What is superfast broadband, fibre broadband, FTTP and FTTC?

Superfast broadband is the next generation of broadband, providing a faster and more reliable service. Superfast broadband delivers speeds of up to 330Mbps, compared with traditional, ADSL broadband, which in Cornwall averages at around 5-6 Mbps. Superfast broadband is 'superfast' thanks to fibre-optic cable which is used to deliver the service. The UK Government have recently defined superfast broadband as speeds > 24Mbps.

With FTTP (Fibre to the Premises), the fibre-optic cable runs all the way into the premises, giving very fast speeds of up to 330Mbps.

With FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet), the fibre-optic cable runs as far as the green roadside cabinet, and your copper telephone line is then used to deliver the last leg of the service. Speeds of up to 80Mbps are possible with this service.

With FTTC, your maximum speed will depend very much on the length of your copper telephone line from the cabinet. The vast majority of lines will support a maximum  ‘superfast’ speed of > 24Mbps. You can still upgrade your service if you are further away from the cabinet and get speeds of between 2-24Mbps. Although these are not ‘superfast’ speeds by the new definition, they will provide uplift in speeds for the vast majority of premises.

The term ‘fibre broadband’, is taken to include both superfast speeds of > 24Mbps, and slower speeds that can be delivered over the network of 2-24Mbps.

Can I get fibre broadband?

Good news! There are many homes and businesses in Cornwall that can connect to fibre broadband straight away. Use our line checker (top right of this page) to see if that's you. If you fall into this category, then all you need to do is contact your Internet Service Provider to place an order.

Rolling-out the new fibre infrastructure will take time but we have completed the core network infrastructure. There will be some cases where smaller bit and pieces of build work will be continuing to increase the fibre footprint.  

If fibre broadband is not currently an option for your home or business, register your details on our 'keep me in the loop' page and we'll let you know when it becomes available.

What about the estimated 5% of premises that won't be able to get fibre optic broadband?

If your home or business can't get fibre optic broadband, we're making use of other technologies, such as satellite and ADSL2+, with the aim of speeding up broadband for those beyond the fibre footprint.

Cornwall includes many remote areas where homes and businesses are very scattered, which means although 95% will benefit from fibre optic broadband, we just can't get it to every premises.

This 5%, approximately 13,000 properties, are split between those that currently get at least 2Mbps on their current broadband, and those that get below 2Mbps.

Some of those who get at least 2Mbps will gain access to faster broadband speeds thanks to additional exchange upgrades to ADSL2+. 

For people with broadband speeds of less than 2Mbps, a satellite service may be an option.  Please see our dedicated satellite page for more information.

Through a combination of different solutions,  Superfast Cornwall will be trying to bring faster broadband to as many people as possible in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly; not only those that can access fibre optic broadband.

What does the future look like for fibre rollout in Cornwall?

A future programme is currently under development, and this is being managed by Cornwall Council. This future work is likely to be undertaken in two phases, with the long term aim of delivering 99% coverage of superfast broadband (30+Mbps) across Cornwall by 2020. This is challenging because the remote and harder to reach premises become significantly more expensive to do - reaching this level of coverage in a rural area has not yet been achieved anywhere in the world.

Funding has now been secured for the first phase, and a procurement process is underway to establish the potential coverage that this could deliver. This will make significant progress to delivering fibre solutions to the remaining premises. The postcodes that will be tackled as part of the first phase will depend on the outcomes of the modelling to be undertaken as part of the procurement process. The contract is expected to be signed by the end of June 2015. A second phase will be needed to complete the job, and the use of EU funds to deliver this in the next European programme is a real possibility. 

As a baseline, Superfast Cornwall expect to deliver 95% fibre broadband coverage by the end of the current programme in 2015, with about 87% of Cornwall able to connect with superfast speeds of 30+Mbps. This means over 30,000 premises across nearly 5,000 postcode areas that would benefit from an uplift.

Why can’t you tell me if I’m in the 5% beyond the fibre footprint?

At this stage, we still do not know all the premises that will be within the 5% unable to get fibre by the end of the programme in 2015. That is because we are still doing our very best to bring fibre to as many premises as possible.  So the situation is still in flux, and the prospects for any one business or home may change. If you are in a remote location with very low broadband speeds and would like to know whether it looks unlikely you will be able to connect to fibre by the end of the programme, you can contact us and we will advise you, based on  our current assessment of your situation.  To find out whether satellite technology may be an option for you, please take a look at our satellite page. If you contact us at satellite@superfastcornwall.org we can discuss this with you further. Please bear with us- the only reason we cannot yet confirm exactly who will be in the 5% is that we are still trying to bring fibre to as many premises as possible.

Can I speed up the roll out in my area by encouraging others to register their interest?

The fibre broadband rollout in Cornwall is not dependent on the number of registrations of interest, although everyone interested should register with us.

Registrations of interest may help us plan technology solutions based on the needs of a particular community. If this is the case, we will talk to interested businesses and residents to best meet an area's specific requirements.

How do I get fibre broadband?

Once you've checked your line (see our line checker on the top right of this page) to confirm fibre broadband is available to you, it's much the same as ordering normal broadband. There are a number of different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offering the service, with prices starting from just £10.00 a month.

If fibre broadband is not currently available in your area, fill in your details on our 'keep me in the loop' page and we'll get in touch as soon as we know you can get it.

My line is connected directly to the exchange. Will I be able to get fibre broadband?

Most homes and businesses have a phone line which passes through a cabinet – these are the green boxes seen along roads. Exchange Only (EO) lines do not go through a green cabinet and are connected directly to the local telephone exchange. Extra planning and engineering work is required in order to upgrade EO lines for fibre broadband.

Good news! Many EO lines are being migrated to new green cabinets which are then being upgraded, and we will continue to do this until the end of the programme.

Even better news! Some EO customers will be enabled with Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) which will give them access the fastest fibre broadband speeds, currently up to 300Mbps.

Despite the upgrades for some EO lines, it will not be possible to upgrade all the EO lines in Cornwall and some will be in the 5% of premises (about 13,000) that will remain beyond the fibre footprint – please see our FAQ about premises in the 5%.

Fill in the Keep me in the Loop form and we will let you when you can get connected.

Watch our animation to see how EO and non-EO customers will be getting fibre broadband in Cornwall.

When fibre broadband becomes available will my broadband connection speed get faster automatically?

No, fibre broadband will not just automatically switch on. To get fibre broadband in Cornwall, you'll need to first check your line (upper right side of this page) and then place an order with your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP). There are several ISPs offering fibre broadband in Cornwall so you can shop around and choose the package that is best for you. Prices start from just £10.00 a month.

Once your order has gone through, an engineer will install the necessary equipment at your premises.

Don't worry! If you choose not to upgrade to fibre broadband, you're existing service will not be affected.

What does fibre broadband cost?

Fibre broadband in Cornwall is super affordable, with prices starting from just £5 a month for home users and £30 for businesses, probably the same, or not much more than current broadband costs.

Want to get the best broadband deal? Why not review your contract for telephone calls at the same time. Shop around; there are a range of Internet Service Providers offering fibre broadband in Cornwall .

Why hasn’t my business got it yet?

Over the last three years, Superfast Cornwall has brought fibre broadband to 92% of premises in the county, but we’re very aware of the frustrations felt by businesses and residents who are still waiting for faster speeds.

We ask that you remain patient, the core network is in place and there are still bits and pieces of final build work to be completed.  At this point in the project, engineers will face the more tricky part of the build and have to overcome the challenges and factors relating to difficult terrain and remoteness.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for us to predict future dates for individual connections as the build process is ongoing and often completes just before areas go live. Please know we’re working hard to get the best solution for businesses and residents in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Also, we are well on target to bring 95% of residents and businesses onto the fibre footprint.


What is Fibre on Demand or FTTP on Demand (FOD)?

Fibre on Demand or FTTP on Demand (FOD) will allow some businesses connected to a fibre enabled cabinet to order a direct fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection. This is a premium service that will come with a significant connection charge and is likely to require a 3 year contract. Further details can be found here www.thinkbroadband.com/news/6208-fibre-on-demand-coverage-expansion-announced-by-openreach.html.

Currently Openreach have enabled the following exchanges in Cornwall for FOD: Redruth, St Agnes, Falmouth, Penryn, Bodmin, Bude, Camborne, Devoran, Hayle, Helston, Launceston, Liskeard, Newquay, Par, Penzance, St Austell, Stenalees, Truro, Threewaters and Veryan. In time, further exchanges are expected, but we do not yet have the timescale for these.

FOD is a very new product that is available from Openreach to service providers. At present only BT Business are choosing to make this available to end users, but we are expecting further ISPs to offer this service in time. 

How long after I place an order will fibre broadband be installed, and what does installation involve?

Although timings may vary depending what Internet Service Provider you use, from order to installation of fibre broadband usually takes about two weeks in a Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) area.

On installation day, an engineer may come to your premises to install a fibre broadband modem and you will receive a new router from your Internet Service Provider. Existing telephone and computer equipment will not need to be replaced.

If you are in a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) area, the installation is more complex and is a two stage process. Stage one involves running the fibre to a small box usually mounted on the side of your building. At times this can be challenging and in exceptional circumstances it may require extra network to be planned and built, which will take some time. During Stage two, another visit will undertake the final connection to provide you with service.

How fast is fibre broadband?

The exact fibre broadband speeds available to your premises will depend on where you live/work and how this premises is connected.

Fibre optic broadband can be delivered in two ways:

  • Fibre to the cabinet: The fibre optic cabling runs from the telephone exchange to a local cabinet, the green boxes which you may have noticed by the side of the road. Copper wires are then used to run between the cabinet and your premises. This combination of fibre optic and copper can deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps for downloads.
  • Fibre to the premises: At the cutting edge of superfast broadband technology, this is when fibre optic cable runs directly from the exchange right into your premises. Fibre to premises can deliver download speeds of up to 330Mbps.

The exact speed of your fibre broadband also depends on a number of additional factors: the length of your line from the telephone exchange or green cabinet, the line quality and the equipment and internal wiring within your premises. Superfast Cornwall is working to ensure that everyone gets as fast a speed as possible given their geographical location.

I am in an enabled area but I cannot get fibre broadband, why not?

If your property is in a fibre broadband enabled area on our map but you've had no joy with your Internet Service Provider, there may be a number of factors stopping you from accessing fibre broadband:

  1. Your line may be connected to a roadside cabinet that has not yet been upgraded to fibre broadband. There are more cabinets to go live by the end of the programme. Register on our keep me in the loop page and we'll let you know when fibre broadband is available.
  2. You may be an Exchange Only (EO) customer, which means your line is connected directly to the telephone exchange. Regulations do not currently allow fibre broadband to be delivered straight from the exchange. However, the first trial to provide fibre broadband to EO lines was successfully undertaken in Cornwall. You can find out more here.
  3. Your line may be too far away from the roadside cabinet to support superfast broadband. Where fibre optic fibre broadband is not available, Superfast Cornwall is developing alternative solutions to improve connection speeds.

Register your details on our keep me in the loop page for the latest fibre broadband news.

Watch our animation to see how fibre broadband is being rolled-out across Cornwall.

I want fibre broadband now! Can my area get it any earlier?

Superfast Cornwall is building Europe's largest rural fibre broadband network and it will take until 2015 to complete. There are over 250,000 premises in Cornwall and the new fibre broadband infrastructure needs to be physically built - it's not just a matter of flicking switches.

As this is such a pioneering programme, some of the capabilities needed to bring faster broadband to everyone are very new. Cornwall has been used as a 'test bed' for many of these cutting edge technologies, which include: 4G wireless broadband, TV Whitespace, wireless, satellite and solutions for what are known as Exchange Only (EO) lines – lines connected directly to the telephone exchange.

Why can't you tell me when my specific area is going live?

Information on new areas of availability has to be released to all internet service providers on an equivalent basis and that's why new areas are only announced as part of this national process when they go live.

Engineering plans and delivery timescales depend on factors such as planning applications, the provision of electricity to new roadside cabinets and the good old British weather! Rest assured; we're working as hard as we can, in fact, the Superfast Cornwall engineering team is breaking delivery timescale records to bring fibre broadband to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as quickly as possible.

All these factors mean we can only announce new fibre broadband areas in Cornwall once they become live.

How does Superfast Cornwall plan the broadband roll out?

Superfast Cornwall's aim is to achieve the best long-term broadband coverage for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

It is inevitable that in a programme of this size some areas in Cornwall will get superfast broadband before others. Why one area is chosen over another is based on a number of factors: including local demographics and geography, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies.

At each stage, we have tried, where possible, to deliver fibre broadband to main towns and more isolated areas simultaneously. If your area is towards the bottom of the fibre broadband queue, we understand your frustration but rest assured we're working as quickly as possible, in fact Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are ahead of most other parts of the UK.

The roll out of fibre broadband in Cornwall will be completed in 2015; not too long to wait!

What about the areas that can't even get ordinary broadband?

There are a very small number of remote places in Cornwall which are unable to get ADSL broadband – 'notspots'. Through the Superfast Cornwall programme, we are finding new and ingenious solutions for these areas, such as utilising satellites, to ensure that there are absolutely no 'notspots' in Cornwall.

What are Mbps?

Mbps (or Mb/s) stands for Megabits per second, the way in which internet speeds are measured. One bit means one piece of basic information, and one Megabit is a million pieces of information. So, for fibre broadband customers in Cornwall, going from less than 2 Mbps to up to 330 Mbps, that's quite a leap, one which will transform the way they use the internet forever!

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is when software and data are no longer hosted on your computer, but remotely at a data centre, which means you can access the 'cloud' wherever and whenever you need it, and from any internet enabled device (laptops, tablets, phones etc.) Fibre broadband will allow more businesses and homes in Cornwall to take advantage of cloud computing, bringing cost and time-saving benefits, plus greater flexibility when it comes to how, when and where you access the internet.

You're probably using cloud computing already, without even realising it, through things like email accounts, Facebook, You Tube and Google Maps. Some cloud computing services are free and some are available as a pay-as you-go option.

For businesses in particular, cloud computing offers a lower cost solution, keeping technology-based capital expenditure down. Users can access the most sophisticated software and applications without having to purchase them outright.

There are a range of cloud computing services available, here are just a few examples:

  • Amazon EC2 - virtual IT
  • Google App Engine - application hosting
  • Google Apps - software as a service
  • Apple MobileMe - network storage

Other business specific applications, like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, are available from a number of suppliers.

What is a virtual private network (VPN)?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a computer network that enables remote offices or individual employees to get secure access to their organisation's network. This network uses encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure only authorised users can access the network and that data cannot be intercepted.

Companies and organisations use a VPN to communicate confidentiality over the internet, sending text, voice, video or other data to remote workers, offices or partners around the globe. Fibre broadband in Cornwall means businesses can utilise a VPN, enabling greater flexibility, including home working, which can bring many benefits, in terms of productivity, cost savings and work-life balance.

What is the contention ratio?

Under first generation broadband services 'contention ratio' was the term used to describe how many users might be sharing a connection at the busiest times of day, such as 20:1 between 4pm and 7pm.

With fibre broadband, rather than a contention ratio, some Internet Service Providers are choosing to guarantee a minimum throughput, such as 16Mb/s for 90% of the busiest time of day, for example.

I have data hosting needs, are there any facilities available in Cornwall?

There are a number of options for businesses or personal users who need data hosted in Cornwall:

  • Server space can be rented, or existing servers can be co-located in a data centre
  • Software and operating systems can be run remotely as a 'virtual machine' in the cloud.

Fibre broadband provides a number of advantages when hosting data in these ways: the upload speeds are much higher and back-ups can be more easily maintained.

For companies that do need to be closer to their data, for example medical information, there are established facilities in Exeter and Plymouth.

A company aiming to provide content that was predominantly used on the fibre broadband network in Cornwall would need to consider the advantages of hosting data more locally as this would reduce transit charges.

How can I meet connectivity needs over and above speeds delivered by fibre broadband

Many of the telecoms providers offer dedicated fibre leased line services to premises that need more than the connectivity delivered by fibre broadband in Cornwall.

Fourteen of the 100 exchanges in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are 'points of handover', exchanges where a number of providers will be able to deliver competitively priced links through to internet exchanges outside of Cornwall.

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