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

Friday, Mar 9th, 2012 (11:17 am) - Score 4,132

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.

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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