Broadband

The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS)

Dorset Council are promoting the Government existing voucher scheme to apply to rural areas with a Dorset top up to help people with poor download speeds. This is explained in the pamphlet available on the link below but essentially is a subsidy of £2,500 per household and £6,000 per business in qualifying areas for a full fibre broadband connection – called Fibre To The Premises (FTTP).

map of the parish showing properties in the parish eligible for the Voucher Scheme
Properties in the Parish eligible for the Voucher Scheme

Note: The green dots in the image indicate premises that should be eligible for a Gigabit Voucher/ Dorset Top Up. This means that the premises are classed as rural (by the Office of National Statistics), currently receive less than 100Mbps and are not in any plans to receive FTTP through state aid funded plans

Terms and Conditions will apply to the provision of the vouchers which are given to the supplier who builds the fibre network on agreement to proceed by individual households and businesses and these must be read very carefully. A fundamental requirement is that In order to qualify for a voucher grant you must take a broadband connection which meets the Scheme rules agreed to by your supplier and a service from that supplier for at least a year. In addition the service must at least double your current broadband speed – this may result in transfer costs and different package costs:

Check your speed now with https://broadbandtest.which.co.uk/

A download speed of 12 to 25 Mbps is OK for two or three internet users who want to stream video or play online games. A speed of 25 Mbps and higher supports four-plus people who surf, play games, stream video and more all at the same time. Although sometimes called ‘superfast’ 30Mbps is not really fast by today’s standards! But it can be considered adequate. It is more than enough to stream video (not live streaming!) With 30 Mbps internet service, you’ll be able to download your favorite song or a file for work within a few seconds.

For live streaming and gaming 10-25 Mbps gives moderate HD streaming, online gaming and downloading with a moderate number of connected devices. 25-40Mbps allows heavy HD streaming, online gaming and downloading with a lot of connected devices. 40+Mbps enables hardcore streaming, gaming, and downloading with an extreme number of connected devices.

Regardless of download speed, or how fast you get the stuff, some ISPs limit how much you can download in terms of Mb. This is quite a useful guide on how to estimate that www.choose.co.uk/guide/broadband-data-usage-limits.html

The Voucher Scheme relies on groups of premises getting together and registering themselves with an installer (currently Openreach or Wessex Internet in our area) and also with Dorset Council. Both will prefer then to work with a nominated point of contact “stakeholder or champion” for each interested group of properties to act as an administrative link. The stakeholder/champion is not responsible for entering into contract with the installer – for Wessex Internet that is down to individual householders and businesses once agreement to proceed has been reached and for Openreach a “legal entity” is required (Parish Council, Community Interest Company, established Company or individual) prepared to contract on behalf of the group and manage any payments due.

www.wessexinternet.com/community-schemes

https://www.wessexinternet.com/faqs

www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/community-fibre-partnerships

In sum – form a group with a nominated point of contact (stakeholder or champion), agree a registered supplier/installer, get a quote for the work then when the group is happy – sign up for a gigabit connection. Steps 2 onward illustrated below then apply

picture illustrating the 6 step process
The process from Dorset Council’s perspective

Waddock and Pallington are already well on their way for installation to about 25 properties and Rogers Hill have a completed installation. Both areas have managed to get enough vouchers together so that there is no cost to any of the premises and both have used Wessex Internet as the installer/supplier.

Turnerspuddle/Throop and Brockhill are struggling to find enough interest to make FTTP cost effective and several have invested in the Home 4G Scheme.

Affpuddle are being targeted by Dorset Council as a qualifying group and are in the process of establishing interest (contact Adam Hallmark email: adhallmark@hotmail.com ). The key issue is finding enough people who want a significant improvement to their broadband in order to collect enough vouchers to completely pay for the infrastructure works and connection. The commitment is to use the service provided by the network supplier and the two contenders at the moment are Openreach and Wessex Internet.

Briantspuddle is mostly served by a fibre enabled cabinet in the centre of the village and households are connected by copper wire from this point. Download speeds are roughly between about 4 and 70 Mbs depending on the distance from the exchange or local cabinet, service provider and package costs, time of day, number of simultaneous users etc. but being under 100 Mbs Briantspuddle qualifies for the Rural Voucher Scheme and therefore this presents an opportunity to improve matters by collective endeavour. The only improvement possible of course is to complete the fibre network to the property either by fibre provided by Openreach from a nearby fibre node (may or may not be a telephone exchange), or a completely separate fibre system provided by another fibre installer – as has been done in Rogers Hill and is happening in Waddock and Pallington with Wessex Internet. Wessex Internet cable will be run underground by trenching and mole work across open fields and Openreach will follow already established telephone routes using trenching, mole work and telegraph poles where necessary.

Campbell de Burgh with help from Peter Talbot has completed a leaflet drop to establish the degree of interest – which must be done by email campbelldeburgh@btinternet.com with name, postal address and landline telphone No by early in the New Year. Campbell will then need someone else to take any interest forward and into contract.

Be aware that there will be a cost to the resident or business whichever supplier is selected:

For Wessex Internet this will be due to changing Internet Service Providers (ISPs – BT, Virgin etc) to Wessex Internet. You may have to deal with early termination charges and change your email address or pay your original ISP for the privilege of keeping it – needs to be looked into and advice is available on the internet or from your ISP. The article from SAGA below seems to cover the email issue quite well:

www.saga.co.uk/magazine/technology/internet/communications/switch-providers-and-keep-your-email

For Openreach there will be an ISP connection charge from the point where Openreach terminates that element of the fibre network appropriate to your premises (usually the telegraph pole that services the property) to bringing a fbre cable into the premises and fitting a domestic fibre terminal box and router plus the cost of a full fibre package.

Other help available for people with broadband speeds of less than 10 Mbs.

If you receive broadband speeds of less than 10Mbps you could be entitled to help from Ofcom’s Universal Service Obligation (USO), run by BT. Unlike the Voucher Scheme this is not a group option.

The USO offers a solution to people who receive less than 10Mbps and in most cases the solution offered would be a Home 4G Hub (this can get you speeds in the region of 30Mbps). When a 4G Hub solution is not suitable the USO can offer a subsidy towards full fibre installation.

What are the pros and cons of Home 4G Broadband?

Pros:
Portable – can be taken anywhere as long as there is a plug
Can be a much faster option over broadband (depending on the package)
More flexible plans available – 1 month through to 24 months
Ideal if you struggle to get fixed line broadband
Cons: 
4G can end up costing more overall than regular broadband
Most plans carry download limits
4G broadband can be patchy in areas making it less reliable

For more information on the USO go to www.bt.com/broadband/USO

In the meantime

and if you are stuck with poor performance then there are things that can be checked:

Looking Way Ahead

There is a proposal by OFCOM to withdraw the copper service from about 2026 as being past its sell by date:

read https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0022/204853/consultation-copper-regulation-withdrawal-conditions.pdf