The Covid-19 pandemic has made us all more reliant on phone networks and internet services to stay in touch, which is why they are designated as critical services by the Government.
It’s vital that people can keep connected when being asked to stay at home, work remotely and practice social distancing. But getting fast, reliable internet access can be a challenge – particularly when several people want to go online at the same time.
Connecting Cambridgeshire is working with telecoms operators to improve broadband, public access Wifi and mobile coverage across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Our Enabling Digital Delivery service is supporting telecoms operators working on critical broadband and mobile networks, and can help to liaise with planners and streetworks.
We are also offering support by signposting businesses and communities to help available to keep everyone connected:
Most homes and businesses across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough can now upgrade to superfast broadband of at least 24Mbps (and often much faster).The fibre broadband rollout is continuing to fill remaining gaps in coverage as soon as possible, meanwhile there are a range of options to help people cope with poor broadband connections.
If you want to upgrade your broadband speed, visit the Connecting Cambridgeshire Getting Superfast webpage to check if you can get superfast and follow the steps to upgrade, or find out about the options available.
Check the Home Broadband Networks guide for advice for employees on how to maximise broadband speeds and capacity while working from home.
One of our long-standing broadband champions has provided some useful tips to help improve your broadband speeds on his website: www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/tips-speed-up-broadband.
Gigabit Broadband Vouchers
Rural Gigabit Broadband Vouchers worth up to £3,500 are available for groups of homes and small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections with neighbouring premises.
To help connect harder-to-reach groups of rural properties that have speeds of less than 30mbps, we have secured funding to add an additional ‘top-up’ of £1,500 per SME and residential premise in a group.
Find out more on the DCMS website including the extra money now available via our ‘Top-up’ funding.
Mobile phones or landlines are particularly essential for vulnerable people who are self-isolating, and those without internet access, to get food, medicines and other support they need.
Many people are also facing financial uncertainty and the more vulnerable members of our communities may need a bit of extra help.
The UK’s major mobile and internet service providers have responded to this by offering a range of support for all their customers, including concessions for NHS frontline workers, the most vulnerable and people in financial hardship.
Mobile UK has put together some information about how mobile operators are dealing with COVID-19 and keeping the UK connected. They have collated details that explain some of the actions the industry is taking, information on how to get into contact with each mobile operator, and some additional useful advice that may be helpful on their website.
Public Access Wifi
Connecting Cambridgeshire is expanding free public access Wifi to help people get online, support businesses and make it easier to access vital public services.
The programme is working with partners to increase CambWifi provision in public buildings, open spaces, market town centres and village halls in rural areas.
Helping people to get online
The Covid-19 pandemic has proved that the internet is a key utility for everyday life, and knowing how to use it is an essential skill, but many people are still missing out.
Connecting Cambridgeshire supports ‘Get Online Week’ every year to highlight help for people to get online and improve their digital skills by working with Cambridgeshire Libraries and Cambridgeshire Skills to signpost people to help available across the county, as part of a national campaign by the Good Things Foundation.
Free mobile data for schoolchildren – Following the closure of schools as part of the UK lockdown Which? has collated details about the government scheme to allow schoolchildren access to extra mobile data, and other benefits, including free laptops – find out what help is available.
‘Lockdown Learning’ support scheme – BT is increasing its effort to enable school kids to better connect with teachers and online learning, while schools remain closed, with the launch of its ‘Lockdown-learning support scheme’.
If you need further advice on digital connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic, please contact the Connecting Cambridgeshire team by email on email@example.com stating your address, postcode, and situation.
Cambridgeshire County Council is aware that many businesses are worried about the current coronavirus situation and they have created a page on their website to bring together various advice and links which might help.