Digital Connectivity - Poor speeds or no broadband options at home?

If you are working/studying from home and have either very poor internet speeds or no broadband provision in your area, then the information here is designed to help you.

Firstly, you need to check what broadband speeds your home internet is capable of by entering your details here https://www.broadband.co.uk/checker/. You can sort results by speed to see what you should be able to get.

  • If the speed available is less than 10Mb then please read on for further options.
  • If the speed available is greater than 10Mb then you can check what speed you are actually getting by running a speed test here https://www.broadband.co.uk/broadband-speed-test If this is significantly less than what speeds you should be getting then please check the link at the bottom of the page which provides some information on tips for improving your internet speed at home

Less than 10Mb speeds available?

If you do live in an area where broadband is either not available or the speeds available are very low, then there are options for you.

  • If you can’t get a download speed of 10Mpbs the UK Government’s Universal Service Obligation for broadband allows to request an upgraded connection. More information can be found on the BT website or by calling 0800 783 0223.
  • The Welsh Governments Access Broadband Cymru scheme provides grants to fund the installation costs of new broadband connections for individual properties. Find out more about the different technologies available to connect to broadband.
  • Check with your local authority to find out if they have plans for broadband roll-out in your area using our Local Broadband Fund.
  • If you are part of a rural community, support may be available from the UK Government to connect to gigabit capable broadband. Those with speeds of less than 30Mbps may be eligible for additional funding from the Welsh Government towards these costs.
Access Broadband Cymru - More Info

This scheme provides grants to fund (or part-fund) the installation costs of new broadband connections for homes and businesses in Wales.

The amount of funding you can receive depends on the speed of the new connection:

  • £400 for 10Mbps and above
  • £800 for 30Mbps and above

Please note - new connections through this scheme must deliver a step change in speed - with at least double your current download speeds. For example, a current connection of 5Mbps must improve to at least 10Mbps.

This grant will usually cover the costs for the installation and hardware for alternative technologies such as mobile or satellite broadband but will not cover any ongoing monthly costs for the services offered.

Did you know: As a UWTSD Student, you could benefit from the digital connectivity hardship fund (up to £100 per year of study) if you qualify to cover any monthly costs.

Further information on the Welsh Government Grant is available here https://gov.wales/go-superfast/boost-your-broadband, including eligibility criteria and application forms.

We have also compiled a list below of potential local (and national) suppliers who you can research and contact. None of these suppliers are affiliated with the University but all can provide alternative broadband services via the Access Broadband Cymru grant system according to their websites.

  • Mobile Broadband – this solution utilises mobile broadband connectivity, as used for mobile phones
  • Wireless Broadband – this solution is based on wireless broadband, where suppliers utilise local masts to provide wireless broadband services.
What do I need to do?

Although the University is providing these details of the processes, these are for information only and any action would be yours to follow. We can recommend the following approach should you wish to follow:

  1. Check https://www.broadband.co.uk/checker/ to confirm what broadband speeds are currently available in your area
  2. If the speeds available are more than 10mb but you are experiencing slow broadband (confirmed by running a speed check), then we suggest checking out the ‘Tips and Help for Internet use at home’ section at the bottom of the page
  3. If your available speeds are lower than 10Mb then we would suggest firstly requesting a free upgraded connection via your supplier based on the UK Governments Universal Service Obligation
  4. If this is not available to you (i.e. no upgrade available) then we would suggest reading the Access Broadband Cymru site details, before contacting one of the suppliers above to look at options and costs
  5. If they confirm there are viable options, then choose your preferred solution and follow the Access to Broadband Cymru Grant process and apply (your chosen supplier will help you through the process)
  6. If you are a UWTSD student and qualify for the student hardship funds then you can look to claim funds to assist you with the service costs – visit our Student Bursary webpage for more information.
Tips & Help for Internet Use at Home

To help get the best from your home internet, follow our tips below:

  • For the best broadband speeds, use an ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router rather than using wi-fi.
  • Where possible, try not to use a telephone extension lead, as these can cause interference which could lower your speed.
  • Keep your router switched on as much as you can. By consistently turning your router on and off, it can reduce overall speeds as providers will see this as line issues.
  • If you are carrying out video calls or meetings, turning the video off and using audio will require much less of your internet connection.
  • Try starting those calls at less common times, rather than on the hour or half hour.
  • Disconnect devices, the more devices attached to your wi-fi, the lower the speed you get. Devices like tablets and smartphones often work in the background, so try switching wi-fi reception off on these when you're not using them.
  • Download videos in advance if possible, rather than using streaming services when someone else may be trying to use the internet
  • Position your internet router as far as possible from other devices that may interfere with the signal and as high up as possible, such as on a table or shelf rather than the floor.
  • Devices that can interfere with router signals include: cordless phones, baby monitors, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, stereos, computer speakers, TVs and monitors.
  • Make calls on a landline where possible, given the increase in the demand on mobile networks.
  • If you do need to use your mobile, try using your settings to turn on wi-fi calling especially in areas with low/poor signal.
  • Similarly, you can make voice calls over the internet using apps like Facetime, Skype or WhatsApp.
  • If using Wireless connectivity, try not to use the microwave close by as this can affect the signal, even causing disconnects.
Digital Connectivity Bursary for Students

Bursaries and scholarships are available to all UWTSD students and applicants.

As a UWTSD student, you can access a number of scholarships and bursaries to support your studies and enable you to make the most of your student experience. Visit the Univeristy Student Bursary webpage to find out more.

The University is pleased to announce a number of new bursaries for the 2020-21 academic year, including a new fund to support Digital Connectivity. You can find out more below or by visiting the Student Bursary Webpage.

Digital Connectivity Bursary

Applicable to the Following Student Group(s) Full Time and Part Time students enrolled on a course at UWTSD.

Awarding Criteria:

Bursary available to students requiring assistance with the costs of digital connectivity.
Support available:
    • A UWTSD Microsoft Surface Go (Intel Pentium Gold Processor, 64GB Solid State Drive, 4GB RAM) will be provided to qualifying students for the duration of their course.
      • Device ownership will be retained by the University and will be managed by IT&S.
      • At the end of a period of study students who have completed over 240 credits are eligible to take over ownership of the device allocated to them.
    • The Microsoft Surface Go is awarded to provide access to the University Microsoft Office infra-structure and ensure access to Moodle, the Hwb and other online University services. It is not possible to exchange this device for an alternative, and this bursary is not designed to support requests for specialist equipment. Students should discuss any requirements for specialist equipment with programme staff in their academic Institute.
    • The Microsoft Surface Go device is provided without any additional peripherals. For students wanting to add a keyboard, this can be done at relatively low cost, which an option such as this

    (Arteck Microsoft Surface Go Type Cover, Ultra-Slim Portable Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard provided as an example, other merchants and keyboards are available).

  • Up to £100 grant per annum to support the purchase and installation of home broadband
    or up to £100 grant per annum to support the purchase of mobile broadband.
  • Interim support of a loan device and access to short-term pre-paid mobile broadband where required.
  • Referral to Welsh Government grants and schemes to support high speed internet access as appropriate.
  • Device allocation will be subject to terms and conditions.

Device Eligibility Criteria:
This bursary is designed to support enrolled students who:

  • Do not have access to suitable electronic devices in order to access and utilise UWTSD Moodle, Hwb and Microsoft Office online suite of tools, including Teams
    and
  • Are able to demonstrate that cost is a barrier to purchasing a device personally.

Connectivity Eligibility Criteria:
This bursary is designed to support enrolled students who:

  • Do not have access to suitable domestic broadband (or live in areas not currently covered by UK broadband providers) to support engagement in remote learning
    and
  • Are able to demonstrate that cost is a barrier to purchasing broadband personally.
Last date for Applications:  Applications will be open throughout the academic year
Apply Now:  Digital connectivity Bursary