Frequently Asked Questions

There are a range of questions people frequently ask about broadband. Here we try to answer some of them:

Technical Questions:

  • What Are Fibre Optics?
    • A fibre-optic cable is made up of incredibly thin strands of glass or plastic known as optical fibres. One cable can have as few as two strands or as many as several hundred. Each strand is less than a tenth as thick as a human hair.

      Fibre-optic cables carry information between two places using light, not electricity. Fibre to the premises allows faster connection speeds than existing technology. It can cope with the ever increasing demands for connectivity and will allow telephone, audio, video, television and almost any other forms of digital data to be accessed using one connection. BB4ER have some samples of fibre optic cable should you be interested in having a look at it.

      Find out more at:
      www.explainthatstuff.com/fiberoptics.html

  • What Is FTTC, FTTH and FTTP?
    • FTTH means Fibre To The Home. It is a form of fibre-optic communication delivery that reaches one living or working space. The fibre extends from the Operators core network all the way to the subscriber's living or working space. FTTH is sometimes referred to as FTTP where the "P" stands for "Premises" or "Property".

      FTTC means "Fibre To The Cabinet". The cabinet is the green box you see by the roadside from which most people's telephone cables are connected and through which they get their broadband service. From there it travels by copper or aluminium cable to their home (or business premises). The signal degrades rapidly when passing along a metal cable.

      We are proposing to develop an FTTH network. This will allow the community scheme to provide the hyperfast speeds we are aiming for. It will involve installing network of ducting (16mm diameter) across farmland and in some cases gardens to provide an access point to the service at the boundaries of people's properties. No matter where your property is located in East Ruston, you are not excluded.

      It therefore means 100% coverage of an area. Individual connections are terminated inside the property at a box on the wall. Two fibres are connected to each property in order to build in resilience, i.e. if a problem occurs with one fibre, the spare can be connected to retain connectivity. The use of optical fibre eliminates the signal degradation associated with metal cables and increases capacity enormously.

      Find out more about why and by how much broadband signals can degrade over copper wire at:
      www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/2013/chart-bt-fttc-vdsl2-speed-against-distance

Questions About The Benefits:

  • Do I still need a phone line?
    • No! If you wish you can choose to cease your landline entirely, as it is possible to run a phone over the full fibre optic broadband connection that BB4ER plans to deliver.

      There are many companies that will provide you with a phone service that runs through your broadband connection. Below is an short video from one company that explains how simple it is. You can use Google to search for Reviews of UK based VOIP providers. VOIP stands for "Voice Over Internet Protocol" and is the name for the technology used.

  • What Can FTTH Do For Our Community?
    • Nationally, broadband use has increased substantially with new content filling the available bandwidth. Nearly all current broadband provision, irrespective of your provider, is via copper phone lines. There is a limit to what can be "squeezed" down the old copper and aluminium cables coming to your house. Fibre optic cable leapfrogs current technology by a mile. Once the cable is installed it is possible to upgrade the service in the future by simply replacing the equipment connected to either end of the length of fibre optic cable serving our community.

      The Fibre To The Home Council of Europe have produced an excellent booklet which explains the many benefits that FTTP offers including its use for health care provision, boosting productivity and benefits for the environment.

      Download the document:
      What Fibre To The Home Can Do For Your Community

  • Why Would I Want Such A Fast Broadband Service?
    • Many people in rural Norfolk only get broadband at maybe 2-3 Megabits per second — that's around 500 times slower than the service we are attempting to deliver. Even if you currently get better than that many find their broadband connection slows down dramatically once the kids are home from school in the afternoon or evening when everyone is wanting to watch films, do homework, play games etc? FTTH means that family members can be watching TV, videos and downloading large files all at the same time, your internet connection no longer being a limiting factor, and you will no longer be sharing the same connection.

      FTTH helps to "future-proof" your property, enhancing its value. Estate agents have been reporting that prospective house buyers are prepared to pay around £16,000 more for a property that has a good broadband connectivity.

      If you don't see a need now, you may very soon want to. Consider the widely respected Neilsen's Law and how it applies in the real world:

      • TV is increasingly being delivered via broadband. Some channels, e.g. BBC3, are only available via broadband.
      • All channels offer catch-up services. DVD and hard disk recorders will begin to disappear from shops!
      • Ultra-High Definition (4K TVs) can already be seen in shops. Broadcast channels do not support this format
      • DVD rental has died, but only those with good broadband can use streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime
      • Computer software is now delivered and updated via the internet e.g. Windows 10, Apple IOS, Microsoft Office. This can disable a computer for several hours on slow connections
      • Use of cloud services, such as Google Drive, One Drive and Dropbox, are not practical to use for file storage or backup on slow connections

      With our proposition upload speeds will be the same as download. We are aiming for 1 Gigabit which would be some 200 times faster than standard broadband and this makes it a viable option at last, especially for businesses and those who have to deal with large file sizes, such as videos and large photograph collections!

Financial Questions:

  • What Are Community Shares?
    • BB4ER is considering the use of community shares as a means to raise finance for the project. When we have determined the best way to raise finance we will be putting more information on our website for prospective investors. The video below explains how community benefit shares work

  • Are there Tax Advantage For Investors?
    • Some community broadband groups who have raised finance through issuing community shares have registered as an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). This allows investors to claim 30% tax relief on their shares for a certain period of time.

      We aim to establish a suitable organisation.

      Find out more at:
      communityshares.org.uk/resources/handbook/enterprise-investment-scheme

Expectations and Comparisons:

  • How Do We Compare With European Countries for FTTH?
    • In 2017 the UK has so few FTTH connections that it ranked with the war-torn Adriatic states, near bankrupt Greece, and some of the lesser ex-Soviet republics. Map Showing Levels of FTTH

      Map data source: FTTH Council

      Not much has changed since these earlier reports that cover 2016 on The Register and ISP Review web sites.

  • Do Others Run Community Broadband Schemes?
    • The most prominent community benefit scheme in the UK is Broadband for the Rural North (spelt "B4RN" and pronounced "Barn"). B4RN has inspired a number of similar initiatives. We have been impressed with the B4RN model and members of the group have visited Lancashire on a couple of occasions to learn about the enterprise and to undertake training about route design and installation techniques. Members of BB4ER have become founding members of B4RN - East Anglia. This is a new development for B4RN which is working to provide a 1 Gbps service on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

      Other community initiatives include F4RN in Nottinghamshire and Cybermoor in Cumbria.

  • Isn't The Government Promising Fast Broadband For All?
    • As part of our research, we have held meetings with the project officer for "Better Broadband for Norfolk" (the local office of BDUK, "Broadband Delivery UK", the government project to subsidise broadband in difficult to reach places) and a BT Regional Director.

      We have examined the BBfN web site, for information about proposed improvements. From information gathered from this and the Project Manager we now know that 33% of the parish are not going to receive any discernible improvements to their broadband provision.

      When viewing the information on the BBfN site, please note that the scheme has to operate within the following criteria "Basic" broadband is broadband which delivers access line speeds of at least 2 Megabits per second (Mbps). "Fast" broadband is broadband which delivers an access line speed of greater than 15Mbps. Public subsidy can only be used where speeds are not "fast". In consequence the properties within a post code are marked as follows:

      Green - "Some or all properties have access to fast broadband" i.e. over 15 Mbps download speed today

      Amber - "A fast broadband solution is planned for all properties" i.e. over 15Mbps download speed by mid-2020

      Blue - "Fast broadband plans for some properties within the postcode, but not all" i.e. some will have over 15Mbps download speed by mid-2020 but some will fall below this. The numbers are unquantifiable.

      Red - "No properties have access and there are no fast broadband plans" i.e. No improvements have been programmed therefore there are many properties that will continue to have very low speeds.

      All that goes above was written before the recent government announcement that sought to promise a 10Mbps connection for all by 2020. There is much questioning by experts whether this can be delivered.