FAQs

General Questions 

 

What does NGA and State Aid mean?

Next Generation Access

Refers to higher performance technologies than broadband provided over traditional copper networks. NGA is fibre optic and can provide higher download and upload speeds to support access line speeds above 30Mbps. Examples of NGA include Fibre to the Premise (FTTP), Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fixed Wireless Access.

State Aid

Ensures that public funds are only applied to areas that are deemed not commercially viable, i.e. areas where no commercial provider indicated they have plans to operate coverage.

 

What is the Universal Service Obligation (USO)?

On 20 December 2017, government announced that it will continue to develop the regulatory approach to the USO with Ofcom. The implementation is expected to take two years from when government lay the secondary legislation to meet the commitment of giving everyone access to high-speed broadband by 2020. Find out more from the House of Commons Library – USO for Broadband  

The regulatory approach would provide several advantages for the consumer:

  • minimum speed of connection can be increased over time as consumers’ connectivity requirements evolve

  • greater enforcement to help ensure households and businesses get connected

  • maximise the provision of fixed line connections in the hardest to reach areas

  • legal requirement for high-speed broadband to be provided to anyone requesting it, subject to a cost threshold

This will mean that by 2020, all premises with speeds below the target level of 10Mbps will be able to request a speed upgrade, subject to a cost cap proposed at a level of £3,400. Premises unable to be connected within this target will have the option of paying excess costs or alternatively, having a fallback solution such as satellite.

 

Where can I find information about the rollout for West Oxfordshire?

West Oxfordshire District Council and Gigaclear are working in partnership to provide ultrafast, full-fibre broadband to 11,000 rural premises. Visit Gigaclear’s website to find out more – Can I get Gigaclear?

 

Technical 

 

What is fibre broadband and how fast is it?

Fibre broadband is the next generation of broadband - faster, more reliable and uses a different technology. Traditional ADSL broadband is delivered via copper telephone lines, whereas fibre broadband commonly uses fibre optic cable to link between the customer and the exchange. Fibre broadband can be delivered as either Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) or Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP).

‘Very-high-bitrate Digital Subscriber Line’ (VDSL)

An improved version of ADSL technology that provides faster upload and download speeds and is a product available from the Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC). VDSL can be up to five times faster for download and ten times faster for upload speeds. ‘Clean’ VDSL means that the line is in good condition and free from any wiring issues whereas ‘impacted’ refers to a line that could have used an extension and may have wiring issues. ‘Downstream handback threshold,’ refers to your landline connection speeds.

‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’ (ADSL)

Form of DSL connection that uses frequencies on regular, copper telephone lines that aren’t taken up by voice calls. For download and upload speeds, you can receive up to 24Mbps download, however upload speeds could be variable due to the condition of the wires, distance and any noise or interference on the telephone line. ADSL2+ is a newer form of ADSL connection, which is available to those living within 2km of an exchange. ‘Downstream range,’ refers to either the minimum / maximum connection speeds that you can expect to receive from your ADSL connection.

The exact speed that you will receive will depend on the method of how your premise has been connected (FTTC / FTTP) and also additional factors, such as the length of your connection from the telephone exchange to the green, roadside cabinet or even the line quality and equipment to the internal wiring within your premise. This could explain for example, why two neighbouring houses could receive different speeds.

 

What is a 'wayleave?'

A wayleave is required when the installation of a fibre broadband structure or access to power is required on or across privately owned land. The Digital Infrastructure Programme is now delivering to very rural areas, which can become problematic with highways (publicly owned land) being less suitable or not available; this can cause delays. Where the exact location of the required wayleave is known, we do seek assistance with gaining permission to build, but for those remaining problem wayleaves, we may be unable to establish who the landowner is for a variety of different reasons.

 

What does 'live-to-live migration' mean?

When a premise is connected to the fibre-enabled cabinet, but is too far to receive superfast speeds, the solution would be to build a new combined DSLAM and PCP closer to those premises. This then becomes a single cabinet combining the copper telephone lines and the digital fibre connection points, but would presents two challenges:

  1. all internet service providers with customers on the existing (distant) cabinet would need to be advised of the new cabinet being built, so that the necessary update can be installed to the equipment in the serving telephone exchange to ‘recognise’ the new structure
  2. during the actual switchover, telephone lines would need to be physically moved off the ports of the distant cabinet and transitioned onto the correct ports of the new, closer cabinet. Then all routing records would need to be configured to recognise the new topology.

 

How do I interpret the BT Broadband Availability Checker?

Visit BT - Broadband Availability Checker

Just above the table you will see your BT telephone number, exchange and cabinet your premise is connected to. The main area to concentrate on is the ‘Downstream Line Rate,’ which is given in Mbps. If the first item shown on the left-hand side states, ‘FTTC’ then the cabinet serving your postcode has been fibre-enabled and the speeds shown should be 24Mbps or above. If they are below, you have still been connected to the fibre network but you may be too far away from the cabinet to achieve superfast speeds.

‘ADSL 2+’ or ‘ADSL Max’ is an older technology that may deliver maximum speeds of 20Mbps, but only uses the old copper network and is not capable of reaching higher speeds. ‘WBC Fixed Rate’ is similar to ‘ADSL’ in that it uses the copper network but is only available in some parts of the country, which means the supplier will put their equipment further along the network so that it can serve a number of exchanges. The speeds achieved are usually lower than with ‘ADSL.’

‘FTTP on Demand (FoD)’ refers to 'Fibre-to-the-Premise on Demand.’ This is a fibre connection to your premise with speeds up to 330Mbps and would be built to order at a cost to yourself if your premise is already in a Fibre-to-the-Cabinet exchange area and served by FTTC. When you order the service, Openreach will plan and provide details of the cost to install the product to your premise. The outcome would be the same service as WBC FTTP (see below). 

‘WBC FTTP’ refers to ‘Fibre to the Premise,’ which is a fibre optic connection from the exchange directly to your premise. If you are in an FTTP area then there will be information populated in this section of the table, which means that you can order a service now with speeds of up to 1Gbps. ‘WBC’ means, ‘Wholesale Broadband Connect,’ which provides fast, low-cost connectivity. There can be ‘1 stage’ or ‘2 stage’ installation visit/s to the property to get the full fibre service up and running. Those showing as, ‘1 stage,’ will have either: a ‘Customer Splice Point’ (CSP) already installed within the premises as a small grey box or alternatively, the fibre has already been pushed through and connected to the outside wall of the property. Visit Thinkbroadband to find out more – BT Broadband Availability Checker

 

Why will some premises get slower than superfast speeds?

Some premises connected to the fibre network may be too far from the broadband cabinet or exchange to receive superfast broadband, but they will still be able to receive better broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps and in many cases, much faster.

 

Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP)  

 

What is FTTP; can I get it and how do I order it? 

Fibre-to-the-Premise provides a fibre optic connection all the way from the telephone exchange to your premise, whereas traditional fibre broadband (FTTC) is a fibre connection to your local on-street cabinet, then a copper connection from the cabinet to your property. FTTP is a 100% fibre connection, which offers lightning speeds and improves the performance of your internet connection. If you’re in an FTTP enabled area, you can benefit from connection speeds of up to 1000mbps. However, not all Internet Service Providers can offer this service, so you may be informed by yours that this is unavailable. If your provider does not offer this service, you may need to consider changing providers if you wish to access the increased speeds.

Visit our page – Fibre-to-the-Premise

 

Fibre-to -the-Cabinet (FTTC) 

 

Fibre broadband is available in my area - do I need to do anything? 

To get fibre broadband, you'll need to place an order with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you already have a contract with a broadband provider but would like to access faster speeds, you’ll still need to contact them to request a faster broadband service – this will not happen automatically because fibre broadband uses a different technology. Fibre broadband is affordable, starting from around £16.50 per month for home users and £30 per month for businesses. There are several providers offering fibre broadband in Oxfordshire, so you should be able to find a package to suit you. and service as normal. Visit our page – Fibre-to-the-Cabinet providers

 

When can I place an order with my Internet Service Provider?

All broadband providers will be officially notified by Openreach as soon as the new connection is available. When this happens, our website will automatically update and you can check our Coverage Map to see the status for your area. It will then be up to the individual provider to decide whether they want to develop a package for their customers. Visit our page – Fibre-to-the-Cabinet providers

 

How long does it take to be installed after I place an order?

The duration before installation of fibre broadband will vary among Internet Service Providers and typically takes about two weeks. A new router will be posted to you in advance of an engineer calling, who will then install the router and replace the faceplate on your telephone socket.

 

Get connected – 5 simple steps on how to upgrade

1. Check that fibre broadband is available in your area

Visit our interactive Coverage Map to check the status of broadband delivery to your area. You can also enter your address or landline telephone number into the BT Broadband Availability Checker to determine which structure you are connected to and the current speeds available on your landline. The Availability Checker does not provide information on premises served by other network operators such as Virgin Media, Gigaclear etc., so do check the Availability Checkers listed directly on their websites too.

To be able to upgrade to a fibre broadband service, you will generally require line speeds of 15Mpbs and above to be available and note, that the upgrade would not happen automatically. To get superfast broadband, you need to contact your chosen Internet Service Provider to order a fibre broadband package.

2. Are you currently signed-up to a broadband contract?

If fibre broadband is available, you will need to check your current contract for broadband services. Most broadband contracts last between 12-24 months, therefore, you may need to reach the end of your contract before switching broadband providers otherwise a cancellation fee may occur.

3. Find the right deal for you

There are several Internet Service Providers to choose from, each offering different broadband deals and packages. Oxfordshire County Council cannot offer advice on which provider to choose, however you may wish to consider:

  • Speed – some packages cap download / upload speeds in return for a cheaper price
  • Usage – does the package offer unlimited downloads and data usage or can you only download / upload a limited amount each month?
  • Contract – how long is the contract? Depending on the package this means you will be signing up for 12/18/24 months
  • Extras – could you get a better deal by combining your broadband in a package with other services from a single provider such as telephone, mobile and / or TV services
  • Offers – lots of deals out there, some including lower prices for the first few months. Make sure you know what price you will pay once the introductory offer has finished

4. Use price comparison websites to find the best package  

There are lots of comparison websites that allow you to compare broadband services and packages to find the best deal. Some useful links include:

You can also visit our page – Fibre-to-the-Cabinet providers 

5. Place your order

Once you have selected the broadband provider and package of your choice, you will need to get in touch with your Internet Service Provider to place an order, who will then arrange for an engineer to visit your home on an agreed date to get you up and running.

 

My exchange is on the county boundary; can I be connected to a closer cabinet?

The Government is managing exchange areas on county boundaries at a national level to ensure fairness and 'grey coverage areas' that fall through the gaps. The authority in which the exchange is located, would need to pay for the infrastructure work required. If there are premises that are served by this exchange, but are within a neighbouring county, they will still benefit from the infrastructure work and be able to order faster broadband. Please note that different counties are at different stages with their projects, so it may not be possible to forecast when an area that sits on a boundary will be upgraded.  

Unfortunately, you cannot be connected to a closer cabinet due to the historic complexity of the cabling that will connect the premise to the fibre broadband cabinet. The cabling also doesn’t always follow the shortest route or route you may expect, in addition to the fixed distribution points that would serve the premise along the network. When positioning a fibre broadband cabinet, there are many aspects that contribute to its location, such as:

  • vital access to the mains power
  • fibre extension to connect to the broadband cabinet
  • existing distribution points to be included

 

My cabinet has reached capacity, what does this mean?

When a cabinet is installed, Openreach know how many properties will be connected and they also make an assumption regarding how many connections will be taken-up. If the take-up is higher than anticipated, Openreach will need to add additional capacity by installing new connection cards into the cabinet. Openreach actively monitor each cabinet and will automatically order the new cards, so in many cases, the upgrade will happen before the cabinet reaches capacity. On occasion however, take-up may be higher than expected and can also happens very quickly, which means the cabinet will reach capacity quicker and then cause a short delay before new orders can be taken.

 

Coverage Map Related  

 

How do you decide where to upgrade broadband infrastructure in Oxfordshire?

We run an Open Market Review (OMR) with all broadband infrastructure operators to define where they have already built or plan to build broadband infrastructure. Only premises which are not included in these declared coverage plans are eligible for our intervention funding. Following this process, we run a public procurement where operators are required to state how many of the remaining ‘eligible’ premises they will commit to upgrading with the amount of public funding available. We don’t prioritise beyond this, other than for example, the DEFRA funding, which is specified to target rural businesses.

 

When will I get fibre broadband and when will my cabinet be delivered?

Visit our Coverage Map to find out more with the latest delivery plans to your area. There are also a number of engineering tasks that need to be completed before a fibre broadband cabinet is fully delivered:

  • DSLAM stood – fibre cabinet physically stood
  • Copper completed – fibre cabinet connected to existing PCP cabinet via copper connection
    • Re-shell required – optional step determined during original survey if existing PCP cabinet cannot accommodate new works
    • Re-shell completed – optional step dependent on outcome of original survey  
  • Blown fibre tubing – fibre tubing brought to new DSLAM (can be kms away)
  • Blown fibre bundle – actual fibre blown through tubing to connect DSLAM to backhaul network   
  • Light – when blown fibre bundle is in place, a test can be done to confirm signals can travel along the fibre      
  • Power – power needs to be brought to the fibre cabinet
  • Power certified – new power supply needs to be independently certified as safe
  • Job packed - all jobs above signed-off to required standard  
  • Ready for service – Openreach report cabinet as live for Internet Service Providers

There is also a timeline for delivery of a fibre broadband cabinet, which includes the tasks as outlined above across three stages: M0, M1 and M2.

 

Experiencing Issues  

 

Issues with your broadband service or speed?

Is your broadband service much slower than it used to be; problems connecting or is there a fault on your phone line? Although no-one can guarantee an entirely fault-free service, your provider should be working hard to maintain the level of service they promised. The guide below explains some solutions and includes advice to help you identify the cause of the fault and report them to your provider, in addition to their expected level of support.

Slow speeds - are you using cable or wireless?

Rather than using Wi-Fi, try using an ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router; an ethernet cable should give you a faster and more reliable connection.

Talk to your Internet Service Provider (ISP)

If you are experiencing a problem with your connection, try contacting your service provider first, as they should be able to help you identify the problem and how to fix it. Also, it is important to regularly log issues with your provider as patterns of issues will likely cause escalation. 

Have you made any recent changes? 

Simple changes around your home can sometimes affect the speed of your broadband connection. These can include:

  • Putting in a telephone extension lead or changing your wiring

Extension leads can cause interference, which lower your speed. If you have to use an extension lead, use a new, high quality cable with the shortest possible length. Tangled and coiled cables can also affect speeds.

  • Microfilters

Little white boxes that split the phone and broadband signals, so that they don't affect one another; they should be plugged into every phone socket in use in your home. If you don’t have these, contact customer services via your Internet Service Provider and ask them to send you some for each phone socket

  • Adding new electrical devices

Halogen lamps, electrical dimmer switches, stereo or computer speakers, fairy lights, TVs, monitors and AC power cords have all been known to affect routers. Keep your router as far away as possible from other electrical devices as well as those which emit wireless signals, such as cordless phones, baby monitors etc.

  • Moving your router off the floor

Try placing your router on a table or shelf rather than on the floor. Reducing the number of obstacles between your router and computer will provide a better wireless range

  • Carrying out building work

Increasing the number or thickness of walls between the router and the devices that you use, could also affect your broadband speeds.

 

If you believe any of the above could be the cause of your issue, contact your Internet Service Provider as they should be able to offer advice on how to improve your service. If the broadband speeds you receive are significantly below the original estimate that your provider gave you, there may be some protection for you under the Voluntary Code of Practice that covers most Internet Service Providers. 

Is the problem with the network or the equipment?

Sometimes it can be the equipment your service provider has provide or the software loaded onto it. Older routers for example, can cause connection problems and may need to be upgraded to the latest model or require a software update. If you think there might be a problem with your router, contact your provider. Be aware, some providers may charge you for a replacement, so check first. Your provider may be able to diagnose any technical problem by accessing your router remotely. This often removes the need to send out an engineer and they may ask you to:

(i) connect your computer directly to the phone line using an ethernet cable, which should provide a faster, more reliable connection and would help to establish whether there is a line fault

(ii) carry out line speed tests to see what speed you are actually receiving

Also try to use different devices to see if you experience the same problem with each. If the problem seems to be affecting one more than the rest, check you have the latest security software installed as computer viruses and malware can slow device performance.

Is the problem affecting others?

It may be more widespread than just your phone/broadband connection. Most providers offer a ‘service’ or ‘status’ checker either online or through an app, listing known, major network problems. This information should also be available by phone, either via an automated message or from your provider’s customer service team. Often this information will tell you when the problem is expected to be fixed. If your problem is not listed, contact your provider as they may not be aware of it yet. If you have been without the level of service you were promised, you may be able to claim compensation or some other form of redress - see below:

Who is responsible for fixing the fault?

Your contract is with your Internet Service Provider - they are responsible for ensuring faults are fixed and for keeping you informed of progress.

What if my provider doesn’t own the network?

Even if someone else (such as Openreach) manages the network through which your service is provided, you only need to deal with your provider. Your provider may need to arrange for an engineer to visit your property to carryout checks. This person could be from your own provider or Openreach. If your provider needs to send out an engineer they should tell you in advance, if they charge for such visits and if so, when you might be expected to pay and how much (e.g. if the fault is found to be with your equipment). Not all providers charge for engineer visits. If you were promised an engineer visit and they didn’t turn up, complain to your provider as they may offer compensation. If you need to change the appointment time, let your provider know as quickly as you can.

How long should I wait for a repair?

In most cases, your provider should be able to establish reasonably quickly, what has gone wrong and if it is a network service issue; tell you how and when it will be fixed. If they are not the owner of the network, they will need to liaise with that company on your behalf. Ask your provider how they will keep you informed on progress. This may be through their customer services team, a service app or by registering for fault update alerts which some providers offer. Give your provider a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem. Some companies offer a priority fault repair service for customers who depend on the telephone because of ill-health or disability and have an urgent need for a repair. If you haven’t got this priority fault service but would like to, contact your provider to discuss getting this set up.

 

Can I complain about my poor broadband service?

If your provider fails to repair a fault by when they say they will or you are unhappy with how long it is taking, you should follow their formal complaints procedure. Details should be available through their website or customer services. If your problem is still unresolved after eight weeks you can submit your complaint to an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. If your problem cannot be resolved, ask your provider for a ‘deadlock’ letter so that you can refer your dispute to the relevant ADR scheme directly before the eight week mark.

Ofcom has approved two ADR schemes – CISAS and Ombudsman Services:

(i) Communications

Your provider will tell you which scheme it is a member of or you can use our ADR checker. Most providers offer a range of ways to contact them about a fault. These include via phone, online, a webchat facility or through a service app.

(ii) Contacting your provider

Contact your provider as soon as possible and try to describe the fault as best you can. Talk through the checks you have already carried out and explain how the issue is affecting your use of the service. You may need to explain:

  • the times of day the problem occurs,
  • how long the service is affected,
  • if the problem is continual or intermittent
  • for broadband, whether it only happens when you carry out more data-heavy activities like downloading films etc.

If possible, send your provider a log of the interruptions to your service and the length of time each interruption lasted.

 

Can I get money back for on-going poor broadband services?

Ofcom is the regulator for communications services, which identified that Telecoms companies had not always provided the standard of quality as expected from the increasing needs of their customers. As a result, Ofcom proposed a step-change in telecoms service for quality to landline and broadband customers who had experienced for example, slow repairs, missed deadlines or appointments or even delays with the start of a new service, to enable them to get money back from their provider without having to ask. Find out more – read the full article on the Ofcom website

 

My cabinet has been upgraded but my speeds are still low. What can I do?

An upgraded fibre cabinet may not solve the broadband speed problems of everyone that is attached to that cabinet. When a new cabinet is installed to bring superfast broadband to a village, it is connected with fibre back to the exchange or other point. The new cabinet is then connected to the existing copper cabinet and the final delivery of the broadband is made through the existing copper (or aluminium) network. However, broadband speeds decrease significantly over copper (or aluminium) cabling and are considered to be effective up to about 1km from the cabinet. There are exceptions to this and some properties a little further away may achieve excellent speeds whilst others quite close to the cabinet, may experience difficulties.

 

Can't find the answer to your question?

Contact the Digital Infrastructure Team to assist: broadband@oxfordshire.gov.uk