Newsletter — June 2013

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Topics in this edition:

  • Copy for your website or newsletter
  • Events to be held in your area
  • Extended Questions and Answers

After a lot of hard work on the part of the project team and the Local Broadband Champions, CSW Broadband has agreed a £14.57m deal with BT that will bring superfast broadband (24Mbps or over) to 91% of the area. The remaining 9% will achieve speeds of a minimum of 2Mbps up to 23.9Mbps. That means that everyone should be able to engage in activities such as online banking and shopping, watching BBC iPlayer and carrying out free videoconferencing using Skype.

Businesses will be able to compete in a global marketplace, and employees will be able to work from different locations – or from home. For many in the more rural areas this will be a real step-change and will give greater flexibility in the way that people choose to live their lives, to work or to spend their leisure time.

Now that the contract has been let, BT will commence on-the-ground survey work and a rolling 12-month programme will be announced, with the first installations expected around the turn of the year.

Because of the wealth of data that was provided by the Local Broadband Champions and members of the public the project team was able to negotiate an additional £750,000 funding, which will help to extend the superfast broadband reach still further.

Although 91% of homes and businesses will receive superfast broadband within the next three years, which is a significant achievement, it is recognised that this project is a stepping stone to the European targets for 2020 which state that all premises should be connected at a minimum of 30 Mbps and 50% of premises at 100 Mbps. This will be a major undertaking given that the current targets are extremely challenging. Additional government funds are proposed in the future to enable this to happen and the aim is to increase the fibre footprint as soon as money is available.

Until the physical surveys are completed by BT for each area it will not be possible to say exactly what will be going where, or when, but all information will be given on the project website.

Events to be held in your area

We have organised a series of launch events to explain the project more fully and to give you an opportunity to ask questions. These will be held in each of the Warwickshire Districts and will be held in the evening to give everyone the best chance of attending. If you can’t make it to a meeting in your local area and are prepared to travel then pleased feel free to attend a different one. All meetings open at 6:30 for a prompt start at 7pm:

Monday 8th July, Rugby Borough Council, Evreaux Way, Rugby, CV21 2RR

Tuesday 9th July, North Warwickshire Borough Council, South Street, CV9 1DE

Thursday 11th July, Warwickshire County Council, Shire Hall, market Square, Warwick, CV34 4RL

Tuesday 16th July, Stratford District Council, Elizabeth House, Church Street, Warwick, CV37 6HX

Monday 22nd July, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Town Hall, Coton Road, Nuneaton CV11 5AA

A separate event is to be held in Solihull

Extended Questions and Answers

We have a bumper selection of questions and answers for you this month – hopefully they should cover every eventuality!

When will the project start?

The project officially started from the signing of the contract. The first stage will involve intensive planning and surveying typically lasting 6-9 months. Deployment will begin during this period.

How have you decided your roll-out plan?

The strategic ambitions of the CSW Broadband project are to:

  • Benefit the maximum number of citizens
  • Remove the barrier of connectivity for businesses to do business in the sub-region
  • Ensure a network deployment that contributes the most to the underlying fibre infrastructure across the sub-region

The rollout strategy is based on engineering logic taking into account many factors including local demographics and geography, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service. It’s not possible with a programme of this size to plan every area at the same time so some areas will be enabled before others.

Do you know where you will go first – where will the first communities to benefit from fibre be?

At this very early stage it is impossible to say with any degree of certainty as to where the project is likely to deploy fibre first. There is a significant amount of planning and surveying work that needs to be carried out before we can indicate where the first locations are likely to be. This process typically takes around six months.

How will people find out when their area is due to get fibre broadband?

As information becomes available it will be published on the CSW Broadband website. We plan to publish a rolling 12-month programme.

What is the total number of homes/businesses that will have access to fibre by the end of the project (taking into account both the CSW Broadband project and the commercial rollout)?

Around 448,542 premises, which equates to approximately 93% in Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire combined. Of these 43,421 premises in the project intervention area will have been subsidised.

What total percentage of homes/businesses will have access to superfast broadband (24Mbps and above) when combining both the project rollout and broadband provider’s commercial fibre deployment?

Around 91% of homes/businesses over the next three years (deployment is expected to be complete by Spring 2016).

How is it that some premises will get fibre but not superfast?

By the end of the project, around 93% of premises will have access to fibre, and 91% will have access to speeds of 24Mbps and above (note: both these statistics are the result of work carried out under this project, plus commercial roll-outs). Some premises will be connected to fibre but have speeds of less than 24Mbps due to factors including the distance to their street cabinet. Additionally, some premises connected to fibre will have speeds in excess of 24Mbps as FTTC delivers speeds of up to 80Mbps.

What percentage of the region is planned to be covered by fibre in the commercial rollout?


What percentage of the project’s fibre deployment will be FTTC and approximately what percentage will be FTTP?

Almost all will be FTTC as it offers the best value for money solution to get fibre as far as possible.

Why can you only take fibre to 93%, why not everyone?

Although reaching 93% of homes and businesses within the next three years is a significant achievement we recognise that this project is a stepping stone to the European targets for 2020 of all premises connected at 30 Mbps and 50% at 100 Mbps. Additional government funds are proposed in the future to enable this to happen and we aim to increase the fibre footprint as soon as money is available.

Why don’t you spend the money on 4G?

We believe that fibre-based broadband offers the best solution for premises in terms of speeds, reliability and value for money and a 4G solution also requires a fibre backbone. Hence, deploying fibre as far as possible speeds the commercial deployment of 4G.

Currently 4G is not considered an eligible technology under the terms of State Aid and could therefore not form the core of any project. Also, we were clear from the start that whatever solution was employed through this project must also help us to achieve the EU 2020 targets of 100% coverage at 30Mbps and 50% connected to and using 100Mbps. This is clearly a step-change from where we are now, hence fibre as far as possible is the preferred solution.

It looks as though the decisions were made on a postcode basis, excluding properties in certain postcode areas even though they are served by the same distribution cabinet as others in postcode areas that are included.

You are correct about the shading on the map being calculated by postcode areas. This is the standard BDUK methodology. Clearly telecoms infrastructure does not align with postcodes, which is one reason why we are saying that the actual rollout will depend on surveys and that the map is indicative only.

Some areas local to the exchange are still white, is this because they are deemed to receive a sufficiently good service without being upgraded?

It is possible that properties close to the exchange are on exchange only lines – in other words they do not have a cabinet between the exchange and their property and so are unable to benefit from the technology that is being used for the main areas. As with all other white areas we are anticipating that technological improvements and additional funding will help us to ensure that we achieve full coverage of the final 9%.

Specifically, what are you able to do for people on exchange only lines?

Some will get FTTP under the contract, for others they will be able to purchase Fibre on Demand which is already available in Kenilworth, Leamington and Southam. For some, alternative options exist such as network re-engineering or improved speeds via alternative technology such as wireless, BET, Satellite etc. Each property will be assessed individually to determine the most appropriate solution.

Will premises connected to exchanges already announced in the commercial roll-out but unable to benefit currently (eg. exchange only lines, cabinet not included for technical or commercial reasons or too far from an enabled cabinet), be included in this initiative?

Yes, it is possible that some of these premises in white areas could be included in the project following the completion of surveying and planning. It is also possible that some of these properties will benefit from commercial deployment by BT, which is on-going, and that of other communications providers.

The project is unable to invest in grey or black areas that will be covered under the commercial roll-out.

What provision is there in the contract for reaching those premises that are beyond the reach of a fixed fibre solution?

These premises will be covered by solutions such as advanced copper broadband or satellite, which are capable of supporting the minimum of 2Mbps broadband service. However, these are interim solutions only as we look towards the 2020 EU targets of 100% coverage at 30Mbps and 50% connected to and using 100Mbps. This is clearly a step-change from where we are now, and will require further investment.

Can you tell me how many ‘slow spots’ there are across the intervention area and how many of these will be enabled as a result of this project (A ‘slow spot’ defined here as below 2Mbps)

There are approximately 3,187 ‘slow spots’, in the project area. All of these will enabled as a result of the project.

What if my property is on the border and is served from an exchange in a different Local Authority?

We anticipate that this will apply only to a very small number of premises. Geographic coverage is negotiated between neighbouring authorities to ensure each premise is covered, but funded only once.

I have looked at the map on the website and we are on the fringes of the amber/white area. What does this actually mean for us?

The maps are indicative only and as previously stated the areas are designated by postcode (in accordance with BDUK requirements). As the telecoms infrastructure is not determined by postcode it is not possible at this stage to give any more detail and the grey/amber/white designation should not be read as the final outcome. As the rollout commences we will be turning specific areas of the map green to show that superfast broadband is currently available.

According to the maps I live in a “white” area. Does this mean that I get nothing?

The white areas will get the Universal Service Commitment, which means that 100% of premises will get a minimum of 2Mbps, but in reality many will get more than that. In practice you could get anything from 2 to 23.9Mbps, at which point it would become superfast. As stated previously, it is impossible to say exactly what speeds will be achieved until the surveys are complete and in many cases until the upgrades have taken place.

We recognise that this project is a stepping stone to the European targets for 2020 of all premises connected at 30 Mbps and 50% at 100 Mbps. Additional government funds are proposed in the future to enable this to happen and we aim to increase the fibre footprint as soon as money becomes available.

In terms of deployment will there be a particular focus on specific areas of interest – such as business parks, and if so what form would this take – early deployment, a focus of funds?

In our procurement we identified all postcodes that formed clusters of businesses and these were taken into account by BT during the modelling process. For example, the proposed deployment covers 61% of postcodes containing more than 10 businesses.

Is there any financial assistance available to businesses to help meet the cost of the Fibre on Demand (FoD) connection costs?

Not at present, although we are constantly seeking new sources of funding. All updates on this position will be posted to our website.

Why are you rolling out Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) instead of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)?

We are fortunate that 96% of premises are within 1Km of their local street cabinet so by focussing on delivering FTTC BT have met our strategic objectives in the most efficient manner possible, to ensure the greatest level of coverage for the available funding. Also, customers will be able to pay to have their FTTC converted to FTTP using Fibre on Demand (FoD) products when they become available. This facility has already been announced for Kenilworth, Leamington and Southam.

Will the network be open to competition?

Yes. The network is being built by Openreach, BT’s local network business, and will be open to all communications providers on an equal basis. Currently around 80 Communications Providers are trialling or offering fibre broadband services over BT’s network. This will enable people to choose the provider and broadband package that best suits their need.

What sort of broadband speeds can I realistically expect if I’m able to get fibre under the project?

FTTC connection speeds will vary depending on a number of factors but could reach up to 80Mbps. FTTP connections are all capable of 330Mbps 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, and the wiring within your home or business.

You said I would get 2Mbps but whenever I check my speed it is lower than this – why?

Speeds within premises are affected by a variety of factors including internal wiring, the age of your computer, the type of router you use and the number of applications you are running.

The current average speed (according to Ofcom) across the CSW area is 13Mbps. What sort of average speed can people expect once the project is completed?

The recent Ofcom survey showed that average speeds were around half the advertised speeds so that this would imply a move towards 40Mbps as the project rolls out. However, the final speed attained at a particular premise connected by the main technology (FTTC) will depend on a number of factors such as the distance from the exchange or street cabinet, geography, and the wiring within their home or business.

Why was BT selected as the delivery partner for this project?

BT won a fair and open procurement exercise.  They are willing to invest their own resources, have established retail partners and have the capacity and experience to deliver the solution.

Did you have to simply accept what you were offered by BT?

Through the data that we have collected over the past couple of years we have good knowledge of our area and so were able to apply to BDUK for additional funding. This means that with match funding an additional £750,000 has been brought to the project, which has yet to be allocated to the rollout programme.

What other providers were involved in the bidding process?

The ITT was issued to two bidders under BDUK’s procurement framework and both engaged in the process, but only one company decided to submit a response.

How is this project funded? Can you give me a breakdown of who is contributing what?

This is a £14.57m project including £5.67m from BT, £4.45m from BDUK and £4.45m from the CSW authorities, plus an additional £824k investment from the councils into programme management, running costs and demand stimulation.

What assistance is being given to local community broadband projects?

We will give whatever assistance we can to local projects, bearing in mind that we are a small team and are fully engaged in the main rollout. Contact us if you have any ideas as to how you might help.

Has the council secured any additional sources of funding that will help connect communities that will be beyond the scope of this project, for example, Rural Community Broadband Fund or other EU sources?

No but see the website for updates.

Will there be a business support programme and is this being funded by the project or from funds secured by the council from the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund)?

No, not as part of this contract, but we will be signposting to other business support programs such as the Rural Growth Network. For more information click here.

When will the project be complete by?

The network deployment is planned to be completed by Spring 2016.

There is still a large area in the region that will not be included in the fibre roll-out either as part of this project or as part of the commercial roll-out and yet communities in these areas are crying out for improved broadband speeds.  What plans if any do you have for addressing this?

This project is a stepping stone to the European targets for 2020 of all premises connected at 30 Mbps and 50% at 100 Mbps. Additional government funds are proposed in the future to enable this to happen and we aim to increase the fibre footprint as soon as money is available.

There is lots of jargon involved in broadband – where can I find out what the terms and abbreviations mean?

You can read our jargon buster by clicking here.

For more answers to your questions, visit our Frequently Asked Questions and Coverage and Programme Q&A pages.

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