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Successful VDSL2 G.vector Tests Pave Way for UK 100Mbps+ BT FTTC

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 (2:22 pm) - Score 6,939
bt street cabinet fttc deployment

The next generation of BT’s Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) based superfast broadband technology, which will make use of the ITU-T’s new VDSL2 G.vector (G.993.5) specification, has completed its first interoperability testing and could soon be bringing affordable speeds of close to 200Mbps into UK homes.

The current FTTC solution delivers a fast fibre optic cable into BTOpenreach’s street level cabinets, while the “last mile” connection into homes is done by using VDSL2 technology over your existing copper telephone line (similar to ADSL2+ broadband but faster over the shorter distances to your local cabinet).

At present this method uses a spectrum allocation of 17MHz (Profile 17a), which is part of the operators Access Network Frequency Plan (ANFP), to deliver a maximum internet download speed of up to 80Mbps (20Mbps uploads).

A further speed boost is also likely to surface in 2013 when BT is widely expected to increase its spectrum allocation to 30MHz (Profile 30a), which could result in headline speeds of above 100Mbps (BT hinted to ISPreview.co.uk last year that 120Mbps was a possibility). So far none of these profile upgrades have required a significant new investment and all have been relatively easy to do.

But the operator is also preparing for the introduction of the ITU-T’s new vectoring upgrade for VDSL2, which is designed as a crosstalk-cancellation technology that removes much of the noise (interference) created when lots of copper cables are closely bundled together (similar to the noise cancellation used by some headphones) and thus allows for higher speeds over even longer lines. Now a variety of chipset companies have just completed the first G.993.5 interoperability testing at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL).

Kevin Foster, Head of BT’s UK Access Platform Evolution, said:

This was the first event in a very important journey and we are looking forward to continued progress as the innovative technology is implemented and scaled for deployment. Interoperability has always been a key component of successful large-scale deployment of DSL, and we are looking to the Broadband Forum and UNH-IOL labs to lead these testing efforts to allow Operators to achieve smooth introduction of DSL innovations such as Vectoring.”

A batch of similar “plugfests” are expected to be conducted by the Broadband Forum over the coming months, with the next due to take place in November 2012. These events will be used to help test out the technology, which when combined with Profile 30a and line bonding could potentially boost the top speed of FTTC from 80Mbps to 200Mbps or more.

Vectoring would sadly carry some additional cost because it’s more than a simple upgrade. On top of that it’s difficult to know how much of an improvement it will deliver in the wild, which is one reason why BT is initially more likely to offer modest (cautious) speed upgrades of 100-120Mbps instead of closer to 200Mbps.

In the meantime those who want a true fibre optic (FTTP) connection, which could eventually deliver speeds of up to 1000Mbps (1Gbps), will be given the option next spring 2013 when BT launches FTTP-On-Demand. But you’ll need very deep pockets to afford the installation fee.

This video from Technicolor explains VDSL2 G.vector in a more visual way.

Leave a Comment
47 Responses
  1. Avatar Phil

    Never mind this, I want a FTTC in my area first! Come on BT pick my exchange Cuckoo Oak.

  2. Avatar DTMark

    Thumbing through threads about FTTC we are possibly starting to see the effects of cross talk reducing peoples’ speeds now – I say possibly, because it’s impossible to know with certainty what the cause of the max attainable rate dropoffs is.

    My understanding of vectoring was that when deployed it can cancel the crosstalk noise restoring the initial speeds the customer got when the solution was first deployed. However it does not overcome issues with line length.

    So if you have, say, an 800m D-side which, going on what people experience, might perform at anything from say 18Meg up to about 40Meg depending presumably on the metal used and the quality thereof, which then falls further due to crosstalk, the user might see the opening speed back again e.g. pay more, and you can have what you used to have, back again.

    What none of this appears to do is to raise the speed promise [for a FTTC solution] from nil (line too long/too poor) to say 30Meg, nor does it raise the fault threshold from 5Meg or 15Meg depending on what the line initially synced at. So the fibre option is a “nil upwards” solution.

    It’s the lower bound that’s more important if we’re to see the sort of coverage proposed initially by BDUK, so technology which enables a minimum 30Meg speed for every line would be far more useful. Which, as far as I can see, still involves fibre to the premises.

    • Avatar Bob

      The noise cancellation must in itself reduce bandwidth and higher speeds also mean more noise. Whilst you can demonstrate Higher speeds using noise cancellation you are also reducing overall bandwidth. There is no such thing as a free lunch

    • Avatar DTMark

      Can anyone imagine the uproar if Virgin Media announced tomorrow that there’s a solution for their own overselling in specific areas: everyone who wants the 60Mbps in the “up to 60Mbps” which they used to get before overselling, simply pays more money to get their network segment upgraded.

    • Avatar LJ

      From what I’ve read about the technology and the test scenarios have found that there is a benefit to non-vectored lines mixed in with vectored. Because the vectoring technology means that the gain can be turned down on the vectored lines and thus reduce overall cross-talk further. Of course we won’t know for sure until it has been deployed, but I hope it is the case.. And I hope it allows for higher upload rates. I would love to have 40Mb or 60Mb symmetrical line.

  3. Avatar sam

    several exchanges near me will be upgraded next year but my exchange still isn’t on the todo list 🙁 I can get cable though but i’d rather have FTTC and get rid of virgin for my phone/broadband/tv packages.

  4. Avatar FibreFred

    I wonder what the line length is to get 100Mbps

    Anyway its still copper so.. plenty of boo’s from the crowd no doubt

    • Depends on the solution / combination of solutions. With both vectoring and bonding you should be able to get maybe 200Mbps, under ideal circumstances, at around 400 metres from the cab. But as I say there’s a big difference between expectation and reality, which will also depend on what is/isn’t being used in the network design.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Well I reckon most people would be happy with a 20-30Mbps stable connection now so I’m sure most would be happy with 100Mbps in the future if this tech can bring that into the reach of above 90% of customers

      Sounds promising and it means their will be little extra cost to the customer (I would assume) unlike the charges for FTTP

    • Avatar DTMark

      Not when Blu-Ray quality streams come online. Two of those at the same time only needs perhaps 60Mbps, the basic Virgin package I think, and in excess of what the majority of BT’s equivalent product will be able to deliver.

      That’s not to say that Virgin’s network is capable of delivering same to everyone in any given segment at this moment in time. But then, we didn’t have to put a billion pounds into that.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      lol, you missed watchdog last night then Mark?

      Its ok throwing things in like “not two streams of blu-ray”. I said “most” people, would most people want to stream two lots of blu-ray at once. Bearing in mind the majority of users still just browse the web and email. 100Mbps (the speed of everyone’s LAN cards for many years) will do the majority I’d say for some time to come. They’ll always be those that want more and there will be a package to suit them of course

  5. All very nice IF you live near a cab, and IF that cab is enabled. Although if you do you are probably happy with the speed you are getting now or are probably on Virgin.
    All this is doing is widening the digital divide even further. It does nothing to help those on long line lengths, and I agree with Mark, FTTP is out of reach for those people too, the excess charges would make it unaffordable, and those next to cabs will be happy enough to do without it for another few years.
    I doubt many folk would be happy paying for bonded lines either…
    What it does mean though is that the telcos can advertise the headline speeds and everyone will think the job is done and that everyone in that exchange area then has ‘superfast’. Its up to the people to make their voices heard and then government realises the job hasn’t even started yet. If we want every citizen digital then everyone needs a fit for purpose connection.

    • Avatar Somerset

      So how should ‘we’ fund a ‘fit for purpose’ connection, and what is such a thing? This is an important question.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Indeed what exactly is “fit for purpose” and if people are not will to pay the charges for FTTP then surely they simply can’t have it?

      I can’t afford a ferrari but it doesn’t mean I have the right to one and it should be given to me for free or at much less cost that it costs to manufacturer?

    • Avatar DTMark

      @Somerset – indeed it is, and one which BDUK ducked, preferring to take the easy option of simply taking money from you and I to attempt to persuade an old phone company to turn into a modern telco with what appears to be a fairly mediocre and entirely predictable result.

      The answer is that “we” should fund none of the technology at all.

    • Avatar Somerset

      Is this the old phone company with the largest fibre network in the UK?

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      Quote “All very nice IF you live near a cab…”

      Well 90% of us live within 1km of a cabinet, so in reality the vast majority of us do, not much of an “IF” is it really? IIRC at 1km you should get around 40Mbps or better with Profile 17a and vectoring, more with Profile 30a.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      BT operates as a “modern” telco in most countries in the world. Sorry but your cogs and wheels comments are incorrect again.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Somerset, yeah its the same old phone company that delivers 2Mbps/10Mbps/100Mbps/1Gbps/10Gbps access up and down the UK

      Not sure how they manage with those creaky old modems and hand cranked machines

    • Avatar DTMark

      Are we talking about the company with a telephone network in our nearest town which can supply a modern broadband connection to businesses as a highly expensive, bespoke exercise only, because it is, er, a telephone company?

      Or, some ADSL cack which “*should* be able to provide..” with upstream speeds my HSPA modem would be embarrassed by and downstream speeds maybe a little less, maybe a little more if you’re very, very, er, “lucky?”

      I’m sure that the telephone service is adequate, though.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      It’s interesting that the “ADSL cack” that you refer to is available to rather more people in the UK than 3G, and offers far better latency performance than 3G. Indeed, the average speed of ADSL across the UK is rather higher than that available from 3G. Usage caps are another factor, how many 3G plans have a truly unlimited data option, and at what cost?

      And this is before you look at the speed increases on offer over this “phone network” from current VDSL FTTC where the UK average speed is several times faster than the average on offer from 4G as deployed across multiple US cities. Factor in vectoring and the performance gap becomes rediculous, even more so with Profile 30a.

      By all means share your thoughts on how well your own 3G connection performs but perhaps best not to generalise based only on your personal circumstances without looking at the available data!

    • Avatar FibreFred

      As I say mark, a wide range of access speeds across the UK, your comments don’t change that 🙂

    • Avatar DTMark

      Far from a commentary on how “well” our 3G performs. It’s only a 6Meg to 12Meg connection down, 2.5Meg+ up.

      It’s just an example of how very poor phone lines are at carrying data. And, in said local town, ADSL is all businesses have access to at any reasonable cost, as there’s just an old phone network there. Which may, or may not be able to deliver broadband depending on how good the phone circuit is. Though you don’t get to find that out until you’ve rented, er, a telephone line.

      3G broadband a “best option”… do you not consider it ironic that the comparison may even be made, that radio signals from a puny 3G cell can outperform a fixed-line network by up to eight times with ease? I have to pinch myself to remind myself of what year this is, and I’m one of the “lucky” ones who has access to an “altnet” of sorts.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      But the access is there mark as I’ve said, it is available all over the UK. Whether a business can afford what other businesses do is another matter. The cost of internet access needs to be factored into a business (if it is critical) like anything else, location, rent, utilities, staff wages etc etc

      Your argument is that this old phone company isn’t a digital network provider at all and just uses lash up tech to deliver a service, it couldn’t be further from the truth. 10Gig Ethernet, Ethernet pop’s across the country, guaranteed class of service, diverse routing etc etc. Your actual gripe is that it doesn’t fit in with your price bracket which is a different argument entirely.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      Good point about what is available for businesses, absolutely untrue for anyone to suggest that business services are not available over the so-called “phone network”.

      Your comments about what to expect from ADSL apply equally, if not more so, to 3G, bearing in Ming your performance can also be impacted by other factors, notably whether others are using service within the same call. And of course, your 3G would not work at all without backhaul over the “phone network”!

      The performance improvement from 3G to 4G, based on deployment across the US, is nowhere near that you get from ADSL to VDSL, and that’s before you factor in developments like Vectoring etc. So whilst you may one of the few with better 3G performance that ADSL, the stats fir the UK show you are in the minority.

      And no problem with you having your own personal definitions of narrowband, broadband and so on, but using them in discussion with others is just plain confusing. There are accepted definitions of these terms for normal use, if you believe they need changing please engage with the standards bodies rather than bandying them around incorrectly.

  6. Avatar Alt_FibreFred

    Fibre!!! I want FIBRE. As my name suggests I WANT FIBRE.

    Or maybe a name change to ImOKwithCrappyOldCopperFred would be in order!!!!

  7. Avatar nicknick

    On a more sensible note – the 30a profile will also be a ‘forklift’ upgrade as none of the modems in the deployed solutions will support this. Therefore they will at least have to change the cards.

    Oh and the word is that a big chunk at least of the (insert obvious manufacturer name) solution deployed to date does not have the capability to support vectoring so they will have to change the chassis as well as the cards. Although they might be able to get another BDUK grant for that……

    • Avatar DTMark

      No, no. The plan is to offer “fibre on demand” and then have some form of “BDUK2” which then supplies “grants” to people so that the general public first fund the fibre to the cabinet, then also fund the fibre to the premises. In other words, the general public buys an old phone company a broadband network and is then left with a choice of one provider for the bits that matter.

    • Avatar Anoyed tax payer

      @nicknick The change to a 30a profile will not need any hardware upgrade, it will be a simple software change like they did with the change from 8a to 17a.

    • Avatar nicknick

      Sorry, but it will need a hardware upgrade. 8a to 17a was a software upgrade, but the hardware installed will not support the ability to do 30a.

  8. Avatar Michael

    It is interesting that the position on Vectoring in UK is now, given that commercial vectoring deployments have commenced in other countries – albeit single supplier solution for DSLAM and CPE.

    My understanding is that vectoring has to be applied to the full copper bundle for it to work to maximum effect.This precludes Sub Loop Unbundling from existing, a topic that regulators are getting to grips with. Because it works on the bundle you do in fact get “full rate lines” for the lengths covered – but it does need optimised hardware to do the complex signal processing – hence the forklift upgrade and increased Capex.

    Profile 30a was always meant to be for “Fibre to the Basement” deployment where DSLAM is in the basement feeding copper to apartments, so really not certain on distance/other disturbers/interference models. But this may be overcome in G.Fast spec products.

    One way of reducing copper length is to move/build cabinets closer to the customer – ie 400m as the copper runs – THIS could deliver 100Mbps to all.

    Also tucked away in the VDSL2 specs is the ability to connect ADSL2+ CPE over long lines to VDSL2 line cards – but I haven’t seen it trialled anywhere yet.

    And yes – I like many would love FTTP, but if the money is tight the FTTC+VDSL2+VECTORING is not a bad package to be getting on with.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Money is tight. It makes me laugh that all businesses (and homes) across the UK are cutting spending but people are expecting BT to fund a rollout of full FTTP to all customers that no-one is prepared to pay for anyway.

    • Avatar zemadeiran

      I like you Michael….You talk sense.

    • Avatar DTMark

      “people are expecting BT to fund a rollout of full FTTP to all customers”

      Not sure I’ve read anyone commenting that they expect this. I’d be highly surprised if any approach by anyone by any means resulted in FTTP to everyone at any affordable cost.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      Some on here do appear to expect “someone” to deliver FTTP to all, although the business case, source of funds to do so and so on has yet to be identified by any of them.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Mark it is one of the most common comments on here that BT are wasting their time on copper and should be rolling out fibre. Cyberdoyle for starters

    • Avatar nicknick


      taking each paragraph of your post as if they were numbered points:

      1) and 2) correct, although there are techniques to provide a benefit where there is only one SLU. Although it looks like this is only going to be an issue in South Yorkshire the way things are (and eventually that may not be an issue either). Typically you need an additional card to do that complex signal processing.

      3) Correct. It is not used outside of this context in Europe (and typically non “Fibre to the Basement” solutions need a hardware upgrade to be able to support 30a (think 14.4k modem vs 56k modem)

      4) BT is thinking of adding cabinets but only to support those customers directly connected to the exchange (the Business Case doesn’t work for other types of customer)

      5) Typically VDSL2 cards are multifunction, so should work with ADSL2+ CPE anyway. The issue is more the regulations, as any ADSL2 implementation not at the exchange has to be powered back so it effectively looks the same as ADSL2+ at the same distance (you do get some benefit in terms of consistency though)

      6) vectoring will need some serious upgrades to the existing equipment so may not be quick

    • Avatar Bob

      Moving cabinets nearer the customer is probably not realit given the higher costs. Copper is already quite expesive for delivering what is low end broadband. Fibre costs ie FTTP are now only about 10% higher than FTTC costs and that gap is likely to narrow.

      I dont think the current costs for copper take into acounbt the high levels of copper being stolen and the lost revenues and costs of repairs. Those costs are high. They will not make to big a dent in the 10% difference but they will reduce it.

      The other consideratio is FTTP is reasonably fture prrof. FTTC has a very limited life 10 years max unless big technology breakthoughs are made which is very unlikely

    • Avatar FibreFred

      FTTC isn’t future proof no but it has a future path FTTP on demand

  9. Avatar nicknick

    It is true that where Govt funds are not available the Business Case is more difficult. However, there is a Business Case for FTTP where Govt money is available, but not in the BT-biased way BDUK has implemented it.

    I have already detailed that business case (albeit high level) elsewhere on this site.

  10. Avatar skye

    A waste of time BT they so pathetic there will be a new type of broadband before we get fibre at our exchange we not on the bloody map with BT

  11. Avatar Bob

    BT never even sem to properly market FTTC and then then wonder why take up is low.

    The obvious thing to do when an exchange is enabled is to do a mail shot to everyone on that exchange whose cabinet is enabled. Low cost and pretty much guaranteed to get orders. Currently publicity is pretty much none existant so most people would not know they could get it.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      That is the job of the ISP’s though Bob. Openreach are not selling anything to the public it is to the providers. How do you know this doesn’t already happen from Sky/BT/TalkTalk etc etc

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