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BT Openreach Invites UK ISPs to Join Trial of 330Mbps Fibre Optic Broadband

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 (8:48 am) - Score 1,889

BTOpenreach, which manages access to BT’s national UK telecoms and internet access infrastructure, has begun inviting ISPs (i.e. those that are members of the NGA Industry Group) to take part in its first official trial of “premium” ultrafast 330Mbps (Megabits per second) capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband speeds (likely to be advertised as a clean “300Mbps“).

At present the existing FTTP service, which is only available from a small number of UK telephone exchanges (target coverage of around 2.5 Million premises), offers a maximum download speed of 110Mbps (30Mbps upload speeds) but the fibre optic technology has the capability to reach 1Gbps (Gigabits per second). BT are conducting trials of 1Gbps FTTP in Kesgrave (Suffolk), though few expect them to launch that this year.

In the meantime BT have been developing a 330Mbps upgrade (note: same 20-30Mbps upload speeds as before) for FTTP and are now ready to trial the new service with ISPs. The trial will be run in two phases, starting with a technical validation trial on limited order volume. The first trial will then be followed by a collaborative pilot, which will sadly be restricted to a maximum of 150 orders in total (from all participating ISPs).

It should be noted that the first technical trial will only be available to the following FTTP telephone exchange areas: Bradwell Abbey, Highams Park, Ilford Central, Leytonstone, Wembley and York. The collaborative pilot will make it available across all related/enabled UK exchanges. Crucially the timetable for all this gives us a better idea of BT’s often touted “spring 2012” launch window.

BT’s 330Mbps FTTP Trial Timetable (Tentative Dates)
* 23rd April 2012: Trial/pilot invitation
* 21st May 2012: ISP collaborative pilot
* 9th June 2012: ISP pilot completes
* 11th June 2012: Openreach launch 330Mbps product

From this date forward, providing the business has confirmed readiness to Early Market Deployment launch, the CPs Trial/Pilot lines would become chargeable at the published product variant price.

The timetable reveals that BT’s 330Mbps product should be ready, barring any unforeseen delays, for an Early Market Deployment launch on 11th June 2012. It’s important to note that an “early market” launch, which is the last step before official commercial availability, will not include the same “guaranteed service levels” as BT’s final product. The full commercial launch, which is the one that gets all the press attention, usually follows a little later (i.e. late June 2012, unless BT lets it slip into the summer).

As a side note, BT will also be testing an 80Mbps FTTP service (20Mbps uploads), which will bring the official FTTP product more into line with the top end of their normally slower FTTC (e.g. BTInfinity) service. This is slower than their current 110Mbps FTTP product and nobody expects it to run into any trouble, although BT likes to trial even the easy upgrades before launch.

Currently BT’s £2.5bn superfast broadband platform (FTTC / FTTP) is available to almost 8 million homes and businesses (reaching 40% of homes by the end of this year). The official plan is for the service to cover 66% of UK premises by the end of 2014, although in theory it could reach 90%; depending upon the somewhat controversial allocation of public funding from the government’s Broadband Deliver UK (BDUK) office.

In addition BT also plans to launch a new FTTP-on-Demand service in Spring 2013, which will effectively make its ultrafast FTTP solution available anywhere that their FTTC service can already go. But this is expected to cost a bit more than the normal FTTP service and is being aimed towards businesses, although domestic customers will still be able to order it.

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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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43 Responses
  1. me says:

    wow, just 1.5 months and people can have 300/330mb FTTP, very nice 🙂 Wonder what the upload speed will be. I presume it will be 1/4 of the speed so 75mb/82mb.

  2. me says:

    edit: just seen it has the same 30mb upload 🙁 That sucks.

  3. Mark Jackson says:

    Well in the grander scheme of things 30Mbps for a home connection really doesn’t suck :). Most of us don’t need huge upload speeds but they’re of course nice to have.

  4. adslmax says:

    I’m looking forward to fibre on demand. 😀

  5. Sheffield Owl says:

    Reading the above comments…if you think a 30mb upload sucks try my connection..2.5mb down and 0.6mb up…now that really sucks.lol.
    I might sound a bit selfish here but BT are talking of 300mbps when they don’t even have any plans to upgrade my exchange to FTTC…out in the sticks? No,less than 3 miles for a major city centre[end of moan]

    1. New_Londoner says:

      From your ID looks like that city centre you’re close to is Sheffield? In which case, are you complaining to the local authority as they and their neighbours have spent (blown?) £100m on the so-called Digital Region project that apparently has a few hundred customers in South Yorkshire.

      Perhaps your exchange would look rather more economically attractive if this sort of idiotic use of public money had not taken place. Maybe then you’d have BT and some of the LLU operators taking more of an interest in the area. Just saying.

  6. FibreFred says:

    30Mbps upload does not suck, unless your some crazy torrenter , in which case you’d never been happy

    1. Andrew Crawford says:

      that not entirely true, i publish videos and other stuff that is huge in size and it is all legal stuff soa faster upload is better, also i use cloud backup as a completely disatour recovery so having faster uplaod means i can backup to that quicker

    2. FibreFred says:

      @Andrew, what isn’t true? That 30Mbps does not suck or someone that uses torrents would never be happy?

      Of course there are a load of legit reasons why you’d want more upload, like me I ftp a lot and would like more upload, would 30Mbps be enough for me it certainly would!

      People will always want more but to say 30Mbps upload sucks is a stupid statement, that speed far exceeds most people’s download speeds.

    3. Andrew Crawford says:

      Its untrue to say that 30mb doesnt suck considering there offeirng 1/4 upload onm all ther eother fttX packages, yes 30mb is brillant far beats wha ti have just now, but you cant say it great they coudl easily do 300mb symentical just they dnt want to, which is fine as long as the cost incxrease is proptional to only the downlaod speed incfease, and in reality whats does anyone need 50mb+ for in download speeds 50mb brings down stuff ultra fast 300mb just 6 times faster but point me to server that easily support 300mb i max my current conenction out most websites/server at about 30-70mb ther eis some i can achive more but not many

    4. DTMark says:

      30Mbps up should suffice for at least 15 years or so. For the few who can get it anyway. I reckon the likes of the BBC have their own more specialised arrangements for streaming stuff in the meantime 🙂

  7. Going Strong says:

    Sorry, but it just doesn’t bear any weight with me. Okay, they are upgrading the network to allow higher speeds, but only a handful (compared to the UK user base) of people can get it. Yet there’s people like Sheffield Owl who are being left behind on ADSL or ADSL2+ and can only achieve 0.5 – 3 Mbps.

    Surely it would be beneficial to all if they simply created the network to allow the maximum amount of users to utilise this before upgrading the network to allow a certain base of users the capability, thus keep those user’s on slow speeds slow and waiting on something to come along and offer a better connection than 2 Mbps or so.

    I’m quite lucky living in the city as I get decent speeds on ADSL2+ but I know what it’s like to have poor poor slow broadband and being able to do nothing about it.

    I think it’s time BT (Group) started listening to the people and give them waht effectively WE are paying them for!

    1. FibreFred says:

      Its just a trial in FTTP areas, once its known to work properly (the ordering process not the technology) FTTP on demand will be launched in 2013 so you will be able to order this service anywhere where FTTC is enabled which by that time will be a substantial footprint

      If Sheffield Owl is going to get FTTC then they will also be able to get FTTP

    2. DTMark says:

      BT does deliver what we pay for. A telephone line, in exchange for line rental.

      We’re all waiting for a broadband company to start up.

      😉

  8. SlowSomerset says:

    Tend to agree with Sheffield Owl & Going Strong, surely it would be better to bring everyone up to a certain standard that we pay for Instead OF making the same areas faster and faster.
    My exchange is still on ADSL although on Samknows it says that my exchange will be upgraded to ADSL2+ In October can anyone tell if this has to be done before the exchange is upgraded to FTTC. Also why can’t BT just list all the exchanges that will be upgraded by the end of 2014 without BDUK money.

    1. DTMark says:

      It’s not really the same areas, though. In the past, you’d struggle for broadband if you lived more than about 2000m from the phone exchange (broadband = 6Meg down or better) or had a phone line of less than optimal quality, or which was aliminimum.

      In the future, whether or not you can get a broadband service (bearing in mind broadband won’t be just a paltry 6Meg) will depend on how near you are to the phone cabinet, how long the line is (needs to be very short), and the quality of it. (Aliminium will kill the speeds)

      Basically, some people who have no access to only narrowband now (less than 6Meg) will get access if their cab gets fibre, and others who now have access to broadband (6Meg+) now who don’t get FTTC will slip back to being narrowband.

      So the areas get mixed up, but the “final third” or some variant of it remains.

  9. FibreFred says:

    “Tend to agree with Sheffield Owl & Going Strong, surely it would be better to bring everyone up to a certain standard that we pay for Instead OF making the same areas faster and faster.”

    /sarcasm You mean follow the model of Virgin Media?

    And you don’t pay for 80/20 or 300Mbps do you? You are paying for up to whatever on your ADSL connection

    1. DTMark says:

      This is missing the point, though. Forget telephone lines. I couldn’t care less about telephone lines, haven’t had one for five years.

      I’d just like to know that if I lease an office somewhere or move home, that there’s a reasonable guarantee of being able to get a broadband service at that location from at least one provider at a reasonable cost.

      That has never been the case so far in the UK (I mean broadband, not just a phone line that can manage an ADSL connection) and so far as I can see, while the situation will certainly improve, there will still be no market at all in infrastructure.

      Meaning that in most locations, ultimately, the ability (or not) to provision broadband relies on the quality or otherwise of a piece of knackered bell wire or worse that’s nearly a century old.

      Is it really so unreasonable, in this day and age, that I should expect to be able to get a fair guarantee of a broadband connection in our local medium sized town? As, since all the business cabs were skipped, there’s still no real infrastructure in place for any of them, and no plan that I’m aware of to do anything about that. The town is still waiting for a serious broadband player.

  10. SlowSomerset says:

    Yes agree and virgin Fibre Fred, On my line I pay for up to 8Mps but am lucky if I get 1Mbps in the evenings when I am home yet still pay the same price as superfast surely theres something wrong there.
    On there rae ocasions when I am home during the day time can get if I am really lucky 6Mbps but what good is that when you work full time.

    1. Andrew Crawford says:

      price of what speed oyu get is different to the speed you get, i agree competely that price so reflect the speed you receive but if people in rural areas wher eto truly pay for there current conenction the price would be higher it is subsided by town and city broadband cusotmers. dnt take that as i am same it is fair just that how it is, and business dnt care about cusotmer they only care about profits, bt no9r virign will care about rurla it part of the reason it puts me off buying a house competely rural i am more looking for somewhere that is ruralish but still within reach of fttc and wouldnt havea huge cost involved in getting fttp from fibre on demand. it be nice if bt made everywhere fttc enabled and offered fttp but gave a lower speed for fault ratio on rural areas as everyone w#ould benefit btu it isnt goign to happen

    2. DTMark says:

      Can’t you get 3G 😉

      We have a 3.6km naff old phone line which can’t even do 2Meg, but we do have an antenna on the roof and a Solwise 3G router which delivers 6Meg down and 1.5Meg up most of the time on the 3 network.

  11. Mark Jackson says:

    Home broadband is a shared “Best Efforts” service, which means that most ISPs charge a set level (sometimes over different tiers for low, medium and heavy usage) based upon the economic model you get when an average of low to high consumption and infrastructure charges are balanced.

    Some people, often those in more isolated rural areas, often think that they should be paying less because of slower speeds and that’s totally understandable. But the reality is that it actually costs considerably more for BT to deliver the infrastructure to such areas. So if broadband wasn’t shared then rural or remote areas might actually end up paying even more for an already slow service.

    Unbundled ISPs are often cheaper because they can avoid the same areas and cherry pick urban locations, which usually leaves around 15% of the country excluded from their services (LLU cover varies between ISP) but BT still have to cover that other 15%, at greater cost. This is at least partly due to the cumbersome way in which BT handles its own infrastructure.

  12. Bob2002 says:

    >FTTP-on-Demand service in Spring 2013 …

    Very interested in this but I’m ready to be disappointed by extortionate installation costs, additional fibre optic line rental, and expensive ISP costs(in the same way that FTTC ISP products tend to cost more). 🙁

    1. Andrew Crawford says:

      why should it be cheap? your talking a premium service added to that the cost to acutally replace the copper with fibre so i think there current mdoel is acutally quite fair

    2. Bob2002 says:

      @Andrew – I didn’t say it should be cheap, I implied the charges would be at the higher end of what might be affordable to the average consumer. Having said that I’ve read of people with 100Mb FTTP paying £35/month which is acceptable.

    3. DTMark says:

      Price is the key.

      On the one hand, the ability to order a fibre link from a fibre cab sounds very attractive.

      Except they haven’t done any of the cabs I’m interested in anyway ‘cos they’re for businesses 🙁

      Premium pricing for a 1Gbps symmetric link, yes. But, say I only want a basic broadband connection – say 20Meg down 3Meg up. The telephone line D-side ought to be able to supply broadband, but it’s knackered.

      So instead of paying say £75 a month, with £100 setup or whatever – in order to get a quite basic business broadband service, if it’s then £1500 setup plus £300 a month I think we’d be looking at yet another example of market failure.

  13. zemadeiran says:

    Openreach should really be implementing a synchronous fttp infrastructure 100mbps up and down before moving onto higher speeds.

    Do not let them pull the wool over your eye’s with this limited bandwidth shit. We have unlimited national bandwidth and all THEY are doing is causing damage to the UK’s GDP by protecting their income’s from business customers on leased lines etc.

    We already have more fiber then we know what to do with which reaches every part of the country including the sticks. Every day that passes means another advance in wavelength technology which in turn means more bandwidth and less of those already run fiber strands needed.

    1. New_Londoner says:

      Presumably you understand the cost to install FIBRE (its not an American product) to each property? Look at the BSG figures if not! Having a fibre connection from a datacentre to an office on the local business park does not get an Internet link to each of the properties on a housing estate. Remember a lot of leased lines connect two business premises, so will be of little/no use for domestic Internet links.

      In terms of bandwidth, funnily enough the country’s GDP does not depend on helping torrent freaks to download the Internet every day, nor on helping you to get on the global leader board for COD. If your BUSINESS model depends on another company reducing its prices by 90% then it says more about your business than about their approach to pricing.

  14. zemadeiran says:

    On another note,

    upload bandwidth going forward will become more and more important do to cloud storage and many other services as has already been stated above.

    There are no limits when it comes to fiber, Openreach should be completely split from BT and be charged with providing a publicly backed future proof network for the UK accessible by everyone from any point in the UK.

    1. New_Londoner says:

      Quote “No limits when it comes to fibre” [sic]

      What about the impact on backhaul? No opportunity to use same techniques on upload as download as data will be unique to each user. Need to understand networks when making such sweeping statements.

    2. DTMark says:

      You make the main salient point about the entire broadband project, BDUK, whatever – the main reason for this country’s pants broadband speeds was, and remain, the lack of a market, and the lack of any independent infrastructure operator whose actual objective it is to deliver a quality broadband service.

  15. FibreFred says:

    “Openreach should really be implementing a synchronous fttp infrastructure 100mbps up and down before moving onto higher speeds.”

    You can buy it now, if you have that requirement you can buy it.

    1. zemadeiran says:

      I know Fred,

      But in general it is beyond the financial reach of the majority.

      It is simply a case of economic protectionism.

    2. New_Londoner says:

      Private sector company accused of wanting to make a profit shock!

    3. DTMark says:

      But, how many infrastructure operators can I buy it from, and how do you think that impacts the prices charged?

  16. New_Londoner says:

    Quote “beyond the financial reach of the majority”

    So is a Ferrari, let’s force them to cut the price so same as a Fiesta!

  17. FibreFred says:

    But zemadeiran do the majority was symmetric 100Mbps?

    Half the country can get 50Mbps down from Virgin but the uptake is poor, so by that right 100Mbps down uptake should be even less, and 100Mbps symmetric well the market for that must be minute?

    Sorry but there is a price associated with such products and there is no “unlimited national bandwidth” just like there’s no “unlimited national electricity”, everything cost money.

    1. DTMark says:

      Thw “how many want” is a straw man argument.

      How many want it now isn’t a key consideration in infrastructure. It’s about how many will need it *then*. This presents a huge ROI problem, especially to companies with infrastructural monopolies. And that actually applies to Virgin cable as well in areas where they have the monopoly on broadband because there isn’t anyone else (towards the edges of towns away from the exchange) where there is no sense of urgency to upgrade a congested segment because even though it’s congested to buggery it’s still ten times quicker than ADSL so nobody leaves.

      All I want is reasonable broadband. Such a thing isn’t deliverable over ADSL on more than a handful of phone lines. It may be deliverable via fibre from a cabinet, it may not. So when I next move home, it would be lovely not to have to keep putting postcodes into the Virgin website to make sure it’s cabled.

  18. Deduction says:

    quote”Quote “beyond the financial reach of the majority”

    So is a Ferrari, let’s force them to cut the price so same as a Fiesta!”

    Tax payers dont fund Ferrari to build their cars though. Unlike BT and their FTTC

    1. FibreFred says:

      This is FTTP

    2. New_Londoner says:

      @Deduction
      Quote “Tax payers dont fund Ferrari to build their cars though. Unlike BT and their FTTC”

      As clarified for you in another thread, taxpayers don’t fund FTTC/P from BT for about two thirds of the country, and will only be contributing the minority of the costs in other locations in order to have the service deployed where it would not otherwise be commercially viable. Whether that contribution goes to BT is of course still to be decided in most places.

  19. Deduction says:

    “As clarified for you in another thread, taxpayers don’t fund FTTC/P from BT for about two thirds of the country, and will only be contributing the minority of the costs in other locations in order to have the service deployed where it would not otherwise be commercially viable. Whether that contribution goes to BT is of course still to be decided in most places.”

    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2012/05/lse-identifies-1-1bn-shortfall-in-uk-governments-broadband-funding.html

    I would not call 1 billion and with them sniffing around for another 1.1 billion, a minority of the cost.

    According to that also it appears its not for locations where the service would not otherwise be commercially viable either.

    The 66% coverage figure has never increased. And with the recent addition of £150m for super-connected cities (AKA Urban Broadband Fund) that doesnt sound like the public purse is funding non commercially viable locations to me….. Unless suddenly the likes of London are not commercially viable. Is that going to be your next new claim?

  20. Ripsta says:

    All these points are well made – but i have noticed alot of people slamming torrent users . Lets be honest here 99% of internet users have downloaded something they shouldn’t have at some time or another – but without these so called ‘ torrent freaks ‘ screaming out for faster connections , there is a good chance the isp’s might not have bothered looking for ways to make these ultra fast connections as there would be alot less people wanting them . I currently have the 80/20 or whatever it is infinity 2 connection – but the speed cap does seem unfair because your capped down for 1/3 of everyday during the week and 2/3 of the day at weekends- BT charge you for the fastest connection your line can handle , but clearly deliver it only at times that suit them.

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