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?

We are the lead body for The Connecting Cheshire Partnership, made up of the 4 local authorities across Cheshire – Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington borough councils.

Connecting Cheshire is an award-winning partnership and is one of the best performing broadband delivery projects in the UK. The Partnership was established to deliver faster broadband to areas where it had not been commercially viable to invest previously, in particular our outlying and rural communities. The first three phases of our roll-out have been delivered in partnership with Openreach with almost £20m funding invested to reach an additional 100,000 premises; of which over 90,000 are now able to access superfast, or above speeds.

We are actively sourcing further funding to reach even more premises with faster broadband speeds.

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 is expected to reach around 80% of premises across Cheshire. This covers more urban areas where the higher population and premise density makes it more commercially viable for faster broadband technology such as fibre-optic cables and roadside cabinets to be installed. This has been funded by providers such as BT Openreach and Virgin Media.

Typically the more outlying and rural areas have not been viable for commercial providers to invest in due to the high costs involved and more dispersed premises. These are the primary areas the Connecting Cheshire project has identified for public funding to improve broadband coverage and speeds.

How can I find out more?

If you have any questions, please check all our other Frequently Asked Questions, and News pages which we update regularly.

We regularly update our social media channels with our news:

We also have a number of useful videos about the project here:

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 have planned 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 check if faster broadband is available?

Please use the Openreach Fibre checker website: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband

Will all premises be reached by Connecting Cheshire?

Wherever possible yes, however we cannot guarantee to reach every premise in every area until each network phase 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 blockages in underground ducts and securing 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, but sometimes the costs escalate to such an extent that we have to place the locality under review and assess the value for money guidelines set by our funders. Regrettably this can result in areas being de-scoped from the roll-out.

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

Although over 96% of Cheshire premises can now access Superfast broadband, there are some areas not yet reached. If you are struggling with your broadband, use the OfCom broadband and the Openreach checkers to see what might be available in your area.

For details of government funding schemes to help you secure a faster speed for your home or business, see more here.

We are currently in the process of trying to source additional funding for further Connecting Cheshire roll-out. Once confirmed we will share with our stakeholders and the media.

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

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. we have enabled many EO lines to 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.

Unfortunately EO lines pose additional levels of complexity and cost. If you remain on an EO line, see our broadband funding schemes to help secure a faster speed.

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.

See more on our How to Switch page

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 visit https://www.openreach.com/help-and-support/damage-health-and-safety

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.

FTTP means fibre-optic cables run right to the door of each house or business. It provides wholesale download speeds up to 1,000Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps.

How do I order broadband?

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 any 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.

There are a number of broadband comparison websites to use to compare providers and packages. See more on our How to Switch page.

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 from the telephone exchange 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 1,000Mbps and upload speeds up to 220Mbps.

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. Please liaise with your provider to discuss further.

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

If you are only able to receive Fibre to the Cabinet broadband, FTTC, 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 telephone lines.

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.

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 have focussed 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, this means ‘not yet’ rather than ‘not ever’, please bear with us.

See also the answer to question about the remaining 2%.

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. Using a broadband speed test allows you to test the performance of your broadband connection and contact your provider if you believe you are not receiving the speed you expect. There are a number of free testers available online including: https://www.broadbandspeedtest.org.uk or   http://speedtest.btwholesale.com/

(To use BT tester you must have Adobe Flash installed and enabled on your device.)

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 fulfillment 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 1,000Mbps – 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?

Each Internet Service Provider has a relationship directly with BT Openreach 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.

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.

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. Many online testers are available, see: https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/broadband-test

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. Other items such as printers and digital wireless phones can also affect your wifi signal.

Can’t find the answer to your question?

Email us at info@connectingcheshire.org.uk