FAQs

Phase 1 Rollout

I am a Service Provider, what do I do?

We are keen to ensure that broadband service providers are aware of the location of the newly built infrastructure and how to get access to it. Service providers can register with either BT Openreach, in phase one areas, to get this information and Gigaclear & Airband for phase 2 and the National Parks.

I am thinking of buying a house within the CDS programme area, what sort of things should I look out for to ensure that I get a decent broadband supply?

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 broadband connection to the property, we suggest making contact with the estate agent who will decide if you are able to run a check using one of the numerous broadband speed test websites. 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.

If broadband is indicated to not be currently available using one of the methods above, check the CDS website to see if it is within the CDS programme area, and whether there is an expected timetable for connection.

If you are thinking of buying a new build, talk to the developer and ask what they are doing to provide Superfast Broadband to the site. Unfortunately it is unlikely that CDS will be able to provide Superfast Broadband to this development until the next phase of delivery and the responsibility for connection rests with the developer.

What is an EO Line?

EO fed is a term used to describe a premise which is supplied using an Exchange Only line, one which is attached directly to the exchange, i.e. not via a cabinet.  This has an impact on the provision of Superfast Broadband in a number of ways since, to provide service, we need to insert a cabinet, using copper re-arrangement, or provide a Fibre To The Premises solution.

 

My provider has told me that commercial plans already exist for Devon and Somerset. Why doesn’t Connecting Devon and Somerset just leave private companies to rollout the infrastructure?

Various commercial providers have made announcements about locations where they intend to roll out next generation access (primarily fibre broadband).

In areas where commercial rollouts are planned to provide services that meet the aims of Connecting Devon and Somerset we won’t be required to spend any public money. However, commercial plans stand to exclude around 360,000 premises and 26,000 businesses within the 6 local authority areas making up the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme. These premises have no long term commercial plans for upgrade to next generation access and the Connecting Devon and Somerset Programme has been set up to address this.

You can find information about both the Connecting Devon and Somerset and commercial roll out plans on our Where and When map page.

How are you prioritising areas for roll-out? / Can we influence the roll-out schedule?

Given finite funds and resources, as well as the sheer size and complexity of the programme (the largest of its kind in England by some considerable margin with two national parks and large areas of rurality); it is not practical to adjust plans based on anything other than engineering, logistical and technical factors found after detailed surveying.

We have to base the roll-out on the most efficient delivery pathways we can take – such pathways determined by each new run of Openreach’s model, itself informed by the latest survey and in-the-field information.

Inevitably of large consideration will be engineering and planning requirements and constraints. For example, before we can reach the hardest areas we have to ensure the necessary foundations are in place to support the new network. This will involve building out from current infrastructure in order to reach such areas in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

Such a process also means that projections of coverage and delivery timescales can stand to change on the back of survey work and in-the-field factors. Ultimately however, by ensuring the planning process remains dynamic to survey and in-the-field information, we should ensure we remain on time, to budget and to target.

Where there are numerous potential delivery pathways we can take, we may refer to the inputs from our former demand registration survey as evidence of demand to help prioritise areas.

How much will it cost me if I chose to switch to a superfast service available in my area?

The cost of a fibre service will ultimately depend on which internet service provider (ISP) you choose to go with, as well as the tariff/buddle you choose to purchase. To gain an idea of how much a fibre service will cost we would suggest you enquire with a range of ISPs.

I have been told I can get high speed fibre broadband, do I need to do anything?

You will not automatically be connected to the new service. You will need to purchase a new fibre package from an internet service provider (ISP) of choice. Please note that the cost of a superfast service may differ from your current broadband/internet service.

Once your order has gone through, an engineer will install the necessary equipment at your premises.

Is there a chance that despite the rollout of superfast broadband I may not get access to it?

Some locations are so geographically remote that superfast broadband will not be achievable due to technical reasons and/or prohibitive costs. However, we aim to ensure that every part of the programme that currently receives less that 2Mbps gains uplift to speeds between 2-23Mbps.

Is this programme really going to help rural areas?

The Connecting Devon and Somerset programme specifically aims to deliver improved broadband for rural Devon and Somerset. Funding has been awarded on the basis that it must be spent in areas that will not benefit from commercial investment. These areas are predominantly rural.

However, in order to reach the most rural areas in the quickest and most efficient way possible, we have to ensure the necessary backhaul infrastructure (foundations) are in place to support the new network. This will involve building out from current infrastructure in order to reach the most rural areas, whilst at the same time ensuring value for money and the greatest potential overall coverage for the programme as a whole from current funds.

My area has been upgraded by a commercial provider but I cannot receive superfast broadband – will I still benefit from this project?

When commercial providers announce that they are upgrading an area to fibre they do not necessarily upgrade all premises in the locality – usually only those that will provide a return on investment (typically 50-85% of cabinets).

There is also an issue of premises served by direct lines (exchange only lines) that do not pass through a green cabinet at all, and so can miss out on receiving the new superfast service.

Where an area is not receiving a superfast broadband service and there were no commercial plans for next generation access back in 2012 (the areas shown as white on this map) then the area is “in scope” for the Connecting Devon and Somerset project.

What did you do with the results of the survey filled in by residents and businesses?

The survey itself has been influential in building evidence of demand as well as informing the generation of baseline speed data. Where there are multiple potential delivery pathways we can take, we may refer to this survey as evidence of demand, in turn helping to plan our rollout progress. The information within the survey may also help our communications, informing any resident on the list within a newly upgraded area of infrastructure availability.

What improvements can I expect to see?

Faster broadband means more people can work from home, access online services and stay in touch with friends and family across the world (saving them time and money). It also means our businesses can communicate fully with overseas partners and customers, whilst at the same time providing our young people access to essential information for their research projects and homework.

Except in our big population centres (eg Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth and Torbay), access to broadband is very limited. Our project aims to extend the reach of faster broadband to market towns and rural communities, boosting superfast (24Mbps+) coverage to premises within the programme’s footprint.

When you roll out Superfast Broadband can I choose my superfast supplier or will I have to sign up with whoever you appoint?

Our supplier is only responsible for installing infrastructure capable of delivering a high-speed broadband service. Any Internet Service Provider (ISP) can choose to lease this infrastructure on a wholesale basis from Openreach, in order to provide customers with a better broadband service. You will be able to purchase a broadband service from any ISP that has taken up the new infrastructure in your area.

Why do your roll-out maps include details of the commercial roll-out?

We think that it is helpful for our residents and businesses to be able to see plans for the whole area and not just the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme. As such we have worked with infrastructure providers to provide maps that include both CDS and commercial roll-out plans. We hope that you will find this useful.

Will I have to use a new, high speed, broadband service or can I stick with my current broadband package and internet service provider?

If you have been made aware that a high speed broadband service is available in your area it will be up to you whether you wish to purchase this new service or just stick with your current broadband package and internet service provider (ISP).

If you do wish to upgrade, you may be able to keep your existing ISP but you will need to check with them about the options available to you.

Phase 2 Airband (National Parks & Lot 4)

I’ve heard a bit about Airband Wholesale’s network, what is it?

Airband Wholesale are our National Parks and Phase 2 Lot 4 supplier. They are working with us to bring superfast broadband to parts of North Devon, Dartmoor and Exmoor. This will be achieved by building a fixed wireless network that is open to any internet service provider wishing to sell internet services over the network on a wholesale basis.

How does Airband Wholesale deliver broadband?

A small device (smaller than a satellite dish) attached to the outside of your property picks up the broadband from a transmitter on the network. A discreet cable is then run into your house in a similar way to a satellite dish. You can then connect your computer directly, or connect a router as you would do from broadband via your telephone.

Do I need a phone line?

No, you don’t need a phone line to connect to Airband Wholesale’s network. Their network is brought to your home via a small receiver on the outside of your house that picks up a wireless signal.

Can I use more than one device on the Internet at the same time?

Yes, you can connect as many devices at a time via a wireless router. You can buy one online or from suitable high street shops.

Can I use Sky TV?

We are aware that Sky has announced plans to phase out delivery of their TV service over satellite dishes in favor of delivery over domestic broadband services (this includes fixed wireless broadband). You should therefore be able to use Sky TV with Airband Wholesale’s network. However, we advise that you check this before ordering. You will also need to order Sky TV through Sky and not Airband Wholesale.

Please also note that Sky TV is a separate service to Sky Broadband, and as of September 2018, Sky Broadband is not leasing Airband Wholesale’s network. For this reason, you cannot get Sky Broadband over Airband Wholesale’s network.

 

 

Can I use my Playstation or Xbox?

You can use gaming consoles as with any broadband connection. It might be worth bearing in mind that gaming uses high levels of data so you will need to check the data allowance you have purchased.

Can I connect out-buildings?

Your chosen internet service provider should be able to provide a wireless link to connect two or more buildings together.

Isn’t this the same as satellite?

A satellite system bounces a signal up to a satellite in space and then back down to a dish on the side of your house. This results in a far higher latency than fixed wireless technology, as the distances involved are far larger than bouncing a signal to a nearby transmitting mast. For example, satellite latency can be around 500 milliseconds (1/2 second), but fixed wireless is more likely to be around 30 milliseconds or less (a huge difference).  In addition to broadband speed, latency is another key factor in how fast your internet connection actually feels – low latency being good for gaming, video and internet telephone services. More information about the impact of latency can be found here.

How big is the radio on the outside of the house?

It is about the size of a 1 litre milk carton so is much smaller than a satellite dish.

How long will the installation take?

Once an service provider receives your order they will contact you to arrange a date for one of their engineers to visit you and carry out a survey to install.

The time between ordering and survey to install can be up to six weeks depending on how busy engineers are when you place your order. However, during quieter periods an engineer can usually be booked to visit you within a week or two of you placing your order.

Will the engineers need to come inside the house?

Yes, the engineer will need to have access to the inside of your property in order to carry out your installation.

Can I decide where the radio will be put up?

The radio will need to be put up in line of sight to the transmitter in order to get a signal to your property but the installer will discuss this with you before any work is carried out.

Do I need to be home when the installation takes place?

Someone needs to be present when the installation takes place. The engineer will also take a signature (from someone over 18) to ensure that you are happy with the service you’ve received.

Will the engineer set up the router and internal network?

No, suppliers are solely responsible for the internet connection to your property, they are not responsible for your internal network.

Are the waves through which we will receive the internet a health hazard?

There has been considerable research done into this question and all the evidence has shown that there are no links between the radio waves and problems with health. In fact, a study by WHO they found that the body absorbs up to 5 times more of the signal from FM radio and television than from fixed wireless base stations. To find out more visit their report.

Why is my postcode not covered by your data when Airband Wholesale’s network covers my property?

In these cases your postcode is an unintended consequence of the network roll out and you can receive an internet service through Airband Wholesale’s fixed wireless network. You may however have to wait until there is engineering capacity to get connected. This may come after contracted engineering obligations are met.

When delivered, fixed wireless networks can also differ slightly in coverage from plans. It may be that the network was not designed to see you initially but when built you are able to get a service. In other cases your property may be listed as able to receive a service but in reality this is not possible and other options will need to be considered.

How do I know if my house will be covered?

Check your address on the Airband Wholesale website. Some premises are in programme to be built as part of the contract, others will be unintended consequences of the network deployment. Those who are unintended may still be able to get connected, though the time frame for an installation will be dependent on engineering capacity.

Why can’t you connect the whole postcode?

Initial coverage plans are based on sophisticated models. However, models are just interpretations of the real landscape (hills, trees, buildings etc.). For this reason, each install requires an on the ground survey to identify any unknown local features which could block line of sight to Airband Wholesale’s mast (for example unknown trees, buildings etc.). If line of sight cannot be achieved, the premises will not be able to be served unless an alternative site within the grounds of the property can be found that can achieve line of sight to the mast.

How long will it take to get an upgrade?

You will need to check with the service providers offering an internet service in your area over Airband Wholesale’s network. You should be able to find if/which providers are serving your area at the following site: to see when they can fit you into their engineering scheduling. For those properties that are an unintended consequence of the roll out there may be a delay until all the contracted areas have been covered.

Technical Questions

I am located over 1.2km away from the exchange – will this affect my FTTP speed?

No, as FTTP is not distance dependant.

What is Fibre on Demand?

Fibre to the Premise on Demand or FTTPoD will allow wholesale Internet Service Providers to create a connection to a fibre enabled cabinet to a premise, in order to create a fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection. This is a premium service that will come with a significant connection charge and is likely to require a 3 year contract.

Go to www.dslchecker.bt.com, enter your landline number to see if FTTPoD is available to order at your premise or business. You will then need to contact a service provider that offers the FTTPoD product and ask for a quote.

Would I need a phone line if I am on an FTTP contract?

Fibre broadband is delivered separately to a phone line so in engineering terms no, but some contracts from ISPs state you need a phone line. Please speak top your ISP to determine your options.

I have placed an order for FTTP, what next?

An engineer will need to visit to install a fibre tail into your premises together with a box to power the fibre.

I have an existing contract with an ISP and wish to upgrade to FTTP, what should I do?

You may be able to upgrade with your existing Internet Service Provider (ISPs), in some cases ISPs who offer FTTP contracts will write off existing contracts if you take up a new FTTP contract.

If you are switching providers to sign with an ISP who is able to provide a FTTP connection there may be contract implications. Another option is to wait for the existing contract to expire and then move ISPs, which  would involve no contract implications.

I am a Service Provider, what do I do?

We are keen to ensure that broadband service providers are aware of the location of the newly built infrastructure and how to get access to it. Service providers can register with either BT Openreach, in phase one areas, to get this information and Gigaclear & Airband for phase 2 and the National Parks.

What is an EO Line?

EO fed is a term used to describe a premise which is supplied using an Exchange Only line, one which is attached directly to the exchange, i.e. not via a cabinet.  This has an impact on the provision of Superfast Broadband in a number of ways since, to provide service, we need to insert a cabinet, using copper re-arrangement, or provide a Fibre To The Premises solution.

 

How do I find out my current speed?

Do a speed test! We have one here on our website but this is by no means the only one available, or indeed the best speed checker. There is no such thing as the ‘best’ speed checker and it is wise to take the average result from multiple speed checkers at various times of the day. Do a search for broadband speed check and you will find many to choose from.

It is also wise (if possible) to carry out the tests on a wired, rather than wireless connected computer and to ensure that you are the only user accessing the internet on your premises when conducting the test. This is because the number of users on a network, as well as the use of wireless networks can cause large variations in the results which may not reflect your true internet speed.

How do I manage cookies on your website?

We sometimes place small data files on your computer. These are known as cookies and make your overall experience of our website better.

On your first visit to connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk, you’ll be greeted by an introduction message which will ask if you wish to accept cookies.

Our cookies aren’t used to identify you personally. Instead they’re there to make the site work better for you by:

  • Remembering settings (where provided), so you don’t have to keep re-entering them whenever you visit a new page. For example, we set a cookie when you accept the pop up on our map page. This tells us that you have already accepted the pop up and won’t display it the next time you visit the map from the same computer.
  • Measuring how all users are using the website so we can make sure it meets everyone’s needs – again all information collected is anonymous and can’t be used to identify specific individuals.

You can, if you wish, manage/delete these small files manually. To learn more about what cookies are and how to manage them visit AboutCookies.org

I currently pay for a service that says I should get up to 10Mbps but I only get 2Mbps, why is that?

One of the problems with purchasing broadband, especially ADSL broadband delivered over copper, is that your supplier cannot guarantee that you will get a particular speed. There are a number of different factors that affect the speed of your broadband connection. For example, the speed will be reduced by your distance from the telephone exchange, the quality of the line, the number of joints in the wire, and the wiring inside your house. Also, the connection will be made at the Maximum Stable Rate (MSR), which is the highest speed achievable without the line being disconnected or dropped occasionally.

The broadband router can also make a difference, as can your laptop, computer or some of the software you use.

The distance from the telephone exchange is the length of the wiring involved, not the direct distance. A user could be within a stone’s throw of the exchange but too far away for ADSL ( for example, if the exchange is on the other side of a river or railway line). The quality of the line includes what it’s made from – aluminium for example is notoriously slower than copper wiring for ADSL.

In addition to the above factors, your connection may be limited by something called ‘contention’. Broadband and telephone services are supplied on the same basis as other utilities such as water, mains electricity, and roads; all of which assume that not everybody will want to use them at once. If everybody in your town decided to run a bath at the same time, your water supply would soon reduce to a trickle. The same thing will happen if everybody wants to use the internet at the same time.

I’ve heard that the new superfast service will be fibre optic. What does that mean?

The answer to ‘What is Broadband?’ listed in our FAQs explains the different technologies available to deliver superfast broadband. Some involve laying fibre optic cable, but not all.

Connecting Devon and Somerset will predominantly be using Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology to deliver it’s Phase one superfast target. However, some areas will also receive Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) connections – once again, refer to the ‘‘What is Broadband’ FAQ below for further information. For Phase two the majority of delivery under Gigaclear will be Fibre to the Home, bringing ultrafast speeds to properties across the intervention area.

What does download and upload mean?

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 your own. Currently, when it comes to home broadband, advertised download speeds range from 8 Mbps to 100 Mbps, but this is rising at a pretty quick rate and you can expect broadband download speeds to become much faster across the UK over the next few years.

Upload speed on the other hand 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; or even to upload photos to a photo print ordering company’s website. 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 generally do far more downloading than uploading, and as such downloading is given priority by internet service providers (ISPs).

ISPs regulate how their networks deal with the various traffic flows competing to be sent across the ether. Upload speeds become more important to someone who needs to transfer large files from their own computer to another computer in a different geographic area. For example, someone who works from home and wants to exchange files with a remote network, or people who play a lot of online games.

What does Megabits per second mean/what do broadband speeds mean?

Alongside price, speed is one of the key factors people talk about when it comes to choosing broadband. Broadband speed is measured in Megabits per second, commonly written as Mb or Mbps (as in 24Mb or 24Mbps). It essentially means the rate at which data is transferred either from (download) or to (upload) a website. Note that a Megabyte (the unit that most file sizes are measured in), for the reasons described below, is different from a Megabit, and unlike Megabits a Megabyte is commonly written in capital notation (i.e. MB or MBps).

The fundamental unit of digital data is the byte. All digital data is constructed from numerous bytes (much like the fundamental building block of a house may be a brick, but 1000′s of bricks are required to build a house). There are 8 bits in a byte, and as such, 1 Megabit per second (the unit internet speeds are measured in) is 8 times slower than 1 Megabyte per second!

It is therefore important to bare this difference in mind when working out how long a file of a size measured in Megabytes will take to download over an internet connection with a speed measured in Megabits per second.

To put this difference between bits and bytes into context, some key unit terms are defined by their number of bits and bytes in the table below:

Terminology Number of bits Number of bytes
Kilo-bit ~1000 ~125
Kilo-byte ~8,000 ~1,000
Mega-bit ~1,000,000 ~125,000
Mega-byte ~8,000,000 ~1,000,000
Giga-bit ~1,000,000,000 ~125,000,000
Giga-byte ~8,000,000,000 ~1,000,000,000

To put all of the above into the context of how long it would take to download some common file types on a 2 Megabits per second internet connection – if the maximum available speed was applied consistently throughout the download (in reality, for a variety of reasons, your internet speed will vary) then you could expect the files listed below to be downloaded within the following time frames:

File Type Time Taken
Word document (around 50 Kilobytes in size) ~1/5th of a second
Average website, photo or music track (around 2.5 Megabytes in size) ~10 Seconds
Video (around 3 Gigabytes in size) ~3 hours, 20 minutes

In terms of data consumption:

 

  • Streaming 60 minutes of standard definition video over the internet can consume between 50 and 255 Megabytes

Streaming 60 minutes of radio over the internet can consume over 60 Megabytes

What do you mean by superfast broadband?

Across the country there are different interpretations of superfast broadband. For the purposes of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme, we are defining superfast broadband as anything with speeds in excess of 24Mbps for phase one and 30Mbps for phase two, in line with Central Government’s definition.

What is broadband?

Broadband is a term normally considered to be synonymous with a high-speed connection to the internet.

 

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband is available across most of the UK, provided through a standard copper telephone line. ADSL has had several improvements over the years, although not all exchanges have access to such upgrades. ADSL Max gives access to download speeds of up to 8Mbps (most Openreach exchanges now being ADSL Max enabled). ADSL2+ more than doubles the speed of an ADSL Max connection, providing up to 20Mbps through changing the transmission frequency. However, not all exchanges have this technology UK wide.

 

The next step up from ADSL2+ is VDSL (very high bit-rate digital subscriber line). This can deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps over very short distances – far too short to reach the exchange. As such it only works in areas where fibre optic cables have been laid to new cabinets from the exchange, copper then running from the old cabinet to the premises. This type of technology is known as Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and is the predominant technology that our programme will be delivering to achieve its superfast target.

 

Fibre to the Home/Premises (FTTH/FTTP) is another fibre technology that can offer speeds of up to 100Mbps+ – in fact BT and Virgin have both run successful trials of 1Gbps (1 gigabit or 1000 megabit) services. The speeds available with such connections are far higher as there is no copper cable between the exchange and the premises to restrict data transmission through the laws of Physics. However, whilst a lot faster, they are also a lot more expensive to install, primarily due to greater amounts of ducting being required and requirements for wayleaves as well as  further planning issues. For this reason Connecting Devon and Somerset, whilst using FTTP in certain areas, will not be using this extensively to achieve its 90% superfast target.

 

Both FTTH/FTTP have the capacity to receive and send phone calls over the internet using the Voice Over IP (VOIP) protocol. However, in reality, in so far as your telephone service is concerned, you will still require your copper telephone line for your telephone service unless you actively switch to a VOIP service.

What will be the range of technologies used by the programme?

The main technology will be fibre optic broadband, with the majority of premises under phase one served by Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). Some premises in phase one will get Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), while in Gigaclear phase two areas Fibre to the Home will be deployed, and in the National Parks under Airband fixed wireless technologies are being rolled out. See our “What is broadband?” FAQ for further information.

Why is the internet always slow in the evenings?

Speeds are generally slower in the evening because there tends to be more people using the service in the evening than during the day. It’s the equivalent of rush hour first thing in the morning and in the evening that adds a lot of traffic to the roads and this has to be managed by internet service providers to ensure the equivalent of gridlock does not ensue.