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Connected Counties Newsletter 21

Friday 14th February, 2020

Quarterly progress update

The programme has made close to 100,000 additional connections available across Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire and still working hard with Openreach to rollout superfast broadband to residents of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The partnership has made close to another 1,500 new superfast connections available since our last Newsletter.

Bucks and Herts rank first nationally in terms of take-up of superfast services provided by Contract 1 of the Connected Counties programme for the second quarter in a row, with over 71% of available services being taken up. With regards to Contract 2, this is slightly lower, but it is still in the top third of contracts and following the same trajectory as Contract 1. Please note that this contract commenced later than some of the other contracts across the United Kingdom which see a higher take-up.

To see if you can upgrade your home or business to superfast broadband, enter your landline or postcode in the checker at www.connectedcounties.org

If you'd like an update on the position at your address, please drop us a line at info@connectedcounties.org.  

Ongoing plans in Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire County Council has recently contracted Openreach to deliver more than 500 additional superfast premises across East Hertfordshire as part of a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) funded rollout, which will include providing access to an additional 215 business premises in the county.

We’re also continuing to look at other options for extending Super and Ultra-Fast connections to other parts of the county beyond the Connected Counties programme and would hope to be able to share news of these shortly.

Hertfordshire is also exploring additional options to further extend coverage beyond the Connected Counties programme.

Bucks Procurement

The team in Buckinghamshire are currently investigating different options to increase broadband and digital connectivity across the county. They are in procurement for a new contract to focus on delivering superfast connections to rural businesses across the county funded from a grant from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This in turn will help provide superfast connectivity to the rural communities surrounding those businesses due to the ability to connect to the fibre cables that will have been laid. The contract aims to go live in Spring 2020 and we will provide further updates as procurement progresses.

What speed do I need for streaming?

The Connected Counties programme has targeted bringing as many homes and businesses as possible above the UK Superfast target, and although it is not yet possible to reach everyone, we wanted to talk about the requirements for one of its uses.

There are, of course, lots of uses for high speed broadband, but one of the most popular are streaming TV and music services such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon Prime, with more new services available all the time. The connections made available via the programme (in some instances up to 330 mbps) should make viewing these services online a far smoother experience.

BBC iPlayer recommends a speed of at least 1.5 megabits per second (mbps) for its standard service, and 2.8mbps for High Definition (HD) quality streaming. This is slightly higher for Netflix, where the minimum speed required is 0.5 mbps with about 3mbps for Standard Definition (SD) streaming and around 5mbps for HD. For the Netflix or Amazon 4K services (Ultra HD) a speed of 25mbps is recommended and for music streaming, speeds of between 0.16 and 0.9 mbps are required, which are well within the capability of the Connected Counties enabled connections.

This means that less than a fifth of a superfast connection is required for viewing an HD movie on Netflix or the BBC.

Watching movies and streaming TV *

Service

Needed for non HD

HD

Ultra HD

BBC iPlayer

1.5 Mbps

2.8 Mbps

Not available

Netflix

3 Mbps

5 Mbps

25 Mbps

Amazon Prime Video

0.9 Mbps

3.5 Mbps

25 Mbps

YouTube

2.5 Mbps

4 Mbps

15 Mbps

Streaming audio and music videos *

Music is similar to TV and movies in that different services require different speeds.  

Service

Minimum internet speed (Normal quality)

Spotify (Mobile)

0.96 Mbps

Spotify (Desktop)

0.160 Mbps

Google Play Music

0.320 Mbps

Apple Music (iTunes)

0.256 Mbps

Amazon Music Unlimited

0.5 Mbps

* Source: https://www.comparethemarket.com/broadband/content/broadband-for-streaming/

To give the above speeds a little context, less than 0.5% of Buckinghamshire residents now have access to broadband speeds lower than 2mbps, and less than 0.25% of Hertfordshire residents.

Of course, there are other factors which can affect the quality of service available but the Connected Counties programme continues to work to increase the availability of broadband services across the two counties. 

National Coverage story

National Superfast coverage is now over 96% nationally.

The Connected Counties programme has resulted in the availability of speeds of over 96% in Buckinghamshire and 97% in Hertfordshire.

https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2020/01/2019-h2-uk-superfast-broadband-covers-96-5-as-fttp-on-11.html

Please note: you have do have to order one of these services from an Internet Service provider in order to benefit from the upgraded service, although often prices will be comparable to non-Superfast services.

Universal Service Obligation

 Ofcom are currently going through a consultation in the Universal Service Obligation (USO) proposal, which will see residents and businesses able to request an improved broadband connection if they are unable to receive 10mbps download and 1mbps upload speeds from 20th March 2020. Under the current plan the USO could be delivered by either a fixed line (e.g. Fibre-to-the-Cabinet or Fibre-to-the-Premise) or fixed wireless broadband (e.g. a 4G network).


The request will be made directly to the designated service providers, BT (and KCOM for the Hull area), in which they have 30 days to check and confirm whether the consumer is eligible and aim to connect the consumer within 12 months if they are eligible. In order to make the informed decision they will check that the consumer’s location:
•    Is a home or business;
•    Has no access to existing decent, affordable broadband;
•    Will not be covered by a public scheme in the next 12 months; and
•    Will not cost more than £3,400 to connect (as set in the legislation). When the cost is more than £3,400 the consumer will have the choice to pay the excess cost of installing a USO connection or use an alternative technology, such as satellite, outside the USO scheme.

Residents and businesses who only have access to a service priced over £45 per month will also have the right to request a USO connection.

Please note that there is no guarantee that the speeds offered through this will be any higher than 10mbps and so may not actually be a superfast connection. Further information is available on the Ofcom website and you can find the June 2019 statement here. When more information is released we will include it in future newsletters.


Bringing BETTER broadband to homes
& businesses across Bucks and Herts