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Network lead

Bibstone Broadband Update - Summer 2020

Bibstone Broadband is a community-led effort to bring true superfast, fibre-to-the-premises broadband internet to homes in and around Bibstone.

Matt Biggs writes:

Hopefully you won't have forgotten the broadband scheme that was set up in order to try to improve the broadband in the Bibstone area (Falfield exchange around the Royal Oak pub).

I know things went a bit quiet but we did continue to try to push things forwards after receiving the massively expensive quote for the Community Fibre Scheme and i'm pleased to say that we managed to get Bibstone recognised and included in an additional phase of South Glos BDUK funded rollout programme to deliver fibre to the premise (FTTP) to those houses.

I'm told by Openreach that if you did sign up to our CFP scheme then you should be included, however there were some discrepancies between a few houses which unfortunately I'm unable to work out who due to GDPR."

Click here for further information.

Broadband - what you need to know

It appears there's lot of confusion about what's available, where it's available, and the factors that affect the speed you're likely to get. Here's Cromhall.com's unofficial guide:

There are three main 'flavours' of broadband

The original flavour of broadband was ADSL - this runs a digital signal down your phone line all the way from the telephone exchange. Physics being physics, the longer your phone line, the weaker the signal is by the time you get it. A weaker signal means a lower speed.

There's no telephone exchange in Cromhall, so everyone's phone lines run all the way from Falfield or Wickwar (more on that later). Speeds will be between 0.5 and 4Mbps - not great.

Because the limiting factor is always the length of the line, the newer flavour of broadband runs from roadside cabinets rather than the exchange, meaning the distance is much less. The technology is also capable of much higher speeds than ADSL.

The newer version goes by a variety of names: the connection into the roadside cabinet is via fibre-optic cable, so it gets called fibre broadband, fibre-to-the-cabinet or FTTC; the connection between the cabinet and your house still uses your phone line, using a system called VDSL. The various internet providers have marketing names such as BT Infinity etc. We'll call it FTTC.

There's also the 'gold standard', fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) or fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), where the fibre comes all the way to your house, instead of stopping at the cabinet. It doesn't use your phone wires at all, and speed doesn't depend on distance. You'll see various poles around the village have coils of fibre hanging from them, but this is just to taunt us; none of it is connected to anything yet.

Where you live determines what's available

The village is split between two different telephone exchanges, and is fed via four different roadside cabinets. The split is:

  • Leyhill and Park End are fed from the Falfield exchange, via cabinet number 4 (on the B4509 opposite Tortworth school).
  • Bibstone (except Drews Orchard) is also fed from the Falfield exchange, via cabinet 8 (by the roundabout at Charfield hill).
  • The southern half of the village is fed from the Wickwar exchange, via cabinet 2 (on Cowship Lane).
  • In May 2018, the new cabinet at Longcross (Wickwar cabinet 6) went live; this feeds the northern half of the village, excluding the bits mentioned above.

Falfield numbers usually start 01454 26; Wickwar numbers usually start 01454 29.

How can I check which cabinet I'm on?

Go to www.dslchecker.bt.com and enter your phone number.

So, can I get FTTC?

Best way to check is to go to www.dslchecker.bt.com and enter your phone number. If you see lines that mention FTTC, then yes, you're probably in luck. The webpage will also give estimates of the sort of speed you could expect - it'll be somewhere between the first number on the 'FTTC Range A' line and the second number on the 'FTTC Range B' line.

The shorter your telephone line back to the cabinet, the more chance there is you'll be able to get it, and the higher the speed is likely to be.

Visit www.homeandbusiness.openreach.co.uk/fibre-broadband/when-can-i-get-fibre to find out when you can order fibre.

I'm on a FTTC-enabled cabinet; do I automatically get faster speeds?


Firstly, there's no automatic upgrade. You'll need to ask your internet service provider (ISP) to change. If you're on slow ADSL and don't do anything, you'll remain on slow ADSL.

Secondly, distance is still a factor. The further you are from the cabinet, the slower it gets. Now the new cabinet is live, though, no matter where you are in the village, FTTC will give you faster (usually much faster) speeds than ADSL used to.

Will it cost much more?

You'll need to change which service you're on, so your bill is likely to change. However, it depends what you paid before and which company you're with - in some case the faster service is cheaper.

What sort of speeds can I get?

Again, use the www.dslchecker.bt.com website, but generally speaking Bibstone (except Drews Orchard) gets around 8-20Mbps, then for those on the Cowship Lane cabinet, it depends on the distance: 80Mbps by the cabinet, 30-80Mbps along Cowship Lane, 30-50Mbps for Jubilee Lane, 20-40Mbps for Heathend. Longcross, Townwell and the Burltons should now see 50-80Mbps; even the far-flung corners of Abbotside, Rectory Lane and Talbots End should get 20-50Mbps.

Where do the phone lines run?

As distance from the cabinet is the critical factor in determining speed and availability, knowing how the phone lines are fed around the village is useful.

Generally speaking, all the lines in the village follow the road network:

Lines from cabinet 4 run along Tortworth Road to Leyhill and a few outlying properties.

The route from cabinet 8 runs down the main road from the Charfield Hill roundabout, and follows the Bibstone loop past the pub and back down again, with a spur off for the properties at the bottom of Tortworth Road.

Cabinet 2 is on Cowship Lane, with the route being to and then along the main road, spurring off for Jubilee Lane and The Green.

From Cabinet 6 at Longcross lines head off in several directions, again following the road network along Church Lane, Talbots End Lane and further up the main road for Townwell and Drews Orchard. Abbotside is fed via Church Lane and Butcroft Lane. Rectory Lane is fed via Church Lane (except for a few properties fed from cabinet 2 via Jubilee Lane).

How can I improve the speed I get?

The main factor in broadband speed is simply the length (and quality) of the telephone line to your house.

However, other factors such as the state of your internal wiring can also affect the speed; if you're keen to eke out every little bit of speed from your line, have your router or modem plugged into the master socket to keep the length of the internal wiring to a minimum. There's plenty of advice available if you google for it.

Are there alternatives to ADSL and FTTC?

Yes, plenty, but they all have some sort of drawback. There's satellite broadband, but it suffers from latency (high ping times) making it unsuitable for VoIP telephony and on-line gaming; there's 4G, but if you're a heavy internet user you won't be able to find a plan that offers you enough data monthly; there's private fibre (fibre to the premises, or FTTP), but it can cost a fortune to install.

Anything to add?

Got any information to add? Drop us a note to let us know.

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