Questions and Answers

Got a question?

Hopefully we can answer it below. We’ve put together the questions people asked most when superfast broadband came to their area. From technical stuff to what happens next, we’ve got an answer for you.

Questions
What is Connecting Cheshire?

The Connecting Cheshire Partnership of 4 local authorities across Cheshire is made up of Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington borough councils. The Partnership was established to deliver fibre broadband to areas hitherto outside the commercial deployment of fibre broadband. Our partnership with BT will see an additional 90,000 premises reached with fibre by summer 2017.

For more information on the fibre infrastructure or if you are a Internet Service Provider and wish to access our network please visit:www.openreach.co.uk

The project is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund, BT, BDUK, and 4 local authorities.

What is the difference between the commercial roll-out and the Connecting Cheshire programme?

The ongoing commercial roll-out of fibre broadband funded by commercial companies is expected to reach around 80% of premises across Cheshire. Examples of areas where there is commercial deployment include Crewe, Chester and Warrington, Congleton and Bollington. The remaining 16% coverage will be derived from the Connecting Cheshire project; a partnership between Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington Borough Councils and BT,  to specifically address an intervention area of some 93,000, primarily rural premises across Cheshire that are not commercially viable for providers to service without subsidy. Within this our Phase 1 roll-out has reached over 80,000 and our Phase 2 (Superfast Extension Programme) is expected to reach an additional 10,000 premises by summer 2017.

What is the Superfast Extension Programme?

In order to expand fibre broadband coverage, we’ve secured two new funding streams which will help us to connect even more premises in Cheshire as part of our Phase 2 roll-out. We have been allocated £2.12m from the government’s Broadband Delivery UK’s (BDUK) Superfast Extension Programme (SEP). We’ve also been awarded £643,000 of BDUK funding to reach additional rural premises in some specific areas. Alongside this, we have funding from the four local authorities in the Connecting Cheshire Partnership (Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, Halton Borough and Warrington Borough Councils). The combined £5.7m budget that we have will help us to increase our coverage of Cheshire from the planned 96% up to around 98% by summer 2017.

See more here

Can I get involved?

Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington and Halton Borough Councils are keen that as many residents as possible are able to benefit from the faster broadband that is being provided as part of Connecting Cheshire.

There may be opportunities for you to help in your local community by raising demand for broadband and helping those who have no experience with the internet to start using it.

To discuss what you could do to help please email us at info@connectingcheshire.org.uk

Anything else we can help you to find out?

If you have any questions, please check our Frequently Asked Questions, which we update regularly.

We are also on:

You can also find the latest on our Superfast Extension Programme.

We’re happy to answer any other questions you have about the project. You can contact us at info@connectingcheshire.org.uk. Please remember to include your telephone number and address including postcode to help speed up our response.

How does the programme plan its roll-out?

The aim of the project is to achieve the best ‘future-proof’ broadband coverage for Cheshire.

We’re planning the roll-out, working closely with our partners and participating organisations, taking into account many factors including local demographics and geography, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service.

Unfortunately cost is also a significant factor; we need to balance our investment to reach the most premises against the costs of connecting more dispersed communities further away from the existing infrastructure. We also evaluate the potential speeds we can provide against the cost to ensure more premises can benefit from an increase in speed as possible.

How can I find out when I am likely to get access to the fibre network?

Fibre broadband is being rolled out across Cheshire from now through to summer 2017. Information on when Cheshire residents can order fibre broadband is on the Check Availability page of our website.

Residents are able to check when fibre broadband will be available in their area, if it isn’t already, as well as find out more about the project and the benefits of superfast broadband. If the checker indicates that your home or business is one of the premises in Cheshire that can connect, contact your choice of Internet Service Provider (ISP) to place an order.

Please note that not all of one area will go live on the same day so it’s worth checking the website regularly as information is regularly updated.

What does the colour on your availability map mean?

Our maps provide a high-level overview of the anticipated fibre deployment for Cheshire.

The light green areas on the map depict those locations which have already been, or are due to be upgraded to fibre by a commercial provider.

Dark green areas are those which have already been, or a re due to be upgraded by spring 2016 by Connecting Cheshire.

The orange areas are due to be upgraded to fibre by summer 2017 by Connecting Cheshire

Blue refers to those hard to reach communities across Cheshire that are still under evaluation for fibre upgrade subject to securing further funding.

I’m in an enabled area (marked green on your map) but can’t get fibre broadband. Why not?

If your postcode currently sits within a green area of our map, this area either has already been or will be upgraded as part of the commercial roll-out or Connecting Cheshire’s first phase of fibre deployment.

If a commercial company has confirmed that you aren’t going to receive superfast broadband, we cannot influence or challenge this at present as part of Connecting Cheshire programme.

This can be due to one or more different factors:

1. Not all lines in an exchange are upgraded at the same time. Your line may be connected to a roadside cabinet that has not yet been upgraded to fibre broadband. As we progress through the rollout more and more cabinets will be upgraded.

2. You may be served by what is known as an ‘exchange only’ line that is connected directly to the telephone exchange without an intervening green roadside cabinet. Please see the relevant question about exchange only lines.

3. You may be on a line that is too long from your local roadside cabinet to support a worthwhile fibre broadband connection.

We are working to reach an additional 90,000 homes and businesses with fibre broadband by summer 2017

Where fibre optic cannot be made available we’re also aiming to develop additional solutions to bring faster broadband to more premises using alternative technologies

If I’m in green or orange on your coverage map will I definitely be offered superfast broadband?

Wherever possible yes, however we cannot guarantee to reach every premise in every area until the network is fully built.  Even when it is, there are occasionally reasons why a particular premise may not be connected.

These include the distance from and the quality of the existing infrastructure, objections to planning or highways use or other residents complaining about works or location of new equipment. Our fibre deployment can also be impacted by environmental factors such as underground duct and power availability as well as running into obstacles such as rivers, canals, railways, motorways, major roads and bridges. If additional civil works are involved then time and effort and the cost involved must be considered.  We are doing all we can to ensure that the largest percentage of premises that we plan to reach are in fact delivered.

Why can’t you tell me when my specific area is going live?

The Connecting Cheshire roll-out is a major engineering project and it’s not possible with a programme of this size to plan every area at the same time so some areas will be enabled before others.

We fully understand people’s frustration and the huge importance of fibre broadband so we’ll keep you updated our information regularly as plans evolve. We will strive to provide accurate information and ‘ready for service’ dates that can be met; as our overriding objective is to avoid making promises we can’t deliver on.

What about the estimated number of 2% of homes and businesses that will not be able to get fibre broadband?

The roll-out across the UK has reached over 18 million premises so far with fibre broadband. The roll-out across Cheshire covers 3 principal types:

  • Stage 1 – was BT’s own commercial roll out, where BT themselves invested in taking fibre to 60% of UK premises under our commercial rollout (in Cheshire this equates to 80% coverage).
  • Stage 2 – Through Connecting Cheshire’s investment – we will get to 96% fibre coverage of Cheshire by end of 2015, and where we are not able to reach with fibre, provide a guaranteed minimum speed of 2Mbps by the end of 2016.
  • Stage 3 – For those areas outside the current roll-out under Stage 2, via additional funding, reinvesting any surplus funds and via new technology.

On 25 February 2014 the government announced an additional £250m of funding for counties to create further investment to get to 95% coverage by a target of 2017 of which Cheshire has received a £2.12m allocation. This should help to get Cheshire coverage beyond the roll-out figures we currently see.

If your area is not currently planned to receive fibre broadband under the Connecting Cheshire Programme, this is not because the area was not factored into our plans, or because we did not understand the number of businesses there, but because the conditions of our funding and the obligation of the programme is to deliver faster broadband to the greatest number of people for the budget available. The decisions taken as to where the roll-out extends, were based purely on what is best value, when utilising tax payers’ money. Unfortunately fibre broadband for your area is likely to require significant investment above and beyond the current budget allocation we have.

If you are not currently within the Connecting Cheshire programme, this is unlikely to change until any additional funding is secured and new technology solutions are deployed from 2015. Connecting Cheshire has been seeking sources of additional funding that may enable us to reach even more premises, particularly in our remotest rural areas. We are optimistic that additional funding, combined with the release of alternative fibre technologies will improve that position, and help make sure that under “Stage 3” we could get closer to 100% fibre coverage.

However if there are additional technical or cost challenges that we cannot overcome, we encourage communities to work with us to identify other innovative approaches to solving them and explore alternative options for privately funding the extension of fibre infrastructure outside of the Connecting Cheshire programme and working directly with BT’s Rural Broadband team, or other organisations.

We have some information available on how you can try to improve your broadband speed. [PDF – 198kb]

How did you determine the exact location of the new cabinet?

The Connecting Cheshire programme will reach over 80,000 additional premises (that would not be covered commercially) in mainly outlying and rural communities. Any delays to the installation of cabinets put areas at risk of not receiving fibre broadband through the Connecting Cheshire programme due to the challenging time constraints we have with our European funding. As such the Government has removed much of the ‘red tape’ related to the commissioning of these cabinets to assist in the rapid deployment of fibre networks across the country.

Around 450 new roadside cabinets will be rolled out by Connecting Cheshire. The location chosen for the new green fibre cabinet is determined by a number of factors. BT’s Openreach Planning contractors assess the current location of the green roadside cabinets and wherever possible use the existing infrastructure, if in good condition, to ensure minimal disruption to the local area. If this is not a viable option they then determine a suitable location for the new cabinet taking into account existing utilities’ underground infrastructure such as gas and water mains that cannot be moved, access to power (the new cabinets require electricity to power the new fibre-optic equipment inside), width of footpaths, ease of safe access for Openreach engineers and distance.

Ideally Openreach aim to locate the new cabinet as close as possible to the existing cabinet. The proposed location is then forwarded to the Highways Authority for their review and if there is no objection, the cabinet is stood. It is safe to say that every cabinet requires an element of civils’ activity i.e. in every case a hole is dug for the cabinet base, and in most cases a short trench will be required to pick up the power and network. In most cases the impact to the highway will be minimal, but even when we place the cabinet on soft verges there may be impact to the footway/highway for a short period of time.

I’ve just seen a new green roadside cabinet near my premise, does that mean I can now get fibre?

Connecting Cheshire will be installing around 450 new roadside cabinets as part of our programme to reach over 80,000 additional premises with fibre broadband.

The location chosen for the new green fibre cabinets are determined by a number of factors please see Q&A How did you determine the exact location of the new cabinet?

There is a lot of complex engineering work involved in building our network and within challenging timescales. Openreach engineers plan the network some months in advance of it becoming live so installing the cabinets is often the first and only visible stage in this process.  As a result of this we are looking to install as many cabinets as possible and this may mean there is some delay between a cabinet being stood and it being enabled for fibre while we wait for all the hidden underground work to be connected back to the ‘root and branch’ network.  Delays in the connections for areas preceding your cabinet can also impact on this process.

Some of the problems include blocked underground ducting stopping the new fibre cables from being installed, and problems with working around other underground utilities such as electricity, gas and water. Finally the cabinets have to be tested and connected up to the exchange so that internet service providers can add it to their systems as being live. Please keep checking availability on our website, or register your interest via our website and we will contact you when your cabinet has been upgraded and you can order fibre

I've seen Openreach working in my area. Is this to connect me to fibre?

First of all, if you haven’t already looked, please check the roll-out maps to see what the situation is with regards to fibre broadband in your area, as this might help to see what’s happening.

The Connecting Cheshire project is a significant engineering undertaking for BT, our contracted partners. With over 100 engineers involved, plus sub-contractors and 900 miles of fibre-optic cable being laid to reach more than 80,000 premises during the project (with work carried out within guidelines and protocols set out by our highways and planning authorities). Some of the work will be ‘business as usual’ work, or be outside the Connecting Cheshire roll-out scope, or being carried out over a number of our phased Connecting Cheshire deployments where the technical solutions will vary.

As such, it is very difficult for us to comment on each individual engineering activity and its intended purpose or rationale, but we are happy to feedback on any work or processes that may infringe such regulations or protocols, and will try to ensure that any disruption to traffic or residents is minimised. We would also like to thank our local communities for all their support whilst this work takes place.

My line is connected directly to the exchange. Will I be able to get fibre broadband?

Exchange Only (EO) lines are connected directly to the local telephone exchange rather than passing through a green cabinet that can be upgraded with a fibre broadband connection. These lines are generally very close to the telephone exchange or very remote from it. Some EO lines may be fibre enabled as part of the Connecting Cheshire roll-out, with fibre direct to premises, or where an additional cabinet is built close to the exchange. Where EO lines are within the fibre roll-out, alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite may also be used to provide an uplift in speed. The Big Build video also explains.

Unfortunately EO lines offer additional levels of complexity and cost. For this reason, many of our EO solutions are being planned for the latter part of the programme.

Until the rearrangement of lines or physical upgrade has taken place we are unable to confirm which premises will and won’t be able to get fibre.

When fibre broadband becomes available in my area, will my broadband simply get faster without me taking any action?

No, to get fibre broadband, you’ll need to place an order with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This is because fibre broadband uses a different technology and an engineer may need to visit your premises to install the necessary equipment. You can discuss this with your chosen Internet Service Provider.

We have produced a video about upgrading to fibre broadband.

What kind of speeds can I expect as part of this rollout?

The speeds will vary at different premises, and will depend on time of the day and the variation between the services that different broadband suppliers offer.

The speed will also depend on how your own premises are connected to the fibre network, for example whether it’s from a roadside cabinet or directly from the exchange as well as other factors such as the length of your line from the telephone exchange or green roadside cabinet, the line quality and the equipment and internal wiring within your premises.

The Big Build video will help to explain more.

The exact speeds you’ll be able to get will depend on how your own premises are connected. Most of our roll-out will be “Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC)”. FTTC uses fibre-optic cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet. It then uses existing copper wires to connect the cabinet to homes and businesses. FTTC provides wholesale download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps. Please note Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP.

What about communities who want to consider funding work themselves?

For areas that aren’t currently part of our project, please be assured that we are continuing to seek further funding to help us increase the amount of coverage across Cheshire.

Communities can fund the installation of fibre broadband infrastructure themselves, but it can involve considerable sums of money (in excess of £10,000). However communities who are interested in funding the installation of fibre broadband can find out more from a new BT website. The website is http://www.bt-ngb.com/community-fibre-partnerships. On the website, there are case studies, information and also a “how to get involved” section where communities can register their details and the appropriate people from BT can work with you from there.

However, Connecting Cheshire would reiterate that we continue to explore additional  funding opportunities which may  become available and which could help us to bring fibre broadband to your area. We will keep local areas informed as this progresses.

BT has won the contract – does that mean I have to use them as my Internet Service Provider?

No. A big plus of the Connecting Cheshire approach is that BT’s network is open which means you will have a choice of service provider. You will be able to shop around for the best package to suit your needs from a wide range of providers who will have access to the improved network. There are a range of Internet Service Providers that you can use.

We have produced a video about how to upgrade to fibre broadband.

How can I find out the latest update on the roll-out?

The Connecting Cheshire team will be providing regular updates on our rollout of fibre broadband across the county.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or browse the information on our website for the latest news and register your interest:

Why has the date for my area changed?

Forecast dates are based on whole exchange areas, not individual towns/villages. These dates can move back as well as forwards due to the nature of an engineering build of this complexity and scale.

The forecast dates on the postcode checker are reviewed every quarter, based on predictions of the work due to be completed over each quarter. The dates are adjusted each time a phase of work is completed, so this may not mean your area has been ‘put back’, it’s just another part of the exchange area has been completed.

Can I speed up the rollout in my area by gathering registrations of demand?

The fibre broadband roll-out is not dependent on the number of registrations of interest, although everyone interested should register with us. In some areas this information may help to plan the best technology solution according to the needs of your local community. If this is the case, we will let you know and actively engage with interested members of your community.

You might also be interested in ‘How does the programme plan its roll-out?’

Openreach has been working in my area but haven't put things back as they were. What can I do?

If you are unhappy with work that has been done by Openreach, or want to report health and safety issues or any damage caused, please visitwww.expect.openreach.co.uk/who-to-contact/. Information captured here goes directly to Openreach and will enable them to do all they can to ensure a quick resolution. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this has caused.

What about 3G and 4G?

4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone technology and follows on from 2G and 3G. 2G technology was suitable for making calls and sending text messages while 3G makes it possible to access the internet more effectively through your mobile phone. Wireless technology will increasingly play a part in bringing high-speed broadband to city centres and rural areas alike. Although outside the immediate scope of the Connecting Cheshire project, investment and infrastructure upgrades from wireless telecommunications providers to improve 3G services and make available 4G services is welcomed.

Why am I not included in your phase 2 roll-out plans? What are my options?

The scope of our roll-out has had to take account of many factors including local demographics and geography, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service. Unfortunately cost is also a significant factor; we need to balance our investment to reach the most premises against the costs of connecting more dispersed communities further away from the existing infrastructure. We also evaluate the potential speeds we can provide against the cost to ensure more premises can benefit from an increase in speed as possible.

Nevertheless we are actively seeking sources of additional funding that may enable us to reach even more premises. We remain committed to providing more fibre coverage and are optimistic that additional funding, combined with the release of alternative fibre technologies will improve that position, and help make sure that we can undertake a Stage 3 roll-out which would enable us get closer to 100% fibre coverage.

In cases where there are additional technical or cost challenges that we cannot overcome, we encourage communities to work with us to identify other innovative approaches to reaching them and explore alternative options for privately funding the extension of fibre infrastructure outside of the Connecting Cheshire programme and working directly with BT or other broadband providers.

The satellite subsidy scheme is being launched nationally by Broadband Delivery UK, the government’s broadband delivery authority (BDUK), to provide assistance to those premises outside current fibre roll-out plans and receiving less than 2Mbps currently. We expect that a range of service providers and broadband packages will be available for users to select the most appropriate package to suit their needs and budget. We currently expect this scheme to be up and running by the end of 2015.

What are the timescales for phase 2 roll-out of fibre?

This roll-out will commence later this year and run until summer 2017. Unfortunately at this stage we cannot provide a specific coverage at premise level or timescales for individually cabinets, but once we know the work has almost reached completion we will inform the local community and explain more about the upgrading process.

What is fibre broadband?

Fibre broadband is the new generation of broadband – much faster, more reliable and it uses a different technology. Whilst traditional broadband (known as ADSL) is delivered via copper telephone lines, fibre broadband commonly uses fibre optic cable to link between the customer and the exchange.

Fibre broadband can be delivered in two ways: fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP).

FTTC uses fibre-optic cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet. It then uses copper wires to connect the cabinet to homes and businesses. FTTC provides wholesale download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps.  Our Big Build film explains.

FTTP means fibre-optic cables run right to the door of each house or business. It provides wholesale download speeds up to 330Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps.

From Spring 2013, anyone in an FTTC-enabled area can upgrade to FTTP.  FTTP allows any end-user to have a full fibre connection installed to their home or business premise. There will be a charge for the associated network build and an installation charge – all based on distance from our nearest network nodes. FTTP will allow access to speeds of up to 330Mbit/s downstream and 30Mbit/s upstream.

Enquiries about FTTP should be directed to your ISP. Please note that orders for FTTP will be subject to a detailed local survey and additional connection charges.

What is the process to upgrade to superfast broadband?

We already have had many areas in Cheshire go live with fibre broadband, so first check to see if it’s available using our online checkerswww.connectingcheshire.org.uk/check-availability

If fibre isn’t already live, you can register your interest on our homepage and we will email you once fibre is live in your area. You can also look out for cabinets in your area with “Fibre is Here” sticker.

Once confirmed it’s available, contact your internet service provider to find out if they offer any superfast broadband packages or shop around to find the best deal.

For regular updates and to find out more register your interest or follow us on facebook or twitter and we’ll tell you as and when fibre is available in your area.

We have also produced a video about how to upgrade to fibre broadband.

How much does fibre broadband cost?

Connecting Cheshire is responsible for overseeing the building of the infrastructure for superfast broadband across Cheshire, and not responsible for providing the actual service to your home or business.

There won’t be any charges from Connecting Cheshire.

In order to upgrade to fibre broadband when it’s available in your area, you’ll need to take up a fibre service from an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

There are many fibre broadband providers and package deals of broadband, calls and TV services are now widely available. In most cases such packages may not be much more than you are currently paying for standard broadband. Many customers take the opportunity to review their existing contract for telephone calls at the same time which may mean you end up paying only a little more, if anything at all.

Check out the prices from the Broadband Providers now offering the service in Cheshire.

How fast is fibre broadband?

The exact speeds you’ll be able to get will depend on how your own premises are connected.  There are two main ways in which fibre optic can be used to bring you fibre broadband:

Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP).

FTTC uses fibre-optic cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet. It then uses copper wires to connect the cabinet to homes and businesses. FTTC provides wholesale download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps.

FTTP means fibre-optic cables run right to the door of each house or business. It provides wholesale download speeds up to 330Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps.

The exact speed you get also depends on a number of additional factors like the length of your line from the telephone exchange or green roadside cabinet, the line quality and the equipment and internal wiring within your premises. Connecting Cheshire is working to ensure that everyone gets as fast a speed as possible given their geographical location.

How long does it take to be installed after I place an order and what does installation involve?

The time before installation of fibre broadband varies among Internet Service Providers, typically it takes about two weeks. An engineer might call and install a new modem at your premises and you will receive a new router from your Internet Service Provider. In most cases, your other telephone and computer equipment doesn’t need to be replaced.

Will my connection get faster when I receive superfast broadband, as I am a long way from the exchange?

It is true to say that the further your house or business is from a cabinet, the more difficult it is to provide higher speeds. This does not mean however that this cannot be provided. If broadband is already available in your area, adding the superfast equipment not only shortens the distance the signal has to travel but also is faster than your current broadband signal, so a faster connection will be the result. The connection from the existing cabinet to your premise does not alter, and uses the existing copper lines, so your broadband speed will improve in almost every case.

The exact speed you get also depends on a number of additional factors like the length of your line from the telephone exchange or green roadside cabinet, the line quality and the equipment and internal wiring within your premises. Connecting Cheshire is working to ensure that everyone gets as fast a speed as possible given their geographical location and our ambition is for everyone to have a minimum of 2Mb/s by the end of 2016.

Typically:

  • Within 1.5km of your cabinet you should expect download speeds of 15Mb/s plus*
  • Within 2km – 10Mb/s*
  • Within 3km – 8Mb/s*

*Please note that the underground and overground network rarely runs in straight lines and routes often take many twists and turns’ before arriving at your premise so the straight line distance between you and your cabinet may not necessarily be the true distance the fibre signal has to travel.

In very rural areas some long distances remain. These are a challenge that will require bespoke solutions on a case by case basis. Naturally these are more complicated, take longer and incur greater cost. We are focussing on the areas where we can reach the greatest number of premises with fibre as early as possible. For those areas that are harder to reach, we will be looking at solutions later in our second phase programme – which runs to end of 2017. So for some localities this means ‘not yet’ rather than ‘not ever’, please bear with us.

What are the factors that influence the speed I actually get?

Your broadband speed can be affected by a number of different factors.

Broadly, they fall into three categories –

  • Distance: The further your premises are from the cabinet (if you have a FTTC connection) then the more this will affect your speed. The last part of your connection is over copper wires and the further the internet data has to travel over copper, the more the speeds will be affected. This generally means that for lines more than 1.2 km from the green cabinet, a superfast service will not be achieved.
  • Technology/Your own equipment: There are all kinds of things at your own end that can slow things down and affect the actual speeds you get online. Your computer, your internal wiring, distance from your router, age and specification of your router, whether you are connected by wi-fi or direct cable, even the thickness of your walls and proximity to other electrical equipment… the list goes on and on.
  • Number of users: The number of users that are connected to the internet service provider’s network will also have a direct impact on the speeds you can achieve at any one time.

Speeds advertised by internet service providers are based on a wired connection to your device. This broadband Performance Tester allows you to test the performance of your broadband connection. To use this tester you must have Flash installed and enabled on your device.  http://speedtest.btwholesale.com/

When can I get fibre broadband?

Fibre broadband is being rolled out across Cheshire, with around 80% of premises already able to access a fibre service. Enter your phone number into our line checker to see if you can get it yet. This will also tell you which telephone exchange area you fall within.

If you’re one of the premises in Cheshire that can connect straightaway, contact your choice of Internet Service Provider to place an order. Please note that not all of one area will go live on the same day so it’s worth checking the website regularly as information is regularly updated.

How does it work?

The big build to bring fibre broadband to the UK is complex and it takes some time for a town or telephone exchange area to be upgraded. The broadband many of us have today travels on copper lines from the telephone exchange usually via a green roadside cabinet to your home of business. The first piece of next generation broadband jigsaw is the installation of Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) where fibre optic cable is brought from the telephone exchange building to new green roadside cabinets. From the cabinet it then travels over the existing copper line into your business or home. The majority of the Connecting Cheshire roll-out will use FTTC.

The Big Build video helps to explain.

How do I order fibre broadband?

Once you’ve checked your line to confirm fibre broadband is available, it’s much the same as ordering normal broadband. There are different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offering the service, so you can shop around and choose the best deal for you. We also have a list of ISPs currently offering fibre broadband. In some ISPs might choose not to offer fibre broadband in a particular area, so you might need to check different providers.

We have produced a video about how to upgrade to fibre broadband.

What is Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) and what does it involve?

Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) is one of the new fibre broadband technologies being deployed across the UK. Unlike the more common FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) services FTTP requires a fibre connection to the individual end user premises, rather than just to the nearest “green box” cabinet. FTTP is deployed when the limitations of FTTC – particularly relating to distance from the cabinet – cannot provide superfast broadband. Typically this will be in the most remote areas or where premises are connected directly to the telephone exchange rather than via a cabinet (known as exchange only – EO – lines).

FTTP is offered on a wholesale basis to all Internet Service Providers (ISP) and the price to end users is set by the ISP. Not all service providers offer FTTP based products; however the numbers doing so is expected to increase as the technology is more widely deployed.

When an ISP accepts a customer order the engineering fulfilment is undertaken by BT Openreach. The existing phone line remains and a fibre is connected to the end user premise. FTTP can offer support speeds of up to 330Mbps – although the actual speeds offered will depend on the service provider – and as the existing line remains, existing services can still be accessed. In many cases a fibre can be simply routed from existing underground ducts and telephone poles to the end user. In more complicated circumstances it may require an engineering visit to assess how the connection is made.

The need for a direct fibre connection means lead times are typically longer than for FTTC. In some instances, for example where long fibre runs are needed to reach a premise, specific requirements may incur additional costs on a case by case basis. These costs are published by Openreach and apply to all ISPs. Service Providers are responsible for determining what, if any, costs are passed on to end users.

I am considering changing my internet service provider, will I lose my email address?

There is no definitive answer to your question. It all depends on the broadband provider you’re switching to, and how your existing email account was set up.

Email addresses given to you by your broadband provider such as xxx@btinternet.com or xxx@talktalk.net differ from ones like xxx@hotmail.com orxxx@gmail.com as the latter are not specific to an Interet Service Provider (ISP) and they allow you to access your emails for as long as you choose to keep the account open.

As there is no industry standard in dealing with this issue you will need to speak to your ISP directly to find out if it’s possible to continue using their email account when you decide to switch to a different broadband service.  In some instances, it may be possible to continue using your account for a small fee, in others your account unfortunately will close when you cease your contract.

I'm not getting the broadband speed I was promised, what can I do?

It can be really frustrating if you’ve been promised a great broadband speed by your internet service provider, (ISP) but only to find your broadband is often slow when activated.

Our objective is to deliver superfast broadband to areas of Cheshire that would not otherwise receive it, taking total coverage to 98% of Cheshire.  Once an exchange is live and we have connected a cabinet, the availability of service is then offered to all UK ISPs who then take a commercial decision whether to offer superfast broadband products or not.

The Connecting Cheshire project is concerned with delivery of superfast broadband infrastructure i.e  in most cases fibre to the green roadside cabinets. Once complete, any further issues such as whether or not a fibre product is offered to your premise, what speeds are available and the line quality is an ISP decision and outside our direct influence.  Each ISP has a relationship directly with BT Wholesale through whom provision, maintenance and disconnection of services are maintained.  If you have a complaint about the quality, reliability of or failure of your service this needs to taken up directly with your ISP.  If an engeineering issue is identified, your ISP will then pass this on to Openreach to deal with.

If you are experiencing problems with your service or your broadband speed is slower than advertised, the first step is to complain to your ISP. You should use a broadband speed checking service to see whether you are getting a significantly slower service than you expected.

It can be difficult to pin down the cause of the problem as there are so many factors involved such as  the exchange, the line into your house and the hardware you’re using, like the router.

Check that all these things are working normally and are not contributing factors before contacting your ISP. Also note that it can usually take a couple of weeks for your speed to stabilize after activation and a consistent speed is reached.

My service is intermittent and/or my broadband speed is low, what should I do?

Any questions you have about your broadband service should go straight to your broadband provider; they will be able to check for a fault and, if necessary, request a repair visit on your behalf.

Fibre broadband delivered via BT Openreach Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure is subject to line length limitations. If you live too far away from an upgraded cabinet, you might not be able to get a significantly faster broadband service.

For more information please see our FAQ ‘Will my connection get faster when I receive superfast broadband, as I am a long way from the exchange?’

Can I switch my line to a nearer cabinet?

One of the principal impacts on the fibre roll-out to date has been the need to build the fibre network within the constraints of the existing BT Openreach telephony exchange network that was installed decades ago, long before data transfer was ever conceived.

Unfortunately the network is often not as effective for more dispersed premises, often more complicated and costly to upgrade which has to be considered as part the network upgrade plans.

In terms of ‘reparenting’ (moving from one exchange or cabinet to another) this is a complex process and is rarely undertaken by BT.

What does the term 'superfast broadband' mean?

In the UK, it is generally accepted that ‘superfast’ means speeds of over 24 Mbps and this is the benchmark used by almost every BDUK backed programme.

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) offers superfast services from 24 Mbps to just under 80 Mbps. The actual speed achieved is determined by the distance from the green cabinet to the premises and by the type and quality of the cable.

The vast majority of connections delivered by the Connecting Cheshire programme are FTTC and we’re aiming to reach 98% of homes and businesses in Cheshire with fibre by summer 2017.

How do I find out what speed i am getting?

It is free and very straightforward to carry out a speed test. As speed may vary at different times of the day, it is best to carry out a few tests on different days and vary the time. OFCOM accredited sites include www.broadbandchoices.co.uk and www.broadband.co.uk. If possible you should connect a cable directly to your router to do the test, or if you only have WiFi do the test right next to it. This will give a truer picture of the actual access speed on your line.

If you are not getting the speeds your internet service provider told you toexpect, go back and tell them, so they can help you.

Can’t find the answer to your question?

Email us at info@connectingcheshire.org.uk