There is a lot of confusion and misinformation around relating to internet connectivity, hopefully this page will provide some clarity.
Firstly here are some common terms and their meanings:
- Broadband: In the context of the Internet this term has become to mean a service which is always on (as compared to dial-up) and high-speed (meaning faster than dial-up, rather than being any specific speed).
- Fibre: This term actually relates to the connectivity, specifically a fibre is a cable made with a glass/plastic core which infra-red light is transmitted down, this being in contrast to a cable containing wires which carry electricity. The confusion is that some Internet providers are using “fibre” in their product names (e.g. the BT Fibre Essential, Fibre 1 and Fibre 2 services are all FTTC services, so not fibre all the way to your premises).
- FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet): This service is provided over fibre from the telephone exchange (in Misterton in our case) to the cabinet, however the cable from the cabinet to the premises (homes) is either copper or aluminium. Consequently the length of the cable from the cabinet to the premises is what impacts the speed of the service. This is the type of service currently provided in village.
- Cabinets: These are the green cabinets which are located around the village and the place where the fibre stops and the copper/aluminium starts on the way from the exchange to the premises (homes).
- FTTP (Fibre To The Premises): This service is provided over fibre all the way to the premises (homes) and thus can provide extremely fast connectivity. This is the type of service which will hopefully be provided in the village.
- Gigabit Capable: The requirement that any new service has to satisfy to quality for the voucher scheme is that it must be Gigabit Capable (rather than the service actually being provided at that speed). For reference the existing services to Walkeringham have a theoretical maximum download speed of c.80Mbps (megabits per second), However in reality I would estimate that the average download speed in the village is in the region of 20-40Mbps. For comparison a gigabit is 1000Mbps.
All of the aforementioned equipment, fibres, wires are owned and managed by Openreach which is a subsidiary of BT Group, so not to be confused with BT (Retail) who you would perhaps use for you broadband and telephone service. Openreach provides this infrastructure to many Internet service providers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk etc, for them to sell their services over.
So to use an analogy, Openreach provide the railway tracks and then you decide which train you want to run over them (for example BT, Sky, TalkTalk etc). The problem we have at the moment is that the tracks from the cabinets to our houses are old/slow (FTTC) and therefore is doesn’t really matter which train (BT, Sky, TalkTalk…) you choose, it’s the lines which are bad. With FTTP we get an upgrade to faster tracks and then you will still have the choice of what train you sign up for, but then they will be able to run a lot faster!
Just as an example, one of the services from BT, called Fibre 100 provides a speed of 100Mbps (see here for their speed guarantee information as an example).