Bringing high-speed fibre broadband to over 96% of homes and businesses in Oxfordshire
by the end of 2018

FAQs

About better broadband for Oxfordshire

 

What is Better Broadband for Oxfordshire?

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a project to bring fibre broadband to over 95% of homes and businesses in the county by the end of 2017.

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a collaboration between Oxfordshire County Council, BDUK and BT, that will boost the local economy by creating and protecting jobs over the next few years. The project will bring significant social and economic benefits to rural areas where broadband access may currently be slow. By stepping in to fill gaps not served commercially, the project will ensure that many more people can get online and take advantage of a wide range of services that some already take for granted.

Making sure that everyone has access to some form of broadband connection will boost business efficiency, streamline and reduce costs for providing the council’s numerous customer services and enrich leisure and social time. Almost everybody will benefit from this major investment. In 2015, further funding was provided by Oxfordshire County Council, BT, BDUK, the Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), three of the district councils (South Oxfordshire, Cherwell, Vale of White Horse) and Oxford City Council.

 

What is fibre broadband?

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

Fibre broadband can be delivered in two ways:

  • Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) uses fibre-optic cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet. It then uses copper wires to connect the cabinet to homes and businesses. It provides wholesale download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps.
  • Fibre to the premise (FTTP) means fibre-optic cables run right to the door of each house or business. It provides wholesale download speeds up to 330Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps.

Use our Postcode Checker Map to see whether you are in an FTTC-enabled area and find out more about getting access to fibre broadband.

 

How fast is fibre broadband?

The exact speeds you'll be able to get will depend on how your own premises are connected. There are two main ways in which fibre optic can be used to bring you fibre broadband:

  • Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) uses fibre-optic cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet. It then uses copper wires to connect the cabinet to homes and businesses. This method provides wholesale download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.
  • Fibre to the premises (FTTP) uses fibre-optic cables that run right to the door of each house or business. It provides wholesale download speeds up to 330Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps.

The exact speed you get also depends on a number of additional factors like the length of your line from the telephone exchange or green roadside cabinet, the line quality and the equipment and internal wiring within your premises. This could explain instances, for example, where two neighbouring houses receive different speeds. Oxfordshire is working to ensure that everyone gets as fast a speed as possible given their geographical location.

What is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and how do I get fibre broadband?

Many homes and businesses in Oxfordshire can already connect to fibre broadband straight away, thanks to commercial plans. Use our postcode checker map to see if you fall into this category.

If you do, the next step is to contact your chosen Internet Service Provider to place an order to connect or upgrade your existing broadband.

The exact speed you receive will depend on a number of additional factors, for example, the length of your line from the telephone exchange or green roadside cabinet; the line quality, the equipment and internal wiring within your premises. This could explain instances, for example, where two neighbouring houses receive different speeds. Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is working to ensure that everyone gets as fast a speed as possible, given their geographical location.

Keeping up to date: If superfast broadband is not currently an option for your home or business, register your details and we'll let you know when it becomes available.

Switching provider: Information from OfCom about switching your provider and how to do it can be found here online.

Please note: Rolling out the new fibre infrastructure through the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme will take time, but by the end of 2017 over 95% of premises in the county will be able to benefit.

How can I find out if my postcode is in the plans?

We have a coverage map which shows planned delivery at the postcode level and we also have a cabinet map which shows the latest delivery information for cabinets included in the programme. 

Both maps are regularly updated with the latest delivery information, but if you have any further queries, please email us at broadband@oxfordshire.gov.uk

When will my cabinet be delivered?

There are number of engineering tasks that need to be completed before a cabinet actually goes live. 

·         DSLAM stood – cabinet physically stood

·         Copper completed – cabinet connected to existing PCP cabinet via a copper connection

  • Reshell required – optional step determined during original survey if the existing PCP cabinet cannot accommodate the new works and requires a reshell      
  • Reshell completed – optional step dependent on outcome of original survey  

·         Blown fibre tubing – fibre tubing brought to the new DSLAM (this can be from kms away)

·         Blown fibre bundle (BFB) – actual fibre is blown through the tubing to connect DSLAM to backhaul network   

·         Light – once BFB is in place a test is done to confirm the signal can travel down the fibre      

·         Power – power needs to be brought to the cabinet

·         Power certified  - the new power supply needs to be independently certified as safe

·         Job packed - all above jobs signed off to standard required   

·         Ready for service – OpenReach at this point reports the cabinet is live for ISPs to use

To explain further the graphic below shows the timeline for delivery of a cabinet, with the tasks outlined above, grouped into 3 distinct, stages; M0, M1 and M2.

So, once the cabinet appears in the village you can appreciate there are still several months of work to be pipelined and completed. If you have any further queries about the progress of a cabinet, please email us at broadband@oxfordshire.gov.uk

What about the estimated 5% of the homes and businesses that will not be able to get fibre broadband?

In areas where fibre broadband is not an option, Better Broadband for Oxfordshire will make use of other broadband technologies such as wireless, satellite and advanced copper.

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

As with all programmes of this size, it’s not possible to plan every area at the same time, so some areas will be enabled before others. As we plan the rollout we’re working closely with our partners and participating organisations to take into account all the factors that may have an impact on the speed of delivery, for example local demographics and geography, planning requirements, existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service.

We understand how frustrating it can be to not get the information you need, so we’ll keep updating our information as often as we can as our plans evolve. Sign up to our newsletter and we'll let you know as soon as we update our information.

 

I'm in an enabled area but can't get fibre broadband. Why?

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 to fibre broadband. As we progress through the rollout more and more cabinets will be upgraded – keep checking our website for updates.

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. Find out more about exchange only lines.

3. You may be on a line that is too long to support a fibre broadband connection from your local roadside cabinet.

4. Your area may have been in a commercial plan when the contract was drawn up (meaning Better Broadband for Oxfordshire could not operate in this area) but these plans may subsequently have been changed.

We’re working hard to upgrade as many premises as possible to fibre broadband, and where fibre optic cannot be made available we’re aiming to develop solutions to bring faster broadband using alternative technologies by the end of 2015.

Sign up to our newsletter to keep informed.

My cabinet is upgraded but my broadband speeds are still low. What can I do?

If your property is too far from the upgraded cabinet you could try Unlimited Faster Broadband from BT. Upgrading a 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 only up to about 1km from the cabinet. Of course, 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.

The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire project aims to bring superfast speeds to as many properties as possible, but if you are connected to a long copper line or have other issues then that is not always possible. BT has now brought out a new product called Unlimited Faster Broadband, which aims to bring speeds of 2-15Mbps to those who are connected to the fibre network but are unable to achieve superfast speeds. This could be a useful stop-gap until you are able to achieve full superfast speeds. For more information read the web site.

 

Can I speed up the rollout in my area by collecting registrations of demand?

The aim of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is to achieve the best long-term broadband coverage for the county. The fibre broadband rollout is not dependent on the number of registrations of interest, and we are not in a position at this time to negotiate coverage areas. However, everyone interested should register with us to be kept informed as soon as new information is available.

My line is connected directly to the exchange. Will I be able to get fibre broadband?

The majority of homes and businesses receive their phone and internet connection from a nearby green cabinet, which is what the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme is upgrading at the moment with fibre broadband. Exchange Only (EO) lines are connected directly to the local telephone exchange and therefore are currently unable to be upgraded.

There are cases where some EO lines may be fibre enabled, for example where an additional cabinet is built close to the exchange. Note that not all EO lines will be on the fibre footprint anyway (outside of the rollout plans), and in those cases alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite may be required to provide an uplift in speed. Watch our video to find out more about how fibre broadband works, and make sure you keep up to date with the latest information.

Why is my area not included?

Because we understand how important fibre broadband is to people and businesses in the county, we instructed BT to base the contract on achieving the maximum coverage possible for the funding available. As such, there were no priorities when the initial modelling of the coverage area was undertaken, to ensure that the contract was solely based on covering as many premises as possible.

In areas where fibre broadband is not an option, Better Broadband for Oxfordshire will make use of other broadband technologies such as wireless, satellite and advanced copper. We're working to make sure at least 2MB/S is available to 100% of the county to order. Keep informed by signing up to our newsletter.

How are you planning the rollout of better broadband in Oxfordshire?

The aim of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is to achieve the best long-term broadband coverage for the county.
As with all programmes of this size, it’s not possible to plan every area at the same time, so some areas will be enabled before others. As we plan the rollout we’re working closely with our partners and participating organisations to take into account all the factors that may have an impact on the speed of delivery, for example local demographics and geography, planning requirements, existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service.

We understand how frustrating it can be to not get the information you need, so we’ll keep updating our information as often as we can as our plans evolve. Sign up to our newsletter and be the first to know when new information is available.

My exchange area is on the county boundary - what does this mean?

The Government is managing this at a national level to ensure fairness and that there are no 'grey areas' that fall through the gaps. On a practical level, this means that the authority in which the exchange lies pays for the infrastructure work to the exchange. If there are premises that are served by this exchange but that lie 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 within their projects, so it may not always be possible to forecast when an area that sits on a boundary will be upgraded. Sign up to our newsletter and you'll be the first to know when areas within our plan are upgraded.

What else can I do to bring superfast broadband to our community?

You could consider Gigaclear as a provider.

Delivered only to rural areas of England, Gigaclear (one of many fast and reliable broadband networks in the UK) claim to deliver better broadband than is available to most towns and cities. With pure fibre broadband, available to their customers, rural communities could potentially benefit from researching Gigaclear’s services, to see if they offer the solutions they need in their particular locality. Visit Gigaclea website for more information.

I live in West Oxon - where can I go for more information

Broadband for West Oxfordshire - If you live or work in West Oxfordshire please visit the Cotswolds Broadband website for answers to your questions about superfast broadband in your district.

What is Fibre to the Premise (FTTP); am I in an enabled area and how do I order it? 

Read our page on how to order FTTP.

What does NGA mean? 

Next Generation Access and 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.

A new green fibre cabinet has been stood, but nothing else appears to be happening? 

There are several engineering tasks that need to be completed before a new fibre cabinet can go live, therefore the ‘standing’ is one of the first tasks required in the build cycle, which on average, can take around 9 months. So it’s not unusual to see a new cabinet stood for some time before it actually goes live.

When the cabinet has been stood, the process will begin to extend the network from the exchange to the fibre cabinet, which may require several kilometres of cable and road closures for traffic management.

There is also the possibly of hitting delays should engineers encounter further issues with survey results of underground ducts or require wayleaves on private land or any other engineering challenges that may occur. The new cabinet would also require a power supply and other electronic equipment to be installed, followed by commissioning and light tests to ensure everything is working correctly - as you can imagine, this is a careful process and can take time.

The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would then be informed of the new upgraded cabinet and would offer upgraded services to their customers. You can tell if the cabinet has gone live and ready to take customer orders by the large sticker declaring that ‘Fibre broadband is here,’ to help raise awareness in the community.

Please note that the upgrade would not happen automatically, therefore as a customer, you would need to contact your ISP to make the upgrade. 

What is meant by State Aid? 

State Aid guidance 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.

The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme were mandated by BDUK, part of the Department of Culture Media and Sport to undertake a review of all postcodes in Oxfordshire. Therefore in 2014, Oxfordshire County Council undertook an Open Market Review that requested network communication operators to advise us of the areas in which they were either currently operating or had credible plans to do so. This was to establish the areas that were deemed to be in market failure and could apply State Aid funding to bring fibre broadband to them. 

How do I apply for the Better basic broadband subsidy scheme?

The Oxfordshire Better Broadband Programme is supporting the national Universal Service Commitment, also known as the Better basic broadband subsidy scheme. The scheme offers residents with broadband connections of less than 2Mbps the opportunity to apply for a subsidy towards the installation and setup of a satellite or fixed wireless broadband solution. In some circumstances, residents can aggregate their subsidies and put the combined funding towards a fixed wireless or fixed line superfast broadband service for the wider community. Find out more and how to apply

My cabinet has been upgraded: What do I do now?

What does the sticker mean on the cabinet?

The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire sticker is only placed onto a cabinet that has been delivered by the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme funding, when it has been fibre enabled. This means that the cabinet has gone live and is now ready to take orders for fibre broadband with your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP). Details of providers can be found on our website.

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 broadband provider (sometimes called an Internet Service Provider or ISP). Even if you already have a contract with a broadband provider, if you would like to access faster speeds you will need to contact them, asking for a faster broadband service – this will not happen automatically. This is because fibre broadband uses a different technology and an engineer will need to visit your premises to install the necessary equipment.

Fibre broadband is affordable, starting from around £16.50 per month for home users and £30 per month for businesses. 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.

There are several broadband providers offering fibre broadband in Oxfordshire so you can shop around and choose the package that’s best for you. And if you choose not to upgrade to fibre broadband, you'll be able to continue using your existing broadband service as normal. Here’s a list of broadband providers that may operate in your area.

 

How will I know when I can place orders with my broadband service providers?

All broadband providers will be officially notified by BT Openreach as soon as the new connections are available. When this happens, our website will automatically update, so keep using our Postcode Checker Map to find out the status of your area. It will then be up to individual broadband providers to decide whether they want to develop packages for customers. A list of providers.

 

How much does fibre broadband cost?

Prices are affordable, starting from around £16.50 per month for home users and £30 per month for businesses, which may not be much more than you are currently paying for standard 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

Check out the prices from the Broadband Providers now offering the service in Oxfordshire.

How long does it take to be installed after I place an order, and what does this involve?

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

When I put my telephone number into the line checker it says this number cannot be found - why?

The BT system can only recognise telephone numbers where BT is the provider of the telephone line. You can use our coverage map to find out the status of your area - not all postcode areas within an exchange area will be enabled at the same time, so please contact your chosen broadband provider to find out whether they are able to offer a package for you yet.

How do I interpret the information from the BT Broadband Availability Checker?

Just above the table you will see your BT telephone number, exchange and cabinet (if you have one). If a cabinet number has not been listed, then you will be on an exchange-only line.

Within the table, 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, therefore 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.

You may also see ‘ADSL 2+’ or ‘ADSL Max.’ This is an older technology that may deliver maximum speeds of 20Mbps but it only uses the old copper network and is therefore not capable of reaching higher speeds; each Internet Service Provider (ISP) usually installs equipment in the local exchange in order to deliver this service.

‘WBC Fixed Rate’ is similar to ‘ADSL’ in that it uses the copper network, but is only available in some parts of the country. This means that 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.’

Get connected – 5 simple steps on how to upgrade to superfast broadband

1. Check that fibre broadband is available in your area

You can do this by using our interactive Coverage Map, Postcode Checker. However, this map is postcode based and therefore not accurate at a premise level, so you may like to use the Availability Checker on our Home Page to search further.

By using the Availability Checker, there are a number of fibre network providers in Oxfordshire. Unfortunately, there is no single point of reference to find out what is available in your area. 

You can enter your address or landline telephone number into the BT Broadband Availability Checker to find out which network cabinet or structure you are served by; it will also inform you of the current speeds available on your landline (this may differ from the speed you experience if it shows that a faster speed is available, but you have not purchased a faster service from your Internet Service Provider (ISP)). 

The BT Availability Checker does not provide information on premises served by other network operators such as Virgin Media, Gigaclear, Village Networks, Sugarnet and Countryside Broadband, so do check the Availability Checkers listed on their websites too.

Please note:

  • to be able to upgrade to a fibre broadband service, the general rule is that you need line speeds of 15Mpbs and above to be available
  • if fibre broadband is available in your area, an upgrade to a faster service would not happen automatically - to get superfast broadband, you must contact your chosen internet service provider and 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.

If you wish to stay with your existing service provider, most will allow you to upgrade your contract to take-up a fibre service, though you may find any remaining time from your existing contract is added to the contract term for your new fibre contract. Ask your internet service provider to confirm whether this is the case before you place an order.

3. Find the right deal for you

There are many internet service providers to choose from, each offering different broadband deals and packages. The County Council cannot offer advice on which internet service provider to choose, however when considering the choices, you may wish to consider:

  • Speed – some broadband 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? If you use more than your limit in any month, it will cost you more money than the package price!
  • 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 – you may save money this way
  • Offers – there are 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 finishes - shop around and choose the best deal for you!

4. Use the Availability Checker on the Home Page of our website

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

You can also visit our Broadband Providers page to find out more about different internet service providers – these are just a sample of the providers out there!

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 (ISP) to place your order, who will then arrange to send an engineer to your home on an agreed installation date to help you get up and running.

Why will some premises get slower than superfast speeds?

We are aiming to deliver superfast to as many areas as possible. However some premises connected to the fibre network may be too far from the cabinet or exchange to receive superfast broadband, but will still be able to receive better broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps – and in many cases much faster.

Why will only some premises in an area (for example, a village) be able to order superfast speeds?

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire will bring fibre broadband to 95% of the county’s homes and businesses by the end of 2017.

Premises connected to the fibre network will be able to access a range of speeds – some will get superfast broadband (more than 24Mbps) and others will be able to get anywhere between 2Mbps and 24Mbps. There will be some areas that cannot be reached by the fibre network so alternative technology solutions will be deployed to ensure that all properties within the project area are able to order a minimum of 2Mbps.

My cabinet is upgraded but my broadband speeds are still low. What can I do?

If your property is too far from the upgraded cabinet you could try Unlimited Faster Broadband from BT. Upgrading a 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 only up to about 1km from the cabinet. Of course, 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.

The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire project aims to bring superfast speeds to as many properties as possible, but if you are connected to a long copper line or have other issues then that is not always possible. BT has now brought out a new product called Unlimited Faster Broadband, which aims to bring speeds of 2-15Mbps to those who are connected to the fibre network but are unable to achieve superfast speeds. This could be a useful stop-gap until you are able to achieve full superfast speeds.  for more information read the web page.

 

I have been told that my cabinet has reached capacity, what does this mean?

When a cabinet is installed BT know how many properties will be connected to it and make an assumption about how many of the available connections will be taken up. If the take-up is higher than anticipated then BT will need to add additional capacity by installing new connection cards into the cabinet. BT Openreach actively monitor each cabinet and will automatically order the new cards, so that in many cases the upgrade will happen before the cabinet reaches capacity. On occasion, however, take-up is not only higher than expected but also happens very quickly, so that the cabinet reaches capacity and there is a short delay before more orders can be taken.

It would not be feasible for the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire Programme to specify a higher capacity in every cabinet just in case it reaches capacity quickly. For one thing, this would add considerably to the cost of cabinets and would result in less overall coverage for the project – with fewer communities having the opportunity to benefit from faster broadband. Upgrades once the cabinet has gone live are carried out by BT Openreach on a “business as usual” basis, and at no cost to our programme. The best thing to do is to ensure that you order the new service as soon as you know that superfast broadband is available in your area.

Are you experiencing some issues with your broadband speed? 

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 (BT, Sky, Talk Talk etc.) in the first instance 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 ISP as patterns of issues will likely cause escalation. 

 

 

Can't find the answer to your question?

Please provide your full postal address and landline telephone number so that we can investigate your enquiry more accurately for you. Email us at broadband@oxfordshire.gov.uk