The Wiltshire Online project must comply with EU State Aid law to ensure that public money is invested appropriately. As a first step to ensure compliance, Wiltshire Online conducted an Open Market Review with the communications’ industry to establish the current broadband infrastructure (basic broadband and Next Generation Access (NGA)) already in place in Wiltshire and where there were plans for investment in such infrastructure in the coming three years. The areas that were not going to be targeted commercially formed what is known as our ‘Intervention Area’ and it is where, according to EU State Aid law, we are allowed to invest public money in. The Intervention Area and the premises that make up the area are set for the duration of the contract.
To find out if your property is in the Intervention Area, you can use the Postcode Checker on the Wiltshire Online website here.
Once the Intervention Area had been defined we looked to BT to design the rollout. When we embarked on the programme in 2012 the broadband gap in Wiltshire was significant and we were aware that unfortunately our investment could not benefit every premises. With this in mind, and knowing Wiltshire Council needed to do something to reduce the gap, the rollout was designed on a ‘Best Value for Money’ basis - in summary to as many premises as possible with the funds available.
BT was awarded the contract to bring a superfast fibre service to as many homes and businesses as possible within the budget available. At the start of the process all the postcodes and infrastructure that serve them in our Intervention Area were modelled on engineering criteria such as location of existing infrastructure, current speeds, distance and number of homes served and then BT modelled the new infrastructure to achieve getting the maximum number of premises onto the extended infrastructure network ie. the most value for money rollout. Other rollout designs were considered such as prioritising specific communities or the most rural areas but the rollout then becomes less efficient and more costly and ultimately reduces the number of homes we can provide a service to for the budget available.
In summary, the Intervention Area is set as per State Aid law and the rollout modelled by BT on technical grounds only to cover as many premises as possible.
As part of the Open Market Review, all Wiltshire Council postcodes that existed at the time of the Open Market Review (see ‘What is the Intervention Area’ FAQ for an explanation) were considered regardless of where the exchange is located.
Currently Wiltshire Council’s obligation is to deliver the Phase 1 and Phase 2 contracts within budget and timescales. Phase 1 is complete and Phase 2 will be complete by the end of 2017.
Previously, Central Government made a commitment (Universal Service Commitment - USC) to provide access to a minimum speed of 2Mbps and we have launched the scheme to fulfil locally the Government’s Universal Service Commitment (now known as the Better Broadband Scheme). The Better Broadband Scheme is a voucher scheme which essentially offsets the cost of installing a broadband solution in order to increase speeds to the minimum of 2Mbps. Information about the scheme and an application form is on our website here. The scheme will run until the end of 2017.
Central Government also announced their aspiration for a Universal Service Obligation of a 10Mbps service available to every premises by 2020. Government is consulting with the telecoms' industry and currently it is the expectation that the industry will need to deliver on the obligation on a request basis.
You may not be in the Intervention Area for one of two reasons. Either because your postcode was claimed by a commercial provider and therefore we are unable to lawfully invest in your area or your premises did not exist at the time we defined the Intervention Area (eg. your premises is a new build).
The Intervention Area and the premises that make up the area are set for the duration of the contract and cannot be changed.
Not necessarily, whilst the funding has been significant, we unfortunately cannot get to everyone with a fibre service.
BT was awarded the contract to bring a superfast fibre service to as many homes and businesses as possible within the budget available. At the start of the process all the postcodes and infrastructure that serve them in our Intervention Area were modelled on engineering criteria such as location of existing infrastructure, current speeds, distance and number of homes served; the outcome of the modelling was the most value for money rollout. Other rollout designs were considered such as prioritising specific communities or the most rural areas but the rollout then becomes less efficient and more costly and ultimately reduces the number of homes we can provide a service to for the budget available.
In summary, no one made a decision on which individual premises were to benefit. The Intervention Area is set as per State Aid law and the rollout modelled by BT on technical grounds only to cover as many premises as possible.
The rollout plans are based on upgrading the existing infrastructure, the copper telephone lines that provide the telephone service and ADSL broadband service following a spine and spur pattern. Openreach infrastructure across Wiltshire is divided into exchange areas. This existing infrastructure does not fit neatly into village boundaries and your village may be served by different infrastructure than that of the neighbouring villages, hence they may have a different outcome because they’re on a different spine or spur to yours.
The modelling of the rollout does not prioritise one village’s needs over another. The rollout is modelled on best value for money principles and the brief given to BT by Wiltshire Council was to cover as many premises as possible within the available funding. BT use the Chief Engineer’s Model (CEM) which takes as its starting point the Intervention Area postcodes (those postcodes in which we are allowed to invest public money) and seeks to maximise physical coverage for the available funding. The CEM has been validated by BDUK (Central Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme) to ensure it is modelled to effectively maximise coverage which it does by going to the lowest cost locations and then sequentially moving through the next best value structure and it repeats this process until the funding package is exhausted.
Lobbying will not have any impact on the outcome of our planned rollout.
The aim of the project is to achieve the best possible long-term broadband coverage for Wiltshire within the budget available. To achieve this the rollout design is based on a combination of several factors such as existing infrastructure, speeds already received, number of homes and premises in the area and distances of homes and businesses away from the infrastructure. Other rollout designs were considered such as prioritising specific communities or the most rural areas but the rollout then becomes less efficient and more costly and ultimately reduces the number of homes we can provide a service to for the budget available.
When we upgrade any community to fibre we are not always able to provide 100% coverage to all premises, this is because we have to work with Openreach’s existing network which does not sit neatly within village or even postcode boundaries.
As our villages and towns have grown over the years, the telecoms infrastructure has been added to in order to meet the needs of the community. As a result, the existing infrastructure in any one village, or indeed any one street, may not serve every premises. It is entirely possible for a small village to be served by two or three different infrastructure and not all premises within the same postcode area may be able to order an improved service at the same time as it may be that not all of the infrastructure has been or will be upgraded.
If you want to understand what infrastructure serves your premises please check the Openreach website here.
Not all homes and businesses are connected to the local telephone exchange via a green street cabinet. Some are connected directly to the telephone exchange and these are known as Exchange Only (EO) lines. BT does not include EO lines in their commercial rollout plans as they are not considered commercially viable.
The good news is Wiltshire Online will include the upgrading of some EO lines as part of the rollout of superfast fibre broadband across Wiltshire. For EO lines, in order to install the new fibre in the quickest and most cost-effective way we may need to completely re-arrange the existing copper network in those areas. This is in order to make it possible to install two new structures – a new Primary Connection Point (PCP) and a brand new fibre-enabled cabinet (DSLAM). The EO lines will then be connected to the exchange via the new street cabinets, which will hugely improve broadband speeds.
The rollout of the new fibre broadband network is an ongoing process. Upgrading the existing copper cabinets to Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) while simultaneously installing new PCPs and DSLAMs to pick up EO lines and convert them to FTTC is a complex process, which takes time to plan and deliver.
If your property is in the planned rollout within the Intervention Area, there is no cost to you to get the fibre infrastructure in place. If your property is outside of the planned rollout within the Intervention Area, it is not possible for you to pay Wiltshire Council an extra sum to have it added in as this would contravene the rules of the contract.
Unfortunately, no. The Wiltshire Online project is focused on bringing fibre broadband to areas of the county that were not considered commercially viable. The technology we deploy as part of the contract is Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and there is no mechanism in place that would allow us to invest in alternative technologies within the existing contracts.
In November 2015, central Government announced they will introduce a new USO that should give everybody the legal right to request a broadband connection capable of delivering a minimum speed of 10Mbps by 2020. The Universal Service Obligation is not part of the current contracts that Wiltshire Council has with BT.
As yet, central Government has not provided information to Local Bodies on how the USO will work or the type of technology that will be deployed in order to meet the commitment made. As soon as we do have information to share, this will be published on the Wiltshire Online website.
You can access more information at: www.openreach.co.uk
Your broadband speed does not automatically improve when your cabinet has been upgraded to fibre. You will need to upgrade your service and place an order with your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP). We would always recommend the use of a broadband comparison website to help you find a package that best suits your needs and to identify those ISPs offering a service to your premises. More information about ordering a fibre service can be found on our website here.
The reasons you are not able to order the improved service could include the fact that:
• Not all premises within the same postcode area may be able to order an improved service at the same time; this is because some postcodes may be served by more than one infrastructure and it may be that not all of the infrastructure has been or will be upgraded
• Your internet service provider may not choose to offer a service in your area, it may be worth contacting other providers or using a broadband comparison website to identify providers offering a service to your premises
• Your premises are too far away from the improved infrastructure for you to be able to benefit as distance does have a negative impact on speed
If your current service meets your needs then you do not have to upgrade to a fibre broadband package, you will be able to continue using your existing broadband service as normal.
No. Although BT has installed the network, because public money has been invested it is an open network and all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will have been offered the opportunity to provide their services across the improved infrastructure. Please note that whilst ISPs will have been given this opportunity, it is down to each individual provider as to whether they take up the offer and this is outside the scope of Wiltshire Online to influence. We would always recommend the use of a broadband comparison website to help you find a package that best suits your needs and to identify those ISPs offering a service to your premises. More information about ordering the improved service can be found on our website here.
Our contract specifically invests in upgrading the infrastructure that provides fibre broadband which is then open to any Internet Service Provider (ISP). We do not have a contractual relationship with any ISP and therefore the contract you enter into with your ISP is outside the scope of this project to manage or influence. If you have queries about your service or engineer visits, you will need to contact your ISP directly.
We do not have a contractual relationship with any ISP and therefore the contract you enter into with your ISP is outside the scope of this project to manage or influence. If you have complaints about your level of service you will need to take this up directly with your ISP or Ofcom. The Ofcom website can be found at www.ofcom.org.ukor you can call them on 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040.
Reasons that you may not be able to order a superfast service include the fact that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has chosen not to provide a fibre service from the upgraded cabinet; this is why we always recommend the use of a broadband comparison website to identify those ISPs who are offering fibre to your premises.
Superfast broadband does have line length limitations which mean that, even though your street cabinet may be fibre enabled, it doesn’t automatically follow that everyone will be able to get a superfast service; we do however, anticipate most residents will see uplift in speed. Again, we recommend the use of a broadband comparison website to identify those ISPs offering an improved fibre service to your premises.
In order to define our Intervention Area (the area we are allowed to invest public money in according to EU State Aid law) Wiltshire Online undertook an Open Market Review (OMR) in order to identify premises that existed at the time of the review (both residential and commercial) across the county. Our latest OMR was undertaken in September 2014 and if your premises was built after this date it was not able to be considered to be included in our Intervention Area as it did not exist at the time of the review. The Intervention Area and the premises that make up the area are now set for the duration of the current contract and cannot be changed.
We would suggest that in the first instance you contact the developer of your property to identify what their plans are for installing a fibre network as part of their overall development.
Unfortunately cabinets that are due to be upgraded by Openreach as part of their commercial activities are outside the scope of our project to manage and Wiltshire Online is not able to change Openreach’s commercial plans.
This scheme has been designed by the UK government to ensure that every household and business in the UK can access an affordable basic broadband service. We define an affordable service as one that costs no more than £400 a year including installation, equipment and monthly fee.
Any household or business who cannot access an affordable basic broadband service with a download speed of at least 2Mbps.
First check that you cannot access superfast broadband (speeds of more than 24Mbps) at www.gov.uk/gosuperfast. If your premises is not listed as benefitting from the roll out of superfast broadband, use the BT checker to find out what your current broadband speed is at www.dslchecker.bt.com.
You can get help with the cost of installation and any equipment you need to access a basic broadband service at an affordable price.
The scheme does not cover the cost of the monthly subscriptions. Monthly fees vary depending on the amount of data and speed of broadband connection you choose.
This will depend on a number of factors including type of broadband package you choose to buy and whether you decide to take up a satellite or wireless broadband service, if this is available in your area.
Satellite broadband can deliver speeds of 10Mbps (or significantly more) but the speed is not guaranteed throughout the day and packages usually have monthly data caps. You will need to consider how much data you are likely to require and the monthly costs of different packages. Some satellite packages allow you to transfer data overnight without adding to the monthly costs. You will also experience a short time delay with satellite broadband as the broadband signal has to travel to the satellite and back to Earth; this may take a bit of getting used to.
Wireless broadband performs in a similar way to broadband delivered over the telephone network but the quality of the service will vary dependent on the product selected. Wireless broadband is only available in certain parts of Wiltshire.
You can apply by completing a simple online application form which can be found on our Better Broadband Scheme page here.
If you are eligible for a subsidy code, you will need to select a broadband package that best suits your needs from one of the suppliers registered with the scheme. We also recommend that you research other options available from other suppliers (including those not registered under the scheme) in case you can access a better offer eg. you may be offered better terms if you take out a longer contract than you can under this scheme.
Yes. You are required to sign a contract with your chosen supplier for a minimum of 12 months. If you want to terminate within the first year you may have to pay a termination fee and repay the subsidy you have benefitted from.
If you are eligible you can apply for a subsidy code until the end of December 2017.
Yes. You may be able to get:
One of the suppliers offering services through the scheme is BT, via its Community Fibre Partnerships scheme. The subsidy can be used to support coverage delivered through a Community Fibre Partnerships project, but the project has to be ready to go live at the time when the eligibility code is claimed (otherwise, the subsidy scheme would not be providing access in a timely way to an improved service).
You may be eligible for a subsidised broadband connection as an interim fix if the planning to bring superfast broadband to your property has not yet started.
There are strict rules around spending public funding to support the delivery of broadband services. The government cannot publicly fund two solutions to the same property within the same 12 months.
The Better Broadband Scheme is managed by Local Broadband Progammes in partnership with The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is jointly funded.
Wiltshire Council is seeking to extend the Better Broadband Scheme to include additional technologies and providers. If you are a supplier and would like to discuss this opportunity, please contact us at email@example.com.
We have taken into account many factors, including geography, planning requirements and the location of the existing telecoms infrastructure. These factors will dictate the order of the roll out and this approach will ensure the best value for money. This means that we cannot deviate from how the planned network will be rolled out across the area, as doing so would result in a time-consuming and costly project and would ultimately reduce the number of premises we are able to deliver superfast broadband to.
It is not possible with a programme of this size and complexity to plan every area at the same time, so some areas will inevitably be enabled before others. There are also significant challenges with rolling out fibre across a rural county such as badly blocked ducts, existing cabinets that need to be replaced and identification of a suitable power supply. In some cases we have to apply for road closures to allow engineers to work safely on the network which requires a statutory three month notice period. Many of these issues are not encountered until we start on-the-ground-activities in an exchange area and therefore a 'Go Live' date may be subject to change.
You can check if you are in our current build plans by using our postcode checker here. You can also register with our 'When Can I Get It' service here which means one of the team will email you when you can order fibre.
For updates and progress on build you can use the Openreach When and Where website here.
The first step in the process is for BT to plan the network by exchange area. Once this stage is completed, an on-the-ground-survey of each cabinet is undertaken and then work on bringing the fibre optic cables and a power supply to the cabinet can begin.
This is a very complex piece of work and you can find detailed information about the infrastructure build on our website here.
Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second, commonly written as Mbps. It essentially means the rates at which data is downloaded or uploaded. Alongside price, speed is one of the key factors people look at when it comes to choosing broadband. All of the internet service providers quote the broadband download speed as a key part of their advertising.
When you connect to the internet, the download speed is the pace at which data (websites, programmes, music etc) is transferred from another computer to yours.
Upload speed is the speed at which data (such as your new holiday pictures and videos) is uploaded to the internet – perhaps to put onto a social networking site such as Facebook, or onto a file-sharing site such as Flickr. Essentially, the upload is going in the opposite direction to the download – from your computer to someone else’s.
Broadband upload speeds are generally much slower than download speeds. The reason for this is that people normally do far more downloading than uploading, so downloading is given priority by the internet service providers. Upload speeds become more important if you are going to be doing large amounts of uploading such as someone who works from home and wants to exchange files with a remote network or people who play a lot of online games.
Superfast broadband is classified as download speeds in excess of 24 Mbps. Speed is an important factor as the greater the speed the more advanced internet services you can enjoy such as live television and radio. If you have several members of the same household accessing the internet via laptops or smart phones at the same time, a superfast broadband connection can provide a good level of service to all of these users.
What you want to do on the internet will determine what speed you need. So for example, if you only plan to send emails or perhaps catch up with friends over Facebook a basic connection speed of around 2Mbps is adequate. However, if you want to watch live television or download large files such as albums, then superfast broadband is recommended as this will give a more reliable service and will greatly reduce the download time.
We would also recommend a superfast connection if you have several members of the household all wanting to go online at once.
It is perfectly normal for the speed to change from day to day, from hour to hour, even from minute to minute.
The available capacity on the network is shared out amongst all the customers that are using the internet at that time. This means that at busy times such as evening and weekends when more people are using the internet, each person gets a smaller share of the available capacity and so lower speeds than when the network is quiet.
If you have a specific enquiry about the broadband speed you are able to receive, your first point of call should always be your Internet Service Provider.
Much of the UK's broadband infrastructure is made up of a combination of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and copper cabling from the cabinet to the premises. On copper, fibre capacity deteriorates over distance.
A large number of internet service providers use BT Wholesale to deliver their services, so most of the network will be identical. Even if they have their own equipment in your telephone exchange, the fibre and copper lines to your house will still be the same length and quality which will inevitably mean the speed you experience is similar across different service providers.
Which? has put together some top tips that may help to increase your broadband speed. The article can be found here.
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