What can I do to get fast broadband sooner?

This is a key question which we often get asked and there's no simple answer as each case will be different.

If you are already in an area where commercial plans to build new fibre based networks are confirmed then keep in touch with the provider via their website or customer services about deployment timescales and progress (commercial areas are shown as orange on the When and Where map). If you are in an area where plans are confirmed to be delivered through the Superfast Northamptonshire project then there is nothing you can do to help to bring these plans forward more quickly – the County Council is already working with BT (Openreach) and Gigaclear to deliver the fibre roll out as soon as possible.  However, you can keep checking the Roll Out Schedule ("Coming Soon" sections) and When and Where map for news on progress and subscribe to the website to receive news alerts.

If you are in an area where no plans have yet been confirmed (shown as light blue on the When and Where map) and you do not wish to wait for solutions to come forward through the Superfast Northamptonshire project then there are other options you can consider.  These are a matter of personal or local choice and may or may not work for you or your community depending on your choice, means and motivation.

Whilst the County Council has already secured plans for over 80,500 premises in Northamptonshire working with BT and Gigaclear, of which over three quarters are already able to take up superfast broadband services, there are around 7,700  premises which are still in need of a solution.  This equates to around 2% of all premises in the county.  The County Council is bringing forward further Stage 3 measures to extend plans  towards its full coverage target.  Please see Progress Overview.

If you are in an area where plans have yet to be confirmed then below are some options which you could consider.

There are a number of factors which can affect the speed of your broadband connection. The distance your home is from the telephone exchange, internal wiring, the time of day you go online and the number of people in your home using the internet at the same time, can all play a part in slowing down your connection. The following tips could help bring your connection back up to speed - the last three tips (8-10) apply specifically if you receive your broadband through your telephone line rather than via cable.

Practical tips for improving your broadband speed

The availability of satellite services is pretty much universal. It has some limitations e.g. it can be affected by bad weather or thick tree cover for example and involves some latency but it can provide fairly immediate access to faster broadband services with download speeds currently available of up to 22Mbps. There is a satellite demonstrator video available to view on YouTube which shares the experience of a Northamptonshire farmer taking up a satellite service.

You can compare offers, service costs and availability online by using comparison sites such as Uswitch to find out if satellite suits your faster broadband needs, whether as an interim or longer term solution. Details of some satellite providers are also listed on the Telecoms Providers page (this does not represent an endorsement of any of the companies listed).

There may be some Planning restrictions on the erecting or siting of satellite dishes in Conservation Areas.  If you live in a Conservation Area please contact your Local Planning Authority for advice.

If you suffer from broadband access line speeds of less that 2Mbps you may be eligible to benefit from a new Better Broadband subsidy scheme which was launched in Northamptonshire in December 2015. You can find out more here.

Wireless broadband technology is available in some parts of the county.  Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) internet service providers use specific frequencies of the radio spectrum to transmit their signals through the air (radio waves) and in a similar way to how mobile phone networks operate, doing away with wires.

Where available, wireless broadband could offer an alternative solution to accessing faster broadband.  Subject to contention ratios, price and performance can be preferential to satellite.  Whilst an individual household can order a satellite service, it is likely that a FWA supplier would require several orders in a community to take a service into a new area.  However, if its an area which the supplier already serves then this may not apply. 

You can find out more about known wireless providers operating in the county on the Telecoms Providers page (there may be others).   

Mobile Broadband is a wireless data communication technology that utilises lower frequency radio spectrum (cell networks) and can thus deliver internet access to almost anywhere. The service is usually accessed through a mobile phone (smartphone), USB Modem / Dongle or computer data/adapter card.

Whilst sometimes variable in performance, mobile broadband is another option to consider if you require access to faster broadband services more quickly.  Be sure to shop around for the best deals and to fully understand any data usage caps as there can be costly excessive charges if these are exceeded.  Usage policies are becoming more flexible though.  The average contract period can be at 18-24 months.

If you are in an area where plans to upgrade the broadband network have not yet been confirmed and you can demonstrate a high level of demand from your community for superfast services, you could contact network providers directly or register an interest via their websites. Some examples of sites offered by telecoms providers to register demand are shown below but there may be others:

BT – Register your interest

Gigaclear – Register your interest

Virgin Media – Cable My Street

Virgin Media – Cable My Business

You could investigate with a number of providers whether they would be willing to connect the area commercially on the basis of strong local demand.

With a high level of expected service take up it can sometimes sway the balance towards commercial viability meaning a telecoms provider may consider extending its plans to serve your community. It may also mean that a solution can be delivered relatively quickly. This solution will only be viable in some high demand cases as other factors will inform the commerciality and technical feasibility of a commercial solution and demand alone may not be enough.

Details of some telecoms network providers active in the county are listed on the project website on the 'Telecoms Providers' page. Other providers may also be able to offer a solution. Please also see Newsletter 13.

You can also register your interest in superfast broadband via the County Council's online survey. This information is shared with commercial suppliers

If you are in an area where no plans to upgrade the broadband network have yet been confirmed but there is a high level of local demand and collective motivation, you could take your own steps to secure a solution. You could raise private finance from individuals within the community (crowd funding) and go out to the telecoms market to procure a solution directly. This means using locally-raised private funding to bridge the funding gap and make it commercially attractive for a provider to extend its network to serve the community.

Funding raised by the community needs to be private finance i.e. not involving any public money (including local councillors allowances, community grants from a parish or district council or other public funding sources) otherwise complex EU State Aid Regulations apply which could involve penalties if not adhered to.

A telecoms provider may require evidence of funding availability before providing a solution quotation (whilst not obliging the community to accept a quote offered); this is because modelling and costing a solution has resource implications for the telecoms provider.

BT has launched a Community Fibre Partnership Scheme which is based on the principles of community self-funding. Gigaclear also welcome residents/ villages contacting them about potential for rural community solutions including self dig. Details of other telecoms network providers active in the county are listed on the project website on the 'Telecoms Providers' page. Other providers in the wider UK telecoms market may also be available or interested in investing in Northamptonshire and helping to get your community connected.

CFP enables residents and businesses to come together to pay for a solution with BT.  This is always an option, particularly where a solution for your community has not yet been confirmed. Many communities are now in plans secured through the Superfast Northamptonshire project.   When considering whether CFP is the best route, it is worth checking with the Where and When Map on the superfast Northamptonshire project website at http://www.superfastnorthamptonshire.net/when-and-where/Pages/when-and-where-map.aspx to see whether superfast broadband is planned in your area.

There are also other options which may be of interest, including opportunities with other providers – please see the 'Self Help' FAQ.  You can also find out more on the Telecoms Providers page. You may want to compare options (if any) and costs. 

Be sure to understand the technology being deployed, the speeds this will make available and the delivery timescale. Some premises may benefit more than others. It is therefore important to check with the supplier what is means for your home/business i.e. what speeds will I get and when? This is information which should be available from the supplier. The County Council has no involvement in CFP agreements as they are private funding arrangements between residents and BT.  It is a matter of local choice.   Raising money for CFP should not include public funding as this is subject to regulation. 

If you are in an area where no plans to upgrade the broadband network have yet been confirmed and if members of the community have the right knowledge, skills and motivation, it may be possible to take a DIY approach to deliver a community solution. This could be as an interim or longer term solution for faster broadband. 

A DIY approach would require significant dedication of people's time but there are examples of community projects around the UK where wireless or other solutions have been delivered and operated by skilled and motivated local residents. Tove Valley Broadband in Northamptonshire started this way over 10 years ago and is now investing to upgrade its offer. Please see Newsletter 13 for details of the Tove Valley Broadband story.

If you have decided to take action in your community for a demand led, self funding or DIY approach, then the Superfast Northamptonshire project team would like to hear from you at bigidea@northamptonshire.gov.uk. Your experience could be shared to help others.  The County Council will also try to ensure that the Superfast Northamptonshire project does not ‘overbuild’ your community delivered solution if this has delivered a robust solution to serve the community now and in future years.


If you have decided to take action in your community for a demand led, self funding or DIY approach, then the Superfast Northamptonshire project team would like to hear from you at bigidea@northamptonshire.gov.uk. Your experience could be shared to help others.  The County Council will also try to ensure that the Superfast Northamptonshire project does not ‘overbuild’ your community delivered solution if this has delivered a robust solution to serve the community now and in future years.


 

© 2015 Superfast Northamptonshire