What is superfast broadband?

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 'super fast' thanks to fibre optic cable and other technologies, such as satellite. ADSL broadband is delivered via copper telephone lines.

Superfast Cornwall will utilise all the available technologies to make sure everyone in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has access to vastly improved broadband speeds by the end of 2014.

Can I get superfast broadband?

Good news! There are many homes and businesses in Cornwall that can connect to superfast 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 by the end of 2014, 95% of premises in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will benefit from superfast fibre optic broadband; the remaining 5% will get improved connection speeds through alternative technologies.

If superfast 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 subsided satellite service will be available.

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 superfast fibre optic broadband.

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

The superfast 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 superfast broadband?

Once you've checked your line (see our line checker on the top right of this page) to confirm superfast 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 £12.50 a month.

If superfast 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 superfast broadband?

Most homes and businesses have a 'green box' somewhere near which provides the phone and internet connection. Exchange Only (EO) lines do not go through a green box and are connected directly to the local telephone exchange. At the moment, EO customers cannot be upgraded with fibre optic broadband. This accounts for around 20% of phone lines, usually those which are either very close or very remote from the telephone exchange.

Good news! The first national fibre optic pilot for EO lines is currently happening in Cornwall at Stenalees (if you live in Stenalees, check your line). There are plans to upgrade other EO lines from late 2012 into 2013.

Even better news! Many EO customers will be able to access the fastest superfast broadband speeds, currently up to 300Mbps.

Despite the upgrade, not all EO lines will be on the fibre optic footprint, but that doesn't mean broadband connection speeds won't be improved. Alternative technologies, such as wireless or satellite may be required to provide increase speed. 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 superfast broadband in Cornwall.

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

No, superfast broadband will not just automatically switch on. To get superfast 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 superfast broadband in Cornwall so you can shop around and choose the package that is best for you. Prices start from just £12.50 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 superfast broadband, you're existing service will not be affected.

Why has the date for my area been put back?

Forecast dates are based on whole exchange areas, not individual towns/villages (i.e. the Falmouth exchange area not the town). These dates can move back as well as forwards, due to the nature of an engineering build of this kind and scale.  The forecast dates on the website can indicate the ‘next phase’ of the rollout in your area or when to expect the start of the fibre rollout.

The dates are adjusted each time a phase is completed, so this may not mean your area has been ‘put back’, it’s just another part of the exchange has been complete and we are moving on to the next. 

What does superfast broadband cost?

Superfast broadband in Cornwall is super affordable, with prices starting from just £12.50 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 superfast broadband in Cornwall .

Why hasn’t my business got it yet?

Over the last two years, Superfast Cornwall has brought fibre broadband to 85% of people living 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. There is still a significant amount of time left in the programme – the rollout continues until the end of 2014.  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 planning and 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 and we’re researching alternative technologies for those who fall outside this group.


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. Superfast Cornwall is investigating ways in which we can encourage the take up of FOD by businesses that could benefit.

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

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

On installation day, an engineer will come to your premises to install a superfast 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 superfast broadband?

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

Superfast 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 superfast 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 superfast broadband, why not?

If your property is in a superfast 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 Superfast Broadband:

  1. Your line may be connected to a roadside cabinet that has not yet been upgraded to superfast broadband. More and more cabinets are being upgraded each week. Register on our keep me in the loop page and we'll let you know when superfast 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 superfast broadband to be delivered straight from the exchange. However, the first trial to provide superfast broadband to EO lines is currently taking place in Cornwall. Find out more, here.
  3. Your line may be too far away from the roadside cabinet to support superfast broadband. Where fibre optic superfast 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 superfast broadband news.

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

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

Superfast Cornwall is building Europe's largest rural superfast broadband network and it will take until 2014 to complete. There are over 250,000 premises in Cornwall and the new superfast 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 is being 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 superfast broadband to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as quickly as possible.

All these factors mean we can only announce new superfast 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 superfast broadband to main towns and more isolated areas simultaneously. If your area is towards the bottom of the superfast 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 superfast broadband in Cornwall will be completed in 2014; 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 by 2014.

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 superfast 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.) Superfast 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. Superfast 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 superfast 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.

Superfast 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 superfast 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 superfast broadband

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