Connected Counties Newsletter 20
Wednesday 16th October, 2019
Programme UpdateThe Connected Counties programme is still working hard with Openreach to rollout superfast broadband to residents of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The partnership made nearly 3,000 new superfast connections available in the last three months across the two counties.
Through the Connected Counties Partnership, Buckinghamshire aimed to reach 95% superfast connectivity (24mbps) by December 2019 and has now achieved 95.8%. Both Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire have exceeded this target and continue to work to rollout to the final few percent of premises without superfast broadband.
To see if you can upgrade your home or business to superfast broadband, enter your landline or postcode in the checker at http://www.connectedcounties.org/
If you'd like an update on the position at your address, please drop us a line at email@example.com.
Government voucher schemes for additional Ultrafast funding:
The Government has launched two new voucher schemes.
Eligibility for each scheme depends upon local definitions of rurality which would need to be queried with providers.
Gigabit Voucher Scheme
This scheme is not dependent upon rurality but is dependent upon businesses operating in the local area. This voucher scheme is intended to benefit small and medium sized businesses, as well as local communities alongside these. The scheme forms part of the government’s vision of a Full Fibre Britain by offering the fastest and most reliable speeds available (up to 1000mbps).
Businesses can form group projects with other businesses and also with residents, before choosing a participating supplier in their area to complete the installation. The supplier will be able to claim discount vouchers from BDUK against the cost of the connection. If the cost of the installation is more than the value of the pooled vouchers, the businesses and residents will need to fund the difference.
To ensure that even more people and businesses are able to benefit from the scheme, the maximum amount that can be claimed by a business towards installation is £2500. Residential premises are able to benefit in tandem with businesses from a voucher of up to £500 per residential premise as part of a group project.
Group projects will need to meet the eligibility requirements before work can begin in their area. For a full list of criteria and the terms & conditions of this scheme, please visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/.
If you think your business could benefit from Ultrafast speeds, we would encourage you to contact a supplier to find out more. Please visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/for-residents for more information.
Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme (dependent upon central Government definition of rurality)
This scheme is dependent upon the rurality of the premises in the area, Rural Gigabit vouchers can be claimed by both businesses and residents. They can be used by small businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit-capable connection. Businesses can claim up to £3,500 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme with a voucher worth £1,500 as part of a group project.
Premises in the harder-to-reach places in the UK may be eligible for additional funding. Find out more on the https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/ page.
Please read the terms and conditions for details or for more specific queries, contact your supplier.
Businesses or residents that are eligible for gigabit vouchers can access the scheme through a supplier.
Getting the most out of your existing broadband connection
Our programme is working hard to roll high speed broadband out across Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire and more and more residents can now get access to superfast speeds. The question is: are you getting the most out of the broadband connection that currently comes into your home?
In many ways Wi-Fi is an amazing technology, which allows a huge amount of flexibility to connect devices throughout the home, however it is easily disrupted by environmental factors, such as home wiring, walls and other electrical devices in the home (such as Sky Boxes and Consoles).
As a result you may be able to boost current speeds by making a few simple changes or speaking to your Internet Service Provider.
Even if you cannot already receive Superfast broadband, reviewing the way your equipment is set up could still be hugely beneficial in getting the most out of your existing service, including moving your router or plugging some devices directly into your router.
We always recommend speaking to your current Internet Service Provider before making any major changes. Which? has provided some useful guidance on a number of simple options for improving current speeds. Please visit:
https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/broadband-deals/article/speed-up-slow-broadband for more information.
Fibre to the Premises – What is it/which providers supply it?
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) is the technology that connects you directly to the local telephone exchange, using pure fibre optic cables and bypassing copper completely. This technology allows those with access to purchase broadband packages with speeds of up to 330mbps currently and up to a gigabit in future.
FTTP is not currently available to every home and business across the two counties. However the number is expected to rise gradually over the coming years. As it is still considered a relatively new technology in the UK, the number of broadband providers offering FTTP packages is also currently low. The decision to provide FTTP packages remains solely with broadband suppliers that use Openreach’s wholesale lines, which includes most of the big-name suppliers.
It is understandably frustrating for consumers to be told they have ‘access’ to FTTP only to find out that their current or favoured supplier does not yet provide these packages. A difficult decision therefore has to be made; whether to change supplier for Ultrafast fibre or stay with their current slower speeds.
In recent months, some of the larger Internet Service providers have made positive noises around FTTP including a recent announcement of one looking to provide packages imminently. The more that suppliers feel there is a market for them to provide these packages, the more likely they are to make that move sooner.
If you already have access to Fibre to the Premises but you’re not sure which providers are available in your area, why not search your address on Openreach’s website and if your current provider doesn’t offer the FTTP service in your area then there are likely to be other providers in the area who can offer the service.
St Albans Openreach Full Fibre rollout
There is welcome news for residents of St Albans as Openreach is extending its full fibre network as part of its Fibre First programme.
Openreach is planning a substantial Fibre to the Premise build in St Albans which will offer speeds capable of up to 1 gigabit per second by the end of these works.
If you would like to see what services are already available in the area, then please use our Where and When checker: https://www.connectedcounties.org/#where-when.
Broadband in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire
The Connected Counties programme is scheduled to end with its second contract which will complete its delivery phase in early 2020. In preparation for this, both Buckinghamshire County Council and Hertfordshire County Council are both working with local partners and with central government to understand any future funding opportunities to continue broadband and digital infrastructure rollout.
Following the success of the Connected Counties programme, both counties are now looking at their individual requirements to improve connectivity levels in their areas. As part of this, both Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire have separately applied for funding through the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The fund looked to assist in the deployment of superfast connectivity to rural businesses across the country; and aims to lead a new phase of rollout in the two counties. News on the success of these bids, as well as information regarding procurement, will be made available through each of the council’s websites.
The Connected Counties team as a whole, which has representatives across Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, will continue to work together to share best practice going forward, and will also continue monitoring the first two contracts to ensure that the services remain available for residents and businesses.