Coventry, Solihull And Warwickshire Superfast Broadband Update
Bringing faster broadband to our rural areas
Project Update April 2017
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Over 57,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network
Topics in this edition:
Connecting to FTTP
Full-fibre rollout latest
ERDF funding latest
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Questions and Answers
We are now starting to see Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) solutions being rolled out. The standard solution is Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). The existing copper telephone network is, in most cases, delivered by taking copper out to a roadside cabinet (PCP) and then splitting the wiring to take it to individual properties. This has worked fine for voice transmission for many years.
However, now that we all want to connect to the Internet at ever-faster speeds, a new solution had to be found because Internet speeds decrease rapidly over lengths of copper.
FTTC involves putting a new cabinet (DSLAM) as close as possible to the existing copper cabinet. The DSLAM also needs power as we are, effectively, taking the exchange out to the local community. The DSLAM is fed with fibre and then only the final part of the delivery is over the copper telephone network, meaning that the achievable speeds are much higher.
In some areas, there is no copper cabinet so other solutions have to be found. Sometimes there is a local exchange, so we can still employ a cabinet solution but have to install both a PCP and a DSLAM. In other areas we can install an all-in-one cabinet that serves the function of both the DSLAM and the PCP. These are mainly suitable in areas with smaller numbers of properties.
In a few areas there is no aggregation point and the existing copper wiring runs off in all directions, or there are other reasons why a cabinet solution will not do the job. In these cases, we are starting to see Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) being deployed.
This means that instead of the final delivery being over the copper network, the fibre is taken to a central point and then run directly to each property when the service is ordered.
The advantage of this service for the user is that Ultrafast speeds of up to 330 Mbps can be achieved (depending on the package purchased). The disadvantages are that there are fewer ISPs offering this service at present, so the costs of the service tend to be higher. If you are in an FTTP area you may have to shop around (see below).
From the CSW Broadband point of view, we don’t know until the FTTP service goes live exactly which properties will be able to benefit, so we can’t let people know that it is coming.
FTTP is not appropriate in every location. When we started the preparation for Contract 1 (way back in 2012!) we modelled the whole area for FTTP. At that time, it would have cost 10x as much to provide FTTP across the whole area, or we could have covered just 1/10th of the properties that we did.
Therefore, whilst we could connect a few communities using FTTP, we can connect a lot more, and get the overall fibre network much further, by using cabinet technologies. Since the over-riding principle of the project is to take the fibre as far as possible, FTTP will only be used in exceptional circumstances. Deploying fibre to the cabinet solutions is a good investment, as it takes the fibre backbone much further and, eventually, it is likely that everyone will have the final piece of copper replaced with a fibre solution – although possibly not for many years to come in the more remote areas.
Finally, FTTP should not be confused with Fibre on Demand (FoD), which BT announced some time ago would be available in parts of the Leamington, Southam and Kenilworth exchange areas. We understand that no ISPs are offering this service at present, although it may show as a delivery option if you check your line through the BT DSL checker.
Unless you live in an area that is to be covered by Fibre to the Premise, then the only other way to get fibre right to your door is to buy a commercial Private Leased Line, however the installation costs can run into tens of thousands of £s, and the ongoing rental costs are considerably higher than for other services. In some areas the smaller providers may provide an option to buy a Fibre to the Premise solution with the fibre running from a local cabinet to a property.
Connecting to FTTP
1) Ordering the service
As this is still a relatively new technology, not all internet service providers (ISPs) currently offer an FTTP service at the moment, so it is important that you investigate which suppliers can provide the service in your area.
When placing an order with your chosen ISP, they will provide you with a date when an engineer will come out to carry out tests or even a survey, should one be necessary.
ISPs that we believe provide FTTP packages to residents in the CSW area:
ISPs who provide FTTP packages to businesses in our area:
As more FTTP is made available across the county, the market is likely to become increasingly competitive, with a wider range of packages and price options being made available, and new providers coming into this growing marketplace.
2) Site Survey
In the early stages of an order, a site survey may be required. This is to investigate what work needs to be carried out in order to provide you with a FTTP service.
It is important to note that no work will be carried out without your permission and you agreeing to any costs that may be associated with this, for which you are liable.
In some cases, additional works may be required to bring the fibre cable into your premises. You will need to discuss this with your service provider.
3) Engineer Appointment
Following the survey, an engineer connects the fibre cable to a small box (approx. 15cm x 10cm x 3 cm) which will need to be fixed to your outside wall of your property. The box will be installed at a height that can be worked on from ground level.
Please note: There may be a short interruption to your telephone service during this work. Also, if you have an alarm on your phone line, please let your provider know that your line may go down for a few minutes, which could trigger a false alarm on any security system linked to your telephone line.
Your ISP will inform you if you need to be present for this visit, but the engineer must be able to access to exterior of the premises. There may be the necessity for two engineer appointments, but your ISP will make you aware of this if it is the case.
If you have experienced ordering an FTTP service, and would be happy to send us your feedback, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Full fibre rollout latest
The recent budget included a statement that the government “will invest up to £200m to fund locally led projects across the UK to leverage local and commercial investment in full fibre, the ‘gold standard’ of fast and reliable broadband. By harnessing public sector internet demand, upgrading school connections, alongside new full fibre connection vouchers to increase business take–‐up, we will make it more attractive for the private sector to build full fibre networks to connect more homes and businesses.
“We received a fantastic response to the Call For Evidence in January, including from over 50 local authorities, which is informing our approach. We will work with suppliers and local authorities over the summer to develop approaches to public sector anchor tenancy, gigabit connectivity vouchers for businesses and re–‐use of publically owned assets, incorporating them as part of the first wave of projects in 2017. In parallel, we will be developing a competitive funding process for local areas to bid for projects that could combine these different delivery approaches with their own digital planning strategy and efforts to create an attractive regulatory and planning environment, in order to stimulate large–‐ scale commercial investment in full fibre networks. More details will be published in due course.”
So, nothing on this at present, but we are aware that there will be interest, and we will keep you updated as soon as there is anything to report.
The British Business Bank has been set up by Government to stimulate and encourage lending by mainstream banks to British businesses. According to the website: “The British Business Bank is 100% Government owned, but independently managed. It brings expertise and Government money to the smaller business finance markets. We don’t lend or invest directly. Instead we work with over 80 partners such as banks, leasing companies, venture capital funds and web-based platforms. Businesses apply for finance through our partners, and because they work with us they can lend and invest more, especially to younger and faster growing companies.”
The website includes a very useful Business Finance Guide, which offers tools and options for those businesses looking to expand. Well worth a look if you are running, or thinking of setting up, a business.
ERDF Funding update
We have now received the Contract for the ERDF-funded element of Contract 3, including the business support that will be delivered by The Chamber as project partners. Work is ongoing with the WCC legal team to enable us to sign this.
Copy for your own website or newsletter
We regularly produce updates of around 350 words that can be used on your own website or in newsletters. There are a selection of articles available for download and you can select the most appropriate depending on where your particular area is in the rollout pipeline. We now have two versions: a web version with embedded hyperlinks, and a copy for print where the links are typed out in full. Copy can be found on our Copy to use on our own website, newsletters or flyers webpage.
Questions and Answers
Here are some of the Q&A’s raised recently. Our website has a full set of Q&As, which are regularly updated.
We have changed the way in which the maps are generated. Previously, when most upgrades consisted of installing a fibre-fed cabinet next to the original copper one, we based the area shading on the distance from the existing cabinet. By allowing approximately 1Km from the existing cabinet as superfast, we were able to show roughly which areas might be expected to achieve superfast speeds.
However, this methodology has its limitations and mapping the coverage is difficult. It is done by postcode, but telecoms infrastructure does not follow postcodes. In fact, we have found that we have some postcodes that are served by a number of cabinets, and some cabinets that serve properties in more than one postcode. When you factor in the fact that some properties may be served by exchanges or cabinets that are several miles away you can see the difficulties! This means that the colour coding on the map can only provide an estimated network coverage, and this remains the case.
What we have tried to do this time around, however, is to base the mapping on the underlying premises information. Therefore, were there are a number of properties still to be upgraded, the area colouring will now be shown as white, amber, or the appropriate colour for the relevant Wave if it has been announced.
So, the higher-level maps may have changed, but still the best way to find out what is happening is to zoom through the layers so that you can get to your specific property information.
Why has my area dropped back to 2019 for completion?
The timetable has not changed, however in an effort to show as much information as we possibly can the data is shown differently on the Property Checker from that on the Rolling 12-Month Plan. As the explanatory text on the Checker says:
The information has been taken from the following sources:
· Open Market Review and Public Consultation that was held and the end of 2016. During this process all commercial providers were invited to submit information about their rollout plans to the end of 2019. **
· Contract 2 coverage for the CSW Broadband project.
· State Aid approved Contract 3 potential intervention area.
** Because this information is provided in commercial confidence we are not able to state which provider has said that they will go to particular areas.
Therefore, the Property Checker shows the status at the end of 2019, and at area level the mapping will depend on how far you zoom in. However, the Rolling 12-Month Plan shows what is currently in build, and this work should be completed according to the timescales shown. If your area is amber on the map, there is more work still to be done, but it hasn’t been announced so won’t appear on the rolling 12-month plan yet.
You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.
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CSW Broadband is a partnership between Warwickshire County Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Coventry City Council, BT and Department for Culture Media & Sport.