Newsletter — September 2016

321 cabinets live to date

Over 52,790 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • Excellent take-up in the CSW Broadband Area
  • Modelling awaited from BT
  • Work stating on procurement for Contract 3
  • Check your number on the DSL checker
  • Better Broadband Scheme – see added note on Q&As re satellite and notes in blue book
  • Which? campaign over wild broadband advertising claims
  • Funding available for Community Fibre Partnerships and schools
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

Excellent take-up in the CSW Broadband Area

We have received take up reports for both Contract 1 and Contract 2, Part 1 recently and we thought we would share the headlines.

The good news is our Contract 1 take up is showing as 33.27% on average! This is something we should celebrate.

With Contract 2, Part 1 our oldest 3 cabs are only 4 months old and are already at 16.10% take-up. This is way above both the commercial average and UK intervention average for this period.

Don’t forget – although CSW Broadband is working to install new fibre cabinets, it is not always possible to anticipate the take-up in areas so that some may fill up quite quickly. This means that you should place your order for a superfast service with your chosen ISP as soon as the upgrades take place. We will notify everyone on our database when a cabinet has gone live. You can register for updates through our website

If you know that your cabinet is at capacity please let us know. BDUK have advised that Openreach are willing to receive this information from local projects, and use it to prioritise replenishment works. Please email us with your property details and landline number, and the cabinet to which you are attached.

Modelling awaited from BT

We have asked BT to model additional coverage to the value of £9.5m. This will form Contract 2, Part 2. We are expecting the data in October and should be able to map the new areas by the end of the year. This is great news as we will be taking the superfast network still further.

Work starting on procurement for Contract 3

In addition to the additional modelling that BT are currently carrying out, we are now starting procurement for Contract 3. The new contract will be a very different beast from what has gone before because there is a new State Aid approval in place which requires that we break the area down into smaller lots so as to attract a wider range of suppliers offering different technologies.

We are currently meeting with suppliers who offer wireless, fibre to the cabinet, fibre to the premises and combinations of these and other technologies. We need to understand what the marketplace wants so as to break the area down into the most appropriate lots to attract a good range of bidders for each lot. At the end of October we will be holding a suppliers’ day at which we will put forward different options and invite suppliers to let us have their thoughts on how these would work for them.

We need to be mindful of the need to create meaningful lots that will encompass geographies and topographies that are suited to each type of technology, plus sufficient properties to make them attractive to potential bidders. Managing all of these separate procurements and then the actual rollout and contracts will be an interesting exercise – to say the least!

Check your number on the DSL checker

Did you know that you may be able to get superfast broadband and not know it? When an upgrade goes live we do our best to notify people through our social media updates, and we email those for whom we have details on our database. You can register for updates through our website

To see if superfast is available on your line go to the BT DSL checker. For the best results you will need to be able to enter a BT landline number for your property. If you do not have this then you can use your address, but it may be less accurate. Do not use the postcode checker as that covers too wide an area to be of any use.

Better Broadband Scheme

The BDUK scheme previously known at the Satellite Voucher Scheme has now become the Better Broadband Scheme. It was recognised that satellite connections are not appropriate for everybody, so a wider range of technologies (such as wireless) are now available through the new scheme. You can claim up to £350 towards the cost of installation. Visit our website for more information on the Better Broadband Scheme

Which? campaign over wild broadband advertising claims

Which? the consumer organisation, are running a campaign for advertisements to carry realistic broadband speeds. At present, as long as 10% of consumers can achieve the advertised speed then the advertising Standards Authority and Ofcom consider that to me acceptable. That means that up to 90% of customers may get nothing like the headline speed.

Which? says: “This is why we’ve been campaigning for more accurate and honest ads from broadband providers, and why we want the Advertising Standards Authority to do more to make broadband companies provide customers with accurate claims upfront in their ads.

“We welcome the ASA’s recent announcement that it’s now researching the importance of speed in customer choices of provider, and looking again at how important speed is. Our research shows that speed matters when picking your broadband package.

“Now we wait for the ASA to announce its findings at the start of the autumn, and we hope that our research helps them take note and realise more has to be done to make broadband ads more decent, honest, and fair for consumers.”

Funding available for Community Fibre Partnerships

As part of the Community Fibre Partnership scheme, BT has made £2m available via a grant for Community Fibre Partnerships that could benefit their local school. This enables communities in the final 5% of the UK not covered by fibre broadband rollout plans to apply for a grant of up to £20,000 toward the cost of their new fibre infrastructure, if that new infrastructure could also serve their local school. So, for example, if the cost for a gap-funded solution that serves a school has been quoted as £23,000, the community would pay £11,500 and £11,500 would be match-funded from the grant. Visit the BT website 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 website has a full set of Q&As, which are regularly updated

My phone line has been connected to a cabinet that is not upgraded. How can I get it moved to a fibre-enabled cabinet?

It is an operational matter for BT as to which cabinet they connect your landline to. There is a legal obligation to provide a copper telephone connection, but not for a fibre broadband connection. Therefore you would technically be considered by our project to be in a white area – i.e. awaiting additional funding.

As more money becomes available we will move into Contract 2, Part 2 (and Contract 3), and additional coverage will be mapped. We are doing all that we can to bring in additional funding to take the network further, as it is in everyone’s interests that we gain maximum efficiencies by carrying out the installations in a single programme. We have also offered the Boroughs and Districts the opportunity to invest to extend the superfast broadband coverage within their areas.

My area is shown as grey or black on the map, what does this mean?

Before we go out to tender we are obliged to carry out an Open Market Review during which all commercial providers are invited to submit (in commercial confidence) their development plans for the next three years. You are in an area that is due to be upgraded by a commercial operator, and this means that we are unable, under State Aid rules, to intervene there. It makes sense that public money should not be used to duplicate commercial provision.

We have recently carried out a new Open Market Review in preparation for the tender process for Contract 3, and we will be starting the public consultation using new commercial rollout maps later this year.

I have been let down by the engineer who was supposed to be installing my broadband. What can I do?

This is outside the remit of the CSW Broadband project as our role is to install the fibre network. You will have a contract with an ISP and it is down to them to arrange for the installation.

You have no means of contacting the engineers directly, and it’s all to do with the way in which BT was structured when it was privatised. You have probably seen a lot of press coverage recently about the Ofcom investigation into BTs structure and the new rules that are being brought in that should provide greater clarity (!)

BT consists of a number of different businesses that operate at different levels.

BT Openreach owns and operates the copper and fibre infrastructure. They are the ones carrying out the current CSW Broadband contract on the ground.

Because lots of ISPs can access the Openreach network, it is important that they all access the same products at the same price, otherwise BT retail and BT business could have an unfair advantage over other ISPs. Therefore there is a middle layer, BT wholesale, which sells services to the ISPs and they all work from the same wholesale rates cards.

You may happen to have BT retail or BT Business as your provider, but it could just as easily be any one of a number of ISPs. The differentiating factor between the ISPs, which provides users with market choice, are the packages (e.g. the pricing structure and the bundled products) that they offer.

So, you have a contract with an ISP, which is quite discrete from BT Openreach which operates and manages the network. Your ISP will be working with BT Openreach to provide your line, and it is between those two companies to sort out any issues. BT Openreach won’t deal directly with members of the public since they have no contractual relationship with you, and it is your ISP and not you who is the customer of Openreach.

The only people who have regulatory powers over this is Ofcom, and it may be worth contacting them if you continue to have problems. The consumer organisation, Which? run a lot of broadband campaigns so it may also be worth contacting them.und 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 website has an updated set of Q&As.

So once my new cabinet is in place does that mean I can get superfast broadband?

Not immediately. Standing the cabinet is only a very small part of the process to bring superfast broadband to our communities. Once the cabinet has been stood it needs a power supply, and this entails a different contractor who will probably work to different timescales. It will also require a connection to the existing cabinet. By far the biggest job – or at least the one with the highest number of variables and potential pitfalls is the fibre connection back to the exchange. There are often problems with blocked or broken ducting, tree roots and other issues to overcome before the fibre can actually be connected through. Once the fibre is in place it has to be connected to the main spines and tested before the new service is ready to accept orders.

The best thing is to register for more information through our website. We will send you our e-newsletter, which comes out once a month and contains project updates, information about local meetings and events, broadband news, FAQs, competitions and more. By providing us with your landline number and address we can also send specific information as we learn more about what is happening in your area. You can register here: www.cswbroadband.org.uk/register

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

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) connection speeds will vary depending on a number of factors but could reach up to 80Mbps. Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) connections – where these are available – 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?

This could be because you are in an area where we haven’t carried out any work yet. Also, 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. We do have advice on our website about things that you can do to improve your broadband speeds http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/about-broadband/self-help-guides/how-to-improve-your-broadband-speed

We have been getting some good reports from people who have moved to mobile broadband. Some are achieving speeds of around 70 Mbps! This technology relies on a good mobile broadband connection so it is important to use the mobile coverage checkers available on mobile broadband supplier websites before committing. You can access a mobile broadband connection by subscribing to a data plan with your chosen mobile operator; this can usually be done using a mobile device, a dongle, or a 4G router.

When considering this option, it is important to take into consideration your data usage. Searching around for an unlimited data package can pay off, especially if you do a lot of streaming or playing videos on YouTube.

Under Contract 1 BDUK has committed to make available over 2Mbps to all properties by 2016. This is through a subsidy scheme that will cover the costs of satellite installation. Rental and ongoing costs will fall to the user. For more information on this scheme visit: www.cswbroadband.org.uk/satellite

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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