BiGDiG - Broadband in Greater Devauden interest Group
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is BiGDiG?

BiGDiG - Broadband in Greater Devauden interest Group - is a group of local volunteers working together to help obtain the best available broadband provision for Devauden AND its surrounding communities.

Who is in the BiGDiG Action Area?

The communities of Creigiau, Llanfihangel Tor y Mynydd, Wolvesnewton, Gaer Fawr, Newchurch, Kilgwrrwg, Itton Common, The Cot and, of course, Devauden are included in the BiGDiG Action Area.

Some properties in Penterry are included but those who have BT Infinity available through the St. Arvans exchange are excluded because they aren't eligible for the Welsh Government Broadband Support Scheme.

BiGDiG started receiving registrations in May 2012.  More recently a similar group has been established for the Trelleck area.  We think the residents who receive telephone services from the Trelleck exchange will be best served by this new group and those who registered with BiGDiG have been invited to join it.


View BiGDiG Registrations (with ID numbers) in a larger map

 

Who will benefit?

There will be immediate and obvious benefits for the many local residents and businesses who have very slow or intermittent broadband service, or who cannot access broadband at all.

Even the highest broadband speeds available in our area are around 5 to 50 times slower than those available in nearby large towns and cities. Given the increased importance of being online - from communicating with loved ones, through experiencing the best in entertainment, to working or trading via the Internet - there is an argument that we are already a deprived area.

Without concerted community action that digital divide is only set to widen. By supporting BiGDiG and subscribing to the new services, you can help improve your broadband experience and help the community at the same time.

What are the benefits of fast broadband?

Many of the online services that you've come to rely on are already taking advantage of the much higher speeds available in towns and cities to offer a bigger, better and more vivid experience. Skype is a good example - now offering group video conferencing (ideal for smaller businesses and distributed families alike) but only if you have a reliably fast uplink to the Internet. To benefit from the evolution of these really valuable (and often free) services your Internet connection - which you might think is fast enough for your current purposes - is going to have to speed up.

Then there is a whole world of new services which were never, and will never, be available at the paltry broadband speeds available to most in our area:

  •  World-class entertainment - perhaps particularly interesting with the London 2012 Olympics around the corner: the latest on-demand on-line music, high-definition movies and on-line gaming. From your own home see high quality movies straight away without waiting hours to download, and with no jittery pictures. Receive SKY TV via broadband for less per month and do away with satellite dishes which can be difficult to position.
  •  Working from home – the ability to work efficiently and keep-in-touch with the office using advanced videoconferencing technology which is so clear and 'virtually real' it’s like actually being in the office. The network would support VPN and remote desktop due to fast upload speeds and low contention ratios.
  •  Telemedicine and social services – imagine having a consultation with your doctor or an international specialist by videoconference from your own home, or talking to your social worker or other health care professional face to face at the touch of a button just some examples of the possibilities of superfast broadband.
  •  Keeping in touch with your family and friends - talking to family and friends over high quality video conferencing, great for keeping in touch with family or friends who are less mobile or housebound.
  •  Internet trading - recent studies have indicated that using the internet for online shopping, travel, utilities etc. can offer savings on average of £700 per annum when compared to equivalent physical or telephone methodology. SKY TV is now available via broadband (if you have >10Mbps) – meaning satellite dishes will not be needed, and costs are less.
  •  Multi-Uses and Multi-Users - with higher bandwidth levels than other providers many users in the same household can access the internet simultaneously without reducing the quality of service. Additionally the network enables different functionality simultaneously – telephony, music downloads, internet browsing – all at the same time and without loss of quality.

Who is organising/coordinating this?

BiGDiG is, as described above. We have a small amount of financial support from Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) to start the ball rolling, which will lead to more substantial funding from MCC and the Welsh Government.

Won’t BT or the Government provide this?

BT prioritises its investments on a commercial basis. The BiGDiG Action Area is very rural, with a low concentration of businesses and households. It is unlikely that we will be significantly upgraded for several years.

BT’s ‘Race to Infinity’ requires 1000 subscribers per exchange. There are only 500 lines into the Wolvesnewton exchange in total.

Similarly, the Welsh Government has published its strategy for Next Generation Broadband for Wales, setting targets for all businesses being able to access 30Mbps (high-speed) broadband by 2016 and all households by 2020. Again though, commercial telecoms providers will bid to provide the service, and will then prioritise locations for delivery using economic modelling. BiGDiG has been reliably advised that our area will not be covered.

What grant funding is available?

The Welsh Government is offering a one-off Broadband Support grant of £1,000 to each home, business or other organisation that either cannot get broadband or has a broadband service with a download speed of less than 2Mbps.

In addition, Monmouthshire County Council has a budget for community broadband projects that could yield as much as £47,000.

The total grant funding pot will depend on the number of homes that support BiGDiG and apply for a Welsh Government grant.

Why did BiGDiG choose Spectrum Internet?

After a lengthy and thorough selection process we have chosen Spectrum Internet to supply our communities with greatly improved broadband services.   Spectrum will implement a mix  copper, fibre and wireless delivery which promises levels of performance, reliability and future-proofing which we believe to be the best solution for Devauden and the surrounding communities.

Who are Spectrum Internet?

Spectrum Internet is the leading Welsh Internet service provider. Until recently they have specialised in offering high-grade business services.  They have built our own fibre optic network that runs from Chepstow to Haverfordwest and in 2011 completed south Wales’ first independent super-fast broadband project in St Brides Wentlooge, near Newport.   Form more details please have a look at their Community Broadband Information Pack.

Will I get the benefit of faster broadband without signing up with Spectrum?

No.  Not in the short-term.  You'll have to use Spectrum as your broadband provider in order to get the faster service.   If you stick with your current provider you'll not benefit from the work Spectrum are planning.

Can I wait until the new broadband service is up and running before deciding to join?

We need as many households as possible to apply for the Welsh Government grant.  The scheme will only be completed if enough people commit to it in advance.  There is likely to be a connection fee for anyone who joins after the deadline for grant applications has passed so fill in the forms now!

Will I have to buy a new router or pay a connection fee?

No.  Spectrum will provide you with a new router.  The connection cost will be paid by the Welsh Government grant.  If you are not eligable for the grant you call avoid the connection fee by signing-up now.

What do I have to do to receive the new service?

Please download and complete the forms on our Applications Page.  You will also need to submit the results of speed tests to prove that you currently receive a service which is slower than2MB/s.

When will the new service start?

The project is due to be completed by the end of March 2013.  Some residents in the BiGDiG area may be able to receive a faster broadband service before then.

How much will the new service cost?

Spectrum have devised a list of options which range in cost and start from £15.  Premium services will also be available for those customers who need even faster speeds and who will downloading larger amounts of data.  Full details are available in their Community Broadband Information Pack.

Will I be able to keep my @btinernet.com email address?

When you take up the new service with Spectrum Internet and stop your BT Broadband service your BT Internet email account will be downgraded to a Pay-as-you-go or Basic email service. You'll be able to access your email account for up to 90 days from the date your BT Broadband service stops. You won't be charged for the email account, but to continue to use it after 90 days you'll need to upgrade it to a Premium Mail account. 

I've recently renewed my contract with BT.  Will I have to pay extra to end that contract early and take up the faster service from Spectrum?

Spectrum may be able to help you with this but it may depend on how long you have left on your BT contract.  We have also been advised that BT are due to increase their prices and when this happens you will have the opportunity to end your BT contract early.  This would involve switching to Spectrum Internet's current service in advance of receiving their faster broadband service when they have completed the upgrade.

Will I still have to pay BT line rental for my phone calls?

That's up to you.  Spectrum do offer a line rental for their broadband customers so you could use that (or another provider) instead.  Spectrum's line rental costs £15 per month and that includes a call allowance of £5.  Full details are available from Spectrum.  Click here to view their brochure.

My broadband speed is already faster than 2Mbps can I still apply?

You won't be able to apply for the Welsh Government grant but you will still be able to subscribe to the service from Spectrum.  This will mean you get even faster broadband.  To avoid any possible connection fees you should registered your interest with Spectrum now by completing their sign-up form and then return it to BiGDiG.  See the BiGDiG Application Page for details.

How will Spectrum 'guarantee' a minimum of 4Mbps

Spectrum Internet has committed to do everything it reasonably can to ensure that all subscribers in the BiGDiG action area receive a minimum of 4Mbps. This includes working 'one-to-one' with difficult to reach properties in order to find an appropriate solution. The commitment is underpinned by a thorough assessment of BT Openreach's database of telephone line length and quality statistics. Spectrum has calculated that it can deliver a minimum of 4Mbps to the majority of homes in the BiGDiG action area. For those homes that cannot be served 4Mbps over their telephone lines, Spectrum will consider using wireless technology. It is extremely important for homes that today receive very poor broadband services to complete a Welsh Government grant form, ideally before the end of October 2012. This funding will go a long way towards making individual, innovative solutions possible. This should not be interpreted as an absolute guarantee of a 4Mbps service.

Why do I have to complete Spectrum Internet's Sign-up Form

Spectrum Internet, our chosen provider for faster broadband, will not receive the funds from the Welsh Government until after the project has been completed.  As a result, they need you to show your commitment to the scheme before they start digging!  It is essential that you also download, print and complete their Sign Up/Expression of Interest Form and return it to BiGDiG along with your Welsh Government grant application.

Is Spectrum Internet prepared for the change to IPv6

IPv6 is industry short hand for a scheme to massively increase the number of IP addresses - the Internet's equivalent of telephone numbers - available for Internet-connected devices. Believe it or not, the world is on the verge of running out of Internet addresses using the current scheme. The new scheme will allow for around 1 billion addresses for every person on the planet! As you might imagine, changing the Internet's telephone numbers (they're moving from a 32 bit to a 128 bit address length) has implications for end devices and the switches that move traffic through the Internet. Spectrum Internet is fully prepared for the move to IPv6 and has its migration plans in place. You can read a statement from Spectrum here.