Monday, 14 August 2017 12:16

Top five rural broadband questions

Top five rural broadband questions

Broadband expert Daniel Heery answers the Top Five most frequently asked questions by delegates at rural events.

If you have a question you’d like to ask – or think you have a better answer, please use the comments section below.


1. Why can’t BT just get on and do it?

As a private company, BT shareholders prioritise places cheapest to connect that offer the best return on investment. This often excludes hard-to-reach areas with ageing infrastructure and long phone lines.


2. The council keeps announcing new areas to get superfast broadband but it never gets to our house?

Councils are working with BT and alternative network providers like Gigaclear to fill in the gaps left by earlier phases of the broadband roll out project. The contracts BT signed stipulated that money had to be paid back to local councils when connections reach 40% of properties. Councils revisit the areas that were too difficult the first time around and see if they have become more viable by using different technology, or increased demand. Keep contacting your local council’s broadband team and raise the issue with elected members, the greater the visibility of your problem, the more likely it is that a solution will be found. 


3. Why can’t they run fibre cables along the electricity lines?

The electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) are regulated by OFGEM who have a clear view that money should only be spent on delivering electricity. OFGEM do not think electricity bill payers should subsidise broadband roll out. Technically, there is no problem in wrapping fibre optic cables around power lines and it has been done successfully in several countries. If a broadband provider pays the DNO the full cost to carry out the work, then this is acceptable to OFGEM. The main problem comes with wayleaves (legal documents that gives the DNO permission for their cables to cross land). A DNO would have to go back to all landowners on the fibre route and ask them to update the wayleaves to include the fibre optic cables. This is time consuming and some land agents use the opportunity to renegotiate the wayleave to get more money from the DNO.


4. I saw them laying fibre optic cables along the street through the village so why is my broadband is still slow?

It is the same way that a high pressure gas main can go through your village and yet no one can get gas. Major fibre routes linking cities pass through rural areas, but accessing these cables can be difficult. The cost can be over £20,000 a year for a Gigabit/second connection, so you could make a business case if there are a group of people and businesses locally who are willing to pay for the service. The provider may not be willing to “break out” in your village due to technical barriers, like the number of free fibres or the equipment used to light the fibre not being powerful enough to reach your village. Cybermoor successfully connected to Vodafone’s fibre network between Carlisle and Newcastle on their BDUK project.


5. I saw them putting in a new cabinet and I have not seen any improvement in my broadband service. Why not?
The superfast broadband connection on your landline does not happen automatically, you need to order a new service from your internet service provider. The speed drops off the further you are from a cabinet.


If you are interested in finding out more about the solutions to rural broadband problems and meeting companies delivering solutions to communities with slow broadband, the Independent Networks Co-operative is holding its annual conference in Newcastle 15/16th November in Newcastle and will be covering the latest in technical solutions and funding.


Daniel Heery is chief executive of Cybermoor, a co-operative based in Alston Moor, Cumbria, providing innovative digital services to rural areas. For details, visit


People in this conversation

  • Guest (Helen Readman, Saxton Parish Council Clerk)


    Is bandwidth the same as broadband speed ? Quite suddenly, i keep getting shown a dialogue box that says i have insufficient bandwidth to watch whatever it is i am trying to watch. Or do.

    from Peartree Cottage, Main St, Saxton, Tadcaster LS24 9PY, UK
  • Guest (T_S)


    When faster broadband was announced, it was stated that work in rural areas was to start first; so as to avoid those in rural areas being missed out, what happened to that concept?
    Why cannot fibre cable be wrapped around the existing copper cables, which belong to BT. There was an interest programme showing this being done on an island. One person with a hand guided machine did several miles a cabling a day?
    What is lacking is the commitment to bring faster broadband to rural areas, and poor ex

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