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Wiltshire is going Superfast, Get Connected!

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About The Project

In November 2015, Central Government announced they would 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. 

In December 2017 Central Government announced that it will continue to develop the regulatory approach to the USO with Ofcom. Ofcom’s implementation is expected to take two years from when the government lays secondary legislation, meeting the government’s commitment of giving everyone access to high speed broadband by 2020.  This will mean that by 2020 all premises with speeds below the target level of 10Mbps will be able to request a speed upgrade, subject to a cost cap.

Further information will be made available by Central Government as they progress with the legislation.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

With regards Gigaclear, their build model is different to BT as they install all new infrastructure as part of their build plans.  However, the model is still based on providing 'best value for money' to ensure that as many premises are upgraded within the available funding.

You can use the Postcode Checker on the Wiltshire Online website here.

You can also register your details with us here and one of the team will email you when fibre broadband is available in your area.

Not necessarily, whilst the funding has been significant, we unfortunately cannot get to everyone with a fibre service.

Our suppliers (BT and Gigaclear) were 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 the suppliers on technical grounds only to cover as many premises as possible.

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.

Currently Wiltshire Council’s obligation is to deliver the Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 contracts within budget and timescales. Phase 1 is complete, Phase 2 will be complete by the end of 2018 and Phase 3 by end of 2019.

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.

Central Government also announced their aspiration for a Universal Service Obligation (USO) 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.

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.

Our contracted suppliers (BT and Gigaclear) were 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 the suppliers 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 the suppliers on technical grounds only to cover as many premises as possible.

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 postcodes 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 our contracted supplier (BT and Gigaclear) 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.

The Fibre Broadband Service

As a first step, you will need to establish the existing speed of supply to the properties you are considering. If there is currently a live telecoms connection to the property, we suggest making contact with the estate agent to ask for the phone number of the premises so that you can use a broadband comparison website to identify what Internet Service Providers are able to offer. If this is not possible, you can use BT’s broadband availability checker website to check the potential speed of connection currently available to the property, using the existing telephone number or address (please note that address searches provide only an indicative result).

If fibre broadband is indicated to not be currently available using one of the methods above, you can use the Wiltshire Online postcode checker here  to identify if the postcode is in our current build plans. 

If you are thinking of buying a new build, talk to the developer and ask what they are doing to provide fibre broadband to the site. Unfortunately it is unlikely that Wiltshire Online will be able to provide fibre broadband to new developments as the responsibility for connection rests with the developer.

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.

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 June 2016 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.

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.

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.

No. Although BT and Gigaclear have 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Better Broadband Scheme (USC)

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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.

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).

Other providers, including Fixed Wireless, are also able to aggregate the codes; for guidance on aggregating Better Broadband codes to support community schemes please click here.

Yes. You may be able to get:

  • a basic broadband service from a 4G mobile broadband supplier.  You can check current availability by using the Ofcom mobile coverage checker at www.ofcom.org.uk/mobile-coverage
  • a wireless broadband service in some areas.  Information on available operators and network providers can be found by searching online
  • a superfast service in the future

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

You can get help with the cost of installation and any equipment you need to access a basic broadband service at an affordable price.

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.

  • If the speed checker identifies that your premises already benefits from speeds greater than 2Mbps you ARE NOT eligible for a subsidy
  • If the checker identifies that your broadband speed is under 2Mbps you might be eligible for a subsidy
  • If there are plans to bring superfast broadband to your home or business within 12 months you WILL NOT be eligible for a subsidy
  • If there are no plans to bring superfast broadband to your home or business and your current speed is confirmed less than 2Mbps, you will be eligible.

Any household or business who cannot access an affordable basic broadband service with a download speed of at least 2Mbps.

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.

Project Timeline

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.

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.

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.

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.

Simple Guide to Broadband Speed

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The technology

The network that delivers today’s phones and broadband is an all-copper infrastructure. But that means the further from the exchange you are, the slower your broadband speed. That’s because copper was designed to carry the human voice – not large amounts of data. A single fibre is capable of carrying much more information than copper, and doing so in a far shorter space of time. Fibre is a completely different solution. It carries much larger amounts of information as pulses of light over far longer distances, without any reduction in quality. One fibre optical cable can replace hundreds of copper wires.

1. Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). A part-fibre, part-copper solution, capable of delivering download speeds of up to 80Mbit/s and upload speeds of up to 20Mbit/s. With FTTC, BT overlay fibre on the copper infrastructure (poles and underground ducts) running from an exchange to cabinets in the street. Copper will still be the final link (i.e. from the cabinet to your home or business).
2. Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). A pure fibre solution, capable of delivering download speeds of up to 300Mbit/s and upload speeds of 30Mbit/s. This solution uses fibre all the way from the exchange to individual premises, usually delivered using underground cables.

There are a number of factors that need to be taken into account when upgrading a cabinet to fibre. The main feature is that a new cabinet is installed very close to the existing one. Fibre is connected to the new cabinet which is connected to the old one.
Powering up
BT will have to upgrade the majority of mains and back-up power facilities in their exchanges, as the new equipment will place significant additional demands on them. Sometimes this means working with a local power company and co-ordinating what’s needed.
Digging down
Some of BTs underground ducts will have been buried for years, some for as long as 80 years, the local surveys sometimes may unearth unanticipated challenges, such as replacing broken or leaking ducting. This will need to be fixed before BT can lay fibre to these ducts. The duct routes themselves may be full of existing cables or BT may be laying fibre in areas where there is no existing duct at all and a new one has to be built.
Getting permission
We work closely with local councils when it comes to the choosing where a new cabinet should be. In historic towns and cities or sites of special scientific interest, we usually need to get appropriate legal approval and permission before we can begin any work

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