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How do I order fibre broadband?

Once you've checked your line to confirm fibre broadband is available, it's much the same as ordering normal broadband. There are different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offering the service, so you can shop around and choose the best deal for you. 

What is Fastershire?

Fastershire is a partnership between Gloucestershire County Council and Herefordshire Council to bring faster broadband to the two counties, with funding from central government’s Broadband Delivery UK matched by the local authorities. 

  • Phase 1 of the project, in partnership with BT, will see the majority of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire having access to fibre broadband, with all premises in the project area being able to access a minimum of 2Mbps.
  • Phase 2 of the project will extend fibre coverage further across the county. The Cotswolds is the first area to move into phase 2, with a contract awarded to Gigaclear which will make ultrafast speeds available to over 6,500 of the most difficult to reach rural homes and businesses. 

The ultimate aim is that by 2018 there will be access to fast broadband for all who need it. More information on the rollout can be found in our broadband strategy, please click here

Fastershire is not just about technology. The project also includes social and digital inclusion activities, and an extensive 'Business Support' programme, designed to help small and medium size businesses get the most from fibre broadband and be more competitive. In fact, it is expected that Fastershire will help to boost the local economy by £420m over the next ten years.

Fastershire will revolutionise the way that people of all ages across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire work, learn and play, and will benefit generations to come.

What is fibre broadband?

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

Fibre broadband can be delivered in two ways: fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premise (FTTP).

FTTC uses fibre-optic cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet. It then uses existing copper wires to connect the cabinet to homes and businesses. FTTC provides wholesale download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps, which are then offered as different service packages by retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

FTTP means fibre-optic cables run from the exchange right to the door of each house or business. It provides wholesale download speeds up to 330Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps, again offered as different service packages by ISPs.

When can I get fibre broadband?

Fibre broadband is being rolled out across both Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. To see if you can order a fibre service, please use the 'Check line' function at the top of the page. Simply enter your postcode and select your address from the list to see if you can get it yet.

If you're one of the premises in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire that can connect straightaway, then contact your choice of Internet Service Provider (ISP) to place an order. 

Please note that not all of one area will go live on the same day so it's worth checking the website regularly as information is constantly updated, or register your details using the Keep Me Posted form and we'll send you updates on the project.

Where will the funding be spent?

The Fastershire project can only support faster broadband in areas where the commercial market is not investing, or is unlikely to invest in the future, and will continue to fail to deliver without the investment of public funds. This means we have an eligible area for investment.

'Eligibility' has been defined through industry consultation and assessment to ascertain which areas of both counties either do not, or are unlikely to, benefit from private sector investment in faster broadband. Our project funding is only eligible in areas not receiving private sector investment or projected to do so in the future.

How much will it cost and why can’t Fastershire or Herefordshire Council / Gloucestershire County Council put in some of the money they have allocated to Broadband?

The cost will vary, each community will have different requirements and therefore costs are not fixed, a survey would seek to provide more clarity for individual schemes. BT will expect these funds to be raised locally, some communities have raised funding from individuals or it may be the parish council contributes or a local business.

Herefordshire Council and Gloucestershire County Council funds are committed to the current contract with BT. All public monies must be accounted for and legally provided – in the case of community broadband schemes public money cannot be used to subsidise these activities

However, Herefordshire Council has set aside a Business Bursary scheme to provide additional funding to business in Herefordshire that can show a need. Register for a Faster Business Review for more information about the Business Bursary, please click here

 
We have fibre broadband but have seen no uplift.

If you have very slow (less than 2Mbps) or non-existent broadband we can check if you are eligible for a satellite solution and send you information on the available options when the service is launched.

Please visit our satellite page for more information, please click here

 
What is Openreach / BT’s community project?
BT is inviting communities to contribute funding towards the cost of enabling fibre broadband in their area. 
  
BT will expect these funds to be raised locally as they will not invest in an area if they do not expect to see a return on their investment. This is usually because they do not see foresee enough people will take up the fibre service.  This is made worse in rural areas when there is a lower population and where more infrastructure is required.
 
The total cost of BT’s community project will vary according to the amount of infrastructure that will be required. 
 
What should I do if my community are interested in BT’s community project?
If your community is interested in knowing more about BT’s community project, then please visit the BT website, please click here
 
However, it may be that your community is included in the next phase of the Fastershire project. We will have more information about which areas will be included in phase two when BT has completed phase one. 
 
If you would like to know more, the project produced a Fastershire Broadband Strategy which goes into detail how we plan to deliver the next phase, please click here.
 
Why was my property not included in the existing roll-out?

Combing the commercial programme (providers like BT and Virgin using their own funding to deploy broadband) and the Fastershire publicly funded programme means that approximately 90% of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire are expected to access fibre broadband by the end of 2016. That means that not every premise will have access to faster broadband speeds of 30Mbps and above. 

Some premises may be connected to a fibre enabled infrastructure but are located too far away to see any uplift in their broadband speeds. Commercial providers may have changed their commercial plans resulting in less coverage than initially expected. 

Commercial Areas refer to areas where infrastructure providers planned to fibre enable without the need of public funding; as such these areas were not eligible for public funding and were not part of the initial Fastershire roll-out. 

In some instances providers have revised those plans and it might be that those areas become eligible for the second phase of the Fastershire plan during a new procurement process starting in 2016.

The programme in Gloucestershire finished in December 2015 (with allowance for tolerable variance that is extended to March 2016 for some areas), and December 2016 for Herefordshire, at which point Fastershire will have a better picture of communities that have not been reached as part of this current phase.  As phase 1 of Fastershire’s delivery is divided into distinct geographical milestone areas, it is possible in some instances to determine those premises not served in advance of the final completion dates.

Why would I want to be part of the community broadband scheme?

Communities might not want to wait for the second phase of the Fastershire deployment.  BT is inviting communities to talk to them directly to negotiate on cost and solution. However, it is important you check with Fastershire first before agreeing to a scheme as the community might already be in the current or future Fastershire programme. 

In line with the revised Broadband Strategy covering Herefordshire and Gloucestershire there will be a series of new procurements for which BT will be able to bid along with other telecommunication companies. 

If you would like to know more, the project produced a Fastershire Broadband Strategy which goes into detail how we plan to deliver the next phase, please click here.

 

How do I find out if my business is eligible for this programme?

Our Business Support Programme is governed by funding eligibility criteria based on size, primary activity, turnover etc.

By completing the short application online for Herefordshire or Gloucestershire one of our advisers will be in touch to assess eligibility and recommend a suitable level of support.

How do I get support for my business?

Register your interest on the relevant business support page. One of our advisers will assess your eligibility to see what support package is available

How do I know this programme is suitable for my business?

A specialist adviser will work with you to assess your current situation and then make recommendations based on this to create a tailored support plan.

How do I take part in the programme if I'm not eligible?

Non eligible Businesses will not necessarily be turned away. Subject to availability you may be able to take part in events and access online content.

How does the Business Support Programme work?

The business support programme has been designed to help businesses to understand that fibre broadband is much more than just a quicker connection. It can help you to exploit the new services and ways of working that exist in the market place via an array of materials and a personal business advisor who will support, coach and provide insight and help with development.

How will business support help my business?

The ethos of the programme is about identifying the business benefits offered by fibre broadband rather than the technology itself. By this we will help eligible businesses to understand how fibre broadband can help them to find new customers, offer new or improved services, increase company efficiencies and so on.

How will the Business Support Programme help me?

To support the growth and development of local eligible businesses by showing you how fibre broadband can be used to benefit your business

What content's covered within the programme?

Business Support Programme will show businesses how faster broadband connections can develop new sales and increase profit levels by maximising efficiency and productivity.

The subject matters offered broadly include:

Selling to new customers, doing more with the same, managing change, how to sell more to existing customers, reduce risk and reduce cost.

What's the objective of the Business Support Programme

To support the growth and development of local eligible businesses by showing you how fibre broadband can be used to benefit your business

Can I get involved?

Both Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Councils are keen that as many residents as possible are able to benefit from the faster broadband that is being provided. There may be scope for you to help in your local community by raising awareness of the benefits of broadband and helping those who have no experience with the internet to start using it. To discuss what you could do to help please email us at info@fastershire.com.

How do you decide where the new cabinet will go?

We look at a number of factors when planning where to put a new fibre cabinet. Firstly, the new cabinet has to be within 50 metres of the existing telephone cabinet. We then need to make sure there is enough access to power and existing infrastructure, and we have to survey for other utility companies’ underground structure and obstacles. It’s also important that the new cabinet doesn't get in pedestrians’ way, or pose a danger to road users. In some areas we have to take into account the visual impact and we make sure we're not putting the security of adjacent properties at risk. Ease of access for installation and maintenance are also important considerations in our decision of where to place new fibre broadband cabinets.

We find the most suitable place for each cabinet based on all of the factors above so we can deliver faster broadband speeds to the most properties possible in each area.

We don’t generally need to request planning permission for the location of a new fibre cabinet, unless it's in a national park, conservation area or other area of special interest.

How does the project plan its roll-out?

The aim of the Fastershire project is to achieve the best long-term broadband coverage for Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.The rollout of faster broadband across the two counties has been split into 14 milestone areas. Each Milestone area is made up of several exchange areas.

We're planning the rollout, 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 project 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.

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) and fibre to the premises (FTTP).

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. FTTC provides wholesale download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps.

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.

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. The Internet Service Provider package you select may also affect the speed available. Fastershire is working to ensure that everyone gets as fast a speed as possible given their geographical location.

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

The time before installation of fibre broadband varies among Internet Service Providers, typically it takes about two weeks. An engineer will call and install a new modem at your premises and you will receive a new router from your Internet Service Provider. In most cases, your other telephone and computer equipment doesn't need to be replaced.

How much does fibre broadband cost?

Prices 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 extra at all.

There's a wide range of Internet Service Providers now offering fibre broadband packages, so shop around to find the best deal for you.

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

This can be due to one or more different factors.

  1. There may be some exchange areas that will not be upgraded to fibre broadband. Also, not all cabinets in a fibre enabled exchange area may be upgraded to fibre broadband, so not all properties will have access to faster speeds. The project has limited funding so we can’t rollout fibre to every property in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The new network is being built to achieve the greatest value for money and the widest coverage to as many homes and businesses as possible across the county.

  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. Please see the relevant question about exchange only lines.

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

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 to more premises using alternative technologies by the end of 2016.

Register so we can keep you posted on progress in your area >

My cabinet is covered by the Openreach commercial rollout of fibre, but it is not being upgraded. How can I get it included in the Fastershire project?

Fibre has been rolled out to a number of towns and cities across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire as part of the Openreach commercial rollout of fibre. The areas covered by the Openreach commercial rollout are:-Brimscombe, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Dursley, Gloucester, Nailsworth, Stroud and Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire; Hereford, Ledbury and Leominster in Herefordshire.

The Fastershire project can only support faster broadband in areas where the commercial market is not investing, or is unlikely to invest in the future, and will continue to fail to deliver without the investment of public funds. This means we have an eligible area for investment.

'Eligibility' has been defined through industry consultation and assessment to ascertain which areas of both counties either do not, or are unlikely to, benefit from private sector investment in faster broadband. Our project funding is only eligible in areas not receiving private sector investment or projected to do so in the future.

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

Exchange Only (EO) lines are connected directly to the local telephone exchange rather than passing through a green cabinet that can be upgraded with a fibre broadband connection. These lines are generally either very close to the telephone exchange or very remote from it. There are cases where some EO lines may be fibre enabled as part of the Fastershire project, for example where an additional cabinet is built close to the exchange or where Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) is used. Where EO lines are not fibre enabled and are unable to receive download speeds of 2Mbits/s alternative approaches may be required to provide an uplift in speed.

Delivering faster broadband to exchange only lines and fibre to the premises is more complex than delivering it to homes and businesses connected to a cabinet. This means that it often takes longer to deliver fibre broadband to these properties than to properties within the same area that are connected to a cabinet.

What about the estimated 10% of homes and businesses that will not be able to get fibre broadband?

We have a satellite solution available to homes and businesses which will not receive faster broadband as part of the current Fastershire fibre rollout, and who need more than 2Mbps to support their daily activities. 

If you have very slow (less than 2Mbps) or non-existent broadband we can check if you are eligible for a satellite solution and send you information on the available options when the service is launched. If you would like to do this please register here

We will share this information with BT to check your satellite eligibility, but it will not be used for any other purposes.

 
What can I do to speed up the rollout in my area?

The rollout is based on engineering logic and not on levels of demand within individual areas. You can encourage your neighbours to register their interest with us, but the rollout is not dependent on the number of registrations of interest,

What is Fibre on Demand or FTTP on Demand (FOD)?

Fibre on Demand or FTTP on Demand (FOD) will allow some home and businesses connected to a fibre enabled cabinet to order a direct fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection. This is a premium service that will come with a significant connection charge and is likely to require a 3 year contract

When fibre broadband becomes available in my area, will my broadband simply get faster without me taking any action?

No. To get fibre broadband, you'll need to place an order with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) who offers this service. This is because fibre broadband uses a different technology and an engineer will need to visit your premises to install the necessary equipment.

There are several ISPs offering fibre broadband packages so you can shop around and choose the package that's best for you. If you choose not to upgrade to fibre broadband, you'll be able to continue using your existing broadband service as normal.

Where do I go to get more information?

We're continually updating this website so please check regularly. If you want to be kept informed about the project and when fibre broadband is coming to you please leave your details in the 'Keep me posted' section and we'll let you know as soon as we can.

Who will pay for the roll-out of faster broadband in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire?

Fastershire is a partnership between Gloucestershire County Council and Herefordshire Council to bring faster broadband to the two counties, with funding from central government’s Broadband Delivery UK matched by the local authorities. Additional funding is also being provided from private companies, BT and Gigaclear, contracted to deliver the rollout.

Why are other areas being prioritised and getting faster broadband before my area?

The aim of the Fastershire project is to achieve the best possible long-term broadband coverage for Herefordshire and Gloucestershire within the resources available.

The rollout is based on engineering logic taking into account many factors including local demographics and geography, planning requirements, the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service and the existing engineering infrastructure. Neighbouring communities may be served from different telephone exchanges which in turn can have varying levels of existing fibre capacity. This may result in staggered deployment timescales even within a very localised area.

Taking all of these factors into account the rollout is following the most efficient path, giving the best value for money. No area has been scheduled in preference to any other.

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

Information on new areas of availability has to be released to all Internet Service Providers on an equivalent basis and that's why new areas are only announced as part of this national process when they go live.

Also, 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. All cabinets also go through a period of testing before they are made live. If any of the tests show that a cabinet is not delivering the expected speeds, then work will be done to improve the performance so that when it goes live everyone on that cabinet is getting the best speeds possible.

All these factors mean we can only announce the arrival of faster broadband to areas in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire once they become live.

Why has the date for my area been put back?

Forecast dates are based on whole exchange areas, not individual towns/villages (i.e. the Ross on Wye exchange area not the town). These dates can move back as well as forwards, due to the nature of an engineering build of this kind and scale. The forecast dates on the website can indicate the 'next phase' of the rollout in your area or when to expect the start of the fibre rollout.

The dates are adjusted each time a phase is completed, so this may not mean your area has been 'put back', it's just another part of the exchange has been complete and we are moving on to the next.

How are we doing

96,516 Fast homes
and businesses
702 Kms of
fibre laid
99 exchange areas
now live
407 cabinets
now live

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Faster broadband is being rolled out across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire between now and the end of 2018. It is not possible to flick a switch to make every area go live on the same day, so some areas will go live before this. Register your interest today and we will keep you in the loop about developments in your fibre broadband status.