The FTTH Council Europe, which champions adoption of true Fibre-to-the-Home based fibre optic broadband ISP connections, has revealed that FTTH services passed 199,000 homes in the United Kingdom during December 2012 (up from 175k a few months earlier) with a take-up rate of about 8.5%.
According to the data, which was published by Thinkbroadband today, some 95,000 of the FTTH homes passed (7,000 subscribers) are delivered via BTOpenreach’s 330Mbps (Megabits) capable FTTP service. The rest come from CityFibre (24,000 passed but no subscriber figure) and other operators like B4RN, Hyperoptic, KC and Gigaclear (80,000 passed / 10,000 subscribed).
The data means that we’re now just 1,000 homes away from being included in the council’s official global ranking, although at this rate we’d barely be a tiny smudge at bottom of their chart.
Meanwhile the country’s current roll-out has continued to be dominated by hybrid fibre and cable (e.g. FTTC / FTTN) services from BT and Virgin Media, which are usually more economical to deploy because operators can re-use their existing copper and coax cables for the “last mile” run into homes.
The downside of hybrid fibre solutions, specifically FTTC, is that it’s still a distance dependent technology and thus delivers considerably slower speeds than a true fibre FTTH/P/B connection. On the other hand today’s FTTC performance is more than enough for most people but then not everybody will get close to the current top speed of up to 80Mbps (Megabits per second).
Dana Tobak, Managing Director of ISP Hyperoptic, told ISPreview.co.uk:
“BT’s marketing position is the real crime – trying to pass off fibre to the cabinet as a full fibre solution is deceptive and will turn the consumers against fibre as they may not understand the difference. We don’t accept horse meat in our beef burgers; we shouldn’t accept copper in our fibre broadband.”
So far Openreach has passed 13 million premises with FTTC (over 40% of the UK) and BTInfinity dominates the market, taking just shy of 1,000,000 subscribers (TalkTalk has 30,000). Elsewhere the Digital Region network in South Yorkshire (England) passes almost 500,000 homes with FTTC but they still refuse to release their subscriber figures, which is never a good sign.
Thankfully BT’s move to launch FTTP-On-Demand (FTTPoD) during Spring 2013, which will make a true FTTP connection available to any home or business that’s within reach of an FTTC street cabinet, could boost uptake but only if you have very deep pockets for the £1,000+ that it will cost to get connected. But FTTPoD probably won’t begin to impact the UK’s FTTH rankings until after the service has actually connected into a home.