For those of you that haven’t found what you’re looking for on our website, we’ve put together answers to the most frequently asked questions we get asked about superfast broadband and the iNorthumberland programme – just click on the relevant question below.

If you still don’t find your answer, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Superfast Broadband - Frequently asked questions

 

What is iNorthumberland?

The iNorthumberland programme is being delivered by Northumberland County Council. The programme is funded by Department for Culture Media and Sport via BDUK, Northumberland County Council and BT. Previous phases of the roll out received additional funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Defra’s Rural Community Broadband Fund .

The first phase of the programme saw fibre broadband delivered to around 90% of homes and businesses in Northumberland by December 2015. The second phase of the programme aims to bring this to 95% by the end of 2017.

The programme team is also working with other suppliers to offer improved broadband speeds to those residents and businesses that are not included in the fibre roll out plan at this stage.

What is superfast broadband?

Superfast broadband refers to a broadband connection with download speeds of 24 Mbps or above. A superfast broadband connection provides a faster and more reliable internet connection, enabling multiple users within a home or business premise to surf the internet, download documents, music and video and stream high definition television – something that many people in Northumberland struggle to do with standard broadband. Superfast broadband also provides higher upload speeds making it easier to send large files, share photos and videos and back up important information in the cloud.

What is fibre broadband?

Whilst most traditional broadband (known as ADSL) is delivered via copper telephone lines, fibre broadband uses fibre optic cable as part of the access link between the customer and the exchange.

Openreach provides fibre broadband 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 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, which are then offered as different service packages by retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

FTTP means fibre-optic cables run from the exchange right to the door of each house or business. It provides wholesale download speeds up to 330Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps, again offered as different service packages by ISPs.

Other fibre broadband providers may also be present in some areas. Within Northumberland Virgin Media and Cybermoor also offer fibre services.

So BT has won the contract to deliver fibre broadband in Northumberland – does this mean I have to use them as my internet service provider?

No. BT Openreach (www.openreach.co.uk) and its contractors are supplying and laying the fibre in the ground but this doesn’t mean you have to use BT as your internet service provider (ISP). You will be able to shop around for the best package to suit your needs from a wide range of providers who have access to the improved fibre network. Please use the ‘How much is it?’ section of our website to see the providers you could use. Please note however that choice of ISP is currently more limited via fibre to the premise (FTTP) services.

When can I get fibre broadband?

BT has installed fibre broadband in parts of the county’s more densely populated areas through their own commercially funded programme which is nearly complete. Using public funding, fibre broadband has been rolled out to ensure approximately 90% of homes and businesses across Northumberland now have access to fibre broadband services, with plans to increase this to 95% by the end of 2017.

If you don’t already have fibre broadband in your area, visit the ‘Can I access it?’ page to find out if your property is due for an upgrade to fibre broadband.

If you’re one of the premises in Northumberland that can connect straightaway, you need to contact your preferred internet Service Provider to place an order for fibre broadband. To ensure you are getting the best deal and to see which providers cover your area visit the ‘How much is it?’ page.

You may also wish to register your interest for Virgin Media‘s fibre services.

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

We’re planning the rollout, 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.

It is 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 update our information as regularly as we can as plans evolve.

Watch the video here for further details.

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

It won’t. 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 premise to install the necessary equipment.

There are several ISPs offering fibre broadband in Northumberland so you can shop around to choose the package that’s best for you. If you are part way through a contract you may wish to contact your existing provider first to see what fibre package they can offer you. If you choose not to upgrade to fibre broadband, you’ll be able to continue using your existing broadband service as normal.

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.

If you have a query that your Internet Service Provider can’t resolve, please email info@inorthumberland.org.uk for local independent advice.

How fast is fibre broadband?

The exact speeds you’ll be able to get will depend on how your property is connected to your local exchange. There are two main ways in which Openreach’s fibre services are delivered – 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 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, which are then offered as different service packages by retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

FTTP means fibre-optic cables run from the exchange right to the door of each house or business. It provides wholesale download speeds up to 330Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps, again offered as different service packages by ISPs.

The exact speed you get depends on a number of additional factors like the length of your line from or green roadside cabinet, the line quality and equipment and internal wiring within your property.

The internet service provider package you select may also affect the speed available. iNorthumberland is working to ensure that everyone gets as fast a speed as possible within their geographical location.

I’m in a fibre-enabled area but can’t get superfast broadband. Why not?

This can be due to one or more different factors.

  1. Your line may be connected to a roadside cabinet that has not yet been upgraded. As we progress through the rollout more and more cabinets will be upgraded. The ‘Can I access it?’ page will give you more information about your area.
  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 to support a superfast broadband connection from your local roadside cabinet. A significant number of these properties will however be able to order a fibre broadband service and benefit from improved broadband speeds up to 24 mbps.
  4. You may be in the approximately 5% of properties where fibre optic broadband won’t be achievable. We’re developing solutions to bring faster broadband to these areas using alternative technologies, including wireless broadband and satellite broadband systems.
  5. There may be capacity issues in your area meaning that new orders cannot be placed at this time. Click here for more details.

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. There are cases where some EO lines may be fibre enabled, for example where an additional cabinet is built close to the exchange. It is not possible to upgrade all EO lines as part of the roll out so use the ‘Can I access it?’ page if you are unsure about the circumstances at your property.

How much does fibre broadband cost?

A fibre broadband package does not necessarily mean you have to pay more, some users actually save money when switching over to fibre 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. The exact cost will depend on a number of factors including the amount of data you use and any additional add-ons you order. It’s worth shopping around to see what packages are available in your area – use the ‘How much is it?’ page to compare providers.

Once I’ve placed my order for fibre broadband how long does it take to be installed and what is involved?

The time taken to install fibre broadband varies among Internet Service Providers. Typically it takes about two weeks for a fibre to the cabinet service, sometimes longer for a fibre to the premise service. An engineer may need to call at your property and install a new modem and you may receive a new router from your Internet Service Provider. In most cases, your other telephone and computer equipment does not need to be replaced.

Who is paying for the roll-out of fibre broadband in Northumberland?

The first phase of the iNorthumberland fibre broadband roll out was a £18.9m project funded by Department of Culture Media and Sport (via BDUK), Northumberland County Council, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and BT.

Fibre roll out in the Rothbury area has been funded by Defra’s Rural Community Broadband Fund and BT.

The second phase of the iNorthumberland fibre broadband roll out is a £4m project funded by Department of Culture Media and Sport (via BDUK), Northumberland County Council and BT.

Further funds have been secured to extend the coverage further.

Where will the funding be spent?

The funding will be spent in areas which commercial providers such as BT do not consider to be viable. These include parts of our larger towns where the existing infrastructure serves a small number of properties (for example business parks, industrial estates and small housing estates) and areas which are difficult to reach, including many of our more rural areas.

The iNorthumberland programme seeks to maximise the coverage of superfast broadband within the county. To achieve this BT is responsible for selecting areas where the maximum value for money can be demonstrated.

What about the homes and businesses that will not be able to get superfast broadband?

Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive to connect several properties in Northumberland. iNorthumberland is looking at other options such as wireless and satellite technology in areas where high speed fibre broadband is not possible. Visit the ‘Can I access it?’ page to see if there is any activity in your area. Alternatively you can register your interest with Virgin Media at the cable my street website.

Can I get involved?

Yes. iNorthumberland is keen that as many residents and businesses as possible are able to benefit from the faster broadband that is being provided. There may be scope 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@inorthumberland.org.uk.

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