Broadband Boost for Remote Areas of UK

Broadband Boost for Remote Areas of UK
The government has said £440m has been found so about 600,000 more premises can gain access to superfast broadband. The cash comes from “efficiency savings” and money returned by BT as part of the government’s flagship broadband rollout scheme. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said the funds would help to bring faster speeds to homes and businesses in some of the most remote parts of the UK.

Experts said it was not all “new money” but would still be welcomed. The cash will be made up of £150m in cost savings and the rest in the form of returned subsidies from BT, the government said.

Under a 2010 deal, the government paid BT to roll out superfast broadband in hard-to-reach areas where providers had said it was not cost-effective to install broadband infrastructure. As part of the agreement, if more than 20% of premises in those areas bought superfast broadband, BT had to repay some of the subsidy. On average, the take-up has been 30.6%, leading to a forecast repayment of £292m, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said.

There are two views of the programme to roll out superfast broadband to places which might not be reached by the market.

To the government and BT it’s that rare thing, a public/private partnership which is actually going to come in under budget and deliver more than was promised.

To its critics, the Broadband Delivery UK project has seen an overbearing monopoly handed huge sums of public money with little democratic accountability, and the result is that the UK has been given only a semi-fast network which is not future-proof.

But after some early stumbles, BT does look likely to meet the target of putting 95% of homes within reach of superfast broadband by 2017 – and this new investment could mean that 97% are reached by 2020. The programme is doing what it promised – and the UK is ahead of other major European countries in rolling out superfast broadband.

Ah, say the critics, but only if you think a broadband connection that still makes its final journey into homes via a copper wire is superfast. If you’re looking at fibre direct into the home – something even the government says should now be seen as the gold standard for broadband – the UK is still in the slow lane.

The prospects for those people still waiting for any kind of decent connection have brightened slightly – but the row continues over what kind of broadband network will make the UK fit for the future.
The extra funds will be spent in all areas of the country through the Broadband Delivery UK scheme.

Ministers set up the programme so that by the end of next year, 95% of UK premises would be able to buy superfast broadband – defined as 24Mbps. Such speeds enable families to stream TV on multiple devices at the same time. The extra funds are designed to reach the remaining 5% of the UK and improve speeds where coverage is patchy.

“The key point is this is not £440m of new money,” said Andrew Ferguson, consumer telecoms expert at Think Broadband. Of the £292m to be returned by BT, the company has already announced about £150m, he said. Still, regardless of the source of the funds, more money going into infrastructure is “good news”, he said.

“The pace of broadband rollout doesn’t necessarily match what everyone wants and households aren’t necessarily getting as much information as they would like,” he added.

Kim Mears, the managing director for infrastructure delivery at BT’s Openreach division, told the BBC’s Today programme that there was “still more to be done” to improve broadband speeds in some rural areas. However, she added that 4.5 million rural homes had already benefited from BT’s efforts and that the company was “absolutely determined to look at how we go further and faster”.

The company has faced criticism for the speed of the rollout and the quality of the broadband coverage.

However, the government and BT said it was a “win-win” in that more households were taking it up, triggering clawback payments that would help other premises access faster broadband speeds. “We’re delighted that the success and efficiency of our delivery will mean hundreds of thousands more homes and business could get faster broadband than originally expected,” a BT spokesman said.

The government has not set a timeline for when the 600,000 premises will benefit. It comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £1.14bn in government funds in last month’s Autumn Statement to improve fibre broadband and develop 5G.

Four Steps to Successful Sound Testing

The Four Steps to Successful Sound Testing
New homes are built to high standards; however, acoustics and noise control are important factors requiring careful consideration during design and specification, as well as pre-completion commissioning testing. Why choose APT Sound Testing? We provide full turnkey solution to help our clients achieve Building Regulations Part E compliance. We provide a professional acoustic consultancy service to help developers tackle the key issues. We have carried out thousands of sound insulation tests since 2006 so we have a large amount of experience in regards to Building Regulations Part E compliance.

Our Four Stages Areas of expertise of tackling sound are:

1. Acoustic Design
During early design and construction process, we visit site to conduct a comprehensive acoustic design survey and review, we also take this opportunity to meet; where possible, the site/project manager, architects etc. The first stage of the acoustic design is to send through the design drawings – to include sections etc. so APT Sound Testing can review the design to check that the construction details proposed are capable of passing the sound tests. This usually takes place straight after planning has been approved as increased cost savings can be realised at the earliest stage.

APT Sound Testing will evaluate the construction methods and materials specified to ensure that they are capable of meeting the acoustic requirements of Approved document E. The typical areas we check are:

• There are no flanking points, where isolated partitions are wrongly mechanically fixed together to caused noise bridging.
• The walls and floors design are acoustically robust, to comply with Building Regulations Part E.
• The acoustic treatments for Soil Pipes, Stair Cases Steel Beams etc. to ensure they are acoustically fit for purpose, as these are some of the areas that get usually missed.
• Acoustic floor treatments are compatible with the proposed floor finishes i.e. Carpets, Laminates, Floor Tiles and under floor heating systems.

2. Ongoing Site Construction
We provide the site team with on-going design support service, so you will have direct contact with the allocated acoustician from the start of the process through to the successful completion of the project. One of the most important services is the going site survey visits which allow our clients to feel confident about the outcome of testing at the end of the build. The site visits let us check that the installation teams are installing the acoustic materials as per manufacturers avoiding crucial onsite mistakes. You can often have a compliant design which still fails due to poor workmanship; the site survey visits negate the risk of sound test failure.

3. Precompletion Sound Testing
Sound Testing for Part E of Building Regulations has been a mandatory requirement since July 2003. All new build dwellings and conversions which were built after this date require 10% of each party wall/floor construction type to be tested. Sound testing needs to be carried out between pairs of rooms separated by party walls and/or floors. In most cases the rooms to be sound tested will be the two main habitable rooms, i.e.  living rooms and bedrooms. The sound test procedure involves setting up a noise source in a room on one side of the party wall or floor and measuring the noise on both sides of the partition.

There are two types of sound insulation testing – airborne and impact. Airborne tests may be required between horizontally and vertically separated pairs of rooms. The sound tests are undertaken by using a sound source, amplifier and loudspeaker to generate a high noise level in one room (the source room). Noise measurements are then taken in both the source and receiver rooms using a prescribed number of source and microphone positions. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured.

For vertically separated rooms, an Impact sound test may also be required. Impact testing is undertaken using a “tapping machine”, (as above) which drops a series of weights onto the floor of the upper room. The noise level in the lower (receiver) room is measured for a prescribed number of source and microphone locations. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured.

All APT’s test engineers carry the latest Norsonic equipment, which are class one rating all of our acoustic testing/sound testing is completed to a strict quality controlled standard. We provide full ISO & UKAS complaint sound testing.

4. Post Occupancy Sound Testing and Advice
We have carried out sound insulation testing and investigative/diagnostic work can help identify problems, especially if the specific properties of concern were not tested as part of a programme of precompletion testing. We also carry out sound testing and offer acoustic design advice where clients may have not followed the rules of their buildings lease agreements and installed timber floor etc. instead of the usually specified carpet finishes.

If you would like more information in regards to our acoustic design and/or sound insulation testing, please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk  or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk. Alternatively you can call Darren on 07775623464.

UK Government Must Take Action on 5G

UK Government Must Take Action on 5G
The BBC News website are reporting that the rollout of the UK’s future 5G mobile network must be handled better than 4G was, according to a new report. The current 4G network ranks only 54th in the world in terms of coverage, the government-appointed experts said. Lord Andrew Adonis, who led the investigation, told the BBC that coverage on the UK’s trains and motorways was “frankly appalling”.

He urged ministers to ensure there would be far fewer dead spots on the next-generation network. “The government has been putting more investment and obligation requirements on the mobile operators but we think that needs to be taken further,” Lord Adonis, who heads the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), told the BBC’s Today programme.

Media captionLord Adonis defends roll-out of 4G technology on Today but admits it’s not moving fast enough. “We particularly think there is a big problem with our road and rail networks. Up to 25% of the time it is not possible to get a decent signal.” Highways England and Network Rail must take “direct responsibility” for improving coverage on roads and railways, he added.

Ofcom welcomed the report but indicated the study that gave rise to the UK’s low ranking might not be reliable. The communications regulator’s targets are based on the percentage of properties that have access to a mobile phone signal rather than coverage to all parts of the country.

But the figure quoted by the NIC was based on data gathered by an app used by volunteers measuring the amount of time they had access to a 4G network as they travelled about.

“We agree that mobile coverage must improve, so we’re pleased the NIC shares our ambition for universal coverage,” said a spokesman for the communications regulator. “Our rules mean that virtually all UK premises must receive a 4G signal by the end of next year, and we’re also making more airwaves available to boost mobile broadband. Last month, we challenged mobile operators to explore how to reach all remote areas and transport lines. “We will shortly publish robust data on 4G in the UK, to help inform decisions on improving coverage.”

Lord Adonis acknowledged that the crowdsourced data gathered by OpenSignal was not perfect, but said it was “based on 15 million users worldwide and 60 million measurements in the UK – no one’s got better data than that”.

A 5G standard does not yet exist, but the technology is expected to surpass 4G to provide faster data uploads and downloads when it is deployed, some time after 2020. The NIC said mobile connectivity had become a “necessity” in society and 5G would play a crucial role in the economy.

“The UK’s networks are not complete. There are too many digital deserts across the country and the availability of our 4G network is worse than many countries including Albania, Panama and Peru,” the commission said.

Its report called on the government to become a “digital champion” by, for example, creating a dedicated cabinet minister. Roadside networks needed to be made “fit for the future”, while the railway network must “rapidly improve connectivity”, it said.

The commission wants to see 5G available on transport

The necessary infrastructure for both should be in place by 2025, the report said.

The NIC predicted the need for tens of thousands of small wireless cells in towns and cities for devices to connect to the 5G network.  The idea is that these would have less range than the current mobile phone masts, but there would be more of them and they would be better positioned to ensure blanket coverage.

The report called on local authorities to work with network providers to make this possible.

The commission said the government and Ofcom must “ensure basic outdoor mobile services are available wherever we live, work and travel”. It said the two bodies should develop a “meaningful set of metrics that represent the coverage people actually receive and use these to determine a mobile universal service obligation setting out the minimum service level people should expect to receive”.

Regulation in this area must “keep pace” with the rapid evolution of the mobile communications markets, in order to allow new firms to “provide services that the existing market has not delivered”, the report added.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury noted that the chancellor had already committed £1bn to support 5G trials as well and fibre broadband. “We want the UK to become a world leader in 5G, which is why we asked NIC to carry out this study,” she said. “We will consider their recommendations carefully and respond at Budget 2017.”

Hackers Rewarded for Web Attacks

Hackers Rewarded for Web Attacks
A Turkish hacking group has turned web attacks into a game by rewarding people who successfully hit designated targets. It is giving loyalty points to hackers for every short-lived attack they mount against a small number of websites.

Points are logged on a scoreboard and can be cashed in for free access to other hacking tools. All the targeted websites are run by organisations that oppose Turkey’s government.

Security firm Forcepoint discovered the site offering the points for attacks. Called “Surface Defence”, the site is run from the Tor dark web network and gives hackers access to a web attack tool called Sledgehammer. This tool seeks to knock websites offline by bombarding them with more data than they can handle – a type of attack known as Distributed Denial of Service. A reward of one point is given for every 10 minutes of an attack directed at one of the targets, said Forcepoint in a report.

Targets include Kurdish campaign groups and media organisations, opposition political parties and a site detailing the Armenian genocide. Also hit were the websites of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union and an Israeli film festival.

A live scoreboard seen by Forcepoint security researchers showed that hackers from many different groups in Turkey were taking part in the competition. The hacker at the top of the board had accumulated more than 450 points. Rewards include more sophisticated DDoS attack tools, click fraud bots and other hacker software.

“This is the first time hackers have ‘gamified’ a hacking platform to the extent that participants compete against one another,” said Carl Leonard, principal security analyst at Forcepoint in a statement.

Mr Leonard said the group may have “gamified” hacking in a bid to attract hackers and build a “critical mass” of attackers that can have a real impact on targets.

However, said Forcepoint in its report, analysis of the Sledgehammer tool suggests there could be another reason behind the competition. The software seems to have a back door built in that lets its creator spy on anyone using it.

“The author is hacking the hackers,” said Forcepoint.

Move your Company Rankings Higher in the Search Engines

Move your Company Rankings Higher in the Search Engines
In today’s business world, it’s an accepted fact that all businesses need an online presence in order to succeed. For most businesses, a company website is the absolute minimum. With the advent of social networking, early adopters of the company website and paid online advertising have since expanded their online presence to include social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. While these means of promoting a business are all relevant and useful in their own way, a great many businesses are still missing out on a paid opportunity that promises a high return on investment in the long run, and that is Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.

seoimage2Simply put, SEO is a means of having your business ranked higher in search engine results based on certain keywords and key phrases. For example, if a home care agency in Newcastle wants to draw more traffic to its website and thus attract more clients, the agency director could contract with a SEO firm to develop high-quality content related to its business.

This content might relate to the challenges faced by carers of elderly relatives as well as the home care needs of someone with a particular medical condition, and related keywords in the title and body of one or a series of articles would then serve to move the agency’s rankings higher in search results based on those keywords. The content need not be overly promotional; in fact, less overt promotional tactics are often more successful, since Google strives to maintain rankings according to the quality of the content.

SEO accomplishes many of the same results as a pay-per-click or other online advertising campaign for a generally lower cost, and the results are much longer-lasting. Another advantage of SEO for business is the trust factor: since many people skip the adverts at the top of a search engine results screen and go straight to the ranked results, high-quality SEO content leads to a higher ranking in search results and amounts to a nod of approval from the search engine which no amount of traditional advertising can buy.

Any business which has not already explored the option of SEO has overlooked an important marketing resource. If you are ready to increase your company’s online visibility while building credibility through informative content related to your business, then the time has come for your company to invest in SEO.

Direct Submit Internet Marketing Services are an established Search Engine Marketing and Internet Marketing company. With over 95% of our business coming direct from client referral, we provide a cost effective and highly efficient service.

We offer a client focused service, and always speak to our clients in a language they understand, helping them understand the Internet and how a successful Internet Marketing Campaign can benefit their business.

Established over a decade ago and operating from the North East of the UK, Direct Submit has become one of the leading SEO and Internet Marketing providers in the North East and the UK. Our client retention rate is exceptional, currently over 80%, which shows our commitment to working with the client to make a project a success.

Unlike most other SEO companies, we do not do any marketing of note. We don’t employ sales people, not do we cold call or bombard business with sales materials. Virtually our entire client base comes directly from referrals.

To speak to one of our Internet Marketing Consultants for advice on making your Web Marketing project a success, call us now on 0845 272 2350 or email us on mail@directsubmit.co.uk. We look forward to your call.