Superfast Worcestershire is a programme to bring Superfast broadband to 97% of homes and businesses in the county by Summer 2021. The network is transforming broadband speeds across Worcestershire, especially its rural areas.
If you would like to find out is work is planned for your property, use our map below.
To find out the latest updates on work in progress, visit our Build Progress page.
For information on current funding schemes available to help you upgrade your broadband connection, visit our Complementary Schemes page.
Register for updates from the Superfast Worcestershire team here.
If you have a query, check out our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Check if superfast broadband is planned in your area by entering your postcode in the search box and selecting your property from the drop down menu.
29 November 2017
A £6.2 million expansion is expected to extend the superfast broadband roll-out to more than 5,300 further Worcestershire households and businesses.
Worcestershire County Council has signed a new contract with co-funding partner BT Group, which extends the Superfast Worcestershire programme into a third phase, to reach some of the county’s more remote communities. Continued...
Contact an Internet Service Provider to upgrade.
Superfast broadband will be extended and available to more than 97% of Worcestershire homes by Summer 2021.
Whatever you’re doing online, do it faster and more efficiently with superfast broadband:
Want to upgrade your existing connection? Future-proof your community's broadband connection with funding of up to £3,400 per business and up to £1500 per resident thanks to the Gigabit Voucher Scheme and Rural Gigabit Connectivity Scheme - visit the Complementary Schemes tab to find out more!
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.
Want to upgrade your existing connection? Future-proof your business broadband connection and the community around you with funding of up to £3,400 per business and up to £1500 per resident thanks to the Gigabit Voucher Scheme and Rural Gigabit Connectivity Scheme - visit the Complementary Schemes tab to find out more!
Following the success of the Gigabit Voucher scheme, the UK Government announced a new scheme in April 2019 called the Rural Gigabit Connectivity Scheme (RGC.)
As part of the Government's RGC programme, businesses and residents in some of the hardest to reach places in the UK are eligible for additional funding towards the installation costs of a gigabit-capable connection to their premises.
The key characteristics of the RGC voucher eligibility are:
Superfast Worcestershire is a programme to bring superfast broadband to more than 97% of premises in the county during 2020 and beyond.
The programme builds on 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, Openreach and UK Government that is providing a next generation broadband network. The network is transforming broadband speeds across Worcestershire, especially it's rural areas.
Every citizen within Worcestershire can benefit from this project as it helps to uplift the county'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, Openreach, Broadband Delivery UK and Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government's Growth Deal.
Use the Superfast Worcestershire 'Where & When' map - enter your postcode, select your address and we will indicate either that broadband is already available, is coming in the near future or that your property is not currently going to be upgraded through our programme.
If broadband is already available, see FAQ 3 for how to get upgraded today.
If we have indicated that broadband is coming, register here to ensure you are kept up to date of any developments.
If your property is not currently included in our plans, see FAQ 4 or check out the Complementary schemes section of our website
1) Check if fibre is available in your area
There are a variety of broadband infrastructure providers that operate in Worcestershire. Some of these allow you to access a range of ISPs via their networks (like Openreach) and others only allow you access to their own services (like Virgin Media). The following links allow you to check which services are available at your address from some of the most common infrastructure providers in the county.
You can also use our Coverage 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, MSE or www.broadbandchoices.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:
If you require additional information - there are a number of independent sources available including, for example: https://www.uswitch.com/broadband/guides/.
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 online or by telephone.
Your ISP will supply you with an installation date and details of what you will need to do to get up and running.
If you are served by a fibre to the premises infrastructure (FTTP), an engineer visit may be required to set up your new fibre service ready for use. Your ISP will explain this process to you.
Since 2013, Worcestershire County Council (through its Superfast Broadband partnerships with Openreach, BDUK & Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government's Growth Deal) has extended the availability of faster broadband to over 95% of Worcestershire premises and we're going further. By June 2021, 97% of premises will be able to access 'superfast' speeds.
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 Superfast Worcestershire team continue to explore further funding opportunities, encourage Commercial investment and proactively work with communities to take advantage of funding opportunities available. More information on these can be found on our Complimentary Schemes page. This guide to alternative solutions potentially outlines 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 postcode into the checker on our website 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 broadband inst available, please read on.
2. Visit our Complementary Schemes page to find out about other funding options currently available: /complementary-schemes
3. You may wish to consider alternative internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Worcestershire, and providing their own infrastructure on a commercial basis. Suppliers like Openreach, Airband, Virgin Media and Gigaclear continue with their national demand led campaigns. More details can be found on their websites.
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. 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 maps.ofcom.org.uk/check-coverage/. It is worth noting that mobile packages often come with a limited usage allowance.
6. 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 b4rn.org.uk/ - who also raised money through community shares. Other examples include Alston Moor http://www.cybermoor.org/ and Herefordshire Community Networks www.hereford-cic.net/.
7. Fibre on Demand – Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) on Demand enables you to order Generic Ethernet Access over Fibre to the Premises in speeds up to 1Gbps for customers who are within a Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) exchange area and are served by a FTTC enabled cabinet. List of suppliers offering Fibre on Demand service:
Superfast Broadband was defined in Contracts 1 & 2 as speeds of at 24mbps and above. For other contracts, as per EU requirements, Superfast is defined as speeds of 30Mbps or above
Ultrafast Broadband is defined as speeds of over 100Mbps and up to 1Gbps. This is usually delivered using Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) technology, so may not be available in all areas. Even if you have an ultrafast connection, you will still have a wide choice of packages available so can choose options to suit your budget.
FTTC or Fibre to the Cabinet structures were predominantly used during Contract and Contract 2. The green cabinet is connected to the exchange with fibre cabling. Your premises is then connected to the cab with copper phone lines. A FTTC connection will give you speeds of up to 80Mbps*, depending on how far away you are from the cabinet and speeds may fluctuate depending on demand and other external factors.
FTTP/FTTH or Fibre to the premises technology was introduced to the Superfast Worcestershire programme during Contract 2 and used almost exclusively in Contract 3. A FTTP connection connects your premises directly to the exchange with fibre cabling and will be capable of delivering speeds of over 300Mbps.*
*speeds delivered are dependent on the broadband package you select for your property
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 1Gbps and upload speeds up to 220Mbps.
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.
There are a number of broadband speed test websites that you can use to test your current broadband speed. Simply search 'Broadband Speed test' to find one.
Speeds can vary according to the number of devices utilising your connection, time of day or day of the week, so it is worth repeating the test to get the range of speeds you will receive. Remember you will likely receive a different output for an Ethernet connection vs a Wi-fi connection.
You may wish to transfer suppliers for a variety of reasons, such as:
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 tinyurl.com/l3o8d9s
Moneysaving Exert has lots of advice about switching provider: www.moneysavingexpert.com/phones/cheap-broadband
You can also use various comparison websites to check this – we’ve listed a few below:
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 FAQ 3 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.
The Superfast Worcestershire team are currently working on connecting 97% premises to superfast broadband (>24Mbps) by June 2021. Whilst our delivery has moved to fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology, some of Worcestershire premises are connected to fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) broadband, capable of speeds of up to 80Mbps. Where we have previously delivered broadband infrastructure, we are not able to spend further public funding at present. Many residents and some small businesses will find these speeds sufficient, however there are options if you are looking for a more future-proof solution or your speeds are not sufficient
Commercial Investment: Many Commercial operators are beginning to unveil plans to upgrade area to FTTP - earlier in the year, Openreach announced their 'Fibre First' programme for up to March 21. Build is currently underway to upgrade large parts of Bromsgrove - circa 19,000 premises - and circa 4,750 premises in the Hillside area. More details can be found on their website. Airband, a Worcestershire based Network Operator, announced plan to build FTTP to a few thousands premises around Kempsey, Stock Green and Welland areas during 2020. Stoke Bliss area is next on their plans; more details can be found on Airband's website. Virgin Media are also looking at extending their existing networks around Bromsgrove and Evesham. We are also discussing other areas with other full fibre operators and will share any plans as soon as they are finalised.
Be proactive: Look at our Complementary Schemes tab to find out about funding available to upgrade to FTTP broadband
Public funding: Our programme is currently planned to deliver broadband infrastructure in Worcestershire up until June 2021. We're currently waiting to understand how the UK Government will continue to roll out broadband infrastructure in the coming years to meet their full-fibre target by 2033 - £5billion investment was recently announced to get full-fibre broadband to the hardest to reach 20% premises in the UK.
Please note: The Gigabit Voucher Scheme is now closed for new applications.
Full fibre broadband connections offer the fastest and most reliable speeds available, and the government is committed to a vision of a full fibre Britain. As part of this commitment in March 2018 DCMS announced £67m Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
Gigabit vouchers can be used by small businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection. Businesses can claim up to £2,500 each against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project which also includes businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500. (Groups must have a ratio of at least 1 business to 10 residents.)
To help with the process, here are some simple step by step instructions:
Visit gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/ to review voucher eligibility criteria
Identify premises to be included in the project – you may wish to check your premises' status on our website: www.superfastworcestershire.com/#where-when
Register your project with a supplier - a list of those operating in your area can be found here: gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/for-residents/suppliers/
Please keep our team informed (email@example.com) – we will help you along the way!
If you're interested in using the Gigabit Voucher scheme funding, then hurry - only £10million remains as of Jan 2020!
Note: See FAQ 28 for more details regarding Community Schemes.
Following the success of the Gigabit Voucher scheme, the UK Government announced a new scheme in April 2019 called the Rural Gigabit Connectivity scheme.
As part of the Government’s Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme, businesses and residents in some of the hardest-to-reach places in the UK are eligible for additional funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband to their premises.
The following summarises the key characteristics of Rural Gigabit voucher eligibility:
Available in defined “rural” areas (by postcode in all parts of the UK)
Available to those with existing broadband speeds of less than 30 Mbps
Up to £3,500 for eligible SMEs (including self-employed) and up to £1,500 for residents
Applications must include a minimum of 2 residential or SME premises (single connections are not eligible)
Whether you live or work in an area with little broadband service or are looking to upgrade to ultrafast speeds to future proof your home or business, more information can be found here: gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/rural/.
Here's how the process works:
Contact our team on firstname.lastname@example.org to check if there is already a scheme underway in your area.
If not, use the Gigabit postcode checker to find a supplier in your area: gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/for-residents/suppliers/
Contact your chosen supplier to confirm your eligibility
Identify premises to be included in the project – you may wish to check your premises' status on our website. www.superfastworcestershire.com/#where-when There's a helpful guide to forming community projects here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-led-broadband-schemes/guidance#before-you-start-forming-a-community-group-and-deciding-on-the-best-solution
Register with your chosen supplier
Supplier provides a quote; group accepts and is given a build timescale.
The Superfast Worcestershire team would be really happy to support you and we'd love to keep in touch with you about your Community-led broadband scheme. Contact us at email@example.com
The UK Government has decided to implement the Universal Service Obligation (USO) via a regulatory approach on 20 March 2020. You can call BT on 0800 783 0223 or go to www.bt.com/uso.
Through USO, eligible consumers have a right to request a connection of at least 10Mbps (download) where their existing speeds are less than 10Mbps (download). BT will then be obliged to build all reasonable requests up to cost threshold of £3,400 proposed. Any costs above this amount will be funded by consumers.
BT will implement the USO using a mix of technologies that meet the minimum specifications. Satellite connections are unlikely to fulfill the additional quality parameters but will probably be the only option for some consumers (approx. 0.2% nationwide).
Worcestershire County Council continues to extend superfast broadband service to as many Worcestershire premises. The proposed USO will not impact on the programme's current and future aspirations of becoming a 'Connected County' but will provide a safety net for those outside of the current scope.
The UK Government is introducing a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband as part of its commitment in the UK Digital Strategy (March 2017) to ensure that the UK has world-class digital connectivity and inclusion.
More information on the USO can be found here: www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/broadband-uso-need-to-know
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 statutory 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.
If you'd like to keep up to date with Superfast Worcestershire progress, why not register for our updates - we will get in touch when new structures are live in your area.
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!
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.
The remit of Superfast Worcestershire is to build broadband infrastructure in Worcestershire. The existing network is the responsibility of Openreach, so we have no influence over repairs or improvements.
Your contract will be with an Internet Service Provider so any issues or faults should be reported to them in the first instance. They can then contact Openreach on your behalf if they believe the fault is with the 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.
The first phase (Contract 1) completed in summer 2016 giving over 90% of residential and business premises access to superfast broadband, through Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connections.
Through Contract 2, over 95% of the county's premises will have access to fibre broadband by February 2020. During this contract, we began to introduce some Fibre to the premises (FTTP) connections
In November 2017, the next phase of the deployment - Contract 3 - was announced. Phase 3 is a £6.2million expansion that will ensure up to 97% of Worcestershire premises can connect to superfast and ultrafast broadband. This should be completed by June 2021 and almost all of this contract will be delivered through FTTP connections.
We are currently waiting to understand the UK Government plans for delivering broadband beyond these dates.
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.
Openreach (formally BT) won three fair and open procurement exercises. They are willing to invest their own resources and have the capacity and experience to deliver the solution. Any infrastructure provider was welcomed to respond to the invitation to tender.
When a cabinet is installed, Openreach 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, Openreach will need to add additional capacity by installing new connections cards into the cabinet. 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 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.
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 Openreach.
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.
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.
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. If you are in a Fibre to the Premises enabled area, there currently aren't many ISPs who offer the service, so you may need to consider changing your provider.
The scheme is currently closed for new applications, however, a new scheme is due to be launched, by DCMS, from April 2021.
The UK government has a voucher scheme to help communities upgrade their phone and broadband infrastructure to "full fibre", if they currently receive less than 100mbps.
To date (September 2020), 950 premises, including small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in Worcestershire have secured over £2.2m worth of Government’s vouchers towards the cost of installing full fibre gigabit-capable (100 Mbps+) broadband through the Gigabit Voucher Schemes. This means that well over 2,200 premises have already benefitted from this scheme just in Worcestershire alone. Over 150 more projects are already set up and at various stages of getting formalised.
Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps can pool the vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each SME and up to £1,500 per residential premise to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections that more than double their broadband speeds.
Additionally, from September 2020, Worcestershire County Council is investing £1m to step up its drive to get high-speed broadband out to the most rural parts of the county. The funding will ‘top-up’ the Government’s existing Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, to help people in hard-to-reach locations get a fast, reliable broadband service. The funding will be used to match the level of funding available under the GBVS, so that eligible businesses can now apply for up to a maximum of £7,000 and eligible residential properties up to £3,000. But hurry - The Rural Gigabit Connectivity Voucher Scheme will only remain open for new applications until March 2021 (or until the £200m funding runs out).
The following Frequently Asked Questions focus on use of the Rural Gigabit Connectivity Voucher to support ‘community schemes’ facilitated by ‘Openreach’, as this has been the most frequently used operator by communities to date. In Worcestershire ‘Airband’ have also been proactively working with communities to access vouchers across Worcestershire and a number of other suppliers are registered with the Government to access vouchers. If after reading the below, you have questions about other operators please contact the team or visit: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/
Frequently Asked Questions (and answers):
What is a community scheme?
1. Community projects aim to upgrade everyone on ageing copper lines or low speeds off fibre to the cabinet solutions to full fibre broadband to your premises. Enabling you to get any broadband speed of up to 1,000 Mbps (1Gbps) depending on a chosen package. This will essentially future proof your network for many generations to come, part of a national network, with all maintenance the responsibility of Openreach.
2. The upgrade could cost you nothing, thanks to UK government funding. But requires individual households and businesses to come together as a community. It may even increase your property value through access to this future proofed network.
3. Once your community project is organised, all you need to do is to respond to one email from the government to confirm your “Gigabit Voucher” (https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk). Then Openreach take care of everything else.
4. Following the upgrade, dependent on package chosen, you should not have to pay any more than you do now for broadband. If you are with BT, Zen, TalkTalk or soon SKY then you simply call them after the infrastructure upgrade has been completed and renew your broadband deal. If you are with any other telephone/broadband provider, in the short-term you will need to switch to one of the providers offering FTTP packages: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fttp-providers . So please take this into consideration if entering into new 12 or 18 month contracts in the next few months, as upgrading is part of the voucher requirement.
Aren’t government grant schemes like this complicated to apply for?
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have worked very hard to make this “micro” grant as easy for communities as possible. As a result, all that is required is a simple spreadsheet for the community or a community lead to fill in (logging the details of who want to be a part of the scheme).
What exactly is happening?
Superfast Worcestershire is supporting proactive communities to set up projects to get Openreach to upgrade the old copper network with fibre all the way to the property. Upgrades are delivered through "Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships" and deliver ultrafast future-proofed broadband. You don't have to pay anything towards this upgrade and shouldn't have to pay any extra for your telephone / broadband service.
What will this upgrade cost me?
If there is sufficient demand in your area NOTHING…. We will do our best to advise you to allow your community to get the scheme delivered and get it fully funded through the Rural Voucher Scheme. Every home is eligible for a £1,500 voucher (plus up to a further £1,500 top up from September 2020) and every business run from home is eligible for a £3,500 voucher (plus up to a further £3,500 top up from September 2020).The cost of your new telephone/broadband subscription should remain the same, it may be cheaper or occasionally a few pounds more for a much, much improved service. It is worth remembering that you will be paying the same for a telephone and broadband service that is CONSIDERABLY more reliable, consistent and faster. Should there be a gap, after all grants are secured, there may be a need for a small contribution from the community. Alternatively, we can work with a supplier to review scope or come up with a better alternative.
Will my monthly cost go up after a Full Fibre upgrade?
The cost of your new telephone/broadband subscription should remain the same, it may be cheaper or occasionally a few pounds more for a much, much improved service. It is worth remembering that you will be paying the same for a telephone and broadband service that is CONSIDERABLY more reliable, consistent and faster.
I’m not too fussed about broadband, why should I care?
There’s a genuine community dependency with Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships. Every home is eligible for a £1,500 voucher (plus up to a further £1,500 top up from September 2020) and every business run from home is eligible for a £3,500 voucher (plus up to a further £3,500 top up from September 2020). Some properties cost a few hundred pounds to upgrade and some many thousands, or even tens of thousands. But with the right scale of project and combined vouchers, whole communities can be upgraded. Even if you are not that bothered about an upgrade, you would be helping homes, families and businesses in the area that desperately do. Additionally, the requirement for full fibre networks is only going to increase. Proving this infrastructure now protects for the future, increasing both the value and appeal of homes.
Who are Openreach?
Openreach build and maintain telephone cables, ducts, cabinets and exchanges;
Do I need to upgrade with BT?
NO, not at all. You can upgrade with any provider selling fibre to the premises service using Openreach’s infrastructure: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fttp-providers .
What is full fibre?
Broadband to the vast majority of properties involves fibre to the cabinet in your street, then copper between the last stretch from the cabinet to your house. This is called “Fibre to the Cabinet”. Some properties have “Exchange Only” lines, meaning copper runs all the way from the exchange to the property.
Full Fibre is when the connection from the exchange all the way to your property is fibre. This enables you to receive any speed of broadband up to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gigabits per second).
Currently, only c. 9% (September 2020) of Worcestershire premises have access to this fully future proofed infrastructure.
Where can I learn more about Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships?
Where can I learn more about government funding for Full Fibre?
Am I eligible for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme?
All premises classified as ‘rural’ are eligible for £1,500 (residential) and £3,500 (business) vouchers, as long as your current broadband is below 100Mbps. You can refer to Defra’s rural / urban classification for an indication whether your area is classed as ‘rural’ (please note this is not always accurate, so it is always best to double check with our team). These amounts can be ‘topped up’ from Sept 2020. This is true even if you have benefitted from a £350 “Better Broadband” voucher in the past for 4G, satellite or fixed wireless services. In order to qualify for a voucher grant, you must take a new broadband connection. In addition, it must at least double your current broadband speed. The contract for service that you enter into with your chosen supplier must be for a minimum of 12 months.
What qualifies as a business?
“Businesses” include any micro/small/medium business or organisation (e.g. charity, voluntary organisation) and any sole trader registered at their home address. But does not include those working from home employed by large companies/organisations. Vouchers may only be used for eligible connections at premises from which you actively trade or (in the case of residential beneficiaries) reside. This may be your registered office and/or trading address(es) in the case of SME beneficiaries.
What do I have to do?
It depends, how proactive and actively involved you want to be. If you do not have a ‘community lead’ then you will need to identify one or consider stepping into the role yourself. If you are considering being a community lead or are unsure if there is a community lead in your area contact the Superfast Worcestershire team at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a community lead then requirements on you are very limited, other than respond to contact from your local ‘community lead’ confirming interest and providing some basic information upon their request. You will also need to respond to an email sent by the UK government confirming your interest. This allows Openreach to receive your voucher funding when the infrastructure is built. No voucher funding comes to you directly.
What am I committing to?
Your only commitment, once the upgrade is complete, is taking out a 12-month broadband subscription with your chosen telephone/broadband provider: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fttp-providers . The broadband package you take has to be 30 Mbps or faster and must at least double your current broadband speed. After this initial 12-month contract you have no other commitments or tie-ins. Even if you are a business – you can simply upgrade to the cheapest fibre package. At present, the cheapest broadband service is approximately £23 month, including line rental. You can look at other options and consider cashback deals too.
Can I stay with my current telephone / broadband supplier?
If you are currently with any of these providers: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fttp-providers , then yes. Following the infrastructure upgrade you just need to call your provider and get a new deal, even if you are part way through your contract with them, they can simply upgrade you. If you are with any other supplier, you will have to honour your contract, although they may allow you to terminate early.
If you are with anyone else (such as PlusNet, EE, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, SSE or Post Office) then you will NOT be able to stay with them at the moment. However, these providers could become available over the coming months and years. Some, including SKY and Vodafone have already announced their plans for FTTP.
How does this compare with other solutions?
Full Fibre / Fibre to the Premise is the ultimate broadband solution. It is not affected by weather like copper or wireless/mobile services and its speed is practically unlimited. Full Fibre is faster, cheaper, more reliable, more stable and more consistent than any other broadband solution be this fixed wireless or mobile/4G. All properties should get a Full Fibre upgrade in the next 5 to 15 years if government ambitions are realised. Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships guarantees your upgrade much sooner, within 12 months.
Will my current service be disrupted during the upgrade?
No. Your current telephone/broadband service over your old telephone line will continue to work before, during and after a full fibre upgrade.
When this goes ahead what will I see happening in the area?
Openreach engineers will install new cables along the road, in underground ducts or pole-mounted overhead, then new fibre cables will be run directly to your house. You will get a small box installed inside your house, similar in size to your current telephone socket. Planning and surveying is likely to take 3-6 months, followed by the actual build.
When will this upgrade happen?
The process of generating interest in the community and getting quotes and a fixed price, can take around 1 to 3 months. After that is complete, suppliers will aim to upgrade your infrastructure within 12 months of your project being formalised. Once your infrastructure build is complete, your community will be notified, and you will be able to place an order with your chosen service provider.
What happens to my current telephone line, and once upgraded can I go back to using my old line?
Your existing copper telephone line will be left in place for now. After your initial 12 months commitment to getting a 30 Mbps or faster broadband service, you could choose to go back to slow copper broadband. Though we can’t think of any reason why you would want to!
Will this involve digging up my garden?
It is unlikely. Running new cables to your house is likely to follow your existing route and existing ducting or overhead lines.
Will I have to change my phones, phone number or house wiring?
No. You can continue to use your existing phone handsets, telephone number and internal wiring, but ensure you discuss this with your chosen supplier.
Will I need to buy any additional equipment?
No, once you upgrade your package, your service provider will send you a new router. Nothing else will be required.
What is the voucher top up scheme all about?
From September 2020, Worcestershire County Council is investing £1m to step up its drive to get high-speed broadband out to the most rural parts of the county. The funding will ‘top-up’ the Government’s existing Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, to help people in hard-to-reach locations get a fast, reliable broadband service. The funding will be used to match the level of funding available under the GBVS, so that eligible businesses can now apply for up to a maximum of £7,000 and eligible residential properties up to £3,000.
In some cases, the voucher amount was not enough to pay for the infrastructure upgrade. This top-up funding means many more schemes can be funded, providing this future-proofed connectivity to thousands more homes in the most rural locations which are otherwise unlikely to get it for many years.
The funding for the vouchers in the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme with Worcestershire County Council’s Top Up will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until the end of March 2021, when the scheme will close. So hurry and set up your scheme today!!
So, just to re-cap: