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Ultrafast FTTH Fibre Optic Broadband Connections Pass 199000 UK Homes

Posted Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 (1:06 pm) by Mark Jackson (Score 1,706)
fibre optic cable uk

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.

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5 Responses
  1. Somerset

    http://store.virginmedia.com/broadband.html

    Even if fibre optic broadband isn’t available yet in your area…

  2. Ignitionnet

    To be fair to BT Virgin Media were the original advertiser of ‘fibre optic broadband’ on hybrid networks.

    Bizarrely in the USA usage of that terminology for cable was stopped, yet here it’s fine.

  3. Bob H

    To be fair coax cable fttc is not nearly as vulnerable to distance as twisted pair copper, so virgins capacity to deliver super fast broadband is really only limited by node upgrades. They could easily deliver the BT ambition of 300Mbps, but most homes don’t need it, giving everyone 50/100Mbps is good enough as long as there is a roadmap to faster through natural upgrades rather than substantial capex.

    • Ignitionnet

      BT could do something similar via pair bonding and vectoring up to a point.

      Upstream will be the major issue for VM. As their network stands right now a number of areas would need quite extensive work to deliver higher upstreams.

    • New_Londoner

      @Bob
      “They could easily deliver the BT ambition of 300Mbps…”

      Not sure those affected by congestion on segments where very few have the higher speed packages would agree with you! The coax may be capable of decent speeds with DOCSIS 3, but it becomes problematic when shared by too many – and not all the networks are DOCSIS 3 anyway.

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