Please note that many details regarding this project are dependent on the Superfast Leicestershire project. The information below is presented as a guide to the general steps involved. If you have any questions regarding the project, you can email the working group via the Burton on the Wolds, Cotes and Prestwold Parish Clerk at: burtonclerk [at] gmail.com

When will we get superfast broadband?
Final details regarding potential speed upgrades and detailed timescales will be determined by July 2014 and published on the Superfast Leicestershire website.

How fast will it be?
Again, this is dependant on the technology used and distance between individual premises and the telephone exchange or cabinet. Superfast Leicestershire is focussing on Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). A feasibility report commissioned by the Wolds Broadband working party suggested that speeds of between 35Mbps and 70Mbps would be achievable within Burton, and around 20Mbps in Walton using FTTC. Internal factors such as wiring within the home, router setup, wi-fi, etc. can also affect final download speeds.

Exactly what is being proposed?
The Wolds Broadband group has been tasked with investigating options for the introduction of a service to provide improved broadband speeds for homes and businesses in the Wolds villages. This should have a minimum speed of 20Mbps for the majority of connected premises.

Which villages / areas will be covered?
This depends on the technology used to deliver the broadband, but is likely to be determined by the location of telephone exchanges and green cabinets. This project can apply to all areas served by the Wymeswold exchange, potentially including Burton, Prestwold and Cotes, Walton on the Wolds, and Hoton.

Why is it needed?
The average UK broadband speed is 6.2Mbps[1]; it is not thought that anywhere in Burton or Walton can obtain this speed at present. A large proportion of residents suggested that they would be interested in faster broadband when a survey was circulated regarding the BT “Race to Infinity”. Unfortunately there were not enough people in the villages to secure faster broadband by that route. In 2012, BT were unable to give any indication that the Wymeswold exchange which serves the villages would be upgraded to provide superfast broadband, and Leicester County Council placed the villages on the border between red and amber risk of “not receiving market-led broadband[2]. Burton on the Wolds Parish Council therefore formed a working party, joined by members of Walton on the Wolds Parish Council, to consider options to deliver the higher speeds required by new technologies including internet television (e.g. BBC iPlayer), internet telephony (e.g. Skype), business usage, and connections shared between multiple computers in one premises.

What is involved?
A working party was formed to look at the various methods of delivering fast broadband. The group provides recommendations to Burton on the Wolds Parish Council and Walton on the Wolds Parish Council, who make all final decisions. A feasibility study was commissioned to determine what kinds of broadband service could be provided to Burton and Walton, both in terms of the underlying technologies and the potential speeds which could be expected. It also provided an idea of cost, allowing the working party and Parish Council to assess whether the installation of superfast broadband is likely to be successful, and how best to implement it if so.

How would the broadband be provided?
The most likely option is that the Wymeswold telephone exchange would be upgraded to support superfast broadband, and fibre optic cables would be laid from the exchange to the green BT ‘cabinets’ located across the local area. This would provide a superfast broadband connection to each cabinet. The broadband would then be delivered from the cabinet over existing copper telephone wires to homes and business. This technology is known as Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC), and would not require any work to be undertaken on individual houses (no digging up gardens or installing additional ‘phone sockets!).

The BT cabinet in Burton on the Wolds. One possibility is to run fibre optic cable to cabinets served from Wymeswold exchange, thus increasing the speed of each line connected to the cabinet.

The BT cabinet in Burton on the Wolds. One possibility is to run fibre optic cable to cabinets served from Wymeswold exchange, thus increasing the speed of each line connected to the cabinet.

If the proposal for inclusion in the Superfast Leicestershire project is successful, the final details will depends on the results of customer uptake models and physical ground surveys, but at this stage FTTC seems to be a likely option.

How much will it cost?
The Working Group’s objectives include affordability (for residential and business use) as one of the core aspects of the project. A number of different technologies were evaluated between 2011 and 2013, including a private fibre optic cable network or wireless connections. The capital expense of these were felt to be prohibitive, along with ongoing maintenance costs. The solution provided by Openreach as part of the Superfast Leicestershire project is funded by central government via BDUK, and through the county council. Parish Councils therefore do not need to find their own funding.
Pricing of individual monthly broadband subscription products available to consumers from, for example, BT or TalkTalk is set by each provider but will be at standard market rates; there is no “premium” added to pricing because the exchange was not previously seen as economically viable to upgrade.

What will happen to my existing broadband connection?
A new broadband connection provided as part of the Superfast Leicestershire connection could be run instead of your existing connection, or alongside anything you already have in place.

Do I have to get involved?
No – if you’re happy with your current connection speed and don’t want to change anything, then the broadband project will not affect your existing arrangements in any way.

[1] – http://media.ofcom.org.uk/2011/03/02/average-broadband-speed-is-still-less- than-half-advertised-speed/
[2] – http://www.leicestershireforums.org/uploads/314e7b142b8dbff301086003.pdf