Newsletter — February 2016

245 cabinets live to date

Over 43,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • New Exchange Only Cabinets Now Live
  • Update on broadband on new developments
  • Become a Local Broadband Champion
  • Broadband Speeds Code now fully in force
  • Additional £9.5m being modelled by BT
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

Exchange Only Cabinets Now Live

As we get closer to the end of Contract 1 of the project, we are working in the more challenging areas, many of which are coloured purple on the map. Many of these areas include exchange only (EO) lines that cannot be upgraded in the normal manner as there is no copper cabinet to connect the fibre cabinet to. In these circumstances we have to install both a copper cabinet and a fibre cabinet, and then lines are re-routed from the exchange through the new copper cabinet and connected to the fibre.

This is challenging in a number of respects: we have to find space for two cabinets; we need power and fibre bringing to the fibre cabinet; and we don’t know which lines will be re-routed to the new system until it goes live. This means that we are unable to let people know that fibre is coming to them until it is actually in place, and many people may still believe that they will be unable to achieve superfast speeds because of their EO line, when in fact the upgrade has already taken place!

In the past few weeks we have seen new EO cabinets Coleshill 22, Ilmington 4, Lapworth 13, Pailton 8, Rugby 97, and Shirley 66 go live with fibre broadband meaning that many properties previously connected to an exchange can now access fibre speeds.

For some of these cabinets, we do not have any residents registered, making it very difficult for us to inform people of the news. If you would be willing to distribute leaflets, put posters up or post on relevant social media pages and websites, please do get in touch. To check if you can get superfast broadband go to http://www.dslchecker.bt.com

Update on broadband on new developments

The government has recently announced that a deal has been reached with Openreach and the Home Builders Federation (HBF) on an agreement which aims to deliver superfast broadband connectivity to new build properties in the UK.

The new deal will see fibre based broadband offered to all new developments either for free or as part of a co-funded initiative. It is estimated that more than half of all new build properties can be connected to fibre broadband free of charge to developers.

As part of the agreement, Openreach is introducing an online planning tool for homebuilders. This will tell them whether properties in a given development can be connected to fibre for free, or if a contribution is needed from the developer to jointly fund the deployment of the local fibre network. Whilst this news is to be welcomed, as it will provide greater transparency over the relationship between developers and BT, it may not actually change anything since the developers will not be COMPELLED to provide superfast broadband infrastructure. Also, of course, any development that is built or currently being built will be unaffected by this announcement.

So, a step in the right direction but we still need changes in local and national planning policy to REQUIRE broadband infrastructure to be provided on all new developments.

To see the press release in full visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-build-homes-to-have-superfast-broadband-connectivity

Become a Local Broadband Champion

Are you interested in what is happening with the rollout of superfast broadband in your area? Do you think that others would like to know more? We are looking for Local Broadband Champions across Warwickshire and Solihull, but particularly in those areas where future coverage is planned.

We currently have over 220 Champions who are working with us to circulate information about our project and to feed back to us about specific issues in their areas. Our Local Broadband Champions are the eyes and ears of their local community and provide an invaluable service in letting people know what is happening with the project and giving us information about the situation on the ground.

So, what does it involve? Local Champions are likely to do some, or all, of the following: putting posters on noticeboards; delivering flyers to households; working alongside parish councils; posting updates to social networking pages; forwarding news to local contacts and website editors.

All information and materials are provided by the CSW Broadband team, and Champions will receive information about what has worked well elsewhere.

If you would like to find out more about being a Local Broadband Champion please visit: www.cswbroadband.org.uk/get-involved/become-a-community-champion

Broadband Speeds Code now fully in force

The provisions of the Voluntary Code of Practice: Residential Broadband Speeds (updated) 2015 came fully into force on 31st January. The Code applies to products sold to residential premises only and state that the provider should:

  • Give information about estimated access line speed range, the minimum guaranteed access line speed and, where provided by the ISP to the customer during the sales process, the single-point estimate. (Currently most providers only give “up to” speeds).
  • Require ISPs to provide the above information in after sales correspondence (via letter, email and/or in My Account) as soon as possible after the sale has been concluded (and in any event within 7 calendar days), and to set this out clearly in plain English and in an easy to read format.
  • If a customer requests further information on any of these issues at the point of sale, ISPs should provide further explanation at that point.
  • For information on traffic management and fair usage, an ISP should provide guidance in the follow up literature in plain English, including links to website information, if an ISP applies such policies.
  • Replace the requirement on ISPs using technologies such as cable to indicate the likely throughput speed during peak times with a requirement on all ISPs, regardless of technology, to provide information in the follow-up literature explaining the factors which may cause peak time congestion.

The two biggest changes are the fact that the code applies across the full contract term, so if the line connection speed degrades and the ISP does not resolve this as a fault you are free to leave.

The second change is that the minimum guaranteed access line speed should be stated in all communications at the point of sale, along with a speed range (though, if the speed range is small i.e. less than 2 Mbps between top and bottom figures, a single figure can be given). It needs to be emphasised that the access line speed is the connection speed as reported by the modem connected to the line, so slow speeds due to a big sports event are not enough to trigger the ability to exit a contract early, though if a provider is following the spirit of the code we would hope that if their peak time performance is so bad as to have people consistently under the minimum guaranteed line access speed then they will let them leave.

The minimum guaranteed speed is not a random figure the provider can pick from thin air, but is meant to be the bottom 10th percentile line speed for similar customers with that ISP. The fact that it is similar customers means providers can group people based on line length and the package they have ordered, so someone on a 6km ADSL2+ line will have a different minimum guarantee potentially to those on 1 km ADSL2+ line.

It should be noted, however, that whilst these measures are to be welcomed, they are currently voluntary. For information about which providers have signed up to the Code please visit:

www.stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/codes-of-practice/broadband-speeds-cop-2010

Additional £9.5m being modelled by BT

In preparation for the next stages of the CSW Broadband project we have asked BT to carry out further modelling, based on a spend of £9.5m. This will bring coverage to some of the areas that will not achieve superfast speeds in either Contract 1 or Contract 2, Part 1.

As with previous modelling, it will be some time before we receive the data, have processed it and are in a position to publish updated maps.

We will continue to keep you informed through future newsletters, social media and on our website. If you have registered for further updates (as opposed to simply signing up for the newsletter) then we will have your full contact details in our system and can email you when we know what is happening in your area. If you have not yet registered your full details with us you can do so by visiting: www.cswbroadband.org.uk/get-involved/register-for-more-information

Copy for your own website or newsletter

We regularly produce updates of around 350 words that can be used on your own website or in newsletters. There are a selection of articles available for download and you can select the most appropriate depending on where your particular area is in the rollout pipeline. Copy can be found at: http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/about-the-project/copy-to-use-on-your-own-website-newsletters-or-flyers/

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Q&As raised recently. Our newly revamped website has an updated set of Q&As.

Will I need a telephone line to get broadband?

Access to broadband is most common across Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire through ADSL – which requires a telephone line. This is what is being delivered through the CSW Broadband project. Also popular in some urban areas are cable services via Virgin Media, which often includes a telephone line as part of the package.

However, there are other ways to receive broadband that do not need a telephone line:

For a description of each of these technologies please see our Jargon Buster: http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/about-broadband/jargon-buster

Why does my broadband run slower at different times of the day?

There are several reasons why the speed you get from your broadband varies:

Is more than one person using your internet connection at certain times?

  • For example, if you have a home network and your son is downloading a movie, your daughter is playing an online game on her X-Box all whilst you’re browsing the web, you will notice a drop in internet connection speed.

Are you using the connection at a peak time of day (such as evening)?

  • General volume of traffic on the internet as a whole at peak times (national and international usage) will cause slower traffic.
  • As most broadband connections are shared with others, your peak time usage is likely to coincide with their use too.

This is known as the “contention ratio”. A typical consumer contention ratio is 50:1, which means you share the circuit with up to 49 other users. If all these users decide to use the internet at the same peak time, the speed for all will be slower. Generally, if you are a heavy broadband user, choosing a service with a smaller contention ratio would be a better option for you.

  • If your internet service provider (ISP) determines that you are a very heavy user, they may restrict your speed at certain times of day.

This is called “throttling” or “traffic shaping”. It is used by some ISPs to ensure that all their customers have their fair share of broadband access. Although you may have an unlimited download package, this technique would probably be covered by the ISP’s Fair Usage policy. Only a very small number of users would fall into this category – normally less than 0.1% of customers.

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

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

Why can’t residents piggy back onto commercial leased lines?

Leased lines are private fibre connections that are installed by companies who need to have good connectivity. They cost many tens of thousands of pounds to put in and carry a premium monthly rental charge. Therefore any company that is prepared to incur these costs for a premium product would not expect to the find it being shared with the local community.

Imagine that you had bought yourself a top-of-the-range car. You have taxed and insured it and made sure that it is fully roadworthy. You would not expect your neighbours to come round and demand to use it for taking the children to school, to do their shopping or to take their rubbish to the tip!

Many more frequently asked broadband questions can be found on our website at: http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/faq

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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