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FTTH Ultrafast Fibre Optic Broadband Connections Pass 175000 UK Homes

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 (2:50 pm) - Score 3,568

The FTTH Council Europe has released its latest global ranking of ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) based fibre optic broadband ISP internet connections. Sadly the UK still doesn’t have enough true fibre connections to show in the main list but related services have now passed 175,000 homes.

The ranking only includes countries where at least 1% of households are within reach of a FTTH/B/P connection (i.e. when the fibre optic cable is taken directly to your doorstep for top speeds of 100Mbps+). At present some 32 countries have managed to achieve this, which is up from 30 in 2011 and 21 at the end of 2009.

Unsurprisingly the top spots are almost exclusively dominated by countries in the Asia Pacific region, such as South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan, where the state has often assisted in construction of the national fibre optic networks. But actual penetration in these markets hasn’t change a lot since the previous February 2012 report (sorry for the difficult to read country names below).

ftth penetration june 2012

As before the United Kingdom is nowhere to be seen, which isn’t surprising as the country’s current roll out has been dominated by hybrid fibre (e.g. FTTC) and cable services from BT and Virgin Media. Hybrid fibre methods often deliver slower speeds but are more economical to deploy, which is due to the use of existing copper cables for the “last mile” run into homes.

However the UK isn’t a completely blank slate when it comes to true fibre optic connectivity. According to data for homes passed between December 2011 and July 2012, BT and a number of smaller operators (e.g. CityFibre, B4RN, Hyperoptic, KC etc.) have now reached around 175,000 homes with a mix of FTTH/P/B solutions; but just 13,000 homes have subscribed.

ftth homes passed june 2012

Going forward the UK situation should continue to improve but this is likely to remain a slow process because none of the major operators look set to switch away from their hybrid solutions. However BT’s plan to launch an FTTP-On-Demand service in Spring 2013, which will make a true FTTP connection available to any homes or businesses that are already within reach of FTTC connectivity, could boost uptake.

But to achieve this feat BT has to effectively replace the existing copper line (too costly for most home users) and means that the service isn’t technically available to a home unless you subscribe to it (we’re not sure how the FTTH Council will view that one). Credits to Thinkbroadband for getting the charts out before tomorrow’s PR publication.

Separately it’s worth pointing out that many FTTH countries often don’t achieve even close to the technologies top speed, which is usually due to a mix of Traffic Management measures, network congestion and related ISPs frequently offering a choice of cheaper but slower speed packages.

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45 Responses
  1. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    For the UK it should read pitiful. The only groups who will have true fibre are going to be the likes of HYPEROTIC, B4RN and others that provide FTTH now.

    Most of the UK is going to be left in the slow lane, continually play catch up because of the way our process of provision of FIBRE works.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Poppycock 🙂

      Why is the physical delivery so important? Many Virgin customers in the UK will be getting the same speeds as those on those charts.

      From next year FTTP on demand will launch but I doubt we’ll see much of a rise in the UK because people clearly don’t want to pay for fibre. FTTC will keep us off these charts for years as it will deliver what most want for quite some time.

      Your average internet use doesn’t care how the connection is delivered or via what physical means. Those that have that “hots” for fibre are mostly geeks

      Don’t get me wrong, I’d take a fibre connection tomorrow if I was offered it, but I’m realistic. If I can get 20Mbps through other methods for cheaper I’ll take it, I’m sure most others will as well.

      There’s no point crying or being surprised about it every time these stats are released because there is no UK wide FTTP rollout!!!! It will be available to the masses next year as an option and the masses will say no thanks not for years yet….

    2. Avatar CopperFred says:

      As Mr Fibre seems to always be Mr ApologistForCopper, I would like to say that lots of new applications (like ‘proper’ HD video conferencing, and ‘proper’ Home-working – i.e. at LAN speeds as if you are in the office) are possible on a ‘proper’ Fibre infrastructure and are already being used in countries that have the vision to invest in that rather than a huge engineering white elephant to cut 20 mins off a commute between London and Birmingham. And as a major Fibre advocate (as indicated in the name) I will be arguing hard for the money to be spent on fibre rather than Rail.

    3. Avatar FibreFred says:

      You can use HD video conf on FTTC. Oh I’d like the money spent on rail spent on fibre but its not going to happen is it. Anyway as I keep saying fibre will be available to those that want it in FTTC areas so I guess we’ll see just how much demand their is.

  2. Avatar Phil says:

    BT is always useless won’t do any FTTH in UK unless a new houses built still on copper wire and still without FTTC. BT & councils don’t care to be honest!

  3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    As posted on TBB, why is the propoganda from the so-called FTTH council (ie manufacturers) treated like news? And who cares about this data anyway?

    The reports from Akamai and elsewhere show that the hype around FTTB speeds in much of the world is exactly that, otherwise why does South Korea average < 20Mbps average download speeds, which is easily out-performed by my FTTC line?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      To be fair that’s because of things like Traffic Management, capacity issues and the fact that a lot of overseas FTTH ISPs offer cheaper tiered speed packages (i.e. users don’t always pick the top “premium” speed option). Akamai is also a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and thus its performance ratings are skewed by that (not the best reflection of real-world speeds vs being tested directly at the subscribers line).

    2. Avatar nicknick says:

      And typical Ad Speak from Mr BT like his adverts – “My individual line is better than an ‘average'” – yes but millions (yes that is MILLIONS) of Koreans have a better connection speed than you, and our ‘average’ in the UK (especially when you take on board Mark’s comments) is a lot worse than theirs.

    3. Avatar nicknick says:

      And by the way the revenue to the manufacturers for a Copper based solution is much more than for a Fibre solution, which doesn’t seem to fit with your ‘Propaganda’ argument.

    4. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @NickNick
      Rather inconveniently for you, the average (yes that is AVERAGE) FTTC line in the UK supports download speeds over three times faster than the average download speed achieved over 24 hours in South Korea. This suggests to me that the mythical FTTP in SE Asia that some on here seem obsessed with is not all its cracked up to be, that a shared FTTB installation in a very high density building (lots of apartments) either still suffers from congestion or connects to woefully deficient backhaul, or both.

      @”CopperFred”
      It will clearly be a surprise to you that I am able to work at home whilst connected to the office LAN despite not having FTTP, big attachments, VPN, everything. And amazingly I can do HD videoconferencing as well! At the same time! Just as well nobody told me this was not possible without FTTP, otherwise I would have had a real problem. Perhaps you could explain how an FTTP connection would make these “proper”?

    5. Avatar nicknick says:

      As Mick tried to point out to you, but unfortunately your BT Beer Glasses won’t let you see, is that they have a lot of specifically limited products (and priced as such). So removing those that are artificially limited, means the average goes up to significantly more than your BT average. At the point you guys in BT stop trying to sell a Copper based solution as “Fibre Optic Broadband” you might get some credibility back.

    6. Avatar CopperFred says:

      As a BT employee you get the benefit of a BT Business line, which in good BT tradition prioritises you over the rest of us in ‘the general masses’ which means I’m not surprised you get a wonderful service.

      I too can work from home on a crappy <2M BT line, but I would like to work "as if in the office" as I stated, not a pale imitation

      I think a 'bake off' is required between you on your 'Premium' BT service and someone on B4RN. I think I know where my money is, but unfortunately your propaganda machine won't let you take part in a real test.

    7. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @NickNick
      Sorry to disappoint you yet again but this is yet another example of your comments being wide of the mark, just like you were about “proper home working and videoconferencing”, NBN etc

      My FTTC line is completely standard, the same spec as that any of us with access to the service (IIRC 11 million so far) can opt to use from our homes, is not a “special” business line, or indeed special in any other way. No idea why you seem so badly informed about what you need for videoconferencing, home working and so on, however a line such as mine performing at around the average speed according to the Ofcom stats is more than capable of supporting these sorts of uses, simultaneously at that.

      Suggest you do a bit more research, who knows you might come to realise that most of us do not really need the sort of bandwidth you imagined in order to support a wide range of different applications.

  4. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    @ FibreFred

    All that is happening is BT is slowly going to become a MONOPOLY for the major part of the UK for the supply of fibre optic phone and broadband services. Which will not be a good thing for everybody, the only people to gain anything are the share holders of BT. I do not see BT completing their roll out plans by 2015. NOT every area of a exchange will have all the cabinets installed for FTTC by then. There will be some that are NOT economically viable to do plain and simple.

    I have said before IF BT get 10 million subscribers by 2020 they will be lucky, not because of cost, purely from BT’s offers and the way they bundle their product, also their services leave a lot to be desired.

  5. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    I agree with bits of both sides of this argument, but what we must remember is that although the current FTTC speeds will be ‘adequate’ for many, or even a great improvement short term, the whole job will be to do again one day. The second point is that public money is available to do the areas that FTTC won’t reach. This should not be used to enable small towns to go faster, it should be used to help the final few in rural areas to get a futureproof solution, and that is what the ‘hots for fibre geeks’ want, they aren’t insisting on fibre for everyone who can get adequate speeds now, they are campaigning for futureproof infrastrutcture, not high speeds. A few meg through a fibre means that in future the throttle can be turned up simply by replacing lights. To try to squeeze it through copper will only form a temporary expensive solution. So its daft to patch up an obsolete telephone line to comply with a pathetically low USC. Better to do the job once, and do it right, and stop the monopoly convincing hapless councils that copper can deliver a digital future for all. It can’t.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      You always say that though Chris and its always wrong, its not “all to do again” its just a few hundred metres of fibre, not miles of fibre like other projects such as B4RN. There’s a pot of money to spend, better to spend it on many to get better speeds with an upgrade path than a few with FTTH

      @Sledgehammer if no-one else is rolling out fibre on a large scale yes you are right they will become the monopoly. At least they are doing something, or would you rather they do nothing

    2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @Chris
      Quote “This should not be used to enable small towns to go faster, it should be used to help the final few in rural areas to get a futureproof solution”

      Why? Who will decide which few people will benefit at the expense of the majority? At the moment the BDUK money is being used so that around 90% of the final third have access to faster broadband, are you seriously suggesting that the 90% becomes < 10%? If so, please explain how you convince those you are leaving behind that there is any sane reason for doing so.

      I respectfully suggest that reducing the ridiculous £3.3bn pa paid out of CAP to UK farmers, and using this money on broadband instead is a far better option, might even allow 100% of the final third to benefit. Far better economically and socially that everyone gains if at all possible rather than just the privileged few you propose.

    3. Avatar CopperFred says:

      To bring my Fibre bias back into this set of comments. Chris is right about ‘doing it all again’. We are not talking about 100m of fibre (particularly in rural areas – as you yourself have just said). What we are talking about is another massive subsidy to New_Londoner and his employer (of at least the same amount of money – but probably more) at some time in the future, to do something that could be done now if the massive subsidy to BT was being spent more sensibly (and as Chris and B4RN are very adequately demonstrating)

  6. Avatar Deduction says:

    “Better to do the job once, and do it right, and stop the monopoly convincing hapless councils that copper can deliver a digital future for all. It can’t.”

    That about sums things up….. But don’t worry according to BT, its merry little follower here and our duped government we will have the best broadband in Europe. An ever increasing hilarious statement.

    1. Avatar Somerset says:

      Simple question. How does the UK fund a 100% FTTP rollout?

    2. Avatar Bob2002 says:

      @Somerset

      100% may be asking too much but …

      The same way it funds everything else? By prioritising?

      HS2 is a modern day Concorde, great for the relatively small amount of people who can actually afford to use it regularly. Apparently we have the money, in this recession, for HS2 but not for large scale FTTP deployment. So it does indeed seem to be a matter of “priorities” rather than cost.

    3. Avatar Deduction says:

      Dunno even why he is asking or expecting anyone to do 100% considering the telephone network and FTTC doesnt reach 100% anyway.

  7. Avatar zemadeiran says:

    OK,

    Economic growth is directly tied to cheap energy, we all know this.
    Easily accessible reserves of crude oil have been tapped out and peak oil has been a reality for many years, the result being ever increasing transportation fuel costs.

    THE most important reason to implement a future proof fiber network IS the looming energy crises as we all hit the dregs at the bottom of the barrel.

    The UK’s main GDP is services, so we need to immobilise the workforce in order to stay competitive. The only way to achieve this is to have a future proof network in place that has the capacity to support such a workforce.

    This is not conjecture, this is a cold hard fact which none of us can escape.

    Should we continue to squabble about the pro’s and con’s of fiber vs copper or should we look to building something akin to the Victorian sewer system?

    Logically if the government is going to spend OUR money, I would like OUR money to be spent wisely on a future proof fiber network to the home.

    Please remember that no matter how high and mighty politicians think of themselves, one thing is true and without challenge: They are elected by US in order to look after OUR interest’s and hold the public trust.

    We are the government and the government is us, have no doubts…

    I always add a rude comment or swear word somewhere in my comments, due to my omission of such an essential inclusion, I am respectfully requesting that you all imagine my hairy white arse beaming at you from the rear window of a coach.

    Thank you.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      So realistically (and I mean think about this properly) the government spends billions funding a fibre network to all, how much of the workforce will be able to stay at home to use it, how many jobs fit this model and how many companies would you persuade to do it?

      My guess is you’d be very lucky to get 10% of the workforce set-up like this and even that would take years to achieve

    2. Avatar Gadget says:

      So, lets assume we could all agree that a full fibre network is a good thing. The next question is how does the government of whatever colour implement it?

      I doubt the money is any company pocket to build it on the back of cast-iron assurances from said government.

      So does the government build it themselves (needing not only money but resources and transient labour), or run the gauntlet of EU State-Aid rules to pay someone to do it for the whole country(an bear in mind that many of the existing fibre to the home asian networks do not have to deal with State Aid requirements)?

      Having done that who answers the question about why is there a monopoly fibre provider, or does the money distribution facilitate lots of little, less efficient in terms of scale, local monopolies?

    3. Avatar nicknick says:

      How does the Govt implement it. Very easily in fact. Have a look at NBN Co in Oz. They weren’t bound to Telstra’s coat tails as our Govt seem to be to BT. They are going to have a fibre network that pulls Telsta kicking and screaming into it. Main difference is they had politicians that some balls.

    4. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Nick how did it work in Oz? Did the government fund a lot of it? Surely they can’t have forced Telstra to make a loss by rolling out fibre?

    5. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @NickNick
      That would be the same NBN that is way behind schedule, getting slated in the local press presumably? Great example to quote, highlights this is harder than some here, inc you clearly, seem to imagine.

    6. Avatar nicknick says:

      Strange that they are being slated over there for delays that are A LOT less than your employer’s delays in rolling out their copper network – different perceptions obviously.

      @ StillHappyWithCrappyOldCopperFred – the govt did fund a lot of the fibre, and also pushed the existing Telcos to put their fibre into the mix too. They are not spending (proportionately) any more than the UK Govt is spending to subsidise BT

    7. Avatar FibreFred says:

      So Nick, this is the model we should follow?

      http://afr.com/p/opinion/slow_progress_ensures_an_nbn_rethink_rGpfoBO2pMpUFwjyvdRkQP

      39,000 homes passed with FTTH and has only 3500 active FTTH connections and over budget already. Sounds good 🙂

      Even the UK which doesn’t even have a country wide FTTH rollout blows those figures our of the water for FTTH

      I’m not sure how you can compare the two even – 3.5Million by 2015 (obviously no chance) its not even the same scale as what the UK would be doing (if it ever does it)

    8. Avatar FibreFred says:

      … and if you read more about NBN the Australian government and looking into whether FTTP is even viable now and looking at FTTN (aka FTTC) instead or as a mix

      Sounds familiar 🙂

    9. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      (@Nick
      Odd you believe anyone that disagrees with you must be paid to do so)

      Suggest you research NBN properly before commenting, the project is really struggling, Were you aware it’s projected to cost AUS$37.4bn (£24bn), but has only passed just over 32k premises with fibre so far? The UK plans are costing us taxpayers far less, yet have far more coverage, include FTTP-on-demand for those of us on FTTC that want more bandwidth.

      If this is your example of the project to benchmark the UK against then we’re doing incredibly well!

    10. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @Nick
      Out of interest , given your track record above, I assume you’re in charge of market research for the Armchair Experts Consortia? “Ably” supporting CTO DTMark, CFO Deduction and COO Chris!

    11. Avatar zemadeiran says:

      I would like to ask you gents to bare in mind Australia’s geography and population density in comparison to ours.

      It is like comparing apples to bananas, they are both fruit but one can also be used if the batteries run out for personal enjoyment…

      Have I made myself clear?

  8. Avatar Hull_lad says:

    Might be worth getting in touch with KC – The only other regulated incumbent in mainland UK – Their lightstream FTTH service is doing rather well, far better than BT, and i’m fairly certain they would bump up those FTTH subscriber figures significantly…

    Just a thought 🙂

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Good point, where are KCOM on that list

    2. Avatar Deduction says:

      Well if they are included in the UK figure which is given… QUOTE…
      “BT and a number of smaller operators (e.g. CityFibre, B4RN, Hyperoptic etc.) have now reached around 175,000 homes with a mix of FTTH/P/B solutions; but just 13,000 homes have subscribed.”

      I imagine their development of FTTH is currently larger than BTs. According to the 2001 UK census, Hull had a population of 243,589 living in 104,288 households. AFAIK or at least rember reading somewhere their fibre rollout is 100% complete. Curiously they didnt have Millions in funding handed to them on a silver platter either did they?

    3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      They came under the ‘Others’ category due to having a fairly small fibre coverage. Indeed in June 2012 their FTTH/P reach was 7,500 premises passed with 20% uptake. I’m expecting another update on their latest roll out soon.

    4. Avatar nicknick says:

      20% uptake – that’s better than BT’s Infinity take up!!!!!

  9. Avatar zemadeiran says:

    It all seems to have gone rather quite for some reason?

  10. Avatar nicknick says:

    Quiet because real life has to intervene. Although it is fun sparring with the BT ites this dialogue is essentially irrelevant (as is the whole of ThinkBroadband to be honest – and that is worse which is why I stopped going there). We can talk all we like on here but the world is being shaped by the millions of pounds being spent by BT on their ‘lobbying machine’ (they can even afford to have people regularly checking these sites to distribute their propaganda). These sites are a useful source of information, but from a ‘comments’ perspective are place to vent frustration (or spread propaganda) nothing more.

    We will only really know for sure 5-10 years from now when we look back and see what it looks like.

    My view is that we will look back and see that the UK telecoms infrastructure is crap compared the rest of Europe (I don’t say “World” here as that fight is already lost) and will be having a materially detrimental effect on our balance of trade and GDP. We will have been screwed again by big business and their ‘lobbying’, which is designed to maximise their benefit at the expense of the rest of us. The BT ites will have a nicely crafted ‘excuse’ for why, but the fundamental error will already have been made.

  11. Avatar FibreFred says:

    It will be interesting to see how much the average charge for FTTP on demand is next year, if enough people want it we’ll see our position on those charts rise.

    I don’t know what all of the fuss is about nick, 330Mb/s next year if you want it, ok the install charge could be pricey but its a one off install cost a small business can afford for true FTTP

    1. Avatar Deduction says:

      “….the install charge could be pricey but its a one off install cost a small business can afford for true FTTP”

      More nonsense, if you dunno what the install cost is going to be how do you even know if a small business can afford it? Keyboard dreaming again?

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