Newsletter – January 2023

Over 77000 properties now able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • CSW Project updates – Contract 3
  • Switching & haggling really can reduce your broadband bills
  • Alcester & Bidford first to benefit from FullFibre’s FTTP rollout
  • Government triples value of UK Gigabit Broadband Vouchers
  • Starlink to help strengthen internet in remote UK places
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Your questions answered

CSW Project updates – Contract 3

Another 21 Contract 3 structures have now gone live since our last newsletter was published in October. The communities benefiting from these most recent upgrades include parts of:

Ansley, Aylesmore, Balsall Common, Blackdown, Chastleton, Clopton, Cubbington, Hill Wootton, Honiley, Hunningham, Idlicote, Kenilworth, Little Compton, Long Itchington, Snitterfield, Stratford upon Avon (Parts of The Ridgeway & Meer St areas), Wishaw and Wroxall.

Over 77,000 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.

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 it. See our ‘Your questions answered’ section later in this newsletter for more information on this.

Switching & haggling really can reduce your broadband bills

As many mobile, pay TV and broadband providers prepare to increase monthly bills this spring, the latest research from Which? has found that customers could save over £200 a year by switching providers.

The survey asked over 5,000 UK consumers whose mobile, broadband or TV and broadband package had recently ended whether they had haggled or switched provider and if so, how much money they had saved in the process.

Their findings showed that there could be compelling savings on offer – particularly for those who were willing to switch to a new provider. But even those who would rather stick with their current provider can reduce the amount they pay by haggling with them.

Across the board, more than seven in 10 customers who switched providers saved as a result, with TV and broadband package customers saving an average of £162 a year by switching – a discount of around 13%, though customers with some providers saved even more.

There were also big savings to be had for broadband only customers who switched, with an average saving being £92 – an average discount of 16%.

Even if you are happy with your provider and don’t want to switch, you can still make a saving by negotiating (haggling) for a better price. Savings are not the only potential benefit of haggling – it is also a chance for you to get a faster speed or get more data included in your package.

While the results of the survey suggested that the average customer who upgraded still ended up paying less, there is no doubt that the biggest saving for hagglers was for those who downgraded their broadband deal. So, if you have 500Mbps but find that 100Mbps is sufficient for your needs, that’s certainly worth discussing with your provider.

The study also found that customers who do nothing when their contract ended were the ones who were at greatest risk of overpaying on their broadband bills, with some broadband customers potentially facing price rises of nearly 14% this spring.

The Which? website provides a more, in-depth analysis of the survey’s findings as well as valuable tips and advice on how to switch broadband provider and how to haggle on your broadband deal.

Alcester & Bidford first to benefit from FullFibre’s FTTP rollout

Bidford on Avon and Alcester are set to become the first communities in Warwickshire to benefit from the ultrafast full fibre broadband networks currently being built by FullFibre.

The network builder, which is the second biggest wholesale only AltNet in the UK, is investing over £3 million to bring fibre to the premise (FTTP) broadband to between 10-15,000 residential and business properties across the county.

Services will start going live in Bidford later this month and will continue to do so through to the spring. Services in Alcester will also start going live during the springtime.

Other Warwickshire communities set to benefit from FullFibre’s extensive build programme later this year include New and Old Arley, Kineton and Kingsbury, while a number of other communities are also being considered for future builds beyond that.

As FullFibre are building a wholesale network, residents and businesses will have a range of ISPs to choose from once the networks have gone live. More information on how to order a service can be found on the FullFibre Fibre Heroes website.

Government triples value of UK Gigabit Broadband Vouchers

Building Digital UK, the executive agency that oversees the UK Government’s various broadband and mobile programmes, has confirmed that they are tripling the value of the vouchers they issue to homes under their Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

The scheme previously offered grants worth up to £1,500 for homes and £3,500 for businesses in rural areas to help them get a gigabit-capable broadband (1Gbps) service installed.

However, eligible homes and businesses will soon be able to apply for up to £4,500 to cover the costs of obtaining a gigabit-capable connection.

The hope is that by issuing vouchers with bigger values, it will enable operators to deploy into increasingly remote areas, where build costs would previously have been too expensive for such projects to proceed.

Under the scheme, vouchers are available to properties in areas with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps – and where there are no near-term plans for a gigabit deployment in that specific area via either a commercial provider or a state aid supported build like the CSW Broadband Project.

Overall, more than 111,000 vouchers have already been issued through the government’s vouchers schemes, and to date, more than 77,000 of these vouchers have been used to connect premises to gigabit-capable broadband.

Starlink to help strengthen internet in remote UK places

In December, the government revealed that satellites operated by Elon Musk’s Starlink technology are to be used in a trial to get high-speed internet to remote homes and businesses across the UK.

The trial, which is part of the government’s plans to ensure everyone can access reliable broadband coverage, will test how more than 3,000 low-Earth orbit small satellites can be used to help “very hard to reach” places.

The rollout will initially be trialled at three remote locations, after which, the government will then consider the viability of using the technology in other remote areas across the UK.

Recent tests have shown that in many locations, Starlink satellites can deliver internet speeds of up to 200Mbps (megabits per second) – four times faster than the current UK average speed of just over 50Mbps.

Broadband signals beamed down by relatively low-flying, fridge-sized satellites can therefore be an effective way for remote areas to get high-speed internet access, especially in locations where operators can’t install fibre cabling or it simply isn’t economically viable to do so.

Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that, “These trials aim to find a solution to the prohibitively high cost of rolling out cables to far-flung locations” and stated that satellites could well “be the answer” to getting isolated places in the UK connected to high-speed broadband.

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.

Once an upgrade to my property is complete, will I automatically get a faster service?

No. You must order an improved broadband package through your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP) to take advantage of the faster speeds. This is what we suggest you do.

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

If your property has been upgraded to superfast broadband via a Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) solution, then ‘VDSL Range A & B’ will be listed under ‘Featured Products’ along with the speeds you are likely to achieve.

If your property has been upgraded to ultrafast broadband via a Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) solution, then ‘WBC FTTP’ will be listed under ‘Featured Products’ column.

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

Then use one of the many broadband comparison sites available online (such as those listed below) to find and order the right package at the right price for your household or business:

The ordering process is slightly different if your property has benefited from an FTTP upgrade. Our Ordering an FTTP service webpage provides you with information on the installation process and also includes a list of ISPs who state that they offer residential and / or business packages in all or parts of the CSW region.

What is Fibre on Demand?

We have again received a number of enquiries from residents recently where the BT Broadband Availability Checker suggests that a product called FTTP on Demand is available at their property, offering speeds of up to 1000Mbps.

This is NOT the same as the Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) product that CSW has been installing, though it is easy to get the two products confused because they essentially function in identical ways. However, their cost, contract length and deployment methods have tended to be significantly different.

With the FTTP solution that CSW is installing (listed as ‘WBC FTTP’ under Featured Products on the BT Broadband Availability Checker), the fibre optic cable will have been installed outside your property (e.g. down your street), which makes it fairly quick and inexpensive to get connected.

By comparison, FTTP on Demand is designed to be requested (‘on demand‘) in Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) capable areas where the fibre optic cables have yet to reach specific properties. In some cases, this will attract significant distance-based construction charges (civil works) costing thousands of pounds.

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

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

For more information on making sense of the BT Broadband Availability Checker results, visit our How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker webpage.

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

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