Broadband

This page has evolved a great deal since it started in 2010 when broadband speeds in Cumbria were often low single figure numbers measured in megabits per second (Mbps). For many areas in the county, the Connecting Cumbria programme (a joint venture between the County Council and BT Openreach) has dramatically improved the broadband landscape. Its aim was to bring Superfast Broadband (defined as download speeds > 24 Mbps) to at least 95% of properties by mid-2018. The main way of achieving this is by using optical fibres to overlay the existing copper wire from the exchanges to the green cabinets, but not using fibre optics from the cabinets to the property itself. As of mid-2019, 93% of properties had achieved this, somewhat short of the objective. 

There have been big improvements in broadband speeds  across the valley, but this is complicated by the cabling infrastructure as the lines come from 3 different directions – Cockermouth (01900 numbers), Keswick (01768 numbers) and Whitehaven (01946 numbers). Biggest improvements have been in 01900 numbers (Lorton, most of Loweswater and Blindbothel) with Lorton achieving Superfast speeds in 2016 and Loweswater in 2018 (although not necessarily at all properties as speed depends on distance from the enabled green cabinets). At the time of writing, Buttermere and, in particular, “Upper” Loweswater (above the lake) are looking into how they might improve their current situation as speeds at some properties are still in low single figure Mbps. 

The latest government initiative was launched in 2018 and aims to bypass “Superfast” broadband by providing vouchers to get Gigabit (1000 Mbps) broadband across small groups of businesses and dwellings. The value of the vouchers was recently increased to £3000 per property. This scheme involves the installation of fibre optics all the way to each property, not just to a nearby cabinet and thus isn’t cheap. There are also commercial routes with companies such as Broadband for the Rural North and Solway Communications, but such schemes often don’t quite reach our area. 

You can test test your broadband download and upload speeds on different websites, but this  link works well. 

Please note that this page is not necessarily updated that regularly so please see the messages below for any more recent comments.

Leslie Webb, August 2020.

5 Responses to Broadband

  1. Michael Gibson says:

    If you seriously want superfast broadband then BT and Openreach will take a very long time to get you there.

    I’d seriously consider looking at B4RN, Broadband for the Rural North. This is community-driven, provides free access for schools, churches and community buildings, and ensures that it will deliver service to everyone who wants it. It brings the community together, as you’ve got to lay the fibre yourselves.

    As for 60Mbps, forget that, this is 1,000Mbps. It has helped transform the Lune Valley near Lancaster, seen people move into the area and done so much more.

    https://b4rn.org.uk/

    • Steven Q says:

      I did speak to B4RN when I was looking for alternatives to BT/Openreach, who seemed to be dragging their feet at the time. The problem with B4RN is that they have a direct connection to a hub in Manchester I believe, so while they were just reaching into southern Cumbria, it was going to be very many years before their network of fibres might reach the Lorton Valley. Hence BT/Openreach appeared to be the only game in town when I was looking.

      I set up a small BT Fibre Partnership of just 7 houses with the intention of running fibre directly to each of our houses. We had a detailed survey and costing exercise, sought subsidies from Connecting Cumbria, and then Openreach changed their mind and decided to give us a cabinet instead. We now have about 75 Mbps, and all of the 7 houses are above 50 Mbps I believe.

      For anyone who still doesn’t have superfast broadband, setting up a Community Fibre Partnership is an option. It is a frustrating process as BT / Openreach / Connecting Cumbria are difficult to communicate with and often have no idea what each other are doing, but in our case it might have applied the necessary pressure for Openreach to get their act together.

      • Michael Gibson says:

        Well done on getting anywhere with BT and Openreach. The story in Lancashire is over 10 years of promised and never delivered projects. With the government driving towards 1GB, what they are installing just isn’t up to scratch.

        Might be worth having another chat with B4RN. The existing footprint in North Lancs and South Cumbria has been joined by pockets in Northumberland, Cheshire and Norfolk, with their own connections.

        The Nortumberland one is the most interesting as they must have the same issues as you have http://b4ntr.com/about/.

        Good luck with it all and great to see a community working together. Only found this site as looking for locations for electric vehicle chargers we’re installing as part of a government funded project.

  2. Leslie Webb says:

    I have just changed the Speed Tester link and can report a current download speed here of just under 50 Mbps – not bad at all as Singapore is still quoted as having the fastest country-wide average at 60 Mbps.

    • Gill Locking says:

      Hello Leslie – I have just come across your interesting posts. We live about a mile south of Lorton, just past Hopebeck. We have been hoping (praying!) for Superfast Broadband…in vain so far. I have just used your link to carry out a speed test – 9.17 for download, 0.74 for upload. Unfortunately the link you kindly provided to see if we can get Superfast Broadband does not work. Can you give us any help, hope or advice? Thank you very much – Gill Locking

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