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

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.


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More Fibre Connections in the Parish

I’ve not got a map for this one – only a notification that fibre broadband is available in my area. Putting two and two together, it looks as if the Spark Bridge cabinet is now enabled and this seems correct when I test a few phone numbers on the BT Openreach site – which you can reach via the Connecting Cumbria site (link on the previous blog).
So, if you live in the Sparkbridge area or in the LA12 8HE or 8HF postcode areas, it’s likely that you can now get a much better connection. Check it out and then contact your ISP. Please let me know what speeds are available to you and how you get on with your new fibre connection when you get it.
I use the word ‘likely’ as there are exceptions within a postcode – unfortunately I’m one of them!! 

Live in Greenodd

The cabinet centred on Penny Bridge is now fibre enabled. Those of you in the south west of the Parish – up to round the Tottlebank area should be able to access much better speeds than you have currently.
The advice is to check on the Connecting Cumbria web site to confirm that you can get fibre broadband and then contact your internet service provider to find out what superfast offers and speeds are available and how to order. 

Phase 2 and the Oxen Park Area

The worst served broadband area in the Parish is currently the area around Oxen Park with frequent down time and speeds very little better than dial up. This is causing increasingly severe problems for the 17+ businesses and voluntary organisations and has been a source of frequent complaints.


There was considerable dismay when the final phase 1 maps were produced when it became obvious that, contrary to what we were led to believe, the area would be untouched by phase 1 and would have to struggle on with what it had.


Since then, the Parish Council has thrown its weight behind a detailed report, which was then submitted to Connecting Cumbria, showing the effects of the phase 1 decision (thanks to those who replied to the survey) and making suggestions as to how the area might be cost effectively connected.


There’s been quite a bit of correspondence as a result of this and the news is now looking more hopeful. We’ve had confirmation that the area is part of the phase 2 intervention area and that the area looks a ‘good candidate’ for phase 2.


No timescale yet although it is probable that we will hear something before the end of the year. Meantime we keep the dialogue going making sure we engage with Connecting Cumbria on a regular basis.