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What is Superfast Cornwall? Upgrading the Duchy to higher speeds

What is Superfast Cornwall? 

Latest news about Superfast CornwallSuperfast Cornwall is a joint project between BT, the Cornish Council and the EU to improve broadband speeds and reach throughout Cornwall. It’s also a test run for technology which can be used in other rural parts of the UK. 

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) and carried out by BT, Superfast Cornwall aims to get fibre, satellite and wireless (WiFi) broadband to all homes and business in Cornwall and on the Scilly Isles by 2014. 

Superfast Cornwall: What is it?

Around 80 per cent of the connections will be fibre broadband based. Of these, 60 per cent of these fibre broadband lines will be FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) providing speeds of up to 80Mbps. The remaining 40 per cent of sites will get faster FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) line which will eventually provide top download speeds of 330Mbps. 

Outside of this, the 20 per cent of connections will instead get broadband via other solutions. These will be provided by satellite broadband, 4G/fixed location wireless broadband, other wireless broadband technology and ADSL2+ broadband over copper phone wires. 

Where does Superfast Cornwall reach? 

Businesses like ACROL are now enjoying 92Mbps, a huge mark-up from their previous 1.5Mbps top speed. Residents in the village of Polperro, unsure of where to place a street cabinet owing to the narrow roads, decided that the grounds of the local Methodist Church would be a good place to set it up. 

A PDF detailing where and when Superfast Cornwall will roll out is available here. Along with rollout dates and times, this document also shows the extent of existing superfast coverage. So just because Superfast Cornwall has been working in your area, it doesn’t mean that 100 per cent coverage is available just yet. 

Superfast Cornwall: What is it?

Currently Truro has 75 per cent coverage with the remaining 25 per cent due to get coverage in March 2013. 

Portreath has 95 per cent coverage, with ‘further planning’ in the pipeline for the last 5 per cent.
Where ‘See note 1’ is shown in the table this means that future rollout is still in the planning stages.

In areas requiring extra planning, future rollout may include both fibre broadband and alternative technologies.

Fibre broadband refers to both FTTC and FTTP broadband, which we have a look at in greater detail here:

A BT spokesperson told Recombu that the exact mix of technology hasn’t yet been defined for this last 20 per cent and that BT intends to take fibre in Cornwall beyond the 80 per cent, if it’s economically viable.

With that said, there will still be some areas that due to location and terrain, FTTC or FTTP won’t be viable.

For these places, alternative technologies will bring broadband to residents. Here we take a look at what you can expect to get in Cornwall if you’re not due to get FTTC or FTTP.

Superfast Cornwall: What is it?Superfast Cornwall’s last 20 per cent: Satellite broadband

Superfast Cornwall via BT has a contract with Avanti Communications to provide satellite broadband to parts of Cornwall that won’t be covered by fibre.

Avanti doesn’t publish top speeds and packages on its site (it provides individual quotes to each customer), so it’s impossible to tell at a glance what the quality of service will be.

However, Avanti’s satellite broadband uses the Ka-band which can provide top download speeds of 18Mbps.

Superfast Cornwall’s last 20 per cent: 4G fixed-location broadband

BT has told Recombu Digital that 4G LTE fixed-location broadband would be made available to those who couldn’t get satellite broadband. As satellite dishes can’t be fitted to every home (either due to contractual reasons or it the buildings listed), broadband delivered over 4G is being considered as an alternative.

BT and Everything Everywhere had previously run a live trial in Redruth, which is understood to be winding down now. Elsewhere, Everything Everywhere has demonstrated that fixed-line 4G can deliver speeds around 20Mbps.

Superfast Cornwall’s last 20 per cent: ADSL2+ copper broadband

In other areas, ADSL2+ broadband upgrades will take place where they’ve not been previously rolled out. This will give speeds of up-to-20Mbps in areas not touched by BT fibre broadband.

BT currently advertises its top ADSL speeds as up-to-16Mbps, the top speed available to the top 10 per cent of its subscribers. So 16Mbps is a more realistic expectation of the top download speeds than the theoretical 20Mbps.

As more locations are announced by Superfast Cornwall we’ll update this piece as required as well as cover the news normally in our weekly Broadband Rollout Roundup.

Latest news about Superfast Cornwall

50 per cent of Cornwall now connected

What is Superfast Cornwall? 50 per cent of Cornwall now connectedSuperfast Cornwall has announced that it’s reached the 50 per cent milestone, connecting half of the county to superfast broadband.

Roughly 125,000 Cornish premises can now enjoy a faster speeds thanks to provision of FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines.

Approximately 400 people are connecting to faster speeds across the county each week, giving residents and businesses a better lease of 21st Century life – something we experienced ourselves during our visit in December 2012.

Currently, Superfast Cornwall is aiming to connect up to 90 per cent of Cornwall to fibre-based broadband with the majority of those being FTTC lines. Those outside of the 90 per cent footprint will get broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps delivered via a combination of bonded ADSL lines and satellite broadband.

The FTTC lines will provide top speeds of 80Mbps and the FTTP lines a maximum speed of 330Mbps.

Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT, said: “Reaching 50 per cent coverage is a very significant achievement for Superfast Cornwall. The partnership has made great strides since the first Cornish customers were connected to fibre optic broadband about two years ago. This milestone shows that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is already one of the best connected rural areas in the world and yet we are only half way.”

Though current plans only aim to have up to 90 per cent of premises connected to FTTC or FTTP, we’ve been told by Scarbrough that fibre-based broadband could be pushed out to more “unexpected places” as workarounds for reaching hard to reach Cornish areas with fibre are considered.

February 13, 2013

10Gbps XGPON UHDTV video demo 

Superfast Cornwall has put together a video showcasing the world record-breaking 10Gbps service being used in a commercial location.

We were lucky enough to witness BT and ZTE’s demo of 10Gbps broadband earlier this month, at Arcol Resistors in Cornwall. However this video perhaps gives us a more tangible example of the pure power of a 10Gbps line.

What is Superfast Cornwall: 10Gbps XGPON UHDTV video demo

Once connected to the new line, BT tested the service out by streaming a minute-long UHD clip from a ‘content server’ located in the Truro exchange building three miles away. The video (which is at least 3840×2160) – is streaming at about 850Mbps across the 10Gbps line which doesn’t appear to suffer at all.

BT isn’t planning on making a 10Gbps commercially available anytime soon. This test is more about proving that the FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines that BT is setting up are capable of much more than the current headline speed of 330Mbps.

As Dr. Ranulf Scarbrough, director of Superfast Cornwall says if future demand for 10Gbps is there BT will be able to meet it.

Have a watch of the video below (Cheesy Background Music Warning):

November 26, 2012

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