A Broadband Roadmap

Today

Wreningham has two BT telephone/broadband cabinets – one near Norwich Road at Top row, the other outside the school on Mill Lane. They provide broadband to two thirds of the properties in Wreningham. But what about the other third? It’s been a long process to get this far. How do we get the widest solution in the shortest time?

Let’s take a look at each of the locations in the “missing” third.

– Glebe Close (NR16 1DP) and the southern half of Hethel Road (NR16 1BB)

Much to the frustration of the residents, Glebe Close was left out of the initial Superfast Broadband coverage from the BT cabinet at the school. This was due to the physical arrangement of the telephone lines when these properties were built.

Similarly, Hethel Road telephone wires are routed directly to the Fundenhall exchange without passing through a green BT telephone cabinet – these are known as “EO lines”. Hence, when the cabinet by the school went live for Wreningham Superfast, Hethel Road could not.

We understand that BT plans to correct both of the above omissions by rearranging these telephone wires where they pass the school cabinet. BT has declared a provisional timescale to do this by the end of this year (2017). If the residents of NR16 1BB and NR16 1DP put their details into the BT Openreach Broadband Checker ( https://www.homeandwork.openreach.co.uk/when-can-i-get-fibre.aspx ), they will see that they are “In Scope”, i.e. the process has already started and progress can be monitored by revisiting the website.

– Wymondham Road beyond the 30mph sign (NR16 1AY)

– Areas both on and off the northern half of Hethel Road (NR16 1BQ, NR16 1BE and NR16 1BD)

Superfast Broadband signals degrade as they travel along copper wires. The broadband service along Wymondham Road reduces from a maximum of about 80Mbps at the school, to about 35Mbps by the time it reaches the 30mph sign. The next properties are several hundred metres further on, but two or three of these are capable of still receiving an improved level of broadband service.

Once Superfast is enabled for Hethel Road, the service beyond the 30mph zone will reach a little further. How much further and at what speed, will only be understood once BT have rearranged the lines at the cabinet by the school.

So, besides BT’s lines, are there alternatives? There are actually three for residents:

(1) Satellite (typically up to 20Mbps)

These services are available now. The limitation is that Satellites provide a downloading service – not an uploading one. For the upload it is still necessary to use the existing landline. This works for people who only wish to send simple e-mails – but who also wish to carry out a lot of web surfing – including media viewing. Unfortunately, it is of limited use to gamers due to the microsecond delays (“latency”) inherent in the technology.

For information, look on the internet. If your broadband speed problems make this kind of search difficult, our local libraries all have internet terminals.

(2) 4G Data (speed is location dependent)

Increased infrastructure investment in 4G Mobile Phone masts are starting to have an impact in this locality. Already, O2 have some 4G coverage to higher areas of the parish. Vodafone aren’t far behind.

There are two ways on implementing a 4G Data solution for broadband:

  1. The mobile phone companies will sell you a USB stick (“dongle”) with built in SIM capability. Plug this into your computer – and you’re connected. Unfortunately for Wreningham, this approach is less likely to work as local mobile signal strength inside your property may not be strong enough.

  2. Use a special type of router with a socket for a 4G SIM data card. You will probably need an external aerial too. As it is complex to set up most people prefer to buy this as a commercial service.

There are always limitations. For 4G, it is about how much data you wish to consume. Where as web surfing is fine, using it to view High Definition video is not a good idea as the high levels of data quickly become expensive. The speed can be reasonable – but the precise speed you get will be dependent on your property location; if you need an aerial, its positioning is important. The mobile coverage maps from the mobile companies are useful starting point. They will tell you what type of performance you might expect at your location. It is important to check this sort of detail before spending your money!

Examine the major mobile phone company websites for pricing information. Again, a library terminal might be the best place for your searching!

(3) ITSWISP (a Wymondham Based Wireless Broadband Service – up to 8Mbps)

This service has been running for some time. Their online map shows coverage to include most of the challenging areas of the parish. As part of their service, ITSWISP will fit a special antenna high up on your property to obtain a two way signal. Their highest download speed is 8Mbps and comes with a 12 month contract. If you are currently suffering from a very slow or non-existent broadband service you might be interested, give them a call on 01603 425209.

The one huge benefit is: they will do everything for you.

Norwich Road (NR16 1AF)

This area has its phone lines corrected directly to the exchange. Hence, no wires routed through the green BT cabinet and no Superfast broadband – even though fibres serving the nearby cabinet are running under the main road just feet from their front doors. On their existing “ADSL” broadband service they ought to be able to receive about 7Mbps.

The Satellite based solution could work well – subject to the limitations previously described. However, the other alternatives do not apply because this location has 4G coverage and the highest speed from ITSWISP (assuming their signal covers this area) would not provide any advantage over the existing phone line service. Otherwise, a solution for this small group of properties must remain work-in-progress.

If you currently receive 2Mbps broadband – or less

A government based scheme (see http://basicbroadbandchecker.culture.gov.uk/) is in place, until December 2017, to subsidise properties unable to access more than 2Mbps. This can offset some of the costs of using non-landline solutions. In order to qualify, it is necessary to speak to your potential Satellite / Mobile / Wireless provider. The government establish this scheme to minimising the cost impact of these alternative broadband delivery methods.

In addition to all the above ………

So what if you have occasional or regular need to download or upload large amounts of data but you don’t have a high speed broadband link to match? Perhaps it’s a business need – such as those big government online forms – or, perhaps, a hobby?

The Parish Council has been talking to our councillors from Norfolk County Council and South Norfolk Council about their funding a special broadband scheme for 2017-18. This will be based on the Village Hall and take advantage of its proximity to the BT cabinet near the school. A leased line would provide a high speed link enabling access to an 80Mbps link. This is simply intended to complement existing your current/future arrangements. This initial funding would allow this service to operate for at least a year. If popular, it may be extended.

We will pass on details as they become available.