Below are answers to the most popular questions being asked about Spaldwick’s ultrafast broadband initiative. If you have any further questions, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and answers will be added to the document below.
The target has been hit! What happens next?
Thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign to bring ultrafast broadband to Spaldwick. Because of you, the target has been hit in less than two months. As a result, Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) will now arrive in 2021. We will be one of the best connected rural communities in the UK. It will make a huge difference to the village and enable people to freely work from home, run businesses from the village and provide access to the widest range of available online services (including Ultra HD TV from the BBC).
We are now formally in the ‘Delivery’ phase of the Openreach project. As you can see below, the next formal stage is ‘Live’.
At the current time, pledged vouchers are now being verified by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). Those pledging vouchers have been emailed and asked to sign an online form. To avoid delays in the project, we kindly ask that you submit this form as soon as you can.
The email you will receive will be entitled ‘Gigabit Vouchers’ as part of the official process to validate vouchers. Please be on the lookout for it in case it disappears into your junk folder! Please fill in the form and, if you are a business, attach the requested documentation to confirm that you are a business. As this is a generic (pretty confusing) form, please do not be put off by some of the language (e.g. paying VAT if you are a business). The full costs of service installation will be met by Openreach in our scheme. Also, you are not committing to a 12-month contract with Openreach. Openreach does not provide broadband services to broadband users directly. You are committing to taking an FTTP service from any of a wide range of providers (such as BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Zen and EE) as described in our information.
We would appreciate you filling in the form as soon as you can (including uploading any attachments) to prevent any delays in the project. If you have any questions about filling in the form, please contact Jason Patel. His email address is: email@example.com.
What is ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), and why is it better than the Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) we have now?
Ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) is the ultimate broadband technology in terms of reliability and performance (e.g. speeds and latency), but is the most expensive broadband technology for broadband providers to install. FTTP is often termed ‘full fibre’ or ‘Gigabit broadband’. With FTTP, fibre-optic cables are used all the way from the exchange to your home or businesses, improving reliability and speeds.
As part of the Connecting Cambridgeshire roll-out programme, a cheaper technology called Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) was installed in Spaldwick in 2014. At the time, budgets were insufficient to deploy FTTP across rural Cambridgeshire and widespread FTTC deployment maximised the number of households with ‘superfast’ speeds (more than 30 Mbps) for the available budget. FTTC has delivered significantly greater speeds than standard ADSL broadband (which delivers download speeds up to about 5 Mbps in Spaldwick).
Unfortunately, Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) is not perfect. With FTTC, a fibre-optic cable is used to connect the green BT street cabinet (located next to the Spaldwick Service Station) to the BT exchange. However, FTTC still relies on existing copper cables to connect the street cabinet to homes in the village. As a result, FTTC has two main weaknesses, which have affected many homes in Spaldwick:
- only households close to the street cabinet achieve the highest speeds
- copper cables between the street cabinet and houses in Spaldwick are susceptible to interference and cable problems.
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.
Figure: Download Connection Speeds For Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC)
For more information about the speeds of FTTC, visit:
Why now for Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) in Spaldwick?
While we have been ‘chomping at the bit’ to bring Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) to Spaldwick to improve the reliability and performance of broadband, the costs of doing so are very high. Only recently have things fallen into place, with the introduction of an improved government voucher scheme and top-ups from Connecting Cambridgeshire to make it viable to bring FTTP to the village without incurring any installation costs to villagers. Two developments have been key to making the business case viable:
- extension of the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme (giving £1500 to households and £3500 to businesses for FTTP installation) to households with speeds below 100 Mbps (rather than 30 Mbps previously) meaning that all households in Spaldwick would get these amounts rather than just those with slower speeds
- Connecting Cambridgeshire offering top-ups of £1500 for vouchers used by households that have speeds below 30 Mbps. This means that vouchers for premises with slow speeds are boosted to £5000 for businesses and £3500 for homes without businesses.
The improved vouchers and top-ups have enabled the deployment of FTTP to be viable in Spaldwick with a voucher sign-up rate of about 30% of premises in the village.
The Government voucher scheme is currently set to finish in March 2021, or sooner if funds have been used. Therefore, we wanted to act before it was too late.
For more information on the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, visit:
Wouldn’t we get FTTP anyway if we didn’t do anything?
Possibly, but it may take many years to FTTP arrive without proactive community action. There is a huge amount of uncertainty around broadband in the UK currently. The UK Government had an initial target of extending full-fibre broadband to all homes in the UK by 2033. Then, in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto, there was a £5 billion pledge to bring full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025. This announcement was greeted by much skepticism by experts and industry players at the time. By July 2020, this pledge had been watered down. In a question raised about the lack of progress with broadband in the House of Commons, Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said that the Government is aiming “to go as far as we possibly can”. More recently, the CEO of the BT Group Philip Jansen is reported to have warned MPs that, at the current pace, it will take until 2033 to achieve universal UK coverage of gigabit-capable broadband.
Analsys Mason recently analysed all 1.7 million postcodes across the UK. Based on the current trajectory with fibre deployment, full fibre coverage could reach only 70% of UK homes and businesses by 2025.
Given the current uncertain situation, we believe it could take up to ten years (or possibly more) for FTTP to come to Spaldwick if we do nothing as a community. We think this this would be unacceptable, diminishing the attractiveness of the village. For example, the coronavirus pandemic has strongly emphasised the need to have reliable and fast broadband connectivity to be able to work effectively from home. As discussed above, the existing Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) broadband infrastructure we have is simply not good enough for everyone in the village.
For more information, visit:
Why a Community Fibre Partnership with Openreach?
Supported by Connecting Cambridgeshire, we have evaluated two options for the deployment of FTTP in Spaldwick:
- deployment by a company called County Broadband, which provisionally declared an intention to deploy FTTP in Spaldwick provided that 30% of villagers registered for their service
- deployment by Openreach, using a Community Fibre Partnership.
Connecting Cambridgeshire arranged presentations from both organisations to Broadband Champions across Cambridgeshire, which took place in 2019. Both organisations would pool together Government Gigabit Vouchers to finance the required investment.
Following the presentations (and following discussions with Broadband Champions across the county), we concluded that the Openreach Community Fibre Partnership model provided the best approach for Spaldwick for a number of important reasons:
- The Openreach deployment model allows villagers to subscribe to a broad range of broadband providers (including BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Zen) whereas, with County Broadband, County Broadband would be the only provider of FTTP services. This means that villagers would have to accept whatever pricing and conditions were set by County Broadband, now and in the future.
- Communications from County Broadband was poor. The company did not respond to numerous communications. We felt that we would not be able to recommend a provider that would not engage with our community.
- We were concerned about the long-term viability of a relatively small company.
Following the selection of an Openreach Community Fibre Partnership as the preferred approach, villager and broadband enthusiast Jason Patel took the lead in formally instigating and day-to-day management of our Community Fibre Partnership. Following this and discussions with Connecting Cambridgeshire, Spaldwick was chosen by Openreach to be the first village in Cambridgeshire to pilot a new ‘demand-led’ model with its Community Fibre Partnership scheme.
We are very excited at being the first to pilot this new model with Openreach, and are very keen to help other villages quickly instigate their own schemes. To find out more about Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships, visit:
Why opt for FTTP? What are the benefits?
Most households in Spaldwick (more than 80%) subscribe to fibre broadband services, which offer higher faster speeds than standard ADSL broadband, so why go for FTTP? There are a number of reasons why villagers are pledging their vouchers in our community FTTP initiative:
- Ultrafast FTTP is needed to support a rapidly-increasing number of devices in the home (including smart TVs, mobile phones, media players and tablets).
- Without ultrafast broadband, households can miss out on bandwidth-intensive services such as streamed TV and video services offering the best picture and sound quality. A single live stream from BBC iPlayer (in Ultra HD 4k format) requires a download speed of 40 Mbps. Ultra HD programmes from the BBC will only be available via iPlayer online and will not be available via Freeview through a conventional TV aerial.
- Ultrafast broadband provides substantially improved performance for delay-sensitive services, such as online gaming and voice and video telephony (e.g. Zoom and Skype).
- Ultrafast FTTP broadband delivers a more responsive experience for many applications (due to its ultra-low latency).
- With much bigger upload speeds, online back-up and file sharing is much quicker, as this could take weeks (or months) with fibre broadband.
- Ultrafast FTTP broadband better enables home working and can improve work-life balance.
- Ultrafast FTTP broadband is more reliable than standard ADSL broadband and fibre broadband, suffering from fewer faults due to the use of fibre-optic cables all the way from the exchange to households and businesses.
- Ultrafast FTTP broadband could increase your house price, or decrease it if you don’t have it. Many of those looking to move regard the availability of high-speed broadband to be as important as the availability of good schools and transport links.
- Ultrafast broadband is affordable, and cheaper than you may think. Particularly if you are out-of-contract (which many people are), you may well save money by moving from fibre broadband to ultrafast FTTP broadband.
The following page details each of these benefits in depth:
Is FTTP expensive? What are the costs?
FTTP is not expensive. For the same speeds, FTTP matches superfast fibre broadband prices but bear in mind that you actually get the speeds you pay for with FTTP. For example, a 150 Mbps FTTP service will deliver an average speed of 150 Mbps wherever you are in Spaldwick. In contrast, a fibre broadband service delivering up to 74 Mbps close to the street cabinet may deliver a speed of 20 Mbps or less if you are situated a significant distance from the street cabinet.
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. Her speed tests indicate an average download speed of 72 Mbps. By moving to TalkTalk’s 150 Mbps FTTP package, she would pay £34.95 per month. For less than she pays now, Lisa could opt for the 900 Mbps service from EE, and increase speeds by a factor of 12!
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. EE’s 900 Mbps service is even better value at £54.00 per month. 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||Average download speed (Mbps)||Average upload speed (Mbps)||Monthly price|
Table: Examples of FTTP pricing for phone and broadband
When will FTTP services be available?
Now that we have been successful with the campaign, we envisage FTTP services being switched on in 2021 – possibly as early as the second or third quarter of the year. We will keep this website updated as we progress with the project.
What commitment am I making pledging a voucher?
By pledging your voucher and supporting our village, you will not have to pay any cost towards the installation of FTTP to your home or business premises.
Your only commitment is to subscribe to an FTTP 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. The great news is that FTTP services from a wide range of suppliers are available, including popular broadband providers like BT, Zen, TalkTalk, Sky and EE.
Your new connection must be installed within 12 months of the issue of a voucher.
For the avoidance of doubt, here are some examples:
Those who are located very close to the street cabinet, and achieve the maximum real download speeds in Spaldwick (e.g. throughputs measured by online speed tests) of about 70-74 Mbps, can subscribe to a 150 Mbps FTTP service (or any service with speeds higher than this). As shown in the pricing table above, there are several affordable 150 Mbps FTTP services available.
Those with standard ADSL broadband can subscribe to any FTTP service offering a download speed in excess of 30 Mbps.
Those achieving the highest possible speeds on packages that have been often referred to as ‘up to 40 Mbps’ (which actually achieve real throughputs of about 35-37 Mbps) can subscribe to FTTP packages with a speed of 74 Mbps or above.
We have been informed by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport that voucher holders can measure their current download speeds using an online speed test, and choose an FTTP service that delivers at least a doubling in speeds. To understand your current speeds, we recommend using an accurate online speed. For the most accurate online speed test, visit:
Obviously, you are free to choose faster services than the minimum speed requirements and we know many villagers registering intend to do this. After the initial 12-month period, you are free to choose any package with any speed.
You can read about the voucher scheme and terms and conditions in the following PDF here:
What type of businesses can pledge business vouchers? What if I am self employed and/or a sole trader?
Different types of businesses can pledge business vouchers, including the self-employed and/or sole traders. It is really important to the success of our FTTP project that those who run businesses from their homes declare this as business vouchers (£3500) are so much more valuable than ‘standard’ residential vouchers (£1500).
In order to qualify for a business voucher, you will be asked to self-certify that you meet the European Commission definition of a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) and that:
- you have fewer than 250 employees
- your turnover is no greater than EUR50 million per annum
- you have a balance sheet of no more than EUR43 million
- you have received less than EUR200k in public grants in the last three years.
You may be asked to provide evidence of your status as an SME or sole trader, but the requirements are not onerous. Documentation that would be acceptable includes:
- VAT registration
- charity registration
- HMRC notification
- sole trader UTR number (used for self assessment)
- certification of incorporation (limited companies)
- business bank account statement issues within the last three months.
For more detailed information, please visit:
Will I need to change my supplier?
The vast majority of villagers will not need to change broadband provider as FTTP services are already offered by many of the most popular broadband providers (including BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Zen and EE) and more providers will be joining them over the coming months. By the time that FTTP services are available in Spaldwick, a wide range of services will be available.
However, you may wish to change supplier to get a particularly attractive deal. That’s why we recommend that you do not tie yourself into a long contract for superfast fibre broadband to give you the full range of services to choose from when FTTP is switched on.
If you currently subscribe to BT, TalkTalk, Sky and EE, you will be able to upgrade to FTTP services even if you are in contract. Unless you have a burning desire to stay with your existing broadband providers, we feel that it makes sense to keep your options open though. As soon as we know implementation timescales, we will let you know on this site so you can plan accordingly.
My current broadband provider currently does not offer FTTP services so what do I do?
Full fibre FTTP is the future of broadband, and there are a lot of developments occurring with broadband providers ‘behind the scenes’. While most of the major broadband providers have already launched FTTP services, others have been carrying out trials before launching FTTP services nationally. Affordable FTTP services are already available from many providers including BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Zen and EE.
Before FTTP services become commercially available in Spaldwick (expected in 2021), many more broadband providers are expected to launch FTTP services.
In the unlikely event that your broadband provider does not offer FTTP services when they arrive in Spaldwick, then you would need to move to another broadband provider if you want to take advantage of the benefits of FTTP in terms of reliability, speeds and latency.
If your current broadband provider does not currently offer FTTP services, we would advise caution in signing up to a new fibre broadband contract. Any ‘good deal’ now may not seem so good when FTTP services arrive in Spaldwick. Particularly for those not getting the best speeds possible with fibre broadband due to their distance from the street cabinet (near the Spaldwick Service Station), FTTP will seem much better value as you will get the speeds that you pay for.
Will the roads or my drive be dug up?
Because Openreach will be doing the installation, all existing ducts and poles will be used wherever possible. At the start of the project, these will be tested and rodded to ensure they are clear and there is enough capacity for the fibre-optic cables. Very little disruption is envisaged. Openreach has absolutely no authority to dig up, or interfere with, driveways. Additional chambers, junction points and aggregation boxes for the fibre-optic cables may need to be installed on pavements at intervals within the Spaldwick area, but disruption will be minimised.
We will be tracking and photographing/videoing progress once the project gets underway. Photos will appear here:
I’m retired and don’t need extra speed or cost, so should I bother?
That’s entirely up to you. As discussed above, you may actually save money by going for FTTP (as discussed above). Some people are pledging their vouchers to improve broadband for others in the village rather than themselves. Even if you don’t need higher speeds, you may benefit from improved reliability and increased house values. For many people buying homes, the availability of high-speed broadband is as important as good local schools and transport links, and its importance will only get greater.
Even if you don’t think you need higher speeds, you may find that the current services you access (particularly if you use services such as Netflix and iPlayer) are degraded to ‘fit’ your current speeds. The BBC and other TV providers (such as Netflix) adjust bit rates to fit with your broadband speeds and reliability. Those with the best connections (i.e. with FTTP) will benefit from the best picture and sound quality. Also, in the future, when the BBC intends to make iPlayer the main way to access BBC services, FTTP will future-proof your home for TV access. Future TV services from the BBC and other terrestrial TV providers (in Ultra HD format) will be carried via broadband and not carried by terrestrial TV networks (through your TV aerial).
How is FTTP delivered – overhead cables or underground – and will this change?
Fibre-optic cables will be fed alongside existing copper telephone cables using existing underground ducts throughout the village. Fibre-optic cables will also be attached to existing overhead poles if this is how you currently get your telephone service. So, nothing will really change in how broadband services are delivered to you. This will keep cost and disruption down. Openreach has no intention of performing unnecessary engineering work but will ensure that FTTP services are reliably delivered and future-proof. We do not foresee any major disruption.
We will be tracking and photographing/videoing progress once the project gets underway. Photos will appear here:
Do I have to take traditional telephone services with line rental?
That is a good question! Traditionally, standard broadband and fibre broadband services have been sold along with telephony services and line rental. With FTTP, you have the option with some FTTP services to remove your traditional telephone service and the line rental charge, and use your mobile phone(s) or voice-over-IP services delivered using the FTTP fibre-optic cable rather than the copper cables that have been used to date. Eventually, copper cables will no longer be used for phone services.
In many households we have spoken to, the traditional ‘home phone’ has already been replaced by mobile phones. Many people have got used to calling or messaging individuals on their mobiles rather than calling a location, and relish the opportunity to get rid of line rental charges.
Things will become clearer as we approach switch-on date but make sure you are clear what exactly you will get when comparing the various services and pricing from providers. For example, if you do not wish to continue with line rental and your traditional ‘home phone’, you may be able to save money opting for an FTTP package without this.
The situation is a bit confusing at present since voice-over-IP services are not available with all Openreach FTTP connections. In compatible areas, BT offers its ‘Digital Voice’ voice-over-IP service with a ‘free’ digital handset. As well as offering improved voice quality (with its ‘HD calling’), BT also offers voicemail, call waiting and call divert at no extra charge.
Who do I talk to for further information?
You can talk to Jason Patel, our Broadband Champion, who lives in Spaldwick and is the main point of contact for the village with Openreach for the Community Fibre Partnership we are pursuing. Jason’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can, as always, talk to Mark Heath, who manages the website and is helping villages across the UK with their ultrafast broadband projects.
Any email sent to email@example.com will be forwarded to Jason and Mark.
Thank you for all your support with our FTTP campaign! Because of you, we are going to be one of the best connected communities in the UK. It’s fantastic news for the future of our village.