Terms and Conditions of Service
1. IMPORTANT. This document describes our charges, our service and your obligations in plain English. Please read it carefully.
We provide a service to connect you to the Internet. It is up to you to pick the service that best matches your requirements. The Internet is big and complicated; we do not control it. There are many good and useful things on the Internet, but there is also a lot of bad stuff. It is up to you to protect your network. You are responsible for what you do with the service and for anyone you let use the service.
Remember that things break. If they do, we will try to fix things as quickly as we can but it may take days or longer to fix some problems. If internet access is essential for business or personal reasons, please ensure that you have some kind of fall-back arrangement, such as a mobile broadband dongle. [This is equally true if you have a BT or other connection!]
Finally, please understand that Borders Online is a community network which relies heavily on volunteers. We do our best to provide a good and reliable service for our subscribers, but we do not have the resources of a large commercial operator and are not trying to compete with them. Our charges reflect the costs of providing a service to rural communities with poor internet connections. If you want SLAs or guaranteed response times we may be able to help, but this will involve extra cost and special arrangements.
NOTE: Please read the section on data collection below on what information we collect and how we use it. Your agreement to us collecting and using this information for the operation of the network is a condition of us providing you with broadband service.
2. Who we are. Borders Online, Heriot Community Broadband (HCB) and Stobonet are the trading names of Borders Online Ltd (previously Stobo-Dawyck Community Network Ltd), which is a non-profit company limited by guarantee. We rely upon backhaul provided by High-Speed Universal Broadband Services CIC (HUBS), a membership cooperative that serves community broadband networks throughout Scotland. As appropriate, the term “we” in this document refers to Borders Online, HCB, Stobonet and HUBS acting for or on behalf of Borders Online.
3. What we do. Borders Online operates a network of wireless relays and repeaters in the South of Scotland. Many of these relays are in remote locations, high on hills and some have no access to grid power. Our coverage exceeds 1500 sq. km. in the Scottish Borders, Midlothian, East Lothian and South Lanarkshire. Each relay is connected by wireless to other relays so that traffic can be aggregated and routed back to Edinburgh, where fibre optic cables feed the traffic into the Internet Exchange at South Gyle.
If you join our network, we install equipment that connects you to one of our relays and manages your internet traffic. In some cases, especially for properties surrounded by trees, we may need to install additional repeaters in order to get an unobstructed view of one of our antennas.
Providing broadband service in rural areas is difficult and expensive. We do not have the economies of scale and vast marketing budgets of the large broadband providers. Our charges reflect the costs of operating in areas where fixed line services are poor.
4. Setup. Borders Online incurs a substantial initial cost when installing a new connection. This includes some or all of an initial site inspection, equipment, installation and setup by an installer who works for us and has been trained by us. The standard equipment is:
- 1 external wireless antenna;
- 1 internal Wi-Fi router to connect your computer(s) or network to the wireless antenna and, thus, the external network;
- 1 wall bracket to install the antenna on an external wall;
- 1 Power over Ethernet (PoE) injector to power the antenna;
- Up to 10 metres of external cable for connecting the antenna to your router;
The standard charge covers up to 2 hours of installation time. For complicated installations involving special equipment or requiring more time we reserve the right to charge the additional cost of equipment and/or time involved. We will notify you following the site inspection if there will be additional charges and ask you to confirm that you wish to go ahead with the installation. Please note that the equipment is provided solely for the supply of our service. We reserve the right to ask for it to be returned if you terminate the service.
5. Tariffs. Details of the Borders Online tariffs with effect from 1st April 2019 can be found on the https://www.bordersonline.net website.
6. Legacy Tariffs. If we stop offering a particular tariff, any customer who is on that tariff will remain on it, unless they chose to move to another.
7. Payment. For new residential customers it is a requirement that you pay by direct debit. When you order the service you will be sent instructions to sign up with our payment processor. Your order will be activated when we have received notification that you have signed up for direct debit payment.
8. Invoicing. The initial invoice will be sent after your connection is installed. It will cover the setup fee and the pro-rata monthly payment up to the end of the current month. The payment due will be collected by direct debit 7 days after the date on the invoice. The regular monthly subscription is payable at the beginning of each month. We send out monthly bills and VAT invoices at the beginning of each month. The direct debit payment is normally taken on the 7th day of each month or on the next weekday following the 7th of the month.
9. Failure to pay. The service will be terminated for any customer who has not paid the subscription within 21 days of the due date. Please tell us if you are having difficulties in meeting monthly payments as we may be able to work out some alternative arrangement.
10. Cost comparisons. The costs of equipment, installation and operation for a wireless broadband service are significantly higher than for an equivalent service delivered over your telephone line. We cannot match the discounts offered by BT and similar mass market operators. However, in March 2019 the total cost of our service – including setup charge – over 24 months was similar to or less than the cost of superfast fibre broadband from smaller ISPs with a good reputation for service after allowing for line rental and phone service.
11. Early Termination. If you choose to terminate the contract early, the early termination charge will be: Premium Red – £10 per month, Premium Blue – £20 per month, and Premium Green – £20 per month, in each case for the remaining months of the contract.
12. Normal Termination. You can terminate the service after the end of the minimum commitment period by giving a minimum of 30 days notice. There is no “cease” charge.
13. Usage limits. We operate an explicit policy of discouraging high levels of use in order to ensure a higher level of service for the vast bulk of our customers. This is implemented by setting a quota for full speed usage over a rolling 30-day period. So long as you stay within that quota your speeds will be the maximum that the network is capable of achieving. We aim to achieve more than 30 Mbps download and more than 20 Mbps upload, but it may be much higher. If you exceed your quota within a 30-day period we impose a progressive speed cap – 5 Mbps so long as the exceedance is less than 25% of the quota and 0.5 Mbps if the exceedance is higher than 25% of the quota.
14. Unlimited Usage. We do not offer ‘Unlimited’ packages. Many operators claim to offer “unlimited” or “totally unlimited” broadband. This is marketing speak. No operator, unless they charge £300+ per month, can afford to buy enough capacity to allow every user to use their connection at full speed at the same time. At some points or times capacity will be rationed by congestion on the main routes to the internet (what we call “backhaul”). Wireless networks (of all kinds including 3G/4G/satellite) are more vulnerable to this congestion because the capacity of key links is limited by the amount of wireless spectrum that is available.
15. The 30-day traffic limit – this applies to the sum of uploads and downloads over a period of 30 days – of 200 GB for a residential connection should be ample for a family of 3-5 people who do not rely upon internet TV all of the time but who do watch occasional films or catchup TV programs (BBC iPlayer, etc). For example, listening to internet radio or music services for an average of 4 hours a day will use 3 to 8 GB per month, depending upon the music quality (degree of compression). Standard definition videos, films and TV programs absorb 0.5 to 1 GB per hour, while high definition content absorbs up to 2 GB per hour. Most computer games are at least 10-15 GB to download, but online gaming should not use more than 2-3 GB per month unless someone is playing for more than 12 hours per day.
16. Usage Monitor. A customer portal is available at https://my.bordersonline.net . This allows you to monitor your traffic over the last 30 days. It identifies your user-id from your router and shows graphs of the pattern of usage as well as total usage.
17. Top Up. If you have exceeded your usage quota and do not wish to move to a higher tariff, the customer portal provides a means where additional data allowance can be added, after a payment has been processed.
18. Network speeds. We design and operate our network to provide superfast broadband service (> 30 Mbps) for at least 95% of the time. All broadband systems share key resources. In our case that includes backhaul capacity on links from your relay to our main relays and from them to Edinburgh. Our backhaul to Edinburgh currently has a capacity of 1500 Mbps and is upgraded regularly. Still, heavy use during peak periods may cause congestion on some links. This is usually temporary but may extend over periods from 10 mins to an hour when demand on the network is greatest. In practice, our download speeds match the median speeds for FTTC reported by ThinkBroadband. Further, the network is symmetric so that upload speeds are usually close to the download speeds.
19. Speed tests. Speed tests are meaningless, so please do not rely upon them! In accordance with the requirements of the Advertising Standards Authority, more than 90% of our wireless connections have a capacity of 78 Mbps or better. However, that is a raw speed measure that reflects the technology in use. What you will actually get will depend on many factors outside our control, including how you access the internet, what you use it for and whether you or your neighbours have noisy wireless devices nearby. In most cases the performance of your internal WiFi network is the limiting factor on your broadband speed. We are not responsible for your WiFi and will only rely upon speed tests carried out over a wired connection to your router.
20. Internet Services. For almost all internet activities – including file downloads – your experience is primarily determined by the responsiveness and performance of the web services that you are accessing. The best services are capable of delivering content at sustained speeds of 10-15 Mbps but rarely more and many are much poorer. For interactive services, including VoIP telephony, upload speeds may be as important as download speeds. In general, apart from those who want to download large files – system updates, game files, etc – from servers that guarantee high performance, your experience of internet use will be affected relatively little by increasing raw download speeds above 20 Mbps, while symmetric upload and download speeds will improve your internet experience relative to equivalent asymmetric speeds.
21. Latency. For uses such as VoIP telephony, games, etc it is the latency of a broadband connection that is the critical measure of performance rather than network speeds. This is the total time that a packet takes to travel from your computer to a server and then back again. Allowing for differences in the way in which latency is measured, our network has a typical latency of 20-30 milliseconds (ms). There is a fair bit of variance between minimum and maximum latency with occasional peaks in excess of 100 ms when the network is very congested. This is typical of wireless networks, but the overall performance of our network is well within the limits required for VoIP, games, etc.
22. Liability. If something breaks or we do something wrong so that your service is interrupted, the most we will compensate you is the money you paid for the service while that service was not working properly.
For the avoidance of doubt, you are responsible for maintaining the equipment which we provide for access to our network. We do not accept liability for defects in the products and/or the installation of this equipment. We will provide replacements for items that fail for reasons outside your control, but we do accept responsibility for misuse or abuse of the equipment which we provide. This does not affect your statutory rights.
23. Customer service. Whilst we will try and provide services with all reasonable skill and care, you agree that us providing customer service is not part of the contract. You agree that the limit on liability applies even if you take a case to alternative dispute resolution and so you will not accept any award in excess of this limit.
24. Installation. Our antenna is powered by Power over Ethernet (PoE) with the cable running from the antenna (outside your house) to the power injector and router inside your house. The cable is similar in diameter and appearance to a TV or satellite aerial cable. The specification for the PoE equipment is 24V and it uses 0.25A, so it does not pose an electrical hazard if properly installed. You should choose a location for the router and power injector with access to 2 3-pin power outlets.
25. Planning. It is the responsibility of the customer to ensure that any planning restrictions on the installation of a wireless receiver are satisfied.
26. Router configuration. The router supplied will be configured with a static IP address for its external port and default settings for your domestic network.
27. Network management. As general guidance, we will give priority to Business subscribers when the network is congested. In addition, we will give priority to certain categories of traffic such as VoIP and virtual private networks (VPN) using L2TP and similar tunnelling protocols.
28. IP address. (For those who don’t know what an IP address is, the defaults for the network are suitable for normal usage.) There is a degree of confusion about IP addresses. There are two separate issues. Is your IP address public – i.e. is it accessible from the public internet? And/or is it static – i.e. does your address change from time to time? The number of public IPv4 addresses is limited and we have to pay for them. Through the cooperative which manages our link with the outside world we have access to a block of public IPv4 addresses, which is sufficient to assign one static public IPv4 address per customer. The normal arrangement is that this is assigned to the external WAN port of your router, while the router assigns private IP addresses to any device on your domestic network using a system called Network Address Translation (NAT). If you need more than one static public IP address, then you must inform us and there may be an additional charge.
29. IPv6. Please be aware that the shortage of IPv4 addresses means that it may be necessary to switch to IPv6 addressing in the longer term. Currently we operate IPv6 across our core network, but not currently down to customer devices.
30. Trees and other obstructions. Our service relies on a direct line of sight from the antenna on your property to our relay. In some cases it may be necessary to trim some trees in order to ensure the line of sight, especially during summer. You are responsible for any such work and for ensuring that the line of sight remains clear of obstructions. In other cases, it may be necessary to run an Ethernet cable (carrying both signal and power) from the property to a suitable location where an antenna can be mounted – usually on a pole – with a clear line of sight. With one or more PoE extenders such a cable may run up to 200m or 300m from the main source of power. It is best if you can undertake such extensions, though we can provide the equipment. If you want our installer to do this work, then we will give you a quote for the extra cost involved and this will be included on top of the setup fee in the initial invoice.
31. Repeaters. It is a condition of us providing broadband service that you will permit us to install a repeater along with your main connection if one is required to connect other properties to our network. The cost of the equipment and installation of a repeater will be borne by us and we will carry out any work with the minimum possible disruption. The power consumption of a repeater is minimal and it will usually be supplied through the PoE connection required for your property. We ask that you do not turn off the power, thereby cutting off other people who rely upon the repeater, when you go away.
32. Moving house. If you are moving house, the new owners of your current house can take over the existing contract and pay only a “take-over” fee – rather than the setup charge for a new connection – providing that the equipment has been left in working order. Currently the take-over fee is 1 month’s standard subscription including VAT.
33. Rented properties. We are not aware of any case in which a landlord has objected to the installation of our broadband service. If you think that there may be an objection, then you should clear the installation with your landlord before authorising us to proceed.
34. New customers & system expansion. Our core network has been operating for a number of years. The network has been upgraded to provide higher capacity and a much higher level of resilience than when we started. We are extending the system continuously, so please contact us if you are interested in our service but your property lies outside or on the periphery of our coverage area. We are happy to consider installing additional relays to serve groups of customers both inside and outside our primary area of coverage.
35. Use as a backup connection. Some of our customers live in areas which may be covered by BT’s FTTC service. Existing customers contemplating a switch to this service can retain our service as a backup service at a reduced cost but with a restricted traffic limit. This service is only available to customers who have been subscribers for a minimum period of 18 months.
36. Data protection and GDPR. For the purpose of controlling and operating the network we hold information on your name, address, telephone number(s), equipment and network usage in our network databases. We have not and will not pass that information on to any third party individual or organisation, except in any case where we are legally required to do so by a competent authority.
37. Bank Details. We use an online accounting system which holds information necessary for billing and monitoring payments. We do not hold any data on bank or credit card accounts. We have not and will not pass such information on to any third party individual or organisation, except in compliance with legal requirements. We will inform you promptly of any breach in security that is notified to us by either the provider of our accounting system or our payment processor.
38. Personal Details. We cannot operate the network and provide you with broadband service without collecting and holding the information described above. Your agreement to us collecting and holding this information is a condition of us providing you with broadband service. If you do not wish us to collect and hold this information, please let us know. In such cases we will delete the information and terminate your service forthwith.
39. Reporting problems. We have set up voicemail and SMS accounts to facilitate the reporting of errors. If you have access to email than the best route is to send an email to email@example.com. If you are unable to send email, you can:
- Either: Call 0131 546 0086 and leave a voicemail message;
- Or: Send a text to 07570 741 382.
When using either of the above, please keep the message short and be sure to leave us a number we can contact you on. If possible, you should provide details of your router ID – see the label on your router.
40. Website & Frequently Asked Questions. More information is provided on our website at www.bordersonline.net.
41. Legal details. Borders Online is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland – company number SC455092. Our VAT registration number is: 249 972 059.