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BT Openreach Trial Brings Self Install Superfast Broadband a Step Closer

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 (12:01 pm) - Score 5,274

BTOpenreach, which is responsible for managing access to BT’s national UK telecoms and internet access network, has moved the prospect of a self install superfast broadband service (i.e. no engineer required) one set closer today by announcing a technical trial of Microfilters for its 40-80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) lines.

Most people should already be familiar with Microfilters (aka – Splitters) as they’re used by traditional 8-24Mbps capable (ADSL / ADSL2+) broadband lines, which dominate the market. These are small devices that plug into your BT wall socket and split the line into both a voice (telephone) and data (ADSL) connection, allowing you to make calls and surf the internet at the same time.

Crucially FTTC only takes the fibre optic cable as far as your local street cabinet, while the remaining connection (between cabinets and homes) is done via existing copper cable and VDSL technology. Naturally VDSL and ADSL are very similar and thus it should be possible to adapt Microfilters to FTTC lines, yet there are problems with this approach.

BTOpenreachs Statement

Microfilters are believed to be one of several key enablers to move the GEA-FTTC product to being a self-install product, removing the need for an engineer visit to the end user’s premises.

The use of microfilters, however, may result in reduced speeds when compared to an engineer-based installation, depending on a number of factors. This risk necessitates a technical trial prior to a larger scale customer pilot activity. We’re therefore running this technical trial to understand the actual and perceived service performance achieved using microfilters.

The closed trial, which is set to run for 3 months, is expected to begin in “earlyJune 2012 and BT anticipates that most of the 300+ expected triallists will come from ISP employees. The line connection fee will be free on trial lines.

Internet providers have demanded a wires-only / self-install FTTC solution since the service first emerged, not least because it would help to significantly reduce the setup cost for new customers and could also remove the requirement for a lengthy 12 month contract (needed to help offset the service cost).

The question will be whether or not the performance impact from using a linear Microfilter, instead of a full engineer install, will be worth it. A larger scale customer pilot will follow, but only if BT’s trial is successful.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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