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.

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