/ Money, Technology

Broadband must be superfast for everyone

Just imagine that every time the Prime Minister wanted to use the internet, he had to go outside Number 10, stand on a chair and hold his phone up to the heavens.

Or run up and down a flight of stairs to turn the router off and on. Or pop round to Number 11 to use their computer. Then wait hours for a document to download.

Naturally, he’d ask his provider for better broadband. The response, if he lived in some parts of the country, would be: it’s too tricky to upgrade you, so we’re not automatically bringing your service into line with the rest of the UK. You can apply for a basic connection, often from a satellite, and you may have to stump up some of the costs of installation.

Why should rural areas put up with this?

Does that sound unfair? It’s reality for hundreds of thousands of people in rural areas. People who told us they really must stand on a chair or sprint downstairs to get a connection.

That’s why when the government announced in 2015 its ambition to put access to broadband on a similar footing to other basic services, such as electricity, there was cause to celebrate. The PM said he wanted to bring fast broadband to everyone by 2020.

That deadline’s rapidly approaching, so the government must get its skates on. And in recent weeks it’s become clear that the commitment may not give us all the superfast connection we need. We’re now told superfast broadband will reach at least 95% of the country by 2017 and the new ‘Universal Service Obligation’ will only give you a legal right to a fast connection, not superfast.

Where does that leave those in the final 5%? You can make an application, but how easy will it be to get connected and how much will you pay? And when it’s done, will your broadband be fast enough to cope with a new generation of digital services?

Even now, people in rural areas struggle to run homes, farms and other businesses with painfully slow internet, below 2Mbps.

If you’re in that 5%, we’re determined you’re not forgotten. We want to work with government to bring in its plans as soon as possible. We want getting connected to be cost effective and simple. In the meantime we’ll make sure your views are heard.

Take action

You can sign up to our broadband campaign and here’s how to complain if you are concerned about the speed of your own connection.


I feel I should be very grateful that I routinely get “only” 12Mbps download and 1.0Mbps upload from my ADSL2+ connection. However, FTTC has been available in the village where I live for some time now but it offers me lower speeds than copper. My current provider indicates the following:
Standard Broadband (up to 16Mbps) – between 5.5 and 12.5Mbps
Fibre Optic Broadband (up to 76Mbps) – 6.4 Mbps download, 0.8 Mbps upload
When I investigated the reason for this (helped considerably by my broadband provider), I discovered that, although I am only 193 metres walking distance from a cabinet, the one I would actually use is located immediately outside the telephone exchange some 1,255 metres distant.

It seems to me that at least some of the problems could be resolved if some local re-wiring of cabinets could be carried out. Considerable amounts of taxpayers’ money have been handed over to BT to build a fibre optic network across the country. In some instances, it appears that end users are being deprived of the potential benefits simply by being tied-in to an older generation of installation that worked perfectly well simply for landlines.

Ian I appreciate your relisation that contrary to popular thinking Local Network Cable doesnt always travel in a straight line .You put the proposition that the Local Network should be “rewired ” –have you thought seriously about the costs in engineering involved in doing this throughout the UK ? Its estimated it would cost for FTTC which would use existing ducting ÂŁ30 billion and more for 100 % coverage . What you want would involve digging up roads Nationwide , trying to get permission from private owners to let new channels be made through their property . Openreach would need to employ another 100,000 employees , it would be a major national industrial effort to achieve it costing ÂŁ100,s of Billions ,its never going to happen . Your comment -your copper line is quicker than fibre is interesting when you say your cabinet is just outside the telephone exchange , then you would need FTTP , you could apply for that but 12Mbps isnt too bad in real life , I lived with 4.5Mbps for years. I understand why you would push the for restructuring of local lines but the cost is too great .

Duncan, first of all, thanks for your response. I completely agree that the country simply cannot, at this time, afford to retire the entire network, desirable though that would be. What I was, perhaps naively, suggesting was for there to be the possibility of the copper telephone line being moved from an existing cabinet to one in closer proximity to the premises requiring a fibre connection. The “sister” FTTC cabinet could then be used for the final copper connection. I have no idea if this would be technically possible but it strikes me that better use could be made of existing copper and fibre cabinets by some ad-hoc rewiring. Just a thought!

Ian-The transfer of your “D” side to another cabinet or even ,if as you say the cabinet is just outside the exchange , is technically possible but it would mean transferring it to another local cable cabinet which would mean a cable run under the ground between cabinets . Now this has been done in the past between copper cabinets and now between a fibre cabinet and a local copper run but the distance is short and access was easy . What could be done in your case is a direct cable feed into the exchange (no cabinet ) this is an actual fact in many areas but it would still mean you would need FTTP -ie-fibre all the way to your house , not impossible but we are back to cost. What BT is trialling as we speak is a combination of fibre and copper -ie-FTTC its called BT-G FAST technology which gives up to 800Mbps so even if you are a mile away your speed would shoot up . You could ask BT if you could get that even if you put your name down for it . I am hampered in checking up posters problems as I would need personal details which , obviously , are not allowed on Which otherwise I could check into your problem deeper.

I live two iles outside a major northern town, Accrington, with a green cabinet at the end of our Avenue, roughly 200 yds. Speed? Best is 3.1 Mbs, usually 2.5 down to 1.9! But I only pay ÂŁ5.00 per month on top of line rental.

Vicessa your and Ian,s post have something in common in that it is probable given the speed you gave me that this cabinet of not the one you come off OR it is not a FTTC cabinet . Check out the number on it go to openreach,s website input your address and you should find out if this is your cabinet , it will tell you if you can get a FTTC line or not as well . Your right 3.1Mbps is slow if the cabinet you come off is 200M from you but you say you pay a minimal amount suggesting its an all-copper line . If you find your cabinet is FTTC “ready ” you can apply for a fibre connection which ,if you are really only 200M from the cabinet (underground cable doesnt always go direct ) would greatly increase your speed .

A frequent missive I hear from BT/Openreach is there is not enough capacity at the distribution box- Why when you are supposed to be rolling out superfast broadband to EVERYONE.

This is due to an underestimation of those requiring fibre broadband at each cabinet OR a limited amount of money available to rewire the “E” side (exchange ) fibre cable . I got in early for applying for fibre from BT as I asked them to notify me when it was installed , I live in a village and it didnt take long before the fibre cable was full to capacity within a year a new underground fibre cable was installed increasing capacity so others got this service (FTTC ) . Its down to money Keith and grants .

Fast broadband everywhere will boost the economy. Instead of giving money to the banks where it disappears into a black hole, government should be commissioning fibre roll-out up and down the country, SDSL instead of the useless ADSL, and basically investing heavily with all their low-interest borrowing power in this crucial capital asset.

My god Alan ! a VERY sensible post which gets “I agree ” from me . But what you are up against is the many voices that say –too much tax payers money in grants to BT but what you envisage is a “dream ” I have in boosting this countries economy and your dead right, instead of boosting City profits. Good thinking !

Kieran Caulfield says:
19 July 2016

Why do the Broadband companies get away with lying to the public and charging for broadband speeds they know will not be achieved? Sickening behaviour 🙁