Tuesday 15th July 2008. That was the day that BT first revealed their national plan for deploying a new generation of "super-fast" broadband internet access services, which sought to make extensive use of high capacity fibre optic cables, around the UK. The news took most people by surprise and came at a time of significant financial uncertainty, not least for BT itself.Article Index:
BT's original plan, which was to spend £1.5bn on a deployment of superfast broadband to 40% of the UK population (10 Million homes) by mid-2012, has since grown to £2.5bn and with a more ambitious target of 66% by 2015. Most recently the operator even signalled that it could potentially go further and reach 90%, although such a figure would be extremely dependent upon a heavy degree of public subsidy.
BT's plan involved using a mix of two alternative "fibre based" Next Generation Access (NGA) technologies - Fibre to the Premise (FTTP, FTTH) and Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). The FTTP solution would focus on new build locations by taking a fibre optic cable directly to your home or business, delivering stable speeds of up to 110Mbps (detailed explanation). However, as a result of high costs and technical problems, FTTP would only play a relatively small part in BT's plan by delivering its service to 2.5 Million premises (the commercial rollout is expected to start this summer 2011).
By contrast BT's FTTC technology, which will account for the bulk of their effort, delivers a fast fibre optic link to the operators big green street level cabinets (pictured - top right), while the remaining connection (between cabinets and homes) is done using VDSL2 through existing copper cable (similar to current ADSL broadband but faster over short distances); FTTC delivers download speeds of up to 40Mbps and uploads can reach up to 10Mbps.
It's now one year since BT began the commercial rollout of its new FTTC technology and ISPreview.co.uk are keen to know more about its progress. To do this we have spoken with several ISPs, including AAISP, Zen Internet, Entanet, IDNet and BT, to learn about the services first year performance, teething problems and its impact upon consumer internet usage.
Until recently we still knew precious little about the performance of FTTC in real-world situations, which is especially important given the technology's reliance upon slower copper cables. As a result FTTC has a far lower top speed (40Mbps) than true "fibre optic" solutions (e.g. FTTP), which would otherwise take the high capacity cable right up to your doorstep.