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Fluidata Boss Slams Use of Old BT Copper Broadband for New UK Builds

Wednesday, Jan 15th, 2014 (11:37 am) - Score 3,105
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The Managing Director of UK business ISP Fluidata, Piers Daniell, has criticised BT for “short-sighted and self-absorbed behaviour” after he completed on a new flat in London only to find that the operator was installing older copper phone and broadband cables into the premises instead of true fibre optic.

According to Daniell, the “small but fantastically advanced” flat is a new development, part of a billion pound investment into the Bermondsey area, and his building is home to over 80 flats. So naturally he was expecting the very latest cutting edge fibre optic (FTTP/H) connectivity and ended up being quite disappointed with BT’s up to 80Mbps hybrid-fibre (FTTC) solution.

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Piers Daniell said:

Well as it turns out I don’t have fibre running into my brand new flat. The housing group who developed the site wanted to keep everything as separate as possible for each apartment and so understandably gave the responsibility of installing comms to the flats to BT. So what did BT choose to install? Fibre to the Home? No. Instead they installed a 100 year old technology and have graced my flat with a BT phone socket delivered over copper.

Let’s remind ourselves this is not a flat in Worcestershire. This is not a building hundreds of years old. This is a building built from the ground up in 2013. This is a building within a stone’s throw of the City of London (should be good for my flat price… but I digress), arguably the capital of the world. And what do I have to deliver my internet access… two strands of copper.”

Daniell admits that he doesn’t actually have a need for anything faster “at the moment” but stresses that this misses the point, which is that he’s moved into a new building, in London, where BT are only installing old copper cables.

Piers Daniell continued:

This is like the government deciding to install a new train system between London and Birmingham and calling it progress… oh wait a minute, bad example. It is like building a new airport and not making the runway long enough to take the new Airbus Jumbo. Granted it is an airport, but it isn’t particularly useful. And while it may cope today it certainly will not cope with the demands put upon it in the future. In the same way that when I start to watch 4K television from the Internet the FTTC service delivering 80 Mb/s is going to look like old technology. Which it is.

And what really gets my goat (if you are reading this and thinking boohoo Piers, you must be so upset having fast broadband and a new flat), is that BT have successfully persuaded most of the countries councils that it is the right company to prepare Britain for a fast networked future. With over £500 million of public money being used, how can BT justify this old technology for completely new sites? Granted it may have some use in very rural communities but surely as a country we should be demanding nothing less than fibre into every home. Gigaclear, City Fibre, IFNL, Hyperoptic among others can deliver Gb/s speeds. But when BT are given a clean sheet of paper they can’t?

Or is it they don’t want to? Think about it. BT recently raised the cost of its direct line rental to an astronomical £15.99 a month. This is a blatant use of jazz hands. As it talks about cheap broadband (which needs a phone line if it is FTTC, which its Infinity product is) it is recouping the cost from the line rental. If they installed fibre, where would the line rental revenue come from? Would people still pay for or enable a phone line if they didn’t need it for broadband? And to think this is the company we have asked as a country to prepare us for the future.”

It should be said that BT doesn’t appear to have received any direct public BDUK funding to upgrade the property that Daniell moved into, which was also built before the new Connection Vouchers scheme became available. Most of the BDUK money is instead designed to tackle sub-urban and some rural areas that exist outside of the central towns and cities.

On the other hand there are a growing number of new developments in London where true fibre optic (FTTP/H) connectivity has been deployed, usually by both BT and others like Hyperoptic. It’s therefore unclear why BT chose not to do the same for Daniell’s flat because it’s a lot more cost effective to put fibre in before a new property is built than to add it later. Indeed there have been more than a few calls for fibre optic broadband to become the standard for new builds.

On the other hand FTTC services won’t stay at a headline speed of 80Mbps, with upgrades such as Vectoring, including possibly G.Fast (aka – FTTC2) and FTTdp, all likely to surface over the coming years to potentially push peak speeds well beyond 100Mbps. Never the less Daniell does raise an interesting point about the need to be ready for the future.

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Mark-Jackson
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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