FAQs – your most asked questions in one place
How to supercharge your broadband
Frustrated with slow broadband speeds? If we’ve not yet reached your area with superfast fibre, you might be able eek a few extra ‘bits’ of speed from your existing connection by following our top 10 tips.
1 – Check your speed
Do a free speed test. There are loads of free online tools which you can use. See below a selection of OFCOM approved speed checkers :
What is Superfast Leicestershire?
Superfast Leicestershire is a project to bring superfast broadband to as many premises in Leicestershire as possible. We expect that more than 72,000 additional premises will be able to receive high speed broadband with a minimum speed of at least 24Mbps.
In addition to our commitment to extend superfast broadband, our contract with BT will ensure all premises have access to at least 2Mbps. We are exploring how we can deliver superfast broadband into these areas.
Everyone within Leicestershire can benefit from this project as it helps to grow Leicestershire’s economy over the coming years; we anticipate that our investment in super-fast broadband could generate £92m of economic growth by 2021.We’ll work with local communities as well as help small businesses to adopt technologies and grow.
Leicestershire County Council has invested £5.4m in the project. £1.1m has been allocated by the district and borough councils, with an additional £6.5 million coming from Government and £1.2 million from the European Union Development Fund. The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership has allocated £2 million from its Local Growth Fund and BT is also contributing £11.4 million towards the overall cost of the Superfast Leicestershire deployment.
How fast is superfast fibre broadband?
The exact superfast broadband speeds available to you will depend on where you live or work and how it is connected. Superfast fibre broadband, as deployed by BT, can currently be delivered in two ways:
Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC)
The fibre optic cabling runs from, or through, the telephone exchange to a local cabinet (the green boxes which you may have noticed by the side of the road). Copper wires are then used to run between the cabinet and your premises. This combination of fibre optic and copper can deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps for downloads.
Fibre to the premises (FTTP)
At the cutting edge of superfast broadband technology, this is when fibre optic cable runs directly from the exchange right into your premises. Fibre to premises can deliver download speeds of up to 330Mbps.
The exact speed of your superfast broadband also depends on a number of additional factors: the length of your line from the green cabinet, the line quality and the equipment and internal wiring within your premises. Superfast Leicestershire is working to ensure that everyone gets as fast a speed as possible given their geographical location.
To understand how superfast fibre broadband works please watch this video.
When can I get superfast fibre broadband?
It depends. Some areas can already receive superfast broadband delivered commercially by BT or Virgin Media. Superfast fibre broadband through our project is being rolled out across Leicestershire from summer 2014 until 2018. The engineers can’t be everywhere at once so it will be a phased approach across the county, you can check Openreach’s map to see when it is expected in your area, and you can put your phone number into our line checker to see if you can get it yet.
Why should I buy superfast fibre broadband?
Superfast fibre broadband will transform the way you live, work and play; boosting the economy, enabling businesses to work more effectively and bringing online entertainment to life. So whether you’re a business off the beaten track which needs faster speeds, you’re a family which needs to be online at the same time or you want to catch up with your best friend who lives on the other side of the world then fibre broadband can make your world superfast. We are going to be increasingly dependent on broadband and digital technologies in the future.
How do I order superfast fibre broadband?
Once you’ve checked your line to confirm if superfast fibre broadband is available to you, it’s much the same as ordering normal broadband. There are different broadband providers offering the service, so you can shop around and choose the best deal for you. Read our top tips of what to consider when looking for a new provider.
Then, when you’ve decided which provider to go with, contact them directly to place your order.
When superfast fibre broadband becomes available in my area, will my broadband simply get faster without me taking any action?
No. To get superfast fibre broadband, you’ll need to place an order with a provider who offers this service. This is because superfast fibre broadband uses a different technology and an engineer will need to visit your home or business to install the necessary equipment.
If you choose not to upgrade to superfast fibre broadband, you’ll be able to continue using your existing broadband service as normal.
How much does superfast fibre broadband cost?
Prices start from around £20 per month for home users and £30 for a business service, which may not be much more than you are currently paying for standard broadband. It may actually cost less than you think.
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, it’s best to shop around though to get the best deal for you. If the status of your area is currently “work in progress” it may be a good idea to not tie yourself into a long contract which you can’t get out of when superfast fibre is available to you.
My service is intermittent and/or my broadband speed is slow, what should I do?
Any questions you have about your current broadband services should go straight to your broadband provider. Superfast fibre broadband won’t change the broadband you currently receive, but once it’s available in your area it does mean you can upgrade to it.
I’m in an enabled area but I cannot get superfast fibre broadband, why not?
If your property is in a superfast broadband enabled area on our map, but you’ve had no joy with your broadband provider, there may be a number of factors stopping you from accessing superfast fibre broadband:
- Your line may be connected to a roadside cabinet that has not yet been upgraded to superfast broadband. More and more cabinets are being upgraded each month. Check back on our line checker regularly so you know when your cabinet has been upgraded.
- Your line may be too far away from the roadside cabinet to support superfast fibre broadband. Where superfast fibre broadband is not available, Superfast Leicestershire is developing alternative solutions to improve connection speeds.
My line is connected directly to the exchange. Will I be able to get superfast broadband?
Most homes and businesses have a green cabinet somewhere nearby which provides the phone and internet connection. Exchange Only (EO) lines do not go through a green box and are connected directly to the local telephone exchange. Usually they are either very close or very far away from the telephone exchange. Leicestershire has a high proportion of EO lines.
BT is planning to undertake improvements to its network to enable EO lines to benefit from superfast broadband. This will require the installation of new cabinets and the rerouting of existing cables.
I’m not in an enabled area, is there anything I can do?
Don’t lose heart if it doesn’t look like we are deploying to you yet. Engineering plans and delivery timescales do depend on factors such as planning applications, the provision of electricity to the new roadside cabinets and even the good old British weather. BT announce a new batch of areas every three months. Yours could well be amongst the list of areas in the next release, so please check our website regularly.
What about the premises in Leicestershire that won’t be able to get superfast fibre broadband?
We fully understand people’s frustration and the huge importance of superfast fibre broadband so we’ll update our website regularly as plans evolve. Please note that not all of one area will go live on the same day so it’s worth checking the website frequently as information is regularly updated.
Leicestershire includes many remote areas where homes and businesses are very scattered, which means although almost 97% will benefit from superfast fibre broadband, we just can’t get it to everyone at the moment.
Why is local government investing in superfast broadband at a time when it is making significant budget cuts?
Local government in Leicestershire, including the county council, district and borough councils and the city council, is investing £5.1m to increase superfast broadband coverage. This is at a time when the County Council has to make significant budget cuts. Making investment decisions are not easy but due to the research we have already carried out we believe that superfast broadband is critical for the future growth and prosperity of Leicestershire’s communities and businesses. It is estimated, for example, that public investment in broadband could generate economic growth of £92m by 2021, hence why we think this is such an important investment for the people of Leicestershire’s future.
My area has gone live, what does this mean?
This means that the new green cabinet which has been located in your area, has now been connected with fibre and is ready to receive orders. BT operate an “Open Access” network which means superfast broadband packages can be received through a number of providers. The “Open Access” network ensures that the consumer can get the best deal to suit their personal or work needs. Now the cabinet is live, customers are required to upgrade their packages or change their communications provider. Residents and businesses are advised to shop around to get the best deal. For more hints and tips visit our choosing your broadband provider page
I have been told there are blockages in my area, does this mean the fibre will take even longer?
Unfortunately yes – the blockages occur in ducts which are usually located along the side of roads in the verges, many of which have been unused for a number of years. Over time, they can become blocked by tree roots and moving silt within the ground. Sometimes farmers can, by accident, dig through these ducts which also cause a blockage from the movement in the ground. The fibre is literally blown by machines through the ducts and it is only then, that the blockages are discovered. We have one cabinet where up to 40 blockages across several kilometres have been discovered, each one needs to be mended in order to proceed. If the location of the blockage is close by utility lines or private land, permissions are required from the necessary parties and the highways agency is informed. When a situation like this occurs, where a number of people are involved, the fibre laying process can be extended for some time. The Superfast Leicestershire team provide regular project updates detailing the main issues that we are having in certain areas.
The opposite side of the road is connected so why aren’t I?
The number of households that can be connected to one single cabinet is limited. Some communities may be attached to more than one cabinet which may give more capacity. In order to provide “Best Value for Money” for taxpayers, when BT were modelling how many properties the £28 million Superfast Leicestershire project could cover, the cabinets with higher numbers of premises attached to them were higher up on the list . This explains why one side of the street can be covered but the other isn’t. This happens a lot more frequently in towns such as Loughborough – where one single cabinet will serve a number of roads in a neighbourhood.
Can I speed up the roll-out in my area by gathering registrations of demand?
The Superfast Leicestershire fibre broadband rollout plan is not dependent on the number of registrations of interest received. It’s therefore important not to confuse it with any previous registration campaigns which companies like BT have undertaken (for example their “Race to Infinity” competition).
The aim of the Superfast Leicestershire programme is to achieve the best long-term broadband coverage for the county. We’re planning the roll out, working closely with our partners and participating organisations, taking into account many factors including local demographics and geography, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service. It’s not possible with a programme of this size to plan every area at the same time so some areas will be enabled before others. We fully understand people’s frustration and the huge importance of fibre broadband and we will keep you regularly updated as our plans evolve.
I haven’t changed my broadband package, but since the local cabinet was upgraded to fibre my connection has deteriorated – why is this?
When the new fibre cabinet is installed, the fibre spine brings superfast broadband to that cabinet. However, the copper lines connected to the existing cabinet are still used for the “last mile” between the old cabinet and the premise. Unfortunately, copper connections are very susceptible to electromagnetic interference, this is known as “crosstalk”. This particularly occurs when copper lines are in close proximity to each other, for instance in the multicore cables connecting a group of premises to the original copper cabinet.
When a cabinet is upgraded to fibre, the change in modulation introduced by the new technology may create more crosstalk and this can occasionally result in a slow-down in broadband connections.
BT are trialling solutions to this problem for the new technology and this solution may improve existing connections. We hope to see this implemented in our area in the future. If you are interested in the technical side of this, you may be interested in reading more about it here.
Why does my broadband run slower at different times of the day?
There are several reasons why the speed you get from your broadband varies:
Is more than one person using your internet connection at certain times?
- For example, if you have a home network and your son is downloading a movie, your daughter is playing an online game on her X-Box all whilst you’re browsing the web, you will notice a drop in internet connection speed.
Are you using the connection at a peak time of day (such as evening)?
- General volume of traffic on the internet as a whole at peak times (national and international usage) will cause slower traffic.
- As most broadband connections are shared with others, your peak time usage is likely to coincide with their use too.
This is known as the “contention ratio”. A typical consumer contention ratio is 50:1, which means you share the circuit with up to 49 other users. If all these users decide to use the internet at the same peak time, the speed for all will be slower. Generally, if you are a heavy broadband user, choosing a service with a smaller contention ratio would be a better option for you.
- If your internet service provider (ISP) determines that you are a very heavy user, they may restrict your speed at certain times of day.
This is called “throttling” or “traffic shaping”. It is used by some ISPs to ensure that all their customers have their fair share of broadband access. Although you may have an unlimited download package, this technique would probably be covered by the ISP’s Fair Usage policy. Only a very small number of users would fall into this category – normally less than 0.1% of customers.
I am a service provider, what do I do?
We are keen to ensure that broadband service providers are aware of the location of the newly built infrastructure and how to get access to it. Service providers can register with BT Openreach via their website to get this information.
What sort of speeds can I realistically expect if I’m able to get fibre as a result of the project?
Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connection speeds will vary depending on a number of factors but could reach up to 80Mbps. Fibre to the presmises (FTTP) connections are all capable of 330Mbps but your service provider may offer a range of packages to suit different needs. Factors impacting the final speed attained at a particular premise connected by FTTC include the distance from the street cabinet, the geography, and the wiring within your home or business.