Frequently Asked Questions about faster broadband in Woodgreen

Version 1.1 - October 1st

Lots of people have understandably been asking questions about progress on faster broadband for the village (formally known as "Fibre To The Cabinet"), and what to expect once the upgrade is complete. 

Rather than field them all individually, Ed Hollinghurst and myself (Colin Tregenza Dancer) thought it might be a good idea to share answers to the more common questions. As things upgrades progress we1II try to update this list with more information. 

So, on with the questions ....

What work remains to be done, and when will it be finished? 

None! The cabinet went live this afternoon, and orders can now be placed! 

Will I automatically be upgraded? 

No. Your broadband speed will only increase when your line is transferred to the new 

cabinet. For this to happen you will need to place an order for an upgraded service. This could be with your existing Internet Service Provider, or depending on your notice period, could be with an alternative supplier. 

Depending on what phone and TV services you want, it may make sense to get a "package" deal. 

During the upgrade, your broadband modem/router will need to be replaced, and most providers will offer either "self-install" or the option of sending an engineer to do it for you. 

(People more distant from the cabinet should also read the answer to 'Why would I care if my line isn't "SuperFast"?'.) 

If it still uses my existing copper phone line, where does the "fibre" come in? 

Our current broadband runs from Downton exchange, and the long copper lines give slow speeds. The new cabinet provides broadband locally, and is connected to the Internet directly over fibre, hence "Fibre To The Cabinet". This bypasses over 4Km of cable, and even on its own would vastly improve speeds. 

To take advantage of this change, when you upgrade, your phone line will be redirected from the old cabinet to the new cabinet. 

Will my phone number therefore change if I upgrade? 

No. The new cabinet only handles broadband, and your normarphone signal will still go to Downton exchange. Similarly, even if there is a power cut in the village, your phone line will still work as normal. 

What speed might I be able to expect? 

That depends on lots of things, from the length of cable between you and the new cabinet 

(some of our lines go very indirect routes), to the type and quality of wiring in your house. 

As a rough guide, if you currently have broadband over your phone line, then you will hopefully get at least a ten-fold increase in speed. There will also be extra gain on any line currently less than lMbps, meaning pretty much everyone should get at least lOMbps. 

The best indication of likely speed can be had by checking the data held by Open reach. You can do this by going to https://www.btwholesale.com/includes/adsl/main.html and entering your phone number. 

The first two lines show predicted FTTC performance, one assuming no line specific issues, the other including adjustments for the more common types of impairment. 

Don't be surprised if there is quite a variation, because it is only really after a line is upgraded that you can be certain of the speed. 

As Niels Bohr said, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." . 

How does this relate to "Superfast Fibre Broadband"? 

The old exchange-based broadband uses a protocol called ADSL. Even on a very short cable, from exchange to house, this only provides 24Mbps. 

In addition to providing local broadband, the new cabinet 11 uses a faster protocol called 

VDSL. This can offer up to 80Mbps for properties close to the cabinet, and is still better than the best ADSL line out to around 1200m cable length from properties to cabinet. 

All such lines, running at 24Mbps or greater, are therefore termed "SuperFast" to indicate they are better than the best of the previous generation lines. 

Switching to the new cabinet will still significantly increase speeds on lines longer than 1200m, but they won't be termed "SuperFast" if they are less than 24Mbps. 

Why would I care if my line isn't "Superfast"? 

For most of us, any speed increase would be welcome, and even lOMbps would be amazing! 

The one issue with a line not being "SuperFast" relates to ordering your upgrade. 

Most companies describe their fibre broadband packages as "SuperFast", and current advertising rules mean this has to be at least 24Mbps. 

During the process of ordering an upgrade, they will therefore typically check the current Openreach database to see how fast your line is likely to be. If the database suggests it might be less than 24Mbps, the order will often not be accepted. Similarly for lines likely to be only just above 24Mbps, they might require an engineer to check the line, with the order being cancelled if it is too slow. 

Don't panic! 

Most companies will still ultimately accept an order for an upgrade, but you will most likely need to speak to someone on the phone to get a differently branded version of the product which doesn't include the phrase "SuperFast". 

If this happens to you, to avoid disappointment or confusion, ask them to confirm that your line is going to be moved to "Fibre To The Cabinet", and that you are going to be sent a new "VDSL" router or hub. As long as that is the case you should be okay speedwise. 

It is also worth checking pricing, because some ISP charge a premium for non-SuperFast FTTC lines (supposedly because they expect more support load), whilst others offer a discount. 

If I couldn't previously get broadband, will I definitely be able to get it after the cabinet is upgraded? 

We'd love to say yes, but it depends on exactly why you couldn't get it before. If it was just cable length, then you'll probably be okay. If there were other problems (such as a lack of copper wires, meaning you and a neighbour share a pair using a box called a "DACS") then no. 

There are options for cooperative schemes to extend support to the any remaining unsupported areas, but we need to understand the extent of any problems before plans can be made. 

Vicky Eden: 12th Oct 2015 15:13:00

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