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Update – Broadband Improvements

CSW Project updates – Contract 3

Since our last newsletter in December, another 94 Contract 3 structures have now been confirmed as having gone live. Some of these have been partially live for some time, but we only tend to publish this information once we are sure that all the connections served by those structures have been completed.

Unfortunately, some of the properties which we believed had been upgraded were not showing as such on Openreach’s systems meaning that those residents couldn’t order an improved service. However, now that these issues have been resolved and the data verified, we can now inform you of these upgrades.

Some of the communities benefiting from these upgrades include parts of: Allesley, Aldermans Green, Ansley Common, Arlescote, Arley, Ash Green, Balsall Common, Bascote, Bedworth (Bede Village), Berkswell, Bishops Tachbrook, Bodymoor Heath, Bramcote, Bubbenhall, Burton Hastings, Cliff, Combrook, Copston Magna, Corley, Edstone, Ettington, Frankton, Galley Common, Hampton in Arden, Harborough Magna and Hatton.

Other communities which have also benefited include parts of: Kenilworth, Keresley End, Kingsbury, Knowle, Lighthorne, Long Compton, Meriden, Middleton, Moreton Morrell, New Arley, Newton, Offchurch, Piccadilly, Rugby, Shelford, Shustoke, Solihull, Southam, Stockton, Stretton on Dunsmore, Tanworth in Arden, Temple Grafton, Walton, Warmington, Warwick, Wishaw, Wolvey and Wormleighton.

As a result of this, nearly 75,000 properties across the region are now able to connect to the fibre network thanks to the work of the CSW Broadband Project.

As always, once we have received confirmation that a particular cabinet or structure upgrade has been completed, we will try and inform as many of the affected residents as possible.

Remember, once your property has been upgraded, you won’t get a faster service automatically. You need to order the improved service with your chosen ISP to benefit from the upgrade.

To check on your property’s superfast status, enter your landline number or address into the BT Broadband Availability Checker. Our How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker webpage will help you make sense of the Broadband Checker results.

You might like to use a broadband comparison site such as MoneySavingExpert.comBroadband ChoicesBroadband GenieBroadbandProviders or uSwitch to find a fibre broadband package to suit you and your family’s needs.

If your property has benefited from an FTTP upgrade, our Ordering an FTTP service webpage provides you with all the information you need.

Useful advice for if you are thinking of changing your ISP in 2021

Consumers in the UK face a confusing choice of different broadband providers and networks, which is getting worse as a growing number of new entrants enter the market. In fact, trying to find a new ISP can sometimes feel like walking through a minefield.

If you are looking for a new ISP but find the myriad of options available to you a little bit confusing, the ISP Review’s new ‘UK Best Broadband ISPs for Homes – 2021’ guide may be able to help by offering a simplified overview of the top options.

The guide puts together the editor’s pick of top ISP options in terms of quality and affordability. The ISPs featured in the guide are picked based on a mixture of criteria, including reader feedback, Ofcom quality / complaint scores, third party awards and reviews from multiple sites, to name but a few.

As well as categorising ISPs by price and quality, a third category – Commendations – also highlights alternative network ISPs that also deserve praise – based on the above criteria.

Consumer champions Which? have also recently published their ‘Best and worst broadband providers 2021’ report.

They note that while the best broadband companies offer a great service at a great price, provide a fast connection that you can rely on, and are on hand to help in the rare instance that something goes wrong, many broadband providers still don’t deliver on those fronts.

While you have to pay to download the whole report, it is worth noting that this survey is based on the real-life experiences of thousands of customers across the UK and may prove to be money well spent if you are thinking of changing broadband provider and would like further information on choosing your next ISP.

For more information and advice on how to switch to a different broadband provider, see our ‘Questions and Answers’ section later in this newsletter.

Mobile operators agree deal to improve UK’s rural coverage

A number of publications, including Computer Weekly have recently reported that three of the UK’s leading mobile operators have agreed a deal to build and share infrastructure to boost 4G coverage and improve mobile connectivity in hard-to-reach places.

In the first stage of the UK government’s Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme, which aims to support the deployment of 5G and extend 4G mobile coverage to hitherto badly served rural areas, O2, Three and Vodafone are joining forces to build and share 222 new mobile masts to boost rural coverage across the country.

The £1.3bn SRN programme was first proposed in October 2019 and has been made possible through a partnership of the UK’s four major telecoms operators – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone who will work to close almost all partial “not spots” – areas where there is only coverage from at least one but not all operators.

Their initial investment of £532m will then be supplemented by more than £500m of government funding to eliminate total not spots – hard to reach areas where there is currently no coverage from any operator.

The exact location of the masts – most of which will be built in rural areas – are not being disclosed until planning permission has been approved. Construction will start this year and is set to be completed by 2024 in line with the agreement reached with the Government and Ofcom.

The three mobile operators will now engage with local stakeholders and other key parties to ensure what the UK government calls a “timely and efficient” roll-out that delivers 4G connectivity in rural communities, offering customers in very remote areas increased choice and fuller value from their contracts where they live, work or travel.

BT in talks with OneWeb over rural satellite broadband

The Rural Service Network recently highlighted a Bloomberg report on discussions between BT and the government-backed satellite maker OneWeb to provide rural broadband to people cut off from the UK’s fibre networks.

BT is understood to be in early discussions around how OneWeb’s satellite technology, which is designed to provide internet signals to remote locations, might be used to connect up rural households.

The report notes that the satellite provider could allow BT to provide modest broadband speeds without the extra cost of installing cables to houses that are too remote or expensive to install fibre cables.

London-based OneWeb, a rival to Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite network, has launched 110 out of a planned 648 fridge-sized satellites into low-earth orbit. The company said recently it could start connecting UK customers by the end of this year.

Musk’s Starlink constellation, which received a license from Ofcom in November 2020, has already launched around 1,000 satellites and has started trialling direct-to-consumer services in the UK as well as around the rest of the world.

While the early results from trials in the UK look promising, Starlink doesn’t come cheap, at £439 for the hardware and a monthly cost of £89. But some of those who have suffered with sluggish internet for years believe that it is a price worth paying.

Questions and Answers

Here are some of the Questions and Answers (Q&A’s) that residents have raised recently. Our website has a full set of Frequently Asked Questions, which are regularly updated.

 

What is the process for ordering and installing an FTTP service?

The ordering and final installation process for the Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) solutions that are now being rolled out in Contract 3 of the CSW Broadband Project is a little bit different to the FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) solutions that were predominantly rolled out during Contracts 1 and 2.

‘WBC FTTP’ will be listed under ‘Featured Products’ on the BT Broadband Availability Checker results page, if FTTP is available at your property. For more information on making sense of the results returned from your enquiry, visit our ‘How to use the BT Broadband Availability Checker’ webpage.

Although only around 15% of the UK can currently get a full fibre connection, the number of ISPs offering FTTP packages is gradually increasing. For a full list of all the ISPs who have stated that they offer residential and business packages across the CSW region, please visit our Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) webpage.

Whichever ISP you chose to provide your service, the installation process will be similar to that shown in this short installing full fibre to your property film from Openreach.

 

Typically, you will need to book an appointment for them to come and fit the service. The engineer will run fibre from the nearest distribution point (either over a pole or via underground ducting) to your property. The fibre will then be connected to a small box on the outside wall of your property at ground level.

The fibre will then be run through your wall to the inside of your property, where the engineer will install a small powered wall mounted unit that they will then plug your router into.

They will then typically test your full fibre connection on one of your preferred devices to make sure that the service is working properly and that you can start making the most of your faster and more dependable connection.

Finally, it is worth noting that the ‘WBC FTTP’ product should not to be confused with the far more expensive FTTP on Demand – a separate commercial product offered by BT which is NOT being installed through the CSW Broadband Project.

 

How do I switch to a different broadband provider?

You may wish to transfer broadband for a variety of reasons, such as:

 

  • Poor quality of service
  • You need additional features that your current internet service provider (ISP) does not offer
  • You think the deal you are subscribed to is not providing good value for money
  • You are moving house/business premises

 

First of all, check if the contract period you signed for with your existing supplier has expired. Contracts are generally for either 12, 18 or 24 months. Most contracts require you to give your ISP a month’s notice.

 

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 also important that you check that the new service you wish to sign up to is available in your area. BroadbandUK’s BroadbandProviders.co.uk website is particularly useful for this as it allows consumers to search for broadband providers and packages by their exact address rather than just by postcode area.