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Connected Counties

Welcome to Connected Counties

Bucks and Herts have teamed up to increase fibre broadband coverage in the two counties.

We’ve worked with BT to achieve county-wide fibre coverage of 90 per cent by the end of March 2016 and we are striving to extend broadband coverage across the two counties even further.

Where and when - can I get superfast fibre?

Our Check Availability page will let you know if your premise is in the rollout plans. Just enter your details into the Postcode and Line checker and find out if the programme rollout.

FAQs - Questions & Answers

If you can't find the information you are looking for then please contact us below.

+When can I get fibre broadband?

Visit the our website to access a map and postcode checker which will be updated during the programme giving more detail about when the service will be available, and a map showing planned additional coverage in Herts.

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 constantly updated.

+What is the Connected Counties programme?

Connected Counties is a partnership between Hertfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire's Local Enterprise Partnership, Buckinghamshire County Council and BT, focused upon extending fibre broadband coverage to hard-to-reach areas of the county. This superfast broadband infrastructure means residents and businesses have fast and reliable upload and download speeds and can access a wide range of online services.

We recently successfully delivered the first stage of the programme and we are now looking to extend fibre broadband even further.

+BT has won the contracts – does that mean I have to use them as my internet service provider?

No, the contract award is only for BT to supply the wholesale infrastructure for better broadband. The network installed will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis, and it will be possible to purchase the new retail fibre service through any provider.

+Why are you providing some people with 2Mbps, this isn’t superfast?

The Government has made a commitment to provide universal access to standard broadband so we are aiming to ensure that everyone in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire has access to a minimum of 2 Mbps broadband speeds (fast enough to watch BBC iPlayer).

Please click here for more information on the Better Broadband scheme.

+What is fibre broadband?

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

+What is superfast broadband?

There is no single agreed definition. The European Union (EU) in its published Digital Agenda defines superfast broadband as speeds of 30Mbps and above. Ofcom and the UK Government have recently increased their definition from >24Mbps to >30Mbps whilst Broadband Delivery UK’s (BDUK) states: “speeds of 30Mbps or in any event more than 24Mbps.”

+How does the programme plan its rollout?

The aim of the two county council’s and BT is to achieve the best possible long-term broadband coverage across Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire for the resources available and guarantee value for money through planning the most technically efficient rollout. In addition the Local Enterprise Partnerships have provided some additional funding to prioritise some areas which will benefit local businesses.

This takes into account many factors including, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service.

It is not possible to plan every area at the same time so some areas will be enabled before others.

 

+Is it possible to speed up rollout to my area?

No, the programme is not identifying specific locations for upgrade first as this would create technical constraints which could lead to less coverage and speed uplift across Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

The rollout is the most technically efficient and therefore most cost effective plan possible. If we were to change the planned rollout to prioritise a particular community, this would mean the overall costs would rise. As we have a limited budget, we would have to remove some other planned communities to cover these increased costs, and therefore we would not achieve the best Value For Money overall.

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

This is a significant network infrastructure programme, so we are taking a phased approach to planning. The detailed planning process will take place in phases during the current programme rollout happening now until March 2016 and as our plans evolve we will update our website with the latest information.

This detailed planning process looks at the positioning of the new roadside cabinets, and identifies whether planning is required as well as how electricity can be provided to the new cabinets.

We will be extending fibre coverage beyond our current programme rollout and will update our rollout information to reflect this once further planned phases have been identified.

+What are the plans for people not included in the fibre rollout?

Superfast broadband solutions have yet to be secured for some areas, either commercially or through the publicly funded plans which the Connected Counties programme has secured to date with BT. If your area isn't currently included in the Connected Counties Programme there is a number of alternatives that can significantly improve your current speed or provide a connection while you wait.

Broadband via mobile

Mobile broadband is often available in areas outside the Connected Counties Programme. It is provided through mobile telephony network and doesn't require a landline. The strength of the connection will depend on the strength of the signal in your area. To see the availability visit Ofcom's mobile coverage checkers.

Mobile broadband offers a flexible alternative that can be accessed with a number of devices, including mobile phones, mobile dongles, MiFi units and data cards. In most cases mobile dongles, which work as portable modems are USB-compatible and plug directly into the laptop, PC or device. Thanks to that you can access Internet wherever the network is available, both in your home and on the go.

Connections via 3G/4G

As 3G network and the improved 4G coverage in rural areas of Bucks and Herts expands, it might often present a viable alternative as a fast home broadband solution. A connection to a mobile network might be achieved by installing an antenna on the roof or simply switching on a router in the living room, achieving speeds up to 60Mb on the fastest 4G connections.

In areas closer to mobile masts even simpler solutions such as wireless dongles might enable residents with a reliable connections and an opportunity to connect up to 10 devices.

However, it is worth mentioning that as with all radio-based systems, 3G and 4G services may be affected by a number of local factors, such as building materials, tree cover and weather conditions.

When using this technology make sure to choose a tariff that will allow you comfortable browsing without exceeding capped limits, as the charges outside the allowance might be costly.

Better Broadband Scheme

The Government has made a commitment to provide every home and business in the UK with access to a basic broadband service so that browsing the web and keeping in touch with families and friends is easier.

A subsidised broadband installation is now available if you cannot access an affordable broadband service with a speed of at least 2 Mb per second.

You can check whether superfast broadband is available to you using the GoSuperfast checker and what your current broadband speed is using the ADSL availability checker.

Please click here for more information.

Additional alternatives:

Fixed line broadband

Wireless broadband:

Satellite broadband:

+Can I get the 2Mbps upgrade now? Why must I wait?

Please click here for details of the Better Broadband Scheme to find out more details about the upgrade.

+I am a retail Internet Service Provider and want to sell fibre broadband, what do I do?

We are keen to ensure that broadband service providers are aware of the location of the newly built infrastructure and how to get access to it. Service providers can contact BT Openreach via the website (www.openreach.co.uk) to get this information.

+A new green fibre cabinet has been put up in my community. Why is it taking so long for it to go live?

The ‘standing’ of a new fibre cabinet can often be very early in the whole cycle of works which needs to happen to plan and build a new fibre network and get it ready for service. The whole build cycle can take on average around 9 months for a Fibre to the Cabinet solution (can be less or more), and is usually longer for Fibre to the Premise.

+What broadband technologies are being used?

Plans with BT are largely based on Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology, with Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) also being deployed in some localities.

FTTC brings fibre out from the telephone exchange and closer to the premise via the installation of a new fibre cabinet supporting download speeds of up to 80Mbps for those located closest to it. Many premises served by FTTC will be able to access superfast broadband services. For those that don’t benefit from a cabinet upgrade, it is expected that solutions will continue to be sought..

Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) is much more costly to deliver because it involves laying new fibre all the way from the telephone exchange to a premise, which means more civil engineering works, but it can support much higher speeds. Some internet service providers offer up to 1000Mbps (1 Gigabit) services over FTTP. Other telecoms providers as well as BT use and specialise in these and other types of technology.

More basic services can be provided by wireless and satellite broadband when other technologies are not available.

+I know that there is fibre in the road/verge outside my house. Why can't BT use that to provide me with superfast broadband?

In many cases it may be the result of a core fibre spine. This is similar to a motorway style scenario, where you can only get on and off a motorway at certain junctions. It is equally not possible to link into the fibre network just anywhere. Fibre networks may also be owned and run by different telecoms providers.

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

It won't happen automatically. To get fibre broadband, you'll need to place an order with an internet service provider. This is because fibre broadband uses a different technology and an engineer will need to visit your premises to install the necessary equipment.

There are several internet service providers offering fibre broadband in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire so you can shop around and choose the package that’s best for you. If you choose not to upgrade to fibre broadband, you'll be able to continue using your existing broadband service as normal, which will continue to be provided over the existing copper network.

Once you've checked your line to confirm fibre broadband is available, it's much the same as ordering normal broadband. There are a range of different internet service providers offering the service, so you can shop around and choose the best deal for you.

Prices are affordable, many customers (residential and business) can 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.

Further information is available here.

To discuss the best fibre deals, call 0800 988 1455

+How do I find out what my current broadband speed is?

You can either contact your current internet service provider and ask them, or carry out an online test yourself using the BT wholesale speed checker.

There are also lots of websites which have a broadband speed checker service. Some suggestions are below:

+I live in a BT exchange area which covers areas outside Bucks/Herts. How does this affect me?

Cross-border cabs have been identified. You should contact your local programme to find out if they have more information.

+Is there anything I can do to improve my current broadband speed?

Yes. As a first point of call you should speak to your current internet service provider to ask if they can do anything to improve the speed you can access.

+Data Disclaimer

The Connected Counties programme status information provided by the Postcode and Line Checker and all other pages on the website is subject to change as the project progresses.

Register your interest in fibre broadband

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Connected Counties website relaunch

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The Connected Counties Programme has relaunched its website to provide a more user friendly source of information for residents about the progress being made when rolling out access to fibre broadband across Bucks and Herts.

The rollout in Herts is underway and the Connected Counties Project team is working on shaping the delivery plan for the second phase in the roll out of superfast broadband across Bucks.
Completion of work across the programme for contract 2 roll-out is scheduled for the summer of 2018.

The aim of the Connected Counties programme is to achieve the best possible long-term broadband coverage across the two counties with the resources available at the same time as guaranteeing value for money. This is done through planning the most technically efficient rollout and ensuring that public funds are only be spent in areas where there is no existing or planned fibre service delivery by any commercial supplier. It also takes into account many factors including the existing engineering infrastructure; local geography, planning requirements, and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service.

In the meantime, we’d love to know what you think of the changes to the website. Please email us at info@connectedcounties.org if you have any comments.

If you can get it here's what to do next!

Bringing BETTER broadband to homes
& businesses across Bucks and Herts