The First Year of Superfast FTTC Broadband - Page 4 - UK ISP Experiences
The First Year of Superfast FTTC Broadband
By: Mark Jackson - June 6th, 2011 : Page 4 -of- 5
"When BT upgrades an exchange to support FTTC it doesn't provide any indication of how long it will take to deploy into local Street Cabinets"

fttc uk bt street cabinet Furthermore AAISP found that some customers often incorrectly assumed that the BT engineer would install all they needed for the FTTC connection, with many failing to recognise that they might still "need a separate router" to properly manage and share the connectivity out among more than one computer; often their old ADSL router simply wouldn't be good enough to do the job properly or lacked the necessary WAN port.

Availability

FTTC, as a new technology, still suffers from limited coverage. However for consumers a far more significant dilemma is knowing whether or not you can receive the service - even after your telephone exchange has been "upgraded". Sadly exchange availability for FTTC is only a small part of the equation.

When BT upgrades an exchange to support FTTC it doesn't provide any indication of how long it will take to deploy the service into local Street Cabinets and it doesn't mention which cabinets will be excluded from an areas FTTC rollout. These issues appear to be a source of confusion for some who understandably expect to get FTTC, much like in the old days of broadband (ADSL etc.), just as soon as their local exchange has been upgraded. Such expectations are, sadly, quite wrong.

A Zen Internet Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

"BT do provide a huge amount of information to ISPís such as Zen to help us engage with customers and set their expectations correctly. As part of our FTTC introduction programme we invested significant effort in keeping existing customers and new prospects informed on the availability of FTTC for their line.† However, in the wider market there has been misunderstanding about what an enabled exchange means and when it will be delivered. We believe that offering an estimated percentage of coverage within an exchange area and supplying both a start date and approximate end date for an exchange would be significant steps forward."

An Entanet Spokeswoman added:

"Given the number of cabinets per exchange, it would be impossible for BT to roll out to all the cabinets before declaring an exchange open and ready for business. Personally I think the work needs to happen in two different areas. Firstly BT should have a 'partially enabled' status for the exchange to help define where less than 100% coverage is available. Secondly, education is necessary to help end users understand that it's availability at cabinet level that they need to look out for."

All of the ISPs agreed that BT could improve the situation by offering greater clarity and or information about any given areas expected FTTC coverage. However, most didn't expect BT to make any significant moves in this field, not least since the operator has often regarded their cabinet placement as being commercially sensitive data that needs protecting.

The Future

At present the UK is home to around 150,000 FTTC broadband subscribers (March 2011) and that figure is expected to rise significantly by 2015, when 66% of homes and businesses will be within its reach. However, much like ADSL that started out with a maximum speed of 512Kbps (0.5Mbps) in 2001 and grew to reach up to 20-24Mbps today, FTTC could go a lot faster and reach further in the future.

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