they live, work or travel.

BT in talks with OneWeb over rural satellite broadband

The Rural Service Network recently highlighted a Bloomberg report on discussions between BT and the government-backed satellite maker OneWeb to provide rural broadband to people cut off from the UK’s fibre networks.

BT is understood to be in early discussions around how OneWeb’s satellite technology, which is designed to provide internet signals to remote locations, might be used to connect up rural households.

The report notes that the satellite provider could allow BT to provide modest broadband speeds without the extra cost of installing cables to houses that are too remote or expensive to install fibre cables.

London-based OneWeb, a rival to Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite network, has launched 110 out of a planned 648 fridge-sized satellites into low-earth orbit. The company said recently it could start connecting UK customers by the end of this year.

Musk’s Starlink constellation, which received a license from Ofcom in November 2020, has already launched around 1,000 satellites and has started trialling direct-to-consumer services in the UK as well as around the rest of the world.

While the early results from trials in the UK look promising, Starlink doesn’t come cheap, at £439 for the hardware and a monthly cost of £89. But some of those who have suffered with sluggish internet for years believe that it is a price worth paying.

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.

Your questions answered

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?

The ordering and final installation process for the Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) solutions that are now being rolled out in Contract 3 of the CSW Broadband Project is a little bit different to the FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) solutions that were predominantly rolled out during Contracts 1 and 2.

‘WBC FTTP’ will be listed under ‘Featured Products’ on the BT Broadband Availability Checker results page, if FTTP is available at your property. For more information on making sense of the results returned from your enquiry, visit our ‘How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker’ webpage.

Although only around 15% of the UK can currently get a full fibre connection, the number of ISPs offering FTTP packages is gradually increasing. For a full list of all the ISPs who have stated that they offer residential and business packages across the CSW region, please visit our Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) webpage.

Whichever ISP you chose to provide your service, the installation process will be similar to that shown in this short installing full fibre to your property film from Openreach.

Typically, you will need to book an appointment for them to come and fit the service. The engineer will run fibre from the nearest distribution point (either over a pole or via underground ducting) to your property. The fibre will then be connected to a small box on the outside wall of your property at ground level.

The fibre will then be run through your wall to the inside of your property, where the engineer will install a small powered wall mounted unit that they will then plug your router into.

They will then typically test your full fibre connection on one of your preferred devices to make sure that the service is working properly and that you can start making the most of your faster and more dependable connection.

Finally, it is worth noting that the ‘WBC FTTP’ product 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.

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, 18 or 24 months. Most contracts require you to give your ISP a month’s notice.

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. BroadbandUK’s BroadbandProviders.co.uk website is particularly useful for this as it allows consumers to search for broadband providers and packages by their exact address rather than just by postcode area.

There are a number of comparison sites available and we’ve listed a few more of these below that you may want to take a look at before making a decision:

Finally, if you are thinking about switching your broadband provider, the Which? and Moneysaving Expert websites offer some invaluable (and impartial) advice and information which you may find useful.

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

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