What are my options if I am not going to get superfast broadband?
If your exchange has not been upgraded to Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) Status it is very unlikely that you will be able to receive Superfast Broadband. However, there is a possibility that your exchange may have been upgraded to 21CN Wholesale Broadband Connect (WBC) status. In essence this uses ADSL2+ technology and this means that if your premises are close to the exchange, or the cabinet, it is quite possible that you could receive speeds of up to 20mbps. However, as the distance increases away from the cabinet then the potential speed will decrease, particularly if you are more than a mile away from it.
If your exchange does not meet the FTTC or 21CN WBC criteria then all you can be guaranteed at present is a minimum of 2mbps connection by 2015. As the distance effect is so critical, rural areas hence tend to be difficult to serve with standard ADSL or ADSL2+.
What are my options?
You can check your broadband speed at the links below.
There are some practical and easy actions that you can take today.
Our factsheet "How to improve your broadband speed" will give you easy to implement ideas as to how you might gain extra broadband speed.
If you're in a "not spot"
Getting broadband in some areas is not possible via the existing ADSL infrastructure: the distance from the exchange is too far for the broadband signal to travel.
There are 3 alternative types of broadband which are delivered via non-land based routes, and these are available now.
1. Fixed Wireless Broadband
Fixed wireless broadband refers to any technology that allows broadband signals to be broadcast over a set, limited range without the use of wires. Typically, fixed wireless broadband services are delivered using radio waves and require a receiver unlike ADSL services that are provided over the telephone network. In a rural area like Lincolnshire a fixed wireless broadband service may be useful in the areas where ADSL technology cannot provide an adequate service. There are a number of villages that already have successful wireless solutions such as Digby, Scothern, and Buckminster.
The following are companies (that we are aware of) provide fixed wireless services in the county
2. Broadband via mobile phone technology
Mobile broadband is provided to customers through mobile phone signals the strength of the signal determines the quality of the connection.
Mobile broadband can be accessed with a number of devices, including mobile phones, mobile dongles, MiFi units and data cards. In most cases mobile dongles are USB-compatible and plug into the laptop, PC or device. Mobile dongles are essentially portable modems, and are also referred to as mobile USB sticks and USB modems.
Unfortunately, 3G coverage in the county is patchy, particularly in the rural areas but coverage maps are available at: http://tinyurl.com/6egcof
However, before signing up for these services it is important to check that you can actually receive a signal that is sufficient for what you need to do. Also, do be aware that there may be a limit to the amount of data that you will be able to download in a given period.
Mobile Broadband may provide the solution for a limited number of residents in "not spots", but is unlikely to solve the problem for all.
However, 4G services are very much on the horizon and the operator EE is already offering services with speeds significantly above those offered by 3G operators. At 3G wireless network speeds, downloads were between 400 kbps and 1.5 mbps. However, with the new technology of a 4G wireless network end users should see speeds between 2 mbps up to 6 mbps. Some cellular carriers have claimed that they will eventually be able to offer 10 to 12 mbps in the very near future. However, 4G services are very much on the horizon offering services with speeds significantly above those offered by 3G. Ofcom recently announced the outcome of the auction for 4G services and the following 5 companies were successful.
- Everything Everywhere
- Hutchison 3G UK
- Niche Spectrum Ventures (Subsidiary of BT Group PLC)
- O2 - Telefonica
It is anticipated that up to 98% of the population will be able to access 4G services by the end of 2014.
3. Broadband via satellite
It is also possible to receive broadband via satellite.
What is satellite broadband?
Satellite broadband is an option available for those who live in rural areas where traditional fixed-line based broadband services such as ADSL aren't available. It uses a satellite dish to provide two-way access to broadband services but speeds are generally lower than can be received over ADSL. The main advantage of satellite broadband is that it can be provided virtually anywhere in the world. It is often seen as an option to fill in broadband coverage in hard to reach areas, but for many it doesn't provide a comparable service to fixed broadband products
Bandwidth and Costs
Superfast Broadband is not currently available via satellite but speeds have increased significantly over the last few years with some providers offering speeds of up to 20Mbps. The cost of satellite broadband has tended to be more expensive than fibre or wireless but they have also recently fallen but there is normally a limit on the amount of data that can be downloaded/uploaded. There is still a significant installation cost but this is also falling.
The performance of satellite broadband has improved significantly in recent years. However, latency is a problem which is unavoidable due to the long distances that the broadband signal has to travel. This issue has in the past made satellite broadband unsuitable for many real-time applications which are often seen as one of the benefits of a good broadband connection. Nevertheless, if you live or work in a "not spot" and urgently need broadband, satellite may be your only viable option.
Satellite broadband providers
There are several providers of satellite broadband in the UK, for example: