As a rural village in Cambridgeshire, broadband is critical. For many years, we have proactively striven to have the best broadband connectivity possible, with many households running businesses from their homes. We were one of the first rural villages in the UK to get standard broadband, in July 2004, following a successful local demand registration scheme. Following a local village registration campaign with Connecting Cambridgeshire, Spaldwick was one of the first rural villagers in the UK to get superfast fibre broadband. This was switched on in July 2014, and over 80% of Spaldwick households now subscribe to superfast fibre broadband. We have now embarked on our third campaign, which is supported by Connecting Cambridgeshire, to bring ultrafast and future-proof Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) to Spaldwick, offering improved reliability and download speeds up to 910 Mbps. Please support us as we are nearly there! For information about broadband in the village, please chat to or email Spaldwick’s Broadband Champion Jason Patel. Jason’s email address is email@example.com.
Help bring Fibre to the Premises to all Spaldwick as we are nearly there!
We now have an amazing opportunity to bring Ultrafast Broadband (Fibre-to-the-Premises) to all Spaldwick, paid for fully by the Government (through vouchers), Connecting Cambridgeshire (through voucher ‘top ups’) and Openreach (who will install the fibre-optic infrastructure). If you have not already done so, please pledge your voucher now here:
Currently, the village has superfast broadband, although it is not ‘superfast’ for many. Superfast broadband (using a technology called Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) arrived in July 2014 offering download speeds up to 80 Mbps (although many get significantly lower speeds). More than 80% of households in the village subscribe to it.
While FTTC has delivered much higher speeds than basic ADSL broadband for many households, the technology is not perfect. Speeds decrease the further away you are from the green BT fibre cabinet (which is located next to the Spaldwick Service Station). Also, since the broadband signal travels along copper telephone cables from the cabinet to your home, the broadband service can be unreliable.
Fibre-to-the-Premises is the best broadband technology, and currently delivers speeds up to 910 Mbps. If implemented in Spaldwick, all properties would be able to get reliable broadband with the same speeds available to everyone. So please pledge your government voucher not just to improve your broadband service but to improve broadband for everyone.
FTTP would have a substantial impact on the village by:
- making broadband much more reliable by replacing the copper cables between you and the street cabinet with reliable fibre-optic cables
- providing much higher speeds, particularly for households located a significant distance from the BT street cabinet. Everyone would have access to the same speeds wherever they are located
- making Spaldwick a much more attractive place to live and work, increasing house prices. Research has shown that FTTP can boost house values by 1.8% over fibre broadband.
When you register, please indicate whether you run a business from your property (e.g. you are self employed) as government vouchers are considerably higher (£3500 rather than £1500).
If your current speed is less than 30 Mbps, Connecting Cambridgeshire will add £1500 to your voucher – effectively doubling its value.
By pledging your voucher now, not only will you improve your broadband and make it future-proof, you will improve broadband for everyone in Spaldwick. If you would like more information, please chat with or email Spaldwick’s Broadband Champion Jason Patel (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Vouchers, your commitment and FTTP prices
The Community Fibre Partnership we are pursuing with Openreach, and supported by Connecting Cambridgeshire, aims at providing FTTP to the village by pooling Gigabit Vouchers provided by the Government to support the deployment of Gigabit-capable broadband connections in rural areas. So far, Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships have helped 1330 communities in the UK, with 120,000 homes and businesses provided with superfast or ultrafast broadband. By pledging your voucher, you will not have to pay any cost towards the installation of FTTP to your home or business premises. Connecting Cambridgeshire will also top up the value by £1500 of every voucher pledged by households in Spaldwick with speeds currently less than 30 Mbps.
Openreach has carried out surveys and costings to determine the cost of bringing FTTP infrastructure to Spaldwick. While this target is a big number (£185,000), this is achievable if enough households in Spaldwick pledge their voucher.
The big advantage of the scheme is that you are free to subscribe to FTTP services from a wide range of suppliers, including popular broadband providers like BT, Zen and TalkTalk. Your only commitment is to subscribe to a service that delivers at least a doubling of speeds compared with the service currently being consumed by you. This is for a 12-month period and you are free to take any service with any speed after this.
As shown below, pricing is very competitive and you will probably find that you will save money compared to what you are currently paying even though your speed and reliability will improve.
Households with basic broadband now can choose any FTTP package that delivers at least 30 Mbps. FTTP packages range from download speeds of about 50 Mbps through to 910 Mbps.
You can read about the voucher scheme and terms and conditions in the following PDF here:
FTTP services are very affordable, so you do not need to worry that you are committing to an expensive service. Affordable FTTP services are available from a broad range of providers, including BT, TalkTalk and Zen. Following a trial of FTTP, which started in June 2020, Sky will imminently launch its FTTP service. This means that most households in Spaldwick will have the simple option of staying with their existing ISP. However, you may wish to use the opportunity to find a better deal. With many households outside a contract, it’s very likely that you’ll pay less with FTTP than you do now, for a service that is faster and more reliable. We recommend that you check what you are currently paying for your phone and broadband so you can compare this with the table below.
As an example, Lisa Hunter in Ivy Way subscribed to fibre broadband from TalkTalk when it arrived in Spaldwick and is now out-of-contract, and her latest monthly payment for phone and broadband was £58.95. By moving to TalkTalk’s 150 Mbps FTTP package, she would pay £34.95 per month.
If you wish to take advantage of the best choice of FTTP services and tariffs, we advise against tying yourself into a particular provider for superfast fibre broadband for long periods (e.g. one to two years) going forwards. Once we hit the target, we will get an estimated installation date from Openreach so that you can plan accordingly.
The beauty of FTTP is that you can choose a tariff with the speeds you require, and can change/upgrade when and if you need more speed (for example, if you want to enjoy Ultra HD programmes such as the Olympics next year after upgrading to a new Ultra HD TV). Alternatively, you have the option of reducing speeds if you do not need them. So, while FTTP is capable of impressive speeds (currently up to 910 Mbps), you do not need to subscribe to the fastest packages. You may just want FTTP for a more reliable broadband service.
For those wanting to go for the full speed (you know who you are), we think BT’s 910 Mbps service at £59.99 per month is good value for what you get. For those running a business with two phone lines, FTTP could allow you to go to a single connection and save money. As you can see, FTTP services are available in the £30-35 per month range (and lower) for those with more modest speed requirements.
|Provider||Download speed (Mbps)||Monthly price|
Table: Examples of FTTP pricing for phone and broadband
Why isn’t ‘superfast’ fibre broadband good enough for Spaldwick?
While fibre broadband has delivered much higher speeds (up to 80 Mbps) than standard broadband (up to 5 Mbps), the technology deployed by Connecting Cambridgeshire and Openreach – called Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) – is not perfect. The big advantage of FTTC over FTTP (which is the superior technology) is cost, enabling Connecting Cambridgeshire to roll out improved speeds over a greater area of the county for the budget they have had. Unfortunately, FTTC has two main weaknesses, which have affected many homes in Spaldwick:
- only households close to the fibre street cabinet achieve the highest speeds
- broadband is still reliant on the copper cables between the street cabinet and houses in Spaldwick.
As shown in the chart below, speeds for FTTC fibre broadband diminish the further away you are located from the green BT street cabinet. Sadly for us, our street cabinet is located at one side of the village – next to the Spaldwick Service Station. While homes in Ivy Way and part of High Street can get the fastest speeds, many households struggle with slower speeds at the opposite side of the village. FTTP will allow everyone to get the same speeds, independent of where they live in Spaldwick. As you pay exactly the same price for fibre broadband whatever speeds you get, FTTC effectively produces a ‘postcode lottery’. Moving to full-fibre with FTTP would mean that you get the full service you pay for.
With FTTC fibre broadband, broadband signals still have to travel along copper telephone cables from the street cabinet to homes. Some of these cables are underground and some are carried overhead on telegraph poles. Unfortunately, connections can be unreliable, causing erratic performance. With FTTP, broadband is carried along ultra-reliable fibre-optic cables all the way from BT’s exchange to your home.
Arriving in July 2014, over 80% of households in the village subscribe to superfast broadband
Households in Spaldwick can now access high-speed fibre broadband, offering connection speeds of up to 80 Mbps (download) and up to 20 Mbps (upload). Over 80% of households subscribe to fibre broadband, with Spaldwick having one of the highest penetrations of fibre broadband of all areas in the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme.
If you have not yet made the transition, please visit our dedicated Questions and Answers page for answers to many of the questions you may have.
Compared with conventional broadband, fibre broadband delivers much higher speeds so that you can reliably access the full range of Internet services now on offer, including TV services such as BBC iPlayer, Sky Online and Netflix. Fibre broadband is perfect for households with multiple users and devices as it will not slow down in the same way. Given that pricing can be lower than conventional broadband services, there seems little point staying with super-slow conventional broadband.
What do villagers think of superfast broadband?
Since the arrival of superfast broadband in Spaldwick, we’ve received promising feedback on the impact it is having on villagers and on businesses within the village. You don’t need to take our word for how good superfast broadband is! Because of the sheer volume of feedback, we have created a dedicated page. Click on the following page to see feedback from villagers:
If you have had superfast broadband installed, please let us know what you think by emailing email@example.com.
Having problems with fibre broadband?
The majority of residents moving over to superfast broadband have been pleased with their enhanced speeds. However, some people have found that speeds have not been as good as expected, principally due to WiFi interference. The good news is that WiFi interference issues can usually be addressed quickly.
Over the last few years, the use of WiFi has become widespread and nearly every home in the village now uses WiFi. WiFi sends signals through the airwaves using frequencies that are shared by other WiFi users in the vicinity. Your speeds can be severely reduced if a neighbouring property is using the same frequency.
To get the most from your superfast broadband connection you should optimise your WiFi network, and Mark Heath has produced the following guide to help you:
40% take-up of superfast broadband in the first month!
Spaldwick hit the headlines by achieving amazing take-up of superfast broadband. The village was visited by Ed Vaizey – the Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy – and other VIPs. You can read about it by clicking on the following link:
The first installation took place at 10am on Tuesday 1st July 2014. After only two days, port 29 had been connected at the cabinet, meaning that fibre broadband penetration had reached about 12% of premises in 48 hours! Within only three weeks, at least one third of households in Spaldwick had subscribed to fibre broadband. By the end of July, take-up had reached 40% – about three times the national take-up of fibre broadband in just one month. Now, over 80% of households in the village subscribe to high-speed fibre broadband – with one of the highest penetration rates in the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme.
How did we get here?
Spaldwick is a very small rural village, with about 250 households. In terms of population, we are in the ‘bottom 3%’ with 97% of the population of Cambridgeshire living in villages and towns that are larger than Spaldwick. Therefore, a proactive approach has always been required as we cannot assume that we will automatically see the roll-out of broadband services experienced in larger towns and cities. This has proved to be the case with conventional broadband services in 2004 and superfast fibre broadband more recently.
Conventional broadband services were first launched by BT in the UK in 2000, but BT restricted initial roll-out to urban areas. There was a glimmer of hope on the horizon when BT introduced a demand registration scheme, defining a target level for registrations for every exchange (after which the exchange would be enabled). Spaldwick resident Mark Heath worked with his counterparts in other villagers to gain the support of villagers in Spaldwick, Ellington, Easton and Alconbury. Following a successful campaign, we achieved the necessary registration total for the Woolley exchange, and broadband was introduced to the Woolley exchange on the 7th July 2004 – well ahead of the date that we would have got broadband if no action had been taken.
While conventional ADSL broadband (and its more recent ADSL2+ variant) served the village well in its early days, the introduction of superfast fibre broadband services by BT in urban areas opened up a chasm between large towns (and cities) and rural villages like Spaldwick in terms of broadband performance. BT has commercially invested £2.5 billion to roll-out superfast broadband services – but only to about 65% of UK premises by 2014. Being in the ‘bottom 3%’, prospects for superfast broadband looked grim.
Several superfast broadband options were evaluated for the village, with discussions held with potential suppliers and funding options identified, but none of these provided the long-term solution that villagers deserve.
In October 2010, the UK government announced a £530 million fund to incentivise the roll out of superfast broadband, managed by a team called Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). Its target was that superfast broadband should be available to 90% of premises across the UK by the end of 2015. Various programmes were set up across the UK by local authorities, including Cambridgeshire County Council.
Mark Heath established very early contact with the Cambridgeshire County Council, although early discussions were frustrated by lack of information and personnel changes. However, the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme was set up in 2011 and communications dramatically improved, with a network of Broadband Champions set up across the county.
Cambridgeshire County Council announced plans for investment in superfast broadband across Cambridgeshire. It initially targeted superfast broadband to at least 90% of premises across Cambridgeshire by 2015. With only 90% of premises being targeted, the prospects for Spaldwick still looked poor and something quite miraculous would be required!
The breakthrough came with the launch of the Connecting Cambridgeshire demand registration campaign in 2012. Mark worked with other Broadband Champions to try to maximise registrations, as these were to be used to achieve the best deal possible with BT. As a result, not only did Spaldwick achieve one of the very highest registration totals in the whole county but Connecting Cambridgeshire achieved over 23,000 registrations – well ahead of most local authorities.
Helped by the clear demand shown by the county’s registration total, Connecting Cambridgeshire was able to secure an excellent commercial deal with BT, with the commitment to rolling out fibre broadband to 98% of premises in Cambridgeshire by the end of 2015. This was well in excess of the targets set by the vast majority of local authorities across the UK.
Spaldwick and Grafham were included in a list of towns and villages being considered for the very first phases of the roll-out project. A period of detailed survey work followed, taking into account practical implementation issues, including getting fibre across the A14.
Grafham was the very first to receive superfast broadband, late in 2013, and the Connecting Cambridgeshire team celebrated this success (below) at a special event in the village. Despite significant engineering challenges to bring fibre to Spaldwick, Spaldwick managed to be included at the end of the first phase of implementation, with fibre services going live in July 2014.
Despite our extremely limited early prospects, we did it! Please do take the opportunity to use fibre broadband as we are very fortunate.
For more information about broadband, please email Spaldwick’s new Broadband Champion Jason Patel. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.