The Government has set up a scheme to help properties in rural areas to be
connected to full fibre broadband, or Fibre To The Premises (FTTP).
In view of current and future needs for effective access, Bolney Parish Council feels that every effort should be made to take advantage of this opportunity, being operated at a local level by West Sussex County Council.
Each property currently not on FTTP has been able to apply for a voucher worth £1500 towards installation costs; WSCC is now topping this up with a further £2500, enabling a total of £4000 per premises. This sum is not sufficient to cover installation for an individual acting alone, but the costs should fall below this if we get a large enough group together of actively interested residents, if it does not fall below £4000, the project would not continue. If there is insufficient interest, then we would not proceed with the project.
Once a group has been formed, the Parish Council will approach a fibre installation company on its behalf.
Other than registering an interest, there is NO commitment at this stage.
Bolney is one of the first parishes in West Sussex to investigate the scheme so we must act quickly to get ahead of other rural communities. We should also point out that the WSCC share of the subsidy is amongst the most generous in England.
There is no guarantee that this project will succeed, but Bolney Parish Council is committed to doing its best to help our residents to obtain the best fibre broadband available, whether via this scheme or another in the future.
To register your interest, please notify Hugh Threlfall, Vice-Chairman, Bolney Parish Council at firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating your postcode and current download speed (if you know it).
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers below are given in good faith and to our best understanding of the conditions now. Bolney Parish Council (BPC) is only at the start of the project, and its Working Group on Communications is still gathering as much information as it can. Some things may change as we progress but we hope that we have got the essentials correct.
1. Will I have to pay anything for the installation?
Answer: No. When there is an overall cost from the supplier it will be possible to work out the cost per premises. Only if this is below the £4000 total voucher value will BPC go ahead with the project.
2. What am I committed to?
Answer: Nothing at the moment. At some stage you will have to agree to take a year’s contract for fibre broadband with a download speed that doubles your existing speed and is more than 30mbps once the fibre line has been connected to your premises.
3. How much will the new fibre contract cost?
Answer: We do not know at the moment because the contract will be taken out further on in the process.
What we do know is that the price is coming down because of competition in towns and cities. See question 20 for some examples of current costs.
4. Why do I have slow broadband speeds?
Answer: Some of the common reasons are:
- You are not yet connected to full fibre broadband. Upgrading to a full fibre connection will give you the speed that you want up to 900Mbps. See also questions 6 and 20.
- There are problems with WiFi inside your property. This is often linked to foil backed insulation or brick walls blocking the WiFi signal. This project will not be able to help with that problem.
- The copper wire is corroded at the junction box on the telegraph pole. Fibre does not corrode and upgrading to full fibre will remove this problem
- Slower speeds at certain times of the day such as early evening are due to a copper line sharing the bandwidth with other users. Upgrading to a full fibre line will solve this problem. See also Qs 6 & 7.
5. I am happy with the broadband I have now. Why should I upgrade to full fibre?
Answer: Full fibre will upgrade your connection for the foreseeable future.
An internet connection from 10/20 years ago would not cope with the demand placed on it today – e.g. for streaming films, more realistic games that require larger data files, etc. In the coming years this increase in the size of data files will continue. You may not currently be using your broadband for these things but your neighbours may be, and this will be reducing your speed if you are both still using copper lines.
The subsidies currently available to rural communities are designed to ensure that rural areas keep up with urban areas as the latter move to FTTP.
6. What is full fibre broadband, or FTTP?
Answer: This is the most advanced broadband option available at present. It involves a fibre-optic cable all the way from the local telephone exchange to the cabinet in the street and from there into your home = Fibre to the Premises, or FTTP. There is no copper wire involved.
7. Why is fibre better than copper?
Answer: A. Fibre optics uses pulses of light which travel about 10 times faster than electrons in a copper wire.
B. The fibre signal has a greater bandwidth which allows:
- several devices to use the same cable at the same time without reduced speed,
- streaming without any buffering,
- greater capacity for gamers,
- faster upload of large data files e.g. photos,
- no early evening reduction of speed due to others coming online. You do not share your fibre optic cable with anybody else until it reaches your router/hub.
8. Why am I not yet connected to full fibre broadband?
Answer: Openreach chose the cheapest way (Fibre to the Cabinet = FTTC) to provide the maximum number of homes with an improved download speed across the country. Fibre cables have been installed alongside the copper wires between the local exchange and your nearest cabinet. When compared with sending the broadband signal down copper wire all the way from the exchange, FTTC offers faster speeds. However, because copper wire is used from the cabinet to your premises, the further you are from the cabinet, the slower your speed.
9. Is there an alternative to FTTP?
Answer: The alternative to fibre optics is 5G WIFI via new mobile phone masts. This is several years away for rural areas and we all know how difficult it is to get a mobile signal in some parts of Bolney. Fibre is replacing copper and copper has lasted 140 years.
10. Why should I upgrade now?
Answer: A. Joining this community project means you will get the best connection available at present. An individual fibre connection can cost many thousands of pounds.
B. You will be helping those further from the cabinet who have a much worse connection speed.
C. If everybody stays on FTTC, the early evening slowdowns will get steadily worse. More people are now using video calls to keep in touch rather than just landline calls, online gaming is demanding greater bandwidth and data file sizes are steadily increasing. FTTP solves all these problems.
11. Will this change affect my telephone line?
Answer. Your telephone line should not be affected because the fibre is an additional line.
12. What happens next?
Answer: Please register your interest with Hugh Threlfall, vice-chairman of Bolney Parish Council at FTTP@bolney.com giving your postcode and current download speed.
13 Is anyone not eligible to join?
Answer: Yes those whose existing download speed is greater than 100mbps.
14. Can my business join the project?
Answer: People working from home are included in our project. However, small businesses should look on the government website for the criteria they have to meet.
15. What is the timeline?
Answer: First stage: if a large enough group registers an interest, Bolney Parish Council will approach an infrastructure installation company (= supplier) to see if they will set up a scheme to install FTTP for those who have signed up. The supplier will then carry out a survey and produce a cost for the project. The cost per premises must be below £4000, which is the value of the Government voucher topped up by WSCC, otherwise the project will not proceed.
Second stage: The supplier will set up a scheme under the government rural broadband voucher scheme. This allows individual homes and businesses to apply for vouchers but BPC are looking into whether we can apply for the group rather than individual applications. This stage must be completed by the end of March 2021.
Third stage: the supplier must then complete the work within the following year.
16. Why have you not directed people to the government website for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk)?
Answer: This website tells people to join a scheme set up by a supplier in the local area. Although it provides a list of 12 suppliers operating in our area, there are currently no active schemes that cover Bolney.
17. How can I find out more about the terms and conditions of the rural broadband voucher scheme?
Answer: Go to https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk
18. How can I find my current download speed?
Answer: Go into your online broadband account and find the link there to test your speed. Alternatively, google something like ‘check my broadband speed’ and you will get a list of several websites that will check your current speed after you have entered your postcode.
19. What about early evening reductions in speed?
Answer: This is because you are sharing the bandwidth of your copper line with other users. This will not happen with FTTP. See Q7.
20. What will a fibre contract cost?
Answer: This depends on whether you are upgrading with your current supplier or taking out a new contract. Further information on pricing is available from your supplier.
If this project is successful it will give you broadband with a download speed of your choice up to 900mbps. You will be able to choose your contract based on your household or business requirements and your budget, but in the first year you will be obliged to have at least double your current speed.
Unfortunately the Parish Council cannot guarantee that even if the project goes ahead there will not be some premises that will not be able to be connected due to conditions beyond our control.
If you have any other questions that we have not been able to cover here (it indeed is a highly complex issue), then please send them to the Bolney Parish Clerk via clerk@Bolney.com and we shall try to find an answer to them.
Bolney Parish Council,
Working Group on Communications