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BT Says UK FTTC Superfast Broadband Can Do 100Mb After EU Said it Can’t

Friday, March 9th, 2012 (11:17 am) - Score 4,060

The Vice President of the European Commission’s (EC) Digital Agenda strategy, Neelie Kroes, suggested in a speech to the Cable Congress of the European Cable Communications Association (Brussels, Germany) yesterday that it was “not possible” for Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology to “really provide 100 Megabits” superfast broadband ISP speeds. Naturally BTOpenreach, which is using the same technology for its national UK rollout, disagrees.

FTTC typically delivers a fast fibre optic cable to BT’s street level cabinets, while the remaining connection (between cabinets and homes) is done using VDSL2 (similar to current ADSL broadband but faster over short distances) via existing copper cable; FTTC can currently deliver download speeds of up to 40Mbps (Megabits per second) and its top speed will shortly be pushed up again to 80Mbps, although distance from the cabinet can still affect performance.

Neelie Kroes, VP of the EC’s Digital Agenda, said:

We have to realise there is no magic solution to achieve our ambitious targets overnight. If there were, we would have picked an earlier date than 2020.

Rather, we will meet those targets with a gradual approach based on a mix of technologies. Whether it’s fibre to the home, fibre to the cabinet, next generation mobile solutions, or of course upgraded cable: they all have their part to play. We need a complementary combination of solutions, introduced incrementally, and tailored to local needs.

Because even if today it’s not possible for some technologies, like 4G wireless or FTTC, to really provide 100 Megabits, it can still take us a step towards our target. It will already give the consumer a taste for the benefits of higher-speed broadband, stimulating a vibrant content market and a virtuous circle of supply and demand that will take us to 2020.”

Kroes comments are important because Europe’s Digital Agenda envisages, by 2020, all Europeans having access to “much higher internet speeds” of above 30Mbps and 50% or more of European households subscribing to internet access above 100Mbps. By comparison the UK’s target is for 90% to be within reach of a 25Mbps+ service by 2015 (the next five year period after that has yet to be decided).

An Openreach Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk today:

With the current bandplan change FTTC will do up to 80Mbps down and 20Mbps up. We believe other technologies such as vectoring could see some FTTC lines deliver 100Mbps or above though these new technologies will not be applicable on all lines.

If BDUK funds help to get fibre to more than 90 per cent of UK premises then the majority of UK premises could have access to speeds of 100Mbps or more (thanks to a combination of FTTP, Bandplan and other technologies such as Vectoring).”

Furthermore BT also pointed out that some of the talk surrounding FTTC capability could soon become a “bit redundant” because of the operators plans to deploy FTTP on Demand during spring 2013, which could in theory allow BT to rollout 330Mbps+ fibre optic (FTTP) broadband services to almost anywhere that its slower FTTC solution has gone.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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11 Responses
  1. Avatar F022Y says:

    Zhone published a paper in 2009 that FTTC over the 17a profile was capable of 100Mbps throughput upto 1000 feet and on 30a profile 200Mbps. I wonder if it’s because of the distance they have said it’s not.

  2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    Unfortunately Kroes didn’t provide any qualification for her remarks and so it’s difficult to know what context she was working within, if any.

  3. Avatar Going Strong says:

    Looks like it can be done…


    Downstream speeds of 100 Mb/s can be achieved at distances of up to 400 m, and 40 Mb/s can be supported with loops as long as 1000 m. In field trials since 2010 with leading service providers including Belgacom, A1 Telekom Austria, Swisscom, Orange, P&T Luxemburg and Türk Telekom, vectoring improved previous downstream bit rates by 90% to 150%.

  4. There is no doubt that VDSL2 can achieve the 100 Mbps figure for some lines. That is the key really, how many of some will be considered reasonable.

    FTTC as a stepping stone to fibre pushing closer though is a reasonable step, given the amount available for the investing in physical infrastructure at this time.

  5. Avatar PhilT says:

    Given that demand forecasts seem to top out at under 20M (three HD video streams) who cares anyway !

  6. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    Odd statement for Kroes to make when the spec for FTTC Profile 30a already goes up to 200Mbps, test results for Profile 17a and Vectoring already deliver 100mps. And it’s still relatively early days for the tech!

  7. Avatar Telecom Engineer says:

    EU who is about 500/560M from cabinet – on mostly ali cable getting 70meg down 15up on speedtest.net (so sync higher) – same EU only got 3meg on adsl despite getting 6meg at pcp (used ssfp etc on adsl so not due to internal).
    This is all down to profile 17. With vectoring and a further adjustment to the product caps he could well hit 100M. One thing I have noticed is his ping times are now down to 10ms (were around 15ms).
    So I think 100meg for majority is certainly a possibility. Bonding, phantom channel etc could push the reach of this beyond the typical 500M dside mark but with fibre on demand coming next year will BT bother with this?

  8. Avatar DTMark says:

    [sarcasm mode]I’m sure it can do 100Mbps. You just need to have one cabinet per house and put in the porch.[/sarcasm mode]

    All performance metrics need to take the quality of the network into account, not just the line lengths. That data alone is useless as a performance indicator which is why, at the same line lengths, you get huge variations in performance thanks to the ancient mixed metal/gauge network.

    Superfast broadband is not “up to” speeds. It is “x or better” speeds. Without vectoring, the capability of the overwhelming majority of lines is between 10Mbps and 52Mbps down if the data on the TBB site is anything to go by. So, many lines won’t deliver superfast broadband as it stands without these enhancements.

    Quote: “If BDUK funds help to get fibre to more than 90 per cent of UK premises then the majority of UK premises could have access to speeds of 100Mbps or more (thanks to a combination of FTTP, Bandplan and other technologies such as Vectoring).””

    To be clear here – these technologies are:

    1. Already being deployed, and is part of BT’s ‘offer’, or
    2. Is some sort of teaser to pretend the network is far more capable than it really is and has a part to play in longer term broadband, or
    3. Actually, a realistic possibility, but will only remain a “carrot” – it won’t actually ever be deployed, because once BT have the BDUK funds sewn up, they won’t need to, that being the only priority here so that no infrastructural market is created, thus enabling the entrenching of a monopoly position, or
    4. Something else?

  9. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    In the original story, Neelie Kroes suggested in a speech that it was not possible for Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology to provide 100Mbps. This is clearly not a correct statement. Your questions are more about whether BT will implement the network changes (profile 30a) and technologies (Vectoring) necessary for this in the UK. Who knows? Whether it does or not, the statement by Neelie Kroes remains factually wrong.

  10. Avatar TheManStan says:

    ANFP allows for the use of frequencies up to 30MHz.

    So it’s more in OFCOMs court as to whether they allow the use of the profile.

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