Frequently Asked Questions
Superfast broadband is the new generation of broadband - much faster, more reliable and using a different technology than we are all used to today. Whilst traditional broadband (known as ADSL) is delivered via copper telephone lines, superfast broadband commonly uses fibre optic cable for some or all of the link between the customer and the exchange.
Superfast fibre broadband has the potential to deliver upload and download speeds that are lightning fast when compared to traditional broadband. The average ADSL broadband speed in Cornwall is around 5-6 Mbps but superfast broadband delivers speeds up to 80Mbps or up to 160Mbps in some places. Although superfast broadband is mainly associated with fibre optic, other technologies such as satellite and advanced copper solutions can also be used to deliver faster broadband. The Superfast Cornwall programme will be harnessing the potential of these technologies too, aiming to make sure that everyone in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can experience a step change in their broadband speeds by 2014.
Although Openreach is delivering the fibre optic broadband infrastructure to Cornwall and Scilly, there are many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) through which you can order the service.
Ask your service provider for superfast fibre broadband. Not all service providers offer it so if yours doesn't, you may need to shop around.
Many people also ask if superfast broadband is the same as "Infinity". The answer is that "Infinity" is BT's superfast broadband product; other ISPs have other names for their fibre broadband offerings.
Visit our How to get it page to find out which ISPs are offering fibre broadband in Cornwall.
Superfast broadband is being rolled out across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly over the next two years. Enter your telephone number into our line checker to see if you can get it yet. This will also tell you which telephone exchange area you fall within. If you are one of the third of premises in Cornwall that can connect straightaway, contact your choice of Internet Service Provider to place an order.
If superfast broadband is not available to you yet, view our map to see when it starts to become available in your area. Please note that not all of one area will go live on the same day. If superfast broadband has already started to become available in your area but you can't get it yet, register to be kept in the loop and we'll email you when superfast broadband becomes available to you.
The Superfast Cornwall 'big build' continues until 2014. Superfast fibre broadband will be available to 95% of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly and we are aiming to bring faster broadband to everyone else through alternative technologies. Click here to see how it's built.
Once you've checked your line 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 and you just shop around and choose the best deal for you. You can see a list of ISPs currently offering superfast broadband in Cornwall providers here.
If you have a query that cannot be resolved by your internet service provider, you can email Superfast Cornwall at firstname.lastname@example.org for local independent advice.
Exchange Only (EO) lines are connected directly to the local telephone exchange and do not pass through a green cabinet that can be upgraded with a fibre broadband connection. This accounts for around 20% of phone lines (often either very close to the telephone exchange or very remote from it). Watch our animation to see how this fits into the wider exchange.
Regulations do not currently allow the technology used to deliver superfast broadband from the cabinets to be used in the exchanges. However, the first national pilot for EO lines is currently happening in Cornwall at Stenalees (and if you are in Stenalees you should check your line).
Other EO lines are being planned across Cornwall later this year, and will be upgraded from late 2012 into 2013. Note that not all EO lines will be on the fibre footprint, and alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite may be required to provide an uplift in speed. Fill in the Keep me in the Loop form and we will inform you when you can get connected.
No, it does not just automatically switch itself on. To get superfast broadband, you'll need to place an order with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This is because superfast broadband uses a different technology (e.g. fibre optic) and an engineer will need to visit your premises to install the necessary equipment.
There are several ISPs offering superfast broadband in Cornwall so you can shop around and choose the package that is best for you. However, if you choose not to upgrade to superfast broadband, you'll be able to continue using your existing broadband service as normal.
The prices are very affordable, starting from only around £15 for home users and £30 for businesses, which may not be much more than you are currently paying for standard broadband! Many customers review their contract for telephone calls at the same time which may mean you end up paying not much more if anything at all!
Check out the prices from internet service providers now offering the service in Cornwall.
The time before installation of superfast broadband may vary from one internet service provider to another but typically it would take about two weeks. An engineer will call and install a new modem at your premises and you will receive a new router from your internet service provider. All your other telephone and computer equipment need not be replaced.
The exact speeds you will be able to get will depend on how your own premises are connected. There are two main ways in which fibre optic can be used to bring you superfast broadband.
'Fibre to the cabinet' is when the fibre optic cabling runs from the exchange to a local cabinet (these are green cabinets you will see by the side of the road around your local area) and then copper wires run between the cabinet and your premises. This combination of fibre optic and copper can deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps for downloads, making this a very exciting and future-proof technology.
'Fibre to the premises' is at the cutting edge of superfast broadband technology. This is when fibre optic cable runs directly from the exchange right into your premises. This can deliver download speeds of up to 160Mbps at present, and even faster speeds of up to 330Mbps are being made available to broadband service providers.
The exact speed you get depends also on a number of additional factors like the length of your line from the telephone exchange or green roadside 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.
This can be due to a one or more different factors.
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 and you can register for email updates so we'll let you know when superfast broadband is available to you.
2. You may be served by what is known as an 'exchange only' line that is connected directly to the telephone exchange without an intervening green roadside cabinet. Regulations do not currently allow the technology used to deliver superfast broadband from the cabinets to be used in the exchanges. However, the first trial of new technology to support 'Exchange Only' lines is taking place in Cornwall so we are in the process of developing a solution.
3. You may be on a line that is too long to support a superfast broadband connection from your local roadside cabinet.
We are working hard to upgrade as many premises as possible to superfast broadband and where fibre optic superfast cannot be made available, we are aiming to develop solutions to bring faster broadband through alternative technologies by 2014.
Please register your details with us and we can keep you updated with progress. You can also watch our short animation to discover how the superfast broadband is built in a typical exchange area, and why some parts will get superfast broadband before others.
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 a such a pioneering programme, some of the capabilities needed to bring faster broadband to everyone are very new. 'Fibre to the premises' (FTTP) is a cutting edge technology that has only just started to be rolled out nationally and we have a high proportion already built in Cornwall. There are a number of other technology trials such as 4G wireless broadband, TV Whitespace, wireless, satellite and solutions for what are known as 'Exchange only' lines (which are connected directly to the exchange without an intervening cabinet). We are promoting Cornwall as a 'test bed' for such new technology solutions to ensure as many people as possible get faster broadband as soon as possible.
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.
Also, engineering plans and delivery timescales do depend on factors such as planning applications, the provision of electricity to the new roadside cabinets and even the good old British weather. In Cornwall the engineering team are breaking records for shortening the normal delivery timescales for new superfast broadband coverage but we can only announce new areas once they are confirmed as live.
The aim of the Superfast Cornwall programme 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 will be enabled before others. Whilst planning the rollout, we worked closely with our partners and participating organisations, taking into account many factors including local demographics and geography, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service. We have always sought to maintain a balance between the main towns and the more isolated areas, and this is evident in the phasing of the rollout which shows both larger towns and more rural areas being upgraded with superfast broadband at each stage.
We fully understand people's frustration and the huge importance of superfast broadband to everyone and businesses in particular. It is some consolation to note that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is still ahead of most other parts of the UK and by the time Superfast Cornwall has completed this rollout in 2014, there will probably still be parts of the country that have not even started.
The superfast broadband rollout is not dependent on the number of registrations of interest, although everyone interested should register with us. In some areas this information may help to plan the best technology solution according to the needs of your local community. If this is the case, we will let you know and actively engage with interested members of your community.
What about the estimated number of up to 5% of homes and businesses that will not be able to get fibre optic superfast broadband?
We are aiming to get faster broadband to anyone who wants it by 2014, making use of other technologies such as satellite and advanced copper.
Installing fibre is especially challenging in Cornwall as the duchy includes many remote areas where homes and businesses are very scattered, as well as some inhospitable rural terrain. This means that although we will be able to bring fibre optic broadband to 95% of Cornwall, it is simply not viable to roll it out everywhere.
The final 5% of premises (approximately 13,000 homes and businesses) are roughly equally split between those that currently get at least 2Mbps on their current broadband, and those that get below 2Mbps. Those who get at least 2Mbps already and are not within the fibre footprint will mostly gain access to faster speeds as their exchanges are upgraded with ADSL2+ broadband as part of the Superfast Cornwall programme.
And what about those people with broadband speeds of less than 2Mbps? We expect that the majority of premises that could only get sub-2Mbps service before the Superfast Cornwall programme will be able to benefit from fibre optic coverage. And for those premises that are outside the fibre footprint, we will employ advanced copper solutions that deploy broadband regenerators along the route of the line to "clean up and boost" the broadband signal.
In the small minority of cases where this is not possible, we will provide subsidised satellite broadband installations.
So, through a combination of different solutions, we will bring faster broadband to everyone in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, not only those that can look forward to fibre optic broadband. Superfast Cornwall is about delivering a better and more prosperous future for absolutely everyone in the county and we are at the frontier of finding new and inventive ways to make that happen.
Why are you pushing ahead with superfast broadband when there are still some 'notspots' in Cornwall - areas that cannot get ordinary broadband?
There are a very small number of remote places in Cornwall which are unable to get ADSL broadband. Through the Superfast Cornwall programme, we will be able to find new and ingenious solutions for these areas and ensure that there are absolutely no 'notspots' in Cornwall by 2014.
Mbps (or Mb/s) stands for Megabits per second, and it is the way in which internet speeds are measured. One bit means one piece of basic information, and one Megabit is a million such bits of information.
Cloud computing is the next stage in the evolution of the Internet. It is a relatively new term that describes the use of information technology services and resources that are provided on a service basis. In cloud computing, everything - from computing power to computing infrastructure, applications and business processes - are delivered to you as a service wherever and whenever you need.
The software and data are no longer hosted on your computer or server, but remotely at a data centre. Some cloud computing services are free and some are available as a pay-as you-go service. Because it is easy to scale up and down and because the user doesn't have to know anything about the underlying technology, individuals can access the most sophisticated software and application programming interfaces (APIs).
Many people already use cloud computing services without realising it things like email accounts, Facebook, You Tube and Google Maps.
One of the great selling points of cloud computing is lower costs. Businesses will have lower technology based capital expenditure. Cloud computing also enables users to access systems no matter where they are located or what kind of device they are using.
This flexibility is what is attracting individuals and businesses to move to the cloud.
These examples illustrate the different types of cloud computing services available today:
Amazon EC2 - virtual IT
Google App Engine - application hosting
Google Apps - software as a service
Apple MobileMe - network storage
Other business applications like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems are available from a number of suppliers.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a computer network that is constructed by using a public network, usually the internet, to enable remote offices or individual users to get secure access to their organisation's network. This network uses encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorised users can access the network and that the data cannot be intercepted.
Companies and organisations use a VPN to communicate confidentiality over the internet and it can be used to send voice, video or data. With a VPN, remote workers and organisations with offices and partners across the globe can share data in privacy. A VPN enables a business to work flexibly, with employees working remotely or from a home office. This can bring many benefits, in terms of productivity, cost savings and work-life balance.
Under first generation broadband services, your contention ratio (such as 20:1) told you how many other users your internet connection could be shared with at the busiest times of day (usually 4pm-7pm). It doesn't mean other people will be using your connection, but it refers to other connections that all come together at an "aggregation point" like a cabinet or an exchange.
With superfast broadband services, rather than a contention ratio, some internet service providers are choosing to guarantee a minimum throughput such as 16Mb/s is guaranteed for 90% of the busiest time of day (4-7pm).
Anyone wanting to host data reliably and inexpensively could manage this in a number of ways. They could rent server space or co-locate their own servers in a data centre. They could also run the software and operating system remotely as a 'virtual machine' in the cloud, and this is a solution that a number of companies in Cornwall with hosting requirements use.
The data centre would be best located in a major facility, with the presence of multiple carriers connected to it. In some cases, e.g. hosting cloud based solutions, it would make sense to be close to an Internet exchange (London / Manchester).
With superfast broadband, there are a number of advantages when hosting data in these ways - the upload speeds are much higher, enabling data to be uploaded efficiently to remote data centres, and back-ups can be more easily maintained.
Sometimes companies do want to be closer to their actual data for one reason or another. Although this is generally considered unnecessary these days, sensitive data like medical information may need storing in a known location. In this case, there are established data centre 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 any major connectivity needs I may have over and above the scope offered by superfast broadband?
Plenty of telecoms providers will continue to offer dedicated fibre leased line services to premises in Cornwall for a price.
When considering the architecture of any network requiring significant bandwidth, it is worth bearing in mind the 'Points of Handover' that will be established in 14 of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly's major telephone exchanges (there are a total of 100 exchanges). These will be exchanges in which a number of competing providers will be able to provide competitively priced links through to major points of presence, such as internet exchanges, outside of Cornwall.