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Community Broadband - FAQS

Why is fibre so important?

Fibre provides much more reliable and faster internet access.  The cabling will not degrade over time or distance in the same way as traditional copper phone lines. It will not be hampered by interference from water (which often gets into the underground pipes the wires must run along) or be hampered by other users.


What is Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)?

Fibre to the cabinet means you do not have a complete fibre connection, as the last section of cabling to your house will be copper phone line.  If your copper line is longer than 1.2 km (meaning you are more than 1.2 km from the cabinet) it will really limit your broadband speed and reliability.


What is a cabinet?

A cabinet is most often a green box on the pavement where phone/fibre cables from the surrounding houses meet.  From the cabinet the cables run back to the Exchange that takes the cables back to the national network. There are around 40 exchanges across South Hams and West Devon, but thousands of cabinets.  It should be noted that the nearest cabinet to your house may not be where cables from your property are taken.


What is Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) also known as 'full fibre'?

Fibre to the premises means the fibre cable comes directly into your house (likely from the nearest telegraph pole as phone lines currently do). This is what the Gigabit Voucher scheme is there to fund.


What is the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme?

The Government is providing up to £210m worth of voucher funding as immediate help for people in rural areas. Vouchers worth up to £1,500 for homes and £3,500 for businesses help to cover the costs of installing full fibre gigabit broadband.  Even if you already have superfast download speeds, you may still be eligible. You can check your eligibility using the button below:

Check if You're Eligible


Who are Airband, and what is the contract with Connecting Devon and Somerset?

Airband are a Broadband Infrastructure Supplier who provide the physical wires to connect you to the internet, much like Openreach. Connecting Devon and Somerset is a local government-led partnership who have awarded a government subsidised contract to Airband to provide full fibre to properties with less than superfast broadband speeds across South Hams and West Devon.


Which Broadband Infrastructure Providers are operating in South Hams and West Devon?

You can find more information about Broadband Suppliers here.


How good is my broadband, what do the numbers mean?

The standard measure of broadband is download speed Mbps (Mega Bits Per Second).  Connection speeds will vary throughout the day depending on how many people are using the internet in your area and in your own house. If you have a download speed of less than 10 Mbps, this is below what is considered decent. If you are achieving over 30Mbps this is considered 'superfast'. Gigabit capable broadband would allow a download speed of up to 1000 Mbps.


How much will full fibre cost?

The main cost would likely be getting the fibre cabling into your area, but this cost should be covered by the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.  You would then have to sign a contract with an Internet Service Provider (IPS) that provides fibre contracts. There is likely to be an installation fee and the monthly charge, in the region of £30-45/month.


What is the difference between a Broadband Infrastructure Supplier and an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?

The Broadband Infrastructure Supplier provides the physical cables that connect your house. Historically this has all been provided by BTOpenreach, however now a number of other companies also provide the physical connections.  Internet Service Providers sometimes rent the use of the cables to provide broadband contracts to customers. ISPs can also be infrastructure suppliers and can offer a bundle of services, including internet, TV and phone.


What is fixed wireless access?

Wireless solutions provide an alternative to or an extension of a wired network. In a fixed wireless network, the last mile (the last part of the connection to your property) is wireless. Wireless connectivity can be provided so long as you have clear line of sight to the radio transmitter of the broadband supplier.


New Telegraph Poles

You can read more about the contract at Connecting Devon and Somerset.

Why are new telegraph poles needed?

Airband are able to use existing telegraph poles and ducts for their cables, which they will do where possible to minimise costs, but there will be instances where new poles are required.  Sometimes poles cannot be used, for example:

  • if the poles have no more capacity to attach further cables,
  • if they are structurally unsound to take the weight of an engineer or
  • are not in the right location.

New telegraph poles (and new cabinets) for fixed line broadband are permitted development. This means that they do not require planning permission, provided that Airband give the Local Planning Authority 28 days notice before they are erected.   Airband only need to send the Local Planning Authority (the Council or Dartmoor National Park) a location map and description of what is proposed.

The Council is not required to undertake any public consultation in relation to the notifications it receives. Consent is also needed from the landowner where the pole is proposed before it can be installed.


How do I comment on the location of new telegraph poles?

Airband will be putting up site notices or writing to residents in advance of new poles being erected, and these letters/notices may be viewed before the notification application is submitted to the Local Planning Authority.  If you wish to submit comments before a notification is received the comments should be sent to community.engagement@airband.co.uk.

When a notification application has been received by the Local Planning Authority you can submit comments/objections which will be uploaded to the application page of our website for consideration by the planning officer.  You can read more information about how comments are handled here.

Below are examples of issues that planning officers can consider regarding the location of a new pole or cabinet:

  • Must not obstruct means of entering/exiting land
  • Should not narrow footway below 1.5 m wide
  • Should be sited at back of a footway, unless this would provide a significant security risk in terms of enabling access
  • Should not impact visibility at junctions
  • Should not be sited adjacent to listed buildings or ancient monuments
  • Should be sited to minimise prominence in the landscape

Examples of issues which planning officers cannot take into account are:

  • Impact on a view
  • Whether the poles/cabinets are needed
  • Individual views on their personal broadband connections
  • Land ownership issues

What if a telegraph pole is proposed on land that I own?

If the poles are proposed on Highway owned land (pavements, road verges etc.), Airband has a process to agree these with Devon County Council. 

If the poles/cabinets are proposed on privately owned land, Airband will need consent from the landowner with a wayleave agreement.

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