Broadband speeds across Cumbria are very variable. A few years ago, when the average broadband speed across Cumbria was apparently close to the national average (then about 6 Megabits per second, Mbps), the speed in rural Cumbria was well below this. My speed here in Loweswater (some distance from the local exchange in Lorton) is typically about 3 Mbps, which is slightly lower than it was a few years ago. It could be a lot worse as there are a good few places in the county (including parts of Loweswater) with speeds, at least at times, no better than 0.5 Mbps.
The current aim of Cumbria County Council is to bring Superfast Broadband (defined as download speeds > 24 Mbps) to at least 95% of properties by mid-2018. The main platform for achieving this is the Connecting Cumbria project, which is a joint venture between the County Council and BT. 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. In Phase 1 of the project to mid-2016, the telephone exchange in Lorton was upgraded with an optical fibre supply so Superfast Broadband is available within the village itself, but this does not extend to areas outside the village or to premises in Loweswater or Buttermere.
The main priority of the current Phase 2 is to cover as many premises as possible within the available funds, a lesser priority being to give preference to areas with more businesses or areas that have a lower percentage coverage left over from Phase 1. You can see maps with more details of the Phase 2 programme on the When and Where page of the Connecting Cumbria website here. As Phase 2 is tackling the more remote premises, its cost (per new connection) will be greater than in Phase 1 and will have to use more extensive deployment of fibre optics. Pure fibre systems plus other new technologies can get up to download speeds of 300 Mbps now and probably 1000 Mbps (1 Gigabit per second) in the not too distant future, so there will still be a long way to go before Cumbria gets anything approaching state-of-the-art Broadband.
I have been the Broadband Champion for Loweswater since the Connecting Cumbria project started, but the passing on of information from the local Hub Co-ordinator has been poor so I have been able to do very little. Since a local meeting in Yew Tree Hall on 6 September 2016, I hope to be able to get more info through meeting one of the managers from the BT project team. When I get more info, I will post it on this page. In the meantime, you can find out if you can get SuperFast Broadband here.
You can test test your broadband download and upload speeds on this link. It would be great if you could let everyone know what speed you get at your location by sending a message from the box below.
Leslie Webb, September 2016.