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Connected Counties

Welcome to Superfast Worcestershire

We're bringing fast, fibre broadband to homes and businesses across Worcestershire.

Superfast Worcestershire is a programme to bring superfast broadband to more than 95% of homes and businesses in the county during 2016, 2017 and beyond. The network will transform broadband speeds across Worcestershire, especially its rural areas.

Where and when - can I get superfast fibre?

Check if superfast broadband is planned in your area.

Enter your address or postcode in the search box below for more detail on whether you could be receiving superfast broadband. Users of Internet Explorer will need Internet Explorer 10 or above. If you don't have the required browser, click here for an image that shows coverage across the county.

Click here to see our zoomable coverage map PDF - March 2015 >

Register your interest in fibre broadband

Register your interest and get notified when high speed fibre broadband is available to you.

Just fill in these details

Superfast Extension Programme - Latest Update

1st October 2016

Superfast Worcestershire is continuing to make progress with the next phase of the roll-out, the Superfast Extension Programme (SEP). Work began in summer 2016, and the first SEP cabinets to go live were:

Redditch 45, Worcester 19, Kidderminster 85, Hartlebury 4, Hartlebury 12, Peopleton 5 and Headless Cross 18.

To find out which cabinet you are connected to, enter your landline or postcode in our checker, above.

If you can get it here's what to do next!

Contact an Internet Service Provider to upgrade. 

Superfast broadband will be extended and available to more than 95% of Worcestershire homes during 2016, 2017 and beyond.

Whatever you’re doing online, do it faster and more efficiently with superfast broadband:

  • Stay in touch with business contacts, or catch up with friends and family with live video calls
  • School and educational online tools for all ages are accessible in seconds
  • Upload photos and videos to your social networking site in an instant
  • Watch HD movies, catch up with your favourite TV on demand, download music in seconds, and enjoy online multiplayer gaming in HD
  • Get instant access to shared online workspaces, enjoy fast data transfer and backup and revolutionise business processes

Visit The Internet Services Providers' Association for a full list of providers >

Contact an Internet Service Provider to upgrade. 

For businesses of every size, from self-employed and home based businesses, right up to the very largest employers, the benefits of superfast broadband are considerable.

For local businesses, the fibre network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by new ‘cloud’ services will be within the reach of enterprises of all sizes. Computer back up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high-quality videoconferencing will become a viable possibility.

Many businesses who can access superfast broadband are already using broadband to maximise opportunities for growth, to expand their customer base and improve their bottom line. They are doing this by running meetings by video link, conducting training and delivering customer services remotely and using new technology to revolutionise their business processes.

Visit The Internet Services Providers' Association for a full list of providers >

Getting a better broadband service 

Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme

The Government has made a commitment to provide every home and business in the UK with access to a basic broadband service so that browsing the web and keeping in touch with families and friends is easier.

A subsidised broadband installation is now available if you cannot access an affordable broadband service with a speed of at least 2 Mb per second.

You can check whether superfast broadband is available to you using the GoSuperfast checker and what your current broadband speed is using the ADSL availability checker.

If, after making these checks, you believe your speed is less than 2 Mb per second and you have no other options available enter your postcode below to find out how to apply for help.

Taking out a broadband service under this Scheme will not prevent your premises from being considered for superfast broadband in the future.

Guide to the Better broadband Subsidy Scheme here

To find out more about applying to the scheme click here.

FAQs - Questions & Answers

+How do I get it?

1) Check if fibre is available in your area

You can do this using our Phone Line Checker, to see it if it is already available to you. Use our Coverage Map and Postcode Checker to find out when high speed fibre broadband will be coming to your area.

2) Check your current broadband contract

If fibre broadband is available, you will need to check your current broadband contract. Typically, customers sign up for contract periods (normally 12/18 months) and you may need to complete this agreement if you would like to switch broadband providers. If you are still within your contract, most broadband providers will allow you to upgrade to a fibre package.

3) Do your research

Superfast Worcestershire is working to upgrade the infrastructure that provides your broadband connection. Superfast Worcestershire is unable to offer any advice on the best broadband package for you, or which Internet Service Provider (ISP) you should sign up with.

There are many comparison websites (e.g. www.cable.co.uk) that allow you to compare packages or look out for offers in local and national media. When comparing packages, look out for things like:

  • Speed – check this carefully as some broadband packages cap download/upload speeds in return for a cheaper tariff.
  • Usage – is your package unlimited or can you only download/upload a limited amount each month?
  • Contract – check your contract length. Depending on your package this means you will be signing up for 12/18/24 months.
  • Calls – can you combine your broadband package with your telephone service, and / or TV package – you may save money this way.
  • Offers – there are lots of incentives on offer from broadband companies to sign up to their products. Typically these are discounted introductory periods or vouchers for high street stores.

4) Place your order to ugprade to a Superfast Broadband service

Once you have selected the Internet Service Provider (ISP) of your choice you will need to get in touch with them to place your order. This can usually be done by telephone or online.

Your ISP will supply you with an installation date and details of what you will need to do to get up and running.

5) Installation

The engineer that visits your property will set up your new fibre service ready for use.

6) Broadband providers

If fibre broadband is already in your area, there may be a number of Internet Service Providers who can offer you a fibre service.

+What is Superfast Worcestershire?

Superfast Worcestershire is a project to bring superfast broadband to more than 94% of premises in the county during 2016, 2017 and beyond. 

Superfast Worcestershire builds on BT’s on-going commercial fibre roll-out. Superfast broadband is defined as next generation access (NGA) with speeds in excess of 24Mbps by the UK Government. Broadband speeds are constantly improving, and so solutions for Worcestershire will be chosen that are viable for the future.

Superfast Worcestershire is a partnership between Worcestershire County Council and BT that will provide a next generation broadband network. The network will transform broadband speeds across Worcestershire, especially its rural areas.

Every citizen within Worcestershire can benefit from this project as it helps to uplift Worcestershire's economy over coming years. We'll work with local communities as well as help small businesses to adopt technologies and grow.

The project is being funded by Worcestershire County Council, BT, Broadband Delivery UK and Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government's Growth Deal.

+What is fibre broadband?

Fibre to the Cabinet or FTTC uses fibre-optic cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet. It then uses copper wires to connect the cabinet to homes and businesses. FTTC provides wholesale download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps. Our Big Build film explains in more detail.

+What is superfast broadband?

Superfast broadband is defined as offering speeds faster than 24Mbps. This threshold was chosen by the Government as it is the theoretical maximum broadband speed that can be delivered via a copper telephone line using ADSL2+ technology. The Government’s target is that 95% of homes and businesses should be able to access superfast broadband. Thus this threshold was selected as it necessitates a step change in the technology used to deliver broadband services.

+How fast is fibre broadband?

The exact speeds you'll be able to get will depend on how your own premises are connected. There are two main ways in which fibre optic can be used to bring you fibre broadband:

Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP). 

FTTC uses fibre-optic cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet. It then uses copper wires to connect the cabinet to homes and businesses. FTTC provides wholesale download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps. 

FTTP means fibre-optic cables run right to the door of each house or business. It provides wholesale download speeds up to 330Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps.

The exact speed you get also depends on a number of additional factors like the length of your line from the telephone exchange or green roadside cabinet, the line quality and the equipment and internal wiring within your premises. Worcestershire is working to ensure that everyone gets as fast a speed as possible given their geographical location.

+I'm not currently in the Superfast Worcestershire roll-out plan. What are my options?

Since 2013 Worcestershire County Council (through its Superfast Broadband partnerships with BT, BDUK & Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government's Growth Deal) has extended the availability of faster broadband to over 90% of Worcestershire premises and we're going further. By autumn 2017 94% of premises will be able to access 'superfast' speeds.

We are aware that despite significant investment some areas of Worcestershire aren't currently included in the Superfast Worcestershire roll-out plans; therefore, we have put together the following guide, to alternative solutions, potentially outlining options to obtaining a better service.

1.  The first thing to do is to check whether fibre is actually available in your area.  You can do this by entering your landline telephone number or postcode into the checker on our website at www.superfastworcestershire.com or using BT's DSL Checker at www.dslchecker.bt.com.   

If fibre broadband is available, you will need to check your current broadband contract and either upgrade with your current provider (an option for people who have weeks or months left on their current contracts), or switch broadband to a different provider of their choice. Please remember to do your research and place the order with your chosen provider.

If you would like more information on whether fibre roll out will be coming to you via the Superfast Worcestershire partnership please check the cabinet status page at www.superfastworcestershire.com/cabinet-status (please note, you will need to know your exchange area and cabinet number, both can be found by checking how you are connected to the network via the above checkers). If still unsure, please don't hesitate to contact us at superfast@worcestershire.gov.uk

2.  If you are some distance from the upgraded cabinet then you may achieve better, but not 'superfast' speeds. This is because the broadband signal degrades rapidly over a copper connection. If this is the case, you may consider BT's Unlimited Faster Broadband product:http://tinyurl.com/km55s4z, which should be offered to any BT customer who calls to order fibre, but though connected to a fibre enabled cabinet is too far away to be able to receive ‘BT Infinity’. Typically, a customer may order it, if it offers a usable increase in download speeds. Please note other providers e.g. SKY may offer similar products.

3.  If you aren't covered under Superfast Worcestershire's current or upcoming plans, you may want to consider alternative internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Worcestershire, and providing their own infrastructure on a commercial basis. Suppliers like BT (www.communityfibre.bt.com), Virgin Media (http://tinyurl.com/pk4cm3j) and Gigaclear (www.gigaclear.com/) continue with their national demand led campaigns.

BT's 'Community Fibre Partnerships' encourages communities to work with them to 'part-fund' a solution, which could be made up of any of the following solutions e.g. Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) and network re-arrangement, including new fibre cabinets to deal with long lines or exchange only lines and Fibre to the Remote Node (FTTRN), which, simply put is like a 'small cabinet' on a pole or in the ground, much closer to properties.

Virgin's 'Supercharging Local Communities' and 'Cable My Street' are calling upon residents and businesses to influence the decision on where they deploy next by registering demand on their website. To date, Virgin announced their intention to extend their network to: Lickey, Catshill and Upper and Lower Marlbook as part of Virgin Media's Project Lightning rollout.

Gigaclear's commercial model is 100% fibre to the premise (FTTP) and is demand led i.e. the opportunity is promoted within the community and if demand is present fibre to the premises is deployed. Gigaclear's currently proposed deployment is expected to focus on the south parts of the Malvern Hills District (East and South from Malvern), East & West parts of the Bromsgrove district (around Alvechurch and Rowney Green in the East and Dodford - West)       as well as around Rushock and Upton Warren on (North of Wychavon and South of Wyre Forest districts).

It is also worth investigating whether a wireless provider can provide coverage, e.g. Worcester based Airband (https://home.airband.co/), or if they could extend coverage into your area. Airband are already covering large parts of Worcestershire, e.g. 14 rural Parishes (Little Witley, Bockleton, Kyre, Hanley, Rochford, Eastham, Lindridge, Mamble, Bayton, Tibberton, Crowle, part of Hanbury, Stock and Bradley and Feckenham), delivered as part of Worcestershire County Council's Community Pathfinder Project. Martley Web Mesh (www.facebook.com/martley.web.mesh/) is another locally based wireless provider.

4.  Ethernet / Leased (private) lines for Businesses - are private fibre connections often requested for businesses, without access to the FTTC or FTTP networks. Occasionally, businesses choose Ethernet / Lease lines due to their business / service requirements; noting they can be costly options.

5.  'Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme' www.superfastworcestershire.com/better-broadband-scheme run by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is another alternative for those not in the current deployment plan and with speeds below 2Mbps. The scheme provides eligible households with a voucher worth approximately £350 towards the initial installation and equipment costs.  Please note, satellite packages come with a limited monthly usage allowance.

It is also worth noting that subsidy payments can be grouped together with other residents/businesses in your community, to explore and pursue e.g. a Community Fibre Partnership option with BT. An example of how this has been done elsewhere can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/zw73xkb.

6.  Other alternative solutions for those that can't get an adequate broadband service delivered via a phone line, could be mobile broadband, which is increasingly becoming a viable option. This doesn't need you to connect a computer to a mobile phone. You will be given a 'plug in device' known as a "Dongle" which you plug into your computer.

Depending on your location, the mobile provider should confirm your potential connection speed, as this technology works on mobile phone signals.  You can also check how strong your signal should be (inside and outside) by visiting the OFCOM Mobile coverage and fixed broadband checker at http://maps.ofcom.org.uk/check-coverage/. It is worth noting that mobile packages often come with a limited usage allowance.

7.  A community could look to develop and fund their own fibre or wireless based initiatives, through options such as Community Shares - Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) / Community Share Companies or Self build like arrangements such as B4RN http://b4rn.org.uk/ - who also raised money through community shares. Other examples include Alston Moor www.cybermoor.org and Herefordshire Community Networks http://www.hereford-cic.net/

In addition to the above options, Superfast Worcestershire continues its drive to cover as much of Worcestershire with fibre based broadband as possible. To achieve that, we are deploying an increasing number of FTTP, FTTRN and re-engineered structures. The potential 'reinvestment' into broadband (up to £3.25m), has also already been approved by Full Council, to take coverage beyond the projected 94% superfast coverage of Worcestershire by autumn 2017. At the time of writing, we are in the process of investigating how re-investment could be best utilised and what the potential timescales are to extend the scope of the current plans. The outcome of these discussions will be publicised in due course. The programme team is also currently investigating (subject to a full application being accepted) opportunities for a new procurement (c. £2m) to further extend the coverage, focussing on businesses. More details about this opportunity will also be shared as further details are known.

Lastly, our short 'Not In the Plan Survey' remains open and we are asking communities, not scheduled to benefit from Superfast Broadband under the current programmes, to complete it www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=144959149352 and share it with others in their communities.

+How much does fibre broadband cost?

Prices are affordable, starting from around £16.50 per month for home users and £30 per month for businesses, which may not be much more than you are currently paying for standard broadband. Many customers take the opportunity to review their existing contract for telephone calls at the same time which may mean you end up paying only a little more, if anything at all.

Check out the prices from the Broadband Providers now offering the service in Worcestershire.

+When will the broadband roll-out be completed by?

The first phase (Contract 1) completed in summer 2016. Following the completion of contract 1, over 90% of residential and business premises have access to fibre broadband.

Through Contract 2 (Superfast Extension Programme), over 95% of the county's premises will have access to fibre broadband, with 94% able to access 'superfast' speeds by summer 2018.

+Why won't I get superfast broadband?

 We always knew that the funding would be insufficient to cover the whole of Worcestershire, and that is simply because some places are more challenging. This may be because of geography – perhaps they are more remote from existing infrastructure, because of the local topography, or because of other issues.

The network is being rolled out using fibre, because that is the most future-proof technology that will enable faster speeds to be achieved. 

Each community is currently served by a green cabinet (although some premises are served by exchange only lines), which serves as a distribution point for the copper, which runs from the exchange and is then split to serve each property. 

Our programme involves the installation of an additional cabinet which is fed by a fibre connection from the exchange, and then links in to the existing green cabinet so that the final distribution is by copper. 

As broadband signals degrade over lengths of copper the current distance from the cabinet over which superfast broadband can currently be achieved is around 1km. However, this will be dependent on a number of factors including the quality of the existing copper connection and conditions at the property itself. The positioning of the new cabinet is crucial as it has to be near the existing cabinet, but unlike the existing cabinet also requires a power supply. There are also highways and other issues to be considered.

Some of the existing green cabinets are over 1km from the local communities, for instance where a cabinet serves a number of villages, and so we simply will not be able to achieve superfast speeds using the technology that is funded under the current programme.

+What is the Superfast Extension Programme?

Contract two, the Superfast Extension Programme, allows us to extend coverage in the county. 

We had £2.39m allocated to Worcestershire from Broadband Delivery UK and that required match funding. Worcestershire County Council were able to match this through additional investment by the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government's Growth Deal, providing a total of £4.78m.

Having secured the public funding above Worcestershire County Council went through a new procurement process, including a second Open Market Review and Public Consultation.

As BT, our partners, were again successful in tendering for the contract we have been able to announce the Superfast Extension Programme as part of the existing programme to avoid confusion. Having been appointed as partners in March 2015, BT have contributed a further £1.42m taking the total available to £6.2m.

+Will the network be open to competition?
Yes. The new fibre network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis. Households and businesses in Worcestershire will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers. It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households.
+How is it that some premises will get fibre but not superfast?

Some premises will be connected to fibre but have speeds of less than 24Mbps due to a number of 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.

+How is the broadband roll-out planned?

The aim of the Superfast Worcestershire is to achieve the best long-term broadband coverage for the county.

We’re planning the roll-out, working closely with our partners and participating organisations, 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. We fully understand people's frustration and the huge importance of fibre broadband and we will keep you regularly updated as our plans evolve.

+How do I find out how fast my current broadband connection is?

There are a number of broadband speed test website that you can use to test your current broadband speed. Speeds will vary according to the time of day and day of the week, so it is worth repeating the test to get the range of speeds you will receive. You can also speak to your service provider.

You can use our Phone Line Checker to see if superfast broadband is available to you now or register to be kept up to date.

+I’m in an enabled area but can’t get fibre broadband. Why not?

 This can be due to one or more different factors.

1. Your line may be connected to a roadside cabinet that has not yet been upgraded to fibre broadband.  As we progress through the roll-out more and more cabinets will be upgraded.

2. You may be served by what is known as an 'exchange only' line that is connected directly to the telephone exchange without an intervening green roadside cabinet. Please see the relevant question about exchange only lines.

3. You may be on a line that is too long to support a fibre broadband connection from your local roadside cabinet.

We’re working hard to upgrade as many premises as possible to fibre broadband, and where fibre optic cannot be made available we’re aiming to develop solutions to bring faster broadband using alternative technologies.

Register your details with us so we can keep you updated with progress.

+My line is connected directly to the exchange. Will I be able to get fibre broadband?

Exchange Only (EO) lines are connected directly to the local telephone exchange rather than passing through a green cabinet that can be upgraded with a fibre broadband connection. Exchange Only (EO) lines are connected directly to the local telephone exchange rather than passing through a green cabinet that can be upgraded with a fibre broadband connection. Exchange Only (EO) lines are connected directly to the local telephone exchange rather than passing through a green cabinet that can be upgraded with a fibre broadband connection. 

+When fibre broadband becomes available in my area, will my broadband simply get faster without me taking any action?

 It won't. To get fibre broadband, you'll need to place an order with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This is because fibre broadband uses a different technology and an engineer will need to visit your premises to install the necessary equipment.

See our step by step guide for more information.

There are several ISPs offering fibre broadband in Worcestershire so you can shop around and choose the package that’s best for you. If you choose not to upgrade to fibre broadband, you'll be able to continue using your existing broadband service as normal.

+How long does it take to be installed after I place an order and what does installation involve?

The time before installation of fibre broadband varies among Internet Service Providers, typically it takes about two weeks.  An engineer will call and install a new modem at your premises and you should receive a new router from your Internet Service Provider. In most cases, your other telephone and computer equipment doesn’t need to be replaced.

+Why can't you tell me when my specific area is going live?

Information on new areas of availability has to be released to all Internet Service Providers on an equivalent basis and that's why new areas are only announced as part of this national process when they go live.

Also, engineering plans and delivery timescales do depend on factors such as planning, the provision of electricity to the new roadside cabinets and weather conditions.

+What about the small percentage of homes and businesses that will not be able to get fibre broadband?

In areas where fibre broadband is not an option, Superfast Worcestershire will make use of other superfast broadband technologies such as wireless, satellite and advanced copper. These areas and technologies are not currently covered by the postcode checker but may be in the future so please check back or Register to be kept up to date.

+How do I interpret the information that the BT checker tells me about my cabinet?

 The BT broadband checker can be confusing. Just above the table you will see your telephone number, exchange and cabinet – if you have one. If there is no cabinet listed then you are on an exchange-only line.

On the table the main thing to concentrate on is the Downstream Line Rate, which is given in Mbps.

If the first item is shown on the left as FTTC (or FTTP) then you have a connection to the fibre cabinet and the speeds shown should be 24Mbps or above. If they are below this then you are connected to the fibre network but may be too far away from the cabinet at present to achieve superfast speeds with the current technology

You may also see ADSL 2+ or ADSL Max. This is an older technology that may deliver maximum speeds of 20Mbps but it uses only the old copper networks and is therefore not capable of reaching the higher speeds. Each Internet Service Provider usually installs equipment in the local exchange in order to deliver this service.

WBC Fixed Rate is similar to ADSL in that it uses the copper network, but is only available in some parts of the country. It means that the supplier puts their equipment further up the network and it may serve a number of exchanges. The speeds achieved are usually lower than with ADSL.

So, the best option is to have a fibre connection with superfast broadband – and that is exactly what Superfast Worcestershire Broadband is trying to bring to our communities!

+What if I am connected to the upgraded cabinet but can’t get superfast speeds?

If you are some distance from the upgraded cabinet then you may not achieve superfast speeds. This is because the broadband signal degrades rapidly over a copper connection. We hope to look at some of these issues later in the roll-out.

We are aware of some fibre products, which can be offered by some ISPs to customers, who though connected to a fibre enabled cabinet are too far away to be able to receive superfast speeds.

+Why has my area slipped back in the list?

We have always said that we would bring information to you as early as possible, but that there was a degree of uncertainty about the data that would be resolved as the project progresses. This is a technically challenging project and we always knew that some areas would be more difficult to reach than others. Unfortunately we cannot be everywhere at once, and whilst some areas are being accelerated, that will unfortunately mean that others may slip back in the programme. We have to look at the whole area and the overall benefits of acceleration mean that a greater number of properties are being covered early in the programme. We are working hard to ensure that the network is rolled-out in the best way possible and whilst we are doing our best, changes are inevitable as further challenges come to light.

On our cabinet status page, we have recently added issues experienced on some of the cabinets we are working on. Examples of issues experienced include: temporary traffic lights required, road closure requirement (which requires a statuatory 3 month lead time before we can proceed), wayleave issues (e.g. to stand a cabinet or power wayleave), extensive civils to remove blockages and many more.

+My cabinet is showing as delayed because civil engineering works are needed, what does this mean?

We have started to publicise some issues we experience during the roll out. The most common is when a blockage is found in the duct and the fibre cannot be blown through. If this is the case then digging will have to take place to repair the ducts – and the problem is that there may be more than one blockage, which would require more digging.

Unfortunately, we do not have timescales for cabinets delayed by civil engineering work due to the unpredictable nature of the problem. However, the engineering teams are working as quickly as they can to resolve these issues.

By registering for more information, we can email you to let you know when your cabinet goes live. You can register here: http://www.superfastworcestershire.com/when-where/register.

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

As information becomes available it will be published on the Superfast Worcestershire Website, cabinet status page, Facebook and Twitter feeds. You can also register here and we will be in touch when your cabinet has gone live.

 

+How do you decide where you’re going to put a new fibre broadband cabinet?

When planning our roll-out programme, BT needs to ensure the new fibre broadband cabinet is located within 100 metres of its associated telephony connection cabinet (copper cabinet). They also need to make sure there is enough access to power and existing infrastructure. Other things they consider are that the cabinet doesn’t get in pedestrians’ way, or pose a danger to road users. Plus they have to survey for other utility companies’ underground structure and obstacles. BT have to take into account the visual impact in some areas and make sure they’re not putting the security of adjacent properties at risk. Ease of access for installation and maintenance are also important considerations in the decision of where to place new fibre broadband cabinets.

+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 here: http://www.superfastworcestershire.com/when-where/register and we will be in touch when your cabinet has gone live.

+I have been told that my cabinet has reached capacity, what does this mean?

When a cabinet is installed BT know how many properties will be connected to it and make an assumption about how many of the available connections will be taken up. If the take-up is higher than anticipated then BT will need to add additional capacity by installing new connections cards into the cabinet. BT Openreach actively monitor each cabinet and will automatically order the new cards, so that in many cases the upgrade will happen before the cabinet reaches capacity. On occasion, however, take-up is not only higher than expected but also happens very quickly, so that the cabinet reaches capacity and there is a short delay before more orders can be taken.

It would not be feasible for Superfast Worcestershire to specify a higher capacity in every cabinet just in case it reaches capacity quickly. For one thing, this would add considerably to the cost of cabinets and would result in less overall coverage for the project – with fewer communities having the opportunity to benefit from faster broadband. Upgrades once the cabinet has gone live are carried out by BT Openreach on a “business as usual” basis, and at no cost to Superfast Worcestershire. The best thing to do is to ensure that you order the new service as soon as you know that superfast broadband is available in your area.

+My cabinet has gone live but my chosen provider is not offering a service in my area – why?

We are installing a wholesale fibre network and there will be a wide choice of providers. The decision as to whether to offer a service is a purely commercial one that each provider will take. We cannot influence this, but if you were to run a local campaign to encourage people to register their interest with a particular provider that might help your case. We are unable to get involved in influencing providers’ commercial decisions.

+Why can’t exchange-only (EO) lines get superfast speeds?

Most properties are fed by copper wiring that runs from the exchange to green cabinet, where it then splits out and smaller copper cables lead to every property that is fed from that cabinet. Because broadband signals degrade over relatively short distances of copper this is not a very efficient way of getting broadband to consumers and businesses.

Our project is bringing faster broadband by installing a new cabinet near to the original one. This is fed by fibre from the exchange, which brings faster broadband right into the communities, and considerably reduces the length of copper that is required, meaning that higher speeds can be achieved.

The problem with EO properties is that they are connected directly to the exchange – there is no green cabinet between the property and the exchange to upgrade with fibre cabling. This is unfortunately why superfast speeds cannot be reached by these properties.

+I’m told that although my cabinet has been upgraded I won’t get superfast speeds because the local copper network is in poor condition, what can you do?

The remit of Superfast Worcestershire is to install the fibre network. The existing copper network is the responsibility of Openreach, so we have no influence over repairs or improvements to the copper wiring.

Your contract will be with an Internet Service Provider who will also have little influence over the condition of the copper network.

If your broadband speed is affected by the condition of the copper network and your Internet Service Provider is unable to have improvements made, you may want to contact Ofcom. There could be grounds for you to cancel the contract with your Internet Service Provider if you are not getting the speeds that you were promised.

If you want a speed improvement, even if it is not superfast, then BT has a product called Unlimited Faster Broadband that offers up to 17Mbps. Availability will depend on you being able to connect to a fibre cabinet, but your predicted speed being below superfast levels. For more information go to http://bt.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/47740/~/what-is-unlimited-faster-broadband%3F.

+I can’t get fibre or mobile broadband and the satellite providers that I’ve come across are too expensive.

There are a wide range of satellite providers and (just as with fixed broadband) they each have different packages with different pricing structures. Unfortunately satellite broadband won’t suit everybody as the technology is different so it may not be as effective for some applications.

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 see the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme.

+Why aren’t additional cabinets being installed for properties that are too far from the exchange?

A range of technologies are being used for properties on longer lines. The choice will depends on the distance involved, how many properties are clustered together – and how many are outlying form these, and other variables. Each case will be determined on its own parameters and the most appropriate solutions will be employed.

+Why do you always refer to ‘parts of areas’?

The information available to Worcestershire County Council does not enable us to be specific at an individual premise level, we are aware of numbers of premises. Postcode areas are the lowest level at which we can show how superfast broadband plans are expected to be rolled-out; this involves interpreting information available to us from a number of sources.

Postcodes can vary significantly in geographical size. Speed availability as a result of a Fibre to the Cabinet solution is affected by the distance that a premise is located from its serving cabinet.

Also, whilst premises may be located in the same postcode area, they are not always connected by the same broadband network infrastructure, cabinets or network suppliers. As such, there is the potential that premises within a particular postcode may get access to superfast services within different timescales; not all premises in the same postcode will necessarily benefit from a particular cabinet upgrade.

+How do I switch to a different Internet Service Provider?

 You may wish to transfer suppliers 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 or 18 months. Most contracts require you to give a month’s notice, even after the initial 12 or 18 months. 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 important that you check that the new service you wish to sign up to is available in your area.

    There are impartial sources of advice, such as:

    Which? Have a great broadband speed checker – easy to use and some good advice as well http://tinyurl.com/l3o8d9s
    Moneysaving Exert has lots of advice about switching provider: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/phones/cheap-broadband
    You can also use various comparison websites to check this – we’ve listed a few below:

+Can Superfast Worcestershire influence how much suppliers charge for their services?

 We have no influence over the prices charged by commercial providers. Our role is to extend the wholesale fibre network as far as possible, and we are doing this through the contracts that we hold with BT. 

+I can't get superfast broadband because I am connected to a 'long line'. What does this mean?

 If you are some distance from the upgraded cabinet then you may not achieve superfast speeds. This is because the broadband signal degrades rapidly over a copper connection. We hope to look at some of these issues later in the roll-out.

+Can my village contribute financially to the contract to be sure of being included in the next contract?

The problem remains that we can’t see any mechanism for ensuring that a particular village or parish would be economically covered. As we do not have detailed knowledge of any providers’ existing infrastructure and are not network design engineers, we have to let the contractor design the roll-out plan so that they make best use of the available funding whilst achieving the project objectives (fibre as far as possible etc) and the THP. The problem remains that we can’t see any mechanism for ensuring that a particular village or parish would be economically covered. 

As we do not have detailed knowledge of any providers’ existing infrastructure and are not network design engineers, we have to let the contractor design the roll-out plan so that they make best use of the available funding whilst achieving the project objectives (fibre as far as possible etc) and the THP. The problem remains that we can’t see any mechanism for ensuring that a particular village or parish would be economically covered. As we do not have detailed knowledge of any providers’ existing infrastructure and are not network design engineers, we have to let the contractor design the roll-out plan so that they make best use of the available funding whilst achieving the project objectives (fibre as far as possible etc) and the THP. 

+Can we tap into a private line?

No. A private line is just that. Businesses can purchase a high-speed leased line. They will pay several thousand pounds for installation and a high usage charge. These lines run on a different network and are therefore not available for use by communities or individuals.

+Why does my broadband run slower at different times of 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.