Colton Superfast Broadband Why it's important and how we can get it......Mike Postle (

Ofcom wants to know!

“Ofcom wants rural people (sic) to tell it about the broadband challenges they face” -  according to the Rural Services Network ( Volunteers are being sought to join Ofcom’s expanded research panel so that they can get a better understanding of the challenges we face.
Interested? then sign up on Ofcom’s partner web site If you are accepted on the scheme, you will get a ‘white box’ which reports the performance – or lack of it – of your broadband connection. The whitebox will not interfere with your connection as it only runs tests when the connection is not in use, and it does not monitor what you use the connection for. I’ve had one for some time now and the graphs it produces make interesting and sometimes depressing reading but they do alert me for example to when the line is going down.
On a different tack, I’ve got an exploratory meeting next week with Openreach together with the person responsible for their community broadband scheme. I hope to pick up some more information about where we are with phase 2 connections and how we might fill in the SFBB gaps that are left. Watch this space! 

Oxen Park - some more news

Bit of good news here is that I’ve just been informed that Oxen Park has come out in the first tranche of phase 2 modelling. So it looks as if it will get its own cabinet. Where this will be and on what timescales I’m not sure but I would guess that the cabinet will be placed somewhere near the Manor – in which case all of you roughly within half a mile will get SFBB and many more will get better than what you have now. (Not too difficult I hear you say!).

Bouth Connected!

Those of you who have waited for the cabinet on the way out of Bouth towards the Causeway to be connected up, need wait no longer. You are now officially connected and will be able to order fibre broadband. Looking at the map, my guess is that most of you will be able to get better than 24Mb/s ie superfast broadband (SFBB) and certainly all in the village will be able to get a lot faster connection than currently.
Remember though that you need to contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and ask SFBB – it will not come to you automatically. Remember also that your ISP may not have been notified yet (it can take a couple of weeks or so) and it’s just possible that your ISP will not offer the facility – in which case you will need to migrate to another ISP if you want it. Experience in the County is that SFBB usually runs out about the same price or even cheaper than the old ADSL connection – as always it’s worth shopping around. (Meanwhile I’ll sulk in the slow lane!!)

Finsthwaite Strikes it Lucky!

The more observant of you who live or have passed through Finsthwaite will have noticed what look like small cabinets appearing in the landscape. I’ve had it confirmed that these structures are part of BT/Connecting Cumbria’s plans for bringing SFBB to Finsthwaite. Apparently, the cheapest way of doing this is to connect up using fibre to the premises (FTTP) – so that’s what you’ll get as part of phase 1. I’ll leave it there being green with envy at the blistering speeds you’ll get!! 

Just Published: Guide to getting basic broadband

The scheme, which fulfils the Government’s commitment to giving every premise access to a 2Mb/s download speed, is now up and running. Details are on the Connecting Cumbria web site

The scheme gives financial support of no more than £400, via a voucher system, towards the cost of satellite equipment and installation in the first year.  

Details of the scheme are given in the link on the Connecting Cumbria page together with application forms.


Satellite does have some significant disadvantages so my feeling is that it is worth waiting a few weeks to find out whether of not you will be connected to the fibre network under phase 2.

A short term fix if you are desperate

It was announced last week that up to 300,000 homes that struggle to access speeds of more than 2 Mb/s will be eligible for government funding for the installation of satellite broadband services. The contribution, which is likely to reduce the cost of installation by around £350, is part of the phase 1 universal service commitment.


However before getting too excited, it’s as well to remember that a typical consumer will spend between £250 and £600 on satellite hardware; then there’s the £100+ installation cost and the monthly rental. Current monthly data usage of a typical fixed line broadband customer is reckoned to be 58 GB. If you want a satellite package that can deliver 50 GB per month, you’ll be paying about £60 per month.


Then of course there are performance issues. These include the time it takes the signal to travel via the satellite from your home to the base station (latency), insufficient capacity – especially at peak times and even rain affecting the signal. Also if you are not given a UK IP address, you’ll have to employ some clever dodges to use UK focussed internet such as the iPlayer.


If you’re not yet connected to SFBB, it’s worth pushing to be included in phase 2 or, failing that, to look at community land based solutions.    

….even closer.

In our parish, Greenodd exchange has two active cabinets serving 450 properties – and a further 1 scheduled under phase 1 serving another 50 properties. The corresponding figures for the Newby Bridge exchange are 6 active cabinets (650 properties).


Also serving our parish: Satterthwaite exchange – 1 cabinet scheduled (60 properties); Lowick Bridge 2 cabinets scheduled (100 properties).


Finally, I have a meeting with BT and Connecting Cumbria middle of January to discuss & make progress on filling in the gaps – especially Oxen Park area. Will post the result.

….and so closer to home.

Connecting Cumbria are reporting that they are on target to meet their phase 1 obligations by the end of this month. Because of the extra money that has been allocated to the project, phase 1 will continue to deliver beyond its contractual targets until March at the latest – adding another 2,000 properties (approx.)


A national state subsidised scheme for basic broadband is expected to be launched on December 14th – details will be on the Connecting Cumbria web site. Very much a stop gap solution and, unless you live in a very isolated spot, I would guess is not worth considering until you know if phase 2 will bring SFBB to you.


Phase 2 Initial surveys are scheduled for completion next month but details may be released later. More use of ‘onesie’ cabinets (!) to reach more remote areas – cheaper.

Ofcom Report Launched

This week saw the launch of Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2015 report showing good progress on the availability and take up of communications services and just how crucial they are to our personal and working lives. Some interesting facts and stats including why 10Mb/s (the new USO) is the minimum that households need. Ultrafast broadband (more than 300 mb/s) is now available in 500,000 homes and 4G mobile reaches 70% – we can but dream!


Interestingly, the UK has the best coverage and take up of SFBB, the highest coverage of fast mobile services and some of the cheapest prices. Those of us living in rural areas just need to make sure we don’t get left behind. Our SFBB (even when we get it) could well seem slow and inadequate in a few years’ time.

November UK News

Last month saw some interesting broadband developments UK wide – so here’s a brief update for those who missed them.


Firstly it was announced that the Government will introduce a new Ofcom Universal Service Obligation (USO) that will give everyone the legal right to request an ‘affordable’ broadband connection capable of delivering a minimum of 10 Mb/s by 2020. This puts broadband on a similar footing to other basic services – water, electricity …….. Then of course it’s all down to enforcement.


Then the Spending Review and Autumn Statement confirmed the spending of public funds amounting to £1.7 billion to take SFBB to 95% of UK premises by the end of 2017 (ie the roll-out of phase 2).


Mention was made (but made no final commitment given) to a new broadband investment fund. Interesting that the fund would support the growth of alternative network developers. This could boost the number of alt-nets investing in faster fibre to the premises solutions.


What was obvious though was the Government is expecting to reap some substantial savings from using SFBB connectivity – especially from HMRC and online filing of tax returns.


The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) pledged to further improve consumer switching between broadband ISP and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to investigate if they are hiding the true cost of their services via line rentals, teaser rates etc. Proposals in the Spring.


Finally – Ofcom has just launched its WiFi checker app which allows tablet and smartphone users to check on how good their WiFi is (ie the wireless connection between your router and device within your home) and gives some tips to improve things. (Even Christmas tree lights can slow your WiFi connection down!). Check it out on Not a complete check (no mention of channels) but maybe some use.