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Revised 6. June 2013
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Broadband Discussion Page


This page refers to an informal survey we are carrying out on behalf of the Parish Council, to see how Acton Bridge residents feel about the speed of their broadband connections in the village. Please call back to learn more and take part in the discussion.

There is a concern that rural, thinly-populated areas such as ours will be left behind in the roll-out of the superfast technology [see #1 below] unless a commercial case can be made, or significant community effort is brought to bear. One consequence of this may be that people are unwilling to move to this area, or set up businesses that depend on modern communications, and this in turn may influence Neighbourhood Planning.

Please let me know how you feel about the speed you are getting [see #2 below], and whether it limits what you'd like to use the Internet for ; and in particular what benefits a faster connection could bring you, and what premium you might be prepared to pay for it. If you're perfectly happy with what you have now, that's still a helpful response!

Mny thanks for any help or additional comments you can offer. We'll publish selected extracts below as they come in.

Steve Pardoe
Acton Bridge Parish Council

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[#1] "Superfast" hasn't really been defined, but in practice it means at least 10Mb/s, or significantly faster than is possible via copper telephone lines all the way from the local exchange (in our case, Weaverham) to the home. This increase can be achieved by running fibre-optic cables into the home (as is available in many urban areas, known as FTTH) or, more realistically, by fibre just to the familiar green kerbside cabinets much closer to consumers (known as FTTC) with the final link to homes via the existing copper. Other options include 3G phone "dongles", local line-of-sight microwave links, connections over the utility networks, and even satellite up / down-links. These high speeds are most useful if you are streaming video such as BBC iPlayer, using Skype or other video conferencing, downloading films, and so on; but, like most improvements, today's "nice to have" can become tomorrow's "bare minimum". It's notable that the EU has very much more ambitious speed targets than the UK.

[#2] You can find out your own actual download and upload speeds via free websites such as Broadband Speed Checker,
broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk, or get an estimate from BT by entering your phone number into their web page
productsandservices.bt.com/consumerProducts/displayTopic.do?topicId=25795.
The upload (your home to the exchange) speed is typically only about a quarter of the download (exchange to your home) speed - that's the "A" in "ADSL". Most Internet users don't upload large files, so it's usually less important.
In my own case, I have noticed a recent improvement (from about 500kb/s to 2,400kb/s), though I don't know whether this is a permanent feature or just lucky. BT's "Infinity" fibre-based product isn't available on the Weaverham exchange, and at present BT have no firm plans to make it so, but you can register interest on the BT website by looking for BT Infinity. It was through just such registration of interest that we got ordinary ADSL broadband into Weaverham several years ago.


Comments from respondents will be posted here (and may be edited [...] to preserve anonymity or save blushes)...

Very interesting (as someone once said). Using the link in your message I have a upload of 4152 and a down load of 510. I am with Talk Talk.


My input speed is 650kbs and my output speed is about the same. FYI I am going to change to BT in the hope that I will get better performance.
I wouldn't say that much of my internet activity suffers from BB speed. I am generally quite happy with my speed and find that if I use hotel internet, for example, I find it very slow by comparison. However, I'm sure I would use iPlayer much more if it were not so frustrating to use and were more reliable. I am guessing that BB speed is the reason for this but I'm not 100% certain. My kit is reasonably up to date (2 year old laptop). I don't download films. Would I pay 10 a month extra for a faster connection? Probably not. How much would I pay? Difficult to assess without experiencing the benefits of the upgrade. Hope this helps. Keep up the good work.
We would really appreciate a faster broadband connection. Currently it seems to be ca 2Mb/s although it varies, and the upload speed seems to be much less. No plans for downloading films etc, but you never know if it was practical! Main advantage is just to be able to access everything rapidly. [...] gets much more hassle on her laptop but this is probably more to do with an old machine and overfull e-mail folders etc. Would be prepared to pay a "modest" amount for a significantly better speed. [Newcomers to Acton Bridge] were commenting on [...] the very slow connection, and their views might be worthwhile. [...] I guess those who currently run businesses, and like to be able to do more from home are those likely to feel most strongly about this, and we should all be encouraging small businesses to operate efficiently from rural areas.
Firstly I reckon I get about 1.7Mps at best. I also get the odd pause - which may be due to contention - or simply my Vista operating system. I had registered my interest in Infinity on BT website - but presumably that is a pious hope. In reality it is primarily a relatively "nice to have" since most files come down in pretty swift time - as most big files for me are still only 3 to 10Mb. And anyway I have plenty to do while they are downloading. I am not an expert but my [...] link to clients and [...] is fairly slow - and certainly sounds slow compared to other people. So that is fairly frustrating and limits me when working at home. It would be fair to say that I would work from home more often if the link was better and I would not have to drive to [...]. We have also found video Skype pretty useless and have given up on that. So that is disappointing [...]. I would also use it for business with my international colleagues - but don't particularly want to see their faces anyway. I occasionally do web conferences and end up mixing computer for screens but land line for conversation as the VOIP is not up to it. I think the web conference is not great with a delay on the client seeing my screen movements. Internet surfing can be frustrating at times - particularly now that Google searching has now gone interactive (if that is the right phrase) so that it is doing it as you type. The delay and reaction makes the typing and searching out of phase at most times. On the personal side - we don't do any film streaming having given up on iPlayer due to download speed [...] - and we have a hard disc recorder and have now mastered series link. The only benefit for [...] would be for internet browsing which can be a bit frustrating at times. [...] I am sure if I could measure and see the difference then what - another 5/month. Provided of course that people in cities were paying an extra 10/month. I don't think they pay any more - so why should we?? Hope this is of use.
Just checked and BT say currently 2 Mb average and the other check showed 1720 kbps download and 349 kbps upload. Current speed is only just OK to use iplayer etc and large e-mail attached files can be a bit slow. Speeds need to be improved to cope with increasing use and expectations. Never altogether sure to what extent my once state of the art Sony Vaio notebook or the house and office networks limit performance but other household laptops seem similar in performance. Have registered for BT infinity.
[...] My current experience is that response times are very variable (no doubt load-dependent), and personally it is the unpredictability that rankles. When you know that it can be instantaneous, and it isn't when you want to do something in a hurry, tempers rise! So at a personal level, all improvements are welcome and should contribute to keeping my blood pressure under control. At a philosophical and community level, such interface provision is vital and arguments can be made on 'fairness' grounds, commercial considerations for businesses, and the reduction of need for travel (which will become increasingly unbearable as the population rises). The imbalances between cities and the country, and between the SE and the rest of the country are, in part, the result of differential rates of infrastructure development. On the question of costs, we are probably all paying for the investments wherever they are made, and I do not see a great discount being offered for accepting a slower speed. At a political level, investment in this area (if done properly) would be far more beneficial to many more people, more quickly, than the proposed HS2, though it would perhaps not generate as many construction jobs, nor as much fee incomes for lawyers at planning enquiries! [...]
We get an average of 10 at the moment; we also experienced an increase in speed from about 2.5 to 4 when we moved from Sky to Talk Talk, and then another one to 10 about months ago. Talk Talk is a LLU supplier so they have their own equipment at Weaverham and we did get something a while back saying that they were going to improve the speed. The only niggle I have with them is that the router they supplied is quite poor and has to be rebooted (how I wish I could actually boot it sometimes) about once a week. Aside from thinking that more speed would always be nice, I can honestly say that the speed we get at the moment is fine for everything we want to use the internet for. There are some shocking differences in speed in the village and I'm just glad that we seem to be one of the lucky ones! Hope this is helpful.
Obviously Crowton speeds are irrelevant to your quest, but for the record [...] is at the outermost point from Kingsley exchange, and we get 1200 download and 350 kpbs upload speeds here. Also a lot of drop-outs but whose fault it is I am unsure. These speeds, if reliable, are just about enough for normal domestic use other than for much video/TV downloading.
You have hit one of my green buttons. Before we moved to Acton bridge, I enjoyed 8.0kbps in [...] where lines are linked to the Sandiway exchange. Here I get up to 2.0, generally less than that. My children live in houses which receive their e-services by cable, relatively their line speeds are incredible 12.0 plus! The speed is relative until you experience what others enjoy, our copper wire based service is appallingly slow. Some time ago I completed the survey for BT infinity services, which would require an upgrade to the Weaverham exchange, I think I was one of a hundred or so respondents where BT have about 3900 customers. Anything that can be done to improve the service I would support. Is anyone interested in cabling Acton bridge? Chatting to [...], who is a bit of a geek, he is plugged in to a mobile phone service provider's wireless facility. It's fast wireless broadband, effectively wifi, at mega speeds. He has a small receiver in the loft, linked in to his hub. It's pricey...but we do have a local mast in Acton bridge, in your case and mine, we may even have line of sight. What we need is the demand, and a competitive proposition from a service provider. You have my vote.
Our broadband is with BT (Option 2 I think) and currently running at 6288down/360up. I would certainly welcome something considerably quicker although we do not stream that much - the odd iPlayer and some other channel bits and pieces - and would not object to paying a bit more for it for a better response. Occasionally the service can be appalling and have reported as such to BT with no response.
[...] My needs are relatively simple and as such super fast broad band for me is not an issue today. Having said that I expect technology to keep moving and at real pace such that we will all need superfast to be able to fully utilise the services and technology that will come forward over the next few years. Accordingly I don't think I can offer any examples of the need for super fast today but like you don't doubt the need will come in the future.
I`m not happy terribly happy with our download which gets slower in an evening when I suspect the children come home from school! I just did a test 1488 kbps download, 378 kbps upload, down at 17.52. We are with Orange. I would like to switch but have heard tales of people losing their internet for days so better the devil you know, etc. I and a friend have a website [...] which we upload to almost everyday so I would be happier if it went faster. Last winter we sponsored an online radio programme [...]. Sometimes the speed was so bad I just couldn`t listen in. Same goes with watching iPlayer. [...] may think he`s not bothered currently but he does complain when the speed drops.
Thanks for the information regarding broadband. My experiences are much the same as yours regarding download speeds...peak time early evening can be frustrating, any improvement would be very welcome and I would certainly be willing to pay a premium for an improved service...
On the whole I do not have any issue with the speed of response. Although our PC is pretty well up to date and loads of memory space we do not have any great usage. Though I will say my son does complain that the system is slow compared with his connection, he lives in Northwich. [...]
With regard to the present broadband service, it is merely frustrating that it isn't faster, although there is the added annoyance that we are paying the same as other people who are getting a better service. It doesn't really limit what we want to use the internet for. However, we are considering having BT Vision and it could be that faster speeds would be an advantage then. We don't really know much more we would be prepared to pay for superfast. On the basis of our present usage, not a lot. A few pounds per month, perhaps.
In response to your request. My biggest problem appears to be with initial start up. This is especially true on my old desktop. However once I am connected I am informed by BT that I manage to get speeds of 7-8 Mbs so certainly not superfast. Most of the time this is okay but occasionally can get very slow especially during peak times and when viewing any TV programmes (not that we do that very often). I have signed up to express interest in superfast broadband. Hope this helps.

Many thanks to those who have replied so promptly (and sometimes in more detail than we have space for here).

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