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2020 10 fibre for D & C blank

Downe & Cudham Ultrafast broadband

UPDATE - September 2023


With the final stage of infrastructure deployment now complete at Buckston Browne Gardens, the fibre broadband project is now complete. 


Fibre broadband is now available to approx 1,000 homes and businesses across Downe and Cudham


Downe & Cudham Ultrafast Broadband Community project

NOTE -  the signup stage is now finished


All residents need to play their part in this project, by signing up - by doing so, you are signing up for a Government voucher.   I must stress this is nothing to do with your current service - whoever you use.  This is just to apply for a voucher which will go to Openreach to pay for the laying of fibre throughout our villages.  In doing so, you just commit to take a fibre broadband when it is available (this is not an order for a broadband service).  When enough residents have signed up, I can get Openreach to start the engineering work

If you have a business registered at your address PLEASE register as a business - the voucher amount for a business is worth more than a normal residential voucher.

Note - a few locations have not yet been added to the system, so if you live in High St, Downe or West Hill/Green Hill/Milking Lane, please hold fire -  I'll let you know when to register.  Also, those Cudham residents connected to Knockholt exchange (01959 53nnnn) are not included.

To sign up (note only one voucher pledge allowed per property):

1 Go to:

2 Check the box "yes" (to the question "Is it less than 100mbps ?")

3 Enter your postcode, tick the "I'm not a robot" box, then press the green button - this will take you to the "Downe & Cudham Ultrafast Community Project" page

4 Press the green "pledge" button

5 Then enter your details - note:
* post town = Downe or Cudham
* IMPORTANT - if you have a business registered at your address, please check the "Business" button, else check the "Home" button. If you are pledging as a business, you will need to enter your company name and company number. If you are a sole trader, enter sole trader in the company number box.

* enter phone number (only numbers allowed - no spaces) and e-mail
* check the "pledge" and "privacy" boxes, and check the contact box if you wish

6 Press the green "Submit Application" box

I have provided some frequently asked questions (& answers) below

If you have any queries or are uncertain about anything, please e-mail -

Steve Barnes

(note this project has been approved by the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, and is supported by Gareth Bacon, MP and Bromley Council)

Here are some frequently asked questions (updated 9 Jan 2021)


What is the difference between “standard”, “Ultrafast” and “Superfast” broadband ?

  • Standard” (ADSL) broadband is a connection with a speed of less than 24mbps (megabits per second) that arrives at your property without the use of fibre optic cables.

  • Superfast” broadband offers speeds of 24mbps or more.This is the current situation in Downe, and is via cables that are fibre optic part of the way to your property.

  • Ultrafast” broadband is a connection with speeds of more than 300mbps, and is delivered via fibre optic cables running the entire route between your house and the nearest exchange.


In Cudham, many speeds are of only 2 -3mbps - completely inadequate in this modern world.    In Downe, the highest speeds are about 70mbps (for those near the roadside box in Standard Road) and down to less than 9mbps for those on the outer edges of the village.   All of our speeds are less than the Government target of getting everyone to a possible 100mbps (minimum) !

Why do this now ?


Openreach are currently in the general area and are providing “fibre to the premises” to urban areas served by Farnborough and Biggin Hill telephone exchanges (which also serve our areas).  They do not intend to extend this to our rural areas, so this project is to “piggy back” on the Openreach work while the engineers are in the locality.

What am I signing up for ?


By registering on the Openreach website, you are "pledging" a voucher (from the Government) to a pot being built up to pay Openreach for laying the fibre cables in Downe & Cudham.   Every property can apply for a voucher -  when we reach the figure of approx £900,000, I can ask Openreach to start the work.   You are NOT ordering a broadband service -  you are registering your interest in fibre broadband for when it is provided in our area.   You are also undertaking to order a service (from any supplier) when it is ready.   By this registering process, you are contributing a "voucher" towards the cost of Openreach building the infrastructure.

If I pledge my voucher - this commits me to taking out a new fibre service.  Why should I ?

This is the way the Government wants to run the scheme.   In return for £1,500 of public money (£3,500 if a business) that the government will pay to Openreach (eventually), they want to make sure this public money is spent wisely, and that residents use the new service provided.  This is not unreasonable.

What will it cost me ?


NOTHING (now) - you will only pay once a fibre service is on offer (from any supplier you choose - there will be several).  This service can replace the current broadband service you have - or you can upgrade with your current supplier.

Does “Ultrafast” broadband cost me more ?


The price we will pay for fibre broadband will be the same as everyone else in the UK pays.   You can choose your supplier (eg Sky, TalkTalk, BT, etc etc) and prices depend on what speed you want.   Generally, prices seem to start at about £25 per month and go up to £70 - £80 per month for the highest speeds.  Current (slow) broadband prices are in the range £23 per month (for up to 36mbps download speed), and £28 per month (for up to 60mbps download speed).  All prices include Line Rental (though you may have the ability to cease your old landline if you wish)


But I'm in a contract at the moment, so how would I take a new service ?

Whilst I cannot be too specific, I believe your existing provider would be delighted to switch you over part way through your existing contract - for two reasons - (1) more reliable and (2) they extend your contract.

What is the voucher ?

The scheme relies on the Government “Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme".   This is the way we can pay for the fibre cables etc to be laid around the area.   Each household that signs up contributes a voucher amount which goes to Openreach to pay for the work.   When the total value of vouchers adds up to the cost of the project (approx £0.75m), Openreach can start the necessary work.   In this way, the Government subsidy pays for the cost (Openreach reclaim the money from the Government).

How many vouchers can I have ?

Only one voucher per address (residential or business).   If you have a registered business at your address, you should use this in your application as the voucher amount is £3,500 per address for a business.   For a normal residential address, the voucher amount is £1,500.

What types of business can register for a voucher ?

If your address is registered as a Limited Company or Sole Trader.  Sadly, working from home does not count.


If I'm a business, will I need to provide proof ?

Not generally.   Openreach themselves will claim the vouchers you have pledged.   If there is a query or an occasional "spot check" on a business voucher, you may be asked for evidence of trading (eg a letter from HMRC confirming your UTR (Unique Tax Record) number, or a VAT registration, or a Charity Registration, or a Certification of Incorporation (Limited Companies), or a business bank account statement (From within the last three months)

Why should I sign up ?

The scheme requires that a minimum number of households and businesses sign up for a service in the future.   It is therefore very important to the whole community that as many people as possible sign up.  Also, note that Openreach (BT) intend to phase out the old "copper" telephone network by the end of 2025 (so they say), so we may as well switch over at this opportunity.


Who is paying for all this work ?


The UK Government are subsidising the rural work via the “Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme".   However, it relies on residents & businesses to apply for these vouchers – this cannot be done centrally.

When will we have “Ultrafast” fibre broadband ?


As soon as the required number of residents and businesses have signed up to the scheme (via an Openreach website), the “go” button can be pressed.  When this happens, Openreach have a year to deliver the infrastructure.

What are the advantages of “Ultrafast broadband ?  -  here are a few (more in panel below):

  • Speed is far greater – faster downloads of films, music, sharing files etc.   Films don't "buffer" (ie stop and start)

  • Much better ability to carry out school remote working and homework - even at busy times

  • Much better capability for people working at home - plenty of capacity for video conferencing

  • The service is also much more reliable than the troublesome copper telephone wire system, which often has faults, and slows everything up

  • Fibre broadband has a positive effect on house prices and the ability to sell your house.  Estate agents now carry broadband speed figures


What are the disadvantages ?


Maybe the only disadvantage is a new cable coming into the home and a new router/hub to be installed.   Very quick and straightforward.


Will Openreach chase after me if I do not take out a new service ?

Whilst their Terms and Conditions state they can seek to recover costs from individual residents if they do not take out a service, this is extremely unlikely to happen - Openreach have told me they are not in the business of chasing residents.  Openreach only want to recover their costs (approx £0.75m) from the Government.   To insure against any shortfall in Openreach getting paid by the Government, we have run this scheme to make sure pledges significantly ourtweigh the approx £0.75m costs.


Can I get rid of my old landline ?


This may well be possible.   Some providers now offer Fibre broadband without line rental (for the old telephone line).   However, it is not yet clear what effect this has on the price you pay.

What are the advantages of Ultrafast fibre broadband ?

  • Speed is far greater – faster downloads of films, music, sharing files etc. Films don't "buffer" (ie stop and start)

  • The cost for fibre broadband is very similar to the (much slower) service you currently have now (prices start from about £26 per month)

  • You have a much greater choice of internet speeds - to suit the type of things you want to do (eg running a business from home)

  • You have a better ability to carry out remote school working and homework - even at busy times

  • Much better capability for people working at home - plenty of capacity for video conferencing etc

  • The service is also much more reliable than the troublesome "copper telephone wire" system, which often has faults, and slows everything up

  • Fibre broadband has a positive effect on house prices and the ability to sell your house. Estate agents now carry broadband speed figures

  • The old "copper telephone wire" network will be switched off in 2025 (note you can make telephone calls over fibre broadband)

You are helping the whole community of Downe & Cudham to get modern, fast broadband by signing up.

Ultrafast broadband for Downe & Cudham – ACT NOW - your help is needed

The project will bring “Ultrafast” fibre broadband to nearly every property in Downe and Cudham.   This will give the villages the ultimate in modern communication capability, and allow you to choose much faster broadband speeds than currently.

The last project brought “part fibre” broadband to Downe village (in 2017) and gave everyone ten times the broadband speeds than before.   However, large areas are still suffering poor speeds – the latest project will solve all those problems.

The Government has approved the project to be funded by their “Rural Gigabit” Voucher Scheme.    What this means is the costs of the work to provide fibre to every property will be paid by the Government -  PROVIDED enough residents and businesses sign up to the scheme.   Each resident/business will need to sign up (via a website) to agree to take a fibre service from a supplier once it becomes available.   There is no initial cost for doing so.   The scheme requires that 60% of the properties in Downe and Cudham need to do this – hence everyone’s contribution is very important.

When the infrastructure is available, everyone can choose a supplier and switch over to the new service by taking out a contract - in the same way as you do with current suppliers.   I’m working on the detail, but in essence, an “Ultrafast” fibre service should not cost any more than you currently pay for existing broadband (depending on what speed you choose).

Openreach (part of BT) will do all the engineering work, and provide the signup website.   Each signup via the website adds an amount of money (to be paid by the Government) to the “pot”.   Each business signing up adds £3,500 to the pot, and each residential user signing up adds £1,500 to the pot.   Once the target total is reached, Openreach will be commissioned to start the work.   They undertake to provide the infrastructure within one year of the total being reached.

I need all residents need to play their part in this project, by signing up.   This is a golden opportunity for Downe and Cudham, and this type of joint project with Openreach is one of only two pilot schemes in the UK.   Without this scheme, Downe and Cudham will not be in any plans for such fibre broadband upgrade for possibly some years yet.

The more people who signup (and the faster they do) the quicker we can get the agreement for Openreach to go ahead.

Steve Barnes

Why do I need fast broadband ?


Do you watch "on demand" TV programmes eg via BBC iplayer or ITV player ?   If so, you need fast broadband otherwise you will wait hours for the downloaded programme to start.  And don’t even think of downloading anything in High Definition (HD) without a fast internet connection !


Do you use companies like "Netflix" to watch movies – they recommend a download speed of at least 5mbps for their movies


Do you upload or download large files ?   Many companies now offer to look after your photos (and videos) in “the cloud” and you need to be able to send and retrieve them.  Do you (or your children) upload photos and movies to Facebook or Youtube, or watch Youtube videos ?


Similarly to the point above, we all have to update our versions of Windows or Apple IOS from time to time.  These updates can be quite large, and a slow connection can mean long delays for you !


Do you use video messaging (eg Skype) for talking face to face to remote family members or friends ?   Many people are now using this type of facility, but it can be almost unusable over slow internet connections !


Do you work at home ?    These days a fast internet connection is vital for sending and receiving files, conference calls, videos and even those dreaded VAT returns !


Have you noticed how everything slows up when your children return from school ?   Multiple members of the family on-line at the same slows up broadband for everyone.   And don’t forget, internet access is part of our children’s lives these days – so even if you don’t have much of a need yourself, your children CERTAINLY will !!


All the above affect us now.  However, it becomes even more important for the future.  That is why superfast broadband access is described as the next utility (as is electricity supply or a water supply).   Increasingly, TV will move to the internet, as the airwaves cannot cope with the volumes of data.   Next generation High Definition TVs ("4K TV") will only be able to receive broadcasts over a superfast broadband connection !!   In addition (and of vital importance to the sick and elderly),  “Telemetry” -  will be used to look after older people in their homes, or carry out medical diagnoses remotely, or even read your meters !

The UK Government recognises that superfast broadband is increasingly necessary for the future of the UK -  this is why they have set a target of 90% of the UK to have broadband download speeds of 24mb (or greater) by the end of 2015

How does broadband work ?


This article explains (for the technically-minded) the different types of broadband......

How fast broadband affects house prices


(click the box below to read a Daily Telegraph article on the effect of broadband on house prices)

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