BETTER BROADBAND FOR NORFOLK PROGRAME
What do you mean by better broadband for Norfolk?
When we refer to better broadband for Norfolk we mean: enabling basic broadband (ie 2 Megabits per second plus (2Mbps+)) as a minimum, right across Norfolk, so that everyone who wants access to broadband can have it; and significant levels of speed uplift to provide superfast broadband (24Mbps+) for as much of Norfolk as possible.
What do you mean by ‘basic’ and ‘superfast’ broadband?
‘Basic’ broadband is broadband which delivers access line speeds of at least 2 Megabits per second (Mbps). ‘Superfast’ broadband is broadband which delivers an access line speed of greater than 24Mbps.
‘Broadband’ refers to telecommunication in which a wide range of frequencies is available to transmit information. This means that more information can be sent or received in a given amount of time (much as more lanes on a road allows more cars to travel on it at the same time).
Megabit per second (Mbps) is used to measure data transfer speeds of high bandwidth connections. Bandwidth refers to how much data you can send through a network or modem connection and it’s usually measured in bits per second. You can think of bandwidth as a road with cars travelling on it. The road is the network connection and the cars are the data. The wider the road, the more cars can travel on it at one time. Therefore more cars can get to their destinations faster. The same principle applies to computer data – the more bandwidth, the more information that can be transferred within a given amount of time. One Megabit is equal to one million bits or 1,000 kilobits. While Megabit sounds similar to Megabyte, a Megabit is roughly one eighth the size of a Megabyte.
How do I find out what my current broadband speed is?
You could contact your current Internet Service Provider.
Alternatively, type the words broadband speed test into your Internet browser, select an appropriate link and follow the instructions on the screen. You should not have to download any computer programs to run the test. The test should give you your download speed. Download speed refers to the rate that information is transferred from the Internet to your computer (to enable you to read a web page or receive an email for example). It should also give you your upload speed. Upload speed refers to the rate that information is transferred from your computer to the Internet (eg sending an email). Download and upload speeds will be shown as Megabits per second (Mbps).
Please bear in mind that if you run a broadband speed test during peak hours (such as 10:30 on a Monday morning when a lot of people are using the Internet) your broadband speed will be slower than at an off peak time (such as early in the morning when many people are still asleep).
What benefits will I see as a householder from better broadband?
Better broadband will provide many benefits for Norfolk householders. Examples include having improved access to online shopping, banking and public services and being able to stay in touch with family and friends. Children will be able to do their homework and learn independently online and adults will have improved opportunities for life-long learning.
Some people find that they can work from home just as effectively as from the office – you could save time and money and reduce the impact of your car on the environment. You could also consider setting up your own business and running it from your home.
What benefits will I see as a business from better broadband?
Better broadband will provide many benefits for Norfolk businesses. Better broadband will provide new opportunities for businesses in Norfolk by enabling them to innovate and expand into different markets. It also has the potential to increase efficiency and drive down costs by enabling the use of:
- Cloud computing - this means that business data and software applications are hosted remotely. Many cloud based business applications are now available ranging from basic office software (eg word processing and email) to more sophisticated business software such as customer relationship management systems (used to manage a company’s interactions with its customers). Cloud solutions are highly scaleable so businesses pay on a per user basis for what they actually need. Cloud solutions backup business data and keep it secure, and data can be accessed from anywhere using an internet connection
- Voice over internet (VoIP) communication systems which enable basic call routing and voicemail through to video conferencing
- Collaborative working using shared workspaces to work together on documents and share whiteboards in a completely paperless way. Web conferencing enables businesses to meet in real time and share desktops
- Social media - use Facebook and Twitter, for example, to market brands and interact with customers
- Data transfer - upload latest content quickly and effectively to keep ecommerce and other websites up to date. Send and receive large files (eg complex plans and drawings, videos etc)
- Remote data storage - backup business data automatically and regularly to a remote and secure location
- Flexible working - work from the office, from the home or on the move in a way and at a time that meets your business, and employee, needs
In fact, independent studies say that the Better Broadband programme is expected to deliver an additional 1,337 jobs and £88 million Gross Value Added to Norfolk over 10 years.
Why is Norfolk lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to better broadband?
It’s made commercial sense for broadband infrastructure providers to service cities and larger towns across the country first. Cities and larger towns have lots of potential customers who tend to live closely together so the infrastructure can be concentrated in smaller physical areas.
Broadband infrastructure providers are now tending to look at the more rural parts of the country to see if it makes commercial sense to extend into these areas. However, there will always be locations, particularly in rural areas, where there isn’t a sustainable commercial business case for the full investment required – the government has recognised this and has encouraged councils like Norfolk County Council to bid for money to bring better broadband to everyone.
Should people continue to pursue other broadband schemes? I represent a group that wants better broadband in our area, who can I contact for further information?
If people or communities are considering spending money on local schemes they may want to check first that the scheme will deliver sufficient benefit to justify the cost in advance of the Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme. Contact details for the BBfN programme are available on its website.
BT has already announced that further exchanges will be upgraded – how will this affect Better Broadband for Norfolk?
BT has already announced that it will be upgrading some of its exchanges. In areas where these upgraded BT exchanges will enable the services that meet the aims of the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme, we won’t need to spend public money and instead will invest our funding so that more Norfolk properties in others areas receive better broadband.
For more information about BT’s superfast broadband announcements please visit www.btplc.com/News/NewsListings/LocalNews/Listing/NewsByRegion.cfm?region=7
BETTER BROADBAND FOR NORFOLK – SERVICE, TIMESCALES AND COSTS
Is there a chance that despite the roll out of better broadband I still may not get access to it?
Some locations are so geographically remote that superfast broadband will not be achievable for cost or technical reasons. This is why achieving basic broadband (2 Megabits per second+) as a minimum across Norfolk is important.
Will I have to use the better broadband service or will I be able to stick with my existing broadband service?
The Better Broadband for Norfolk programme will implement a broadband infrastructure across Norfolk – this infrastructure will then be used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to offer Broadband Service Packages to customers. If your current Broadband Service Package meets your requirements you don’t need to do anything. If you want a different package (one that offers faster speeds for example) you can choose a suitable package from any ISP that offers a package that meets your needs.
Will I need to buy new or extra equipment to receive the better broadband service?
Possibly. Your Internet Service Provider will tell you what equipment you need to receive the better broadband service (and may offer to provide it for you).
Will I get better broadband automatically?
No, it does not just automatically switch itself on – you’ll need to place an order with an Internet Service provider (ISP). Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) Information Sheets (available on the BBfN website) will keep you up to date with programme progress and will tell you when to look out for ISP advertising and marketing campaigns.
How will I know that better broadband is available?
Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) Information Sheets (available on the BBfN website) will keep you up to date with programme progress and will tell you when to look out for Internet Service Provider advertising and marketing campaigns.
Why can’t everyone have superfast broadband?
Some locations are so geographically remote that superfast broadband will not be achievable for cost or technical reasons. This is why enabling basic broadband (2 Megabits per second+) as a minimum, right across Norfolk, is important.
When will I get better broadband? Will everyone get better broadband at the same time?
There will be several Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) rollout phases and each phase will follow the same sequence of events:
1. Survey, design and detailed planning
3. Services available from Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
BT has started its survey, design and detailed planning work for the first phase of the BBfN rollout and services from ISPs for Phase 1 are due to be available by the end of 2013.
Once survey, design and detailed planning for each phase is complete, information concerning the areas that will benefit will be made available (for Phase 1 this is expected summer 2013). Information for each subsequent phase will be released approximately every three months (at the point the survey, design and detailed planning for that phase is complete). Please note that some exchanges will appear in more than one phase. Once services are available from ISPs information on speeds at an individual premises level will be available.
By the end of 2015 more than 80% of Norfolk’s premises are expected to be able to access superfast broadband (24 Megabits per second and above) and it is intended that all Norfolk premises will be able to access a minimum broadband speed of at least 2Mbps.
We will share information regarding the availability of better broadband in Norfolk via the BBfN website as soon as we can.
Is it possible to speed up delivery of better broadband to my area of Norfolk?
The Council has not identified specific locations for upgrade as this would have placed technical constraints on the supplier and lead to less coverage and speed uplift. BT has applied the same principles as it uses for its commercial roll-out and will seek to achieve the most technically efficient rollout it can for the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme.
How much will it cost me as a home user or business to have the service?
Information on the broadband packages that different Internet Service Providers will offer and the cost of those packages will be made available and are expected to correspond to Broadband Service Packages available in large towns and cities.
BETTER BROADBAND FOR NORFOLK – SUPPLIER AND TECHNOLOGY
Which supplier will install Norfolk’s better broadband infrastructure?
Norfolk County Council actively supported Broadband Delivery UK’s (BDUK’s) European Union (EU) competitive procurement exercise, required by EU law, to award a National Framework contract which allows the delivery of the broadband infrastructure. Fujitsu and BT Wholesale were appointed to the National Framework at the end of June 2012. Following a successful procurement exercise, Norfolk County Council's Cabinet awarded the contract to deliver the infrastructure required to meet Norfolk’s better broadband needs to BT on 21 December 2012. This followed the EU’s approval of a UK wide State Aid scheme covering the provision of broadband in late November 2012, following which BDUK assessed Norfolk’s proposed contract for compliance under that scheme, allowing Norfolk’s contract to be signed.
Will BT, the supplier who has been appointed to install Norfolk’s better broadband infrastructure, also offer the actual better broadband service?
BT will be responsible for installing an infrastructure that is capable of delivering a better broadband service. Any Internet Service Provider can choose to use this infrastructure to provide customers with a better broadband service.
Will my existing broadband provider sell me the better broadband service?
Any Internet Service Provider can choose to use the better broadband infrastructure to provide customers with a better broadband service.
What technology will be used?
We did not specify what kind of technology should be used. As part of the competitive procurement exercise we judged potential supplier solutions by their ability to deliver an infrastructure that enables basic broadband as a minimum across Norfolk and significant levels of speed uplift to provide superfast broadband for as much of Norfolk as possible.
To achieve the most efficient infrastructure implementation for Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) BT has applied the same principles as it uses for its commercial roll-out.
This means that the first choice of technology is Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC). This is the most widely used infrastructure in the UK and it uses a mixture of fibre optic and copper cabling, making it the most cost effective solution for deploying broadband services in the majority of situations. Copper cable connects a home or business premises to a street ‘cabinet’ (a green box located in the area) which is then connected to another new street cabinet. The new cabinet is connected to a ‘fibre spine’ which is connected to a ‘head-end’ (a major exchange which is connected to the UK’s network ‘backbone’). FTTC, quite literally, brings a fibre optic connection to a street cabinet. Telecommunication services travel more quickly over fibre cable and they don’t slow down over distance (as they do when copper cable is used).
The second choice of technology is Fibre To The Premises (FTTP). A fibre link is used to connect a home or business premises directly to the head-end. Small clusters or groups of users (usually 16 -32) are served via a ‘splitter’ which allows the individual fibres to the home or business premises to be concentrated onto a much lower number of fibres back to the head-end.
The third choice is to provide FTTC to home or business premises which are currently directly connected to an exchange. This is achieved by re-arranging the current network and installing cabinets in new locations.
Once the BBfN programme has achieved as much of the above as it can for the investment funding available it will implement the most effective ‘in-fill’ broadband technology available at the time - with the intention of enabling access to at least 2 Megabits per second for all premises in Norfolk.