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Littlebredy Broadband - the whole story

Several years ago Littlebredy started the process of updating its internet broadband, because the system was so slow that at times it was unusable for modern purposes.

The broadband service is delivered by Openreach, the 'independent' organisation owned by BT. They quoted 120k to extend new cables from Long Bredy telephone exchange into Littlebredy, with some digging required along the road. There were some payment vouchers available and also another grant scheme, but neither of these would fully cover the cost.

Eventually Westminster found that the EU Regional Development Fund would pay for the work, so this money was allocated to Dorset Council to manage. The cost was fully covered, and the work went ahead.

The new scheme now has overhead fibre cables installed from Winterborne Abbas into Littlebredy village, distributed to individual properties using the existing telegraph poles. The Postcodes covered are DT2 9HG, DT2 9HH, DT2 9HJ, DT2 9HL, DT2 9HQ, DT2 9HE, DT2 9HF, DT2 9HX, DT2 9JA.

Your old system explained

Your old broadband and phone system will have a copper wire 'telephone line' from the exchange, carrying the old-fashioned phone call signal of the type used for the last 140 years, and also piggy-backing an inaudible data signal carrying your slower broadband.

The new system uses a different cable which carries a beam of light through a thin glass or plastic fibre, hence the term 'Fibre' broadband. The light signal is capable of carrying an enormous amount of data, vastly more than the old copper telephone wire, which was designed only for speech.

You can do a speed test to find out how many Mbps your present broadband is giving you by using the BT Wholesale test here. If you have a BT router it may unhelpfully block that page and instead show you a BT Sales page, in which case use the official Ofcom speed checker here (when it finishes, click the 'details' tab to see the Mbps speed).

The old copper telephone wire system is due to be switched off over the whole of the UK in 2025. However, some Suppliers will offer to keep yours connected for the time being, to run your old phones.

What to do first

Your phone service will be provided by one Supplier and the broadband service can be provided by another Supplier, although many people use one Supplier for both.

To upgrade your broadband speed, you have to cancel your old services and subscribe to the new service. Someone will visit your property and change over the connections.

Your old phone and old broadband services will be provided under Contracts, usually 12, 18 or 24 months. The Contract offers a discount in return for tying yourself to that Supplier for the contract period. At the end of the Contract the price usually goes up, so most people agree a new discount Contract period.
  • If you haven't started a new Contract, you will be 'out of contract' and can cancel the old services whenever you like with no exit fee.
  • If you cancel an active Contract before it runs out, the Supplier usually bills you a sum to compensate themselves. But be warned that some Suppliers will try to bill the entire remaining period, so you don't get the services but you still have to pay for them.
  • Of course, if you stick with the same Supplier for the new services then they usually waive any extra cancellation bill.
This Contract arrangement is the same as that used by mobile phone Suppliers.

So, the first thing to do is look at your latest phone and broadband Bills and find out when your Contracts end, or if they have already ended.

Citizens Advice have a useful page on cancelling broadband and phone contracts here.

Which broadband to order

There are three different broadband arrangements in common use: slow, medium and fast.
  • The slow is called 'Fast'
  • the medium is called 'Superfast'
  • the fast is called 'Ultrafast' or 'Hyperfast'.
The Fast Broadband, recently renamed Basic Broadband by some, uses ADSL technology and is offered by BT, Sky and many others. This is the old Littlebredy slow broadband.

Superfast Fibre Broadband uses VDSL and FTTC technology, in which the old copper telephone line attaches to a fibre cable at an Openreach 'green cabinet' in a nearby street. If the cabinet is not too far from your house this can work quite well. But Superfast Broadband is not what has been newly-provided at Littlebredy, so don't bother ordering it. However, it is used with some good results further down the Bride Valley.

Ultrafast (or Hyperfast) uses FTTP technology, otherwise known as Full Fibre Broadband. This is what Openreach has just installed at Littlebredy. This is the one to order from a Supplier.

What speed do I need

Politicians who want your vote say that we all need 'Gigabit' speed (1,000 Mbps). In fact, the BBC say that to stream their iPlayer in HD (High Definition) to one device you need 5 Mbps, or you need 24 Mbps if you watch in '4K' definition.

But the internet operates like a motorway; at peak times it's unlikely you can drive at the speed limit. So it is best to pay for a little bit more, like adding more lanes.

The cheapest Full Fibre broadband contract will give you 35 Mbps, which will work fine for watching TV, doing email and internet shopping or viewing your doorbell camera on your smartphone while you are at work.

The next level is around 70 Mpbs, which will be more than adequate for family use on several phones and laptops and a TV set-top box or two.

If you want to run some business technical equipment at home or stream from your own server you may want to pay for up to 400 Mbps, but this would be very rare for domestic use. The reason for ordering such a fast, expensive speed would be to get a faster upload speed, to send lots of data out to other people rather than just download movies from the outside world to your TV.

Phones and the Future

There are two types of phone. At home there are the usual ones bought from Currys, BT or Argos, which plug into a BT Master Socket. However, at work most desks have what are known as 'VoIP' phones (pronounced voyp), which use the Internet instead.

If you order Phone and Full Fibre broadband from most Suppliers (BT for example) they may offer you a choice of three sorts of phone service.
  • Keep your old copper telephone line and your old phones, and just use the new Fibre cable for broadband. Watch that you don't pay for two line rentals.
  • Use an adapter gadget connected to the new fibre cable to connect your old phones, and abandon the old copper telephone line. Pay one line rental.
  • Change your phone(s) to VoIP and plug them direct into your fibre broadband or Wi-Fi. Pay one line rental.
Some Suppliers will continue to charge you the old Landline prices for your phone calls.

You could, instead, just order 'broadband only' from a Supplier, and not pay for a phone line or those landline costs. Instead, use a different phone service Supplier.
  • You would have to buy a more modern 'SIP' phone, which will connect to your phone Supplier's SIP exchange over your broadband.
  • This connection is usually free, you just pay the Supplier their low Internet rates for calls.
  • Interestingly, this SIP phone number will work anywhere in the world where there is Internet, including a holiday home and using an App on your smartphone. It will use the same phone number, all connections everywhere ringing at once.
This cheaper service is why businesses have used this system for more than 20 years.

Which Supplier to choose

Openreach publishes a list of available Suppliers. These include BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone.

Your choice is muddied by several factors, including whether to pay a Contract early cancellation fee, whether you have existing contracts with Sky TV or Vodafone etc, and whether your preferred Supplier actually offers Ultrafast broadband (for example, do not).


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