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April 30, 2013

Cheshire to get 96% coverage with fibre broadband

96% of Cheshire premises are set to be covered  with high speed fibre broadband after BT won the contract from “The Connecting Cheshire Partnership” that will help fund the addition rural infrastructure needed with money from the government funded BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK).

The Connecting Cheshire Partnership is a project between the four Cheshire councils, Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Halton Borough Council and Warrington Borough Council. The partnership was set up to secure funding to help with rural broadband and the new deal with BT which will cost £28.5 million over the next 3 years will help bring broadband to 80,000 rural premises that BT would themselves not have been covering without the funding. On top of this BT are continuing to roll out their fibre broadband across the county and over 400,000 premises across Cheshire, Halton and Warrington should be connected to fibre broadband services offering up to 80Mb speeds by the end of 2016.

The remaining 4 % that won’t be covered by fibre optic broadband should still see their broadband speeds increase to at least a minimum of 2Mb in line with the governments target to having a universal broadband of 2Mb per premises available across the whole country.

The £28.5 million contract is being funded from 4 places: £9m from BT, The Connecting Cheshire Partnership £1.85m, BDUK £4m and £13.6m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Councillor David Brown, part of The Connecting Cheshire Partnership, said:”The award of this contract to BT marks the end of a comprehensive process to secure the best broadband deal for Cheshire. The four councils across Cheshire are committed to providing reliable high-speed fibre broadband for both our home and business users. From children doing homework to caring for our elderly population and from social media, to ecommerce and home entertainment – fast broadband is the critical enabler. The social, environmental and economic benefits will be huge, making Cheshire one of the best connected regions in the country.

In most places BT will be rolling out FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) rather than full fibre to the premises (FTTP) which is able to offer even faster broadband speeds.

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April 25, 2013

Dead mans broadband bill goes viral after Virgin Media try to charge £10 late payment fee

Virgin Media have been receiving some very unwelcome attention to one of the bills they sent out to a deceased customer after the bill and the message that was sent to them was put on Facebook and then subsequently went viral.

The image of the bill and the “funny” message that accompanied it were posted to Facebook by the son-in-law of the deceased man on Monday and it didn’t take long for it to go viral, with currently around 88,000 people sharing it.

Part of what Mr Boyden said in in his “rant” was:
You also deserve a further honorable mention for promptly sending us next months bill as well. I’m simply not paying it, as ever since passing away, I have noticed a sharp decrease in the amount of television my Father in Law has been watching. I simply cannot think why that would be.

The problem for Virgin Media is that the Virgin Media broadband and TV bill tried to take payment on the 3rd April, on the 9th April the bank that the direct debit was with denied the payment saying that the “Payer deceased”, on the 10th April Virgin Media added a “Late Payment Charge” of £10 and posted out the bill below:
Virgin Media bill to deceased customer

Virgin probably didn’t mean to be so insensitive but the fact that the bill even had printed on it “D.D Denied-Payer deceased” doesn’t look very good for them. Virgin say that automatic responses from the bank shouldn’t be printed onto customers bills and they are investigating how this happened, most likely through an automated system.

Virgin released a statement saying:
We offer our sincerest apologies for the wording that appeared on the bill. Automated responses from banks should not appear on customer bills and we’re investigating how this happened.

We have a team in place to ensure bereavements are managed sensitively and will ensure this wording is removed from our billing system.

As soon as Mr Boyden brought this to our attention, we looked into this matter straight away and can confirm the account has now been closed, with all late payment charges removed.

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- Filed under: News
- Tags: Virgin media bill, Virgin Media broadband, Virgin Media viral bill
Author: Mark @ 11:14 am

April 18, 2013

6 months free broadband from John Lewis when buying tablets, phones or smart-TVs

John Lewis are going to try and get a larger portion of the UK broadband market by offering customers who buy internet-enabled devices from them 6 months free broadband.

John Lewis BroadbandThe offer will require customers to sign up for a 12 month broadband contract with John Lewis Broadband (www.johnlewis.com) and also transfer phone line to them and then 6 months of the contract will include the free broadband. Currently the cheapest John Lewis broadband contract available is for their Standard broadband package which offers up to 16Mb speeds and 20GB monthly usage and costs £11 per month + line rental at £13.50 per month. This deal would save customers £66 on their broadband.
The Unlimited Broadband package again offers up to 16Mb speeds but with Unlimited monthly usage and costs £18 per month + £13.50 per month line rental. With this package customers would be saving £108 off the cost of their broadband.

In effect customers could work it out that they can get a “free” device from John Lewis if they do take up the offer as currently the Amazon Kindle is available for £69 and would be covered by the cost of the savings possible, that said other devices are also available such as tablets, laptops, mobiles and Smart-TVs depending on what customers are after buying.

Any customers who do buy an internet-enabled device from John Lewis will have 12 months to sign up for their 6 months free broadband providing they keep hold of their receipt and the deal will be running for at least a year from John Lewis.

John Lewis broadband is supplied by Plusnet which has a huge reputation in the broadband industry for quality service, Plusnet themselves are owned by BT.

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April 16, 2013

2Gb Fibre broadband launched in Tokyo

A 2Gb fibre broadband service has gone live in Tokyo for a lucky few who live close to So-net Entertainment, a Japanese ISP who are part owned (58.2%) by Sony.

2Gb fibre broadbandNot only will the 2Gb service offer fibre broadband download speeds most of us can only dream of but the upload speeds will also be a massive 1Gb too. The service is called “light Nuro” and used a Gigabit-capable Passive Optics Networks (GPON) fibre network and is available for £33 per month which is the same price as BT charge for their Unlimited BT Infinity 1 package with line rental which offers speeds up to 38Mb.

As much as we can look on and be envious of the 2Gb fibre broadband, the users who can get it won’t be able to make much use of the full benefit of it at present due to limitations with their home computers systems, networks and wireless.

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Virgin Media introduce new traffic management restrictions

Virgin Media have introduced a new traffic management policy for those on fibre connections of 30Mb or faster and which for heavy users will require a bit of studying to see how it will affect them and how to make best use of their Virgin broadband connection.

The traffic management time has been changed to just 1 time during the day now which is 4pm-11pm on weekdays and 11am-11pm on weekends with users who do exceed their “allowance” over a 1 hour period able to get back to their full speed within 1 hour rather than the 5 hours restriction that was previously in place providing that they don’t exceed a further allowance during the restriction hour, if they do then there will be further throttling of their speed for an extra 2 hour period. Virgin claim that less than 5% of users will be affected by the restrictions.

Below are the limitations and restrictions for the new Virgin Media fair use, traffic management plan:

Virgin Media traffic management

Each package has a different 1 hour threshold (the faster the package the greater this threshold is) and if this is exceeded then the broadband speed will be reduced by 30% for 1 hour. If in this 2nd hour the user continues heavy use and exceeds a further threshold then the broadband speed will be reduced once again so it will then be running at 40% of it’s maximum. The same applies for uploads too, although if the 1 hour threshold is exceeded then the reduction for the following hour will be a 60% reduction in upload speeds and then 75% if the user continues to exceed in the second hour.

As an example, if a user on the XL30 package with Virgin exceeds 2750MB in 1 hour then they will have their speed reduced by 30% for 1 hour and providing they don’t go over the 2 Hour Threshold of 3500MB (so and extra 750Mb in hour 2) they will then go back to their full speed, however, if they do use up more than the extra 750MB to take them over the 3500MB for the 2 hour threshold then they will have their speed reduced to 40% of their maximum. If the user continues to exceed limits then they could find that for the traffic management period they are in that they stay restricted.

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April 11, 2013

38% claim Internet more important than water & heating

Having internet access go down would be more stressful for 38% of people than losing basic utilities such as water, heating or if their TV stopped working with 27% saying they couldn’t live without an internet connection according to a recent survey done with London commuters.

The study asked 1,000 London commuters which service going down would cause them the most stress with 38% saying that losing other utilities such as water would be preferable than losing their internet access. 32% said that they would be most worried if they had no water and just 18% said a lack of heating would be the cause of the most stress to them.

A year ago when  a similar study was done it was 17% of people said that they could not live without an internet connection, just 1 year on and this figure now stands at 27% and so it goes to show in 1 year how the internet has continued to grow in importance and integrate itself into peoples everyday life. Access to the internet is now seen as an essential everyday utility for many people with many people expecting top be able to access it as and when they want, especially with the popularity of smart phones and also now even faster mobile broadband being deployed such as 4G internet.

Both peoples personal and also business lives in many cases revolve around suing the internet, with many businesses relying on it a great deal. Just 4% of those asked said that they did not need the internet at all!

The study was commission by Infosecurity Europe, with Claire Sellick from the company saying:
Having internet connection is part and parcel of our everyday lives, becoming more important than even heat and water at home, which does seem phenomenal but shows just how dependent we are on the internet.

‘Considering that so much information now passes over the internet, both in our private and corporate lives, now more than ever it’s important to consider how you access this information and how you go about protecting your most sensitive data.

 

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- Filed under: News
- Tags: broadband importance
Author: Mark @ 12:35 pm

April 9, 2013

EE to double 4G mobile broadband speeds

EE (Everything Everywhere – www.EE.co.uk), the 4G (or 4GEE as they like to brand it themselves) mobile broadband provider is set to double the speeds of their mobile broadband this summer in ten cities across the UK.

EEThe increase in mobile broadband speed would see the current average of 8-12Mb in cities be doubled to be around 20Mb which would be available for both new and existing customers with the headline speed up to a whopping 80Mb!

The ten cities set to get the 4G speed increase are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield.

EE (who are the company that runs the now merged Orange & T-Mobile) are aiming to have 1 million 4G customers by the end of 2013 and with more and more areas getting access to the 4G services there will be plenty of new customers who will be looking to switch to the faster mobile broadband.
Currently 4GEE from EE is available in 50 UK towns and cities including: Amersham, Barnsley, Belfast, Bingley, Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford , Bristol, Cardiff, Chelmsford, Chorley, Coventry, Derby, Doncaster, Dudley, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Harpenden, Hemel Hempstead, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Lichfield, Liverpool, London, Loughborough, Luton, Maidenhead, Manchester, Newbury, Newcastle, Newport, Nottingham, Preston, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Shipley, Slough, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, St Albans, Stockport, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Telford, Walsall, Watford, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.

By June they hope this figure to have reached 80 locations which should be around 55% of the UK population, by the end of 2014 they hope to have reached 98% of the UK with 4GEE.

The way consumers use data on 4G devices has changed from standard 3G phones according to EE, they say that 24% of all traffic now is for video which is significantly more than on 3G. It is because of things like this and consumers demand for data that EE are future proofing themselves as they estimate that data traffic will grow by as much as 750% by 2016 with an increase of 505 by the end of 2013 alone.

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4 out of 5 claim internet speed not fast enough for their internet needs

Findings from a recent poll found that 4 out of 5 internet users said that their internet speed was not fast enough for their current internet needs.

The poll which was run on the speed test site www.broadbandspeedtest.co.uk had 485 respondents with 81% of them (394) saying that their internet speed was not fast enough while just 19% (91) said that their interent speed was fast enough for their current internet needs.

However, as was pointed out the results might not really paint an accurate picture of the general view of users feelings for their interenet speed test as many of the visitors to the broadbandspeedtest.co.uk website are from users who may be experiencing problems with their broadband speed and as such will be naturally voting “No” on the poll.

It was only a basic poll that was run and didn’t delve deeper into what broadband speed each respondent actually had to gauge the feeling on what broadband speed users felt happy and at what speed users weren’t happy.

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April 8, 2013

BT chief defends fibre broadband against “copper Luddites”

The BT chief executive, Ian Livingston, has hit back at claims made by TalkTalk that the government are “funding a monopoly provider” by claiming the criticisms are coming from “copper Luddites” who are not prepared to invest in fibre themselves.

The TalkTalk chairman, Sir Charles Dunstone, had called for regulatory intervention because of the public funding that BT are receiving from the government to help roll out their fibre optic broadband network to “non-commercial” areas of the country.
BT are investing £2.5 billion of their own money in their fibre optic network which should cover two-thirds of British homes and businesses. The government have a pot of money to help cover the final third that BT deem not to be commercially viable for them to roll out to off their own back. The governments money is in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) pot and so far only BT has won the extra money that different rural areas can bid for after Fujitsu, who were the only other main bidder for the funds, had pulled out meaning that BT are basically a shoe in for the new contracts put forward.
He also called for Ofcom to look into the wholesale prices that BT is able to charge for other providers to have access to it’s superfast broadband network, however Mr Livingston from BT countered this by saying:
These criticisms are coming from people I can only describe as copper Luddites. They don’t’ want to see the UK getting fibre. BT fibre is open to any provider in the UK on the same terms as BT – there are 50 or 60 of them, that’s not what I call a monopoly.

Sir Charles told the Financial Times:
We need to regulate fibre – and to check where the money is going.
There is so much government money going into subsidising higher broadband speeds but no one really knows where it is going and how it is being spent.

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