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UPD Fluidata Claims Real Competition Can Drive BT to Go Fibre Optic

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 (2:42 am) - Score 1,095

The accounts manager for business ISP Fluidata, Andi Soric, has observed how one of the quickest ways to encourage BT into deploying a true fibre optic (FTTP) broadband network is for rivals to foster competition at infrastructure level by doing the same thing first.

So far BT has felt fairly comfortable with their cost-effective national deployment of up to 80Mbps capable hybrid-fibre FTTC (Fibre-to-the-Cabinet) technology, which is a good solution unless you happen to live at the furthest reaches of your local street cabinet where download speeds can fall away to just a few Megabits.

But evidence from various locations around the country, such as B4RN’s 1000Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) deployment in Dolphinholme (Lancashire), increasingly seem to suggest that BT appear more likely to deploy their own 330Mbps capable truly fibre optic (FTTP) broadband connectivity into an area when rivals begin to threaten.

Similar cases are now cropping up in urban areas, where Fluidata’s Andi Soric notes that some multi-tenant buildings now have a choice of two truly fibre optic networks.

Andi Soric said:

I moved into a three bedroom property with fibre already installed, activated and ready to use. It also has the option to upgrade to 100Mb/s and 1Gb/s, as and when I require it. Hyperoptic have done a great job in providing access to every flat in the newly built Olympic village (run by getlivinglondon). I didn’t have to wait for an engineer to arrive, or spend any time on the phone signing up. The process was a simple online form to complete; my service was up and running for when I moved in.

But I noticed, the flat also had a BT Openreach router installed for Fibre to the Home (FTTH) from BT as an alternative. Based on other individual experiences, Piers’ especially, it isn’t the norm for new build properties as one would expect. I found it strange that BT and Hyperoptic have both deployed FTTH into all flats so efficiently, then I realised it must be in relation to direct competition.

It is great that I have been given two different options for high speed next generation connectivity, when other new builds are left having to use aged copper technologies, but it must be because of the competition from Hyperoptic that has meant BT has deployed their cutting-edge service. So not only does it show that BT can deploy FTTH technology, but they will when faced with direct competition.

The situation seems to reflect Piers’ claim that BT are protecting where they can, their monopoly and only choose to involve themselves in true fibre projects because they may feel someone else is going to take a piece of the pie.”

On the other hand, while good to see more competition, it’s a shame that this only appears to occur in areas where smaller providers are operating and it would be good to see Virgin Media harness FTTP/H in order to provide a new challenge in urban areas. But so far there’s no sign of that and Virgin are likely to remain focused on DOCSIS 3.1 for at least the next few years, which in fairness seems like an economically sensible path (i.e. they should be able to keep up with both BT’s future G.fast and FTTdp tech).

By contrast the difficulty for smaller providers, when faced with a direct FTTP/H challenge from BT, is naturally that the big boy has a mix of economics of scale, a massive advertising budget, a plentiful selection of big brand ISPs and often cheaper prices on its side; though some smaller ISPs can still challenge that last one. Needless to say that nobody likes to be sat on by an elephant, although some like B4RN do seem to have the right size of pin to make that seat feel very painful (i.e. existing community engagement = customers).

Ultimately competition is competition, you adapt or die and BT would clearly rather adapt in the places where a superior technology is likely to encroach. Sadly this doesn’t look likely to happen much outside of the big cities (it’s rare to see FTTP go rural due to the high costs), with a few notable exceptions. The bigger problem comes when public money is used to deploy BT’s FTTP network into an area where another operator is already doing the same, which can challenge state aid rules and also seems like waste of tax payers’ money.

UPDATE 18th Feb 2014

It should be pointed out that BT, acting as an official communications services partner to the Games, deployed fibre to the Olympic park a long time before Hyperoptic did.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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27 Responses
  1. Avatar Ignitionnet

    In other equally obvious news the sun rose this morning and will set this evening 😉

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Heh heh I was thinking the same

      Currently the only mass provider to give this sort of competition is virgin and they don’t need to deploy fibre for years and already have faster products available and it hasn’t made bt roll out FTTP widescale in fact I doubt any competition will force bt to rollout fibre to the home it will most likely only happen when they have saturated fttc

    • Avatar DTMark

      Well, yes 😉

      This article describes how BDUK could have got value for money and something fairly future-proof by recognising the importance of competition as a driving force from the outset.

      Sadly, that wasn’t the option that was taken.

  2. Avatar New_Londoner

    Odd that both Andi Soric and Piers seemed to have very little knowledge about their respective apartments before moving in. Given their employers, you’d have expected both to have done a little homework first, especially before briefing the press. Yet Piers didn’t know developers decide what to put in, Andi was clearly unaware FTTP was in situ long before Hyperoptic came on the scene.

    • Avatar DTMark

      I know. It’s totally ridiculous in this day and age to imagine that new premises would be wired up to a modern broadband network.

      When buying a new car I always check to make sure there’s a small flap on the side that you can open to put more fuel in when the tank runs out.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      What a strange this to say DTMark

      So you wouldn’t check to see what broadband services are available when buying a property?

      What about checking for the existence of double glazing, central heating, damp? Anything like that or just assume everything is how you think it should be? 🙂

      As for employees of an ISP based in LONDON not knowing that BT fibred the Olympic Village years ago , just wow.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Yes, I always make sure it’s cabled. No cable, not going there.

      Have worked from home for about 15 years so I know the state of broadband in the country very well. When I moved here I knew it wasn’t cabled and at a mile and a half from the exchange I knew the old phone network would be useless and so it proved to be.

      I moved out of my parents (cabled) home back in around 1998 I think, and still, I need to check the place is cabled before I move. Learned that lesson when I moved to Welwyn Garden City assuming that bit was cabled since almost all of it is. It wasn’t. Seven months later we moved a mile to get back into a cabled area.

      On the one hand BT seems to want to be viewed as a telecoms company and it seems to grate when I refer to them as “that old phone company”.

      And yet, here we are in 2014 with said old phone company sucking at the teats of the taxpayer in an effort to try to evolve. If we do get VDSL under the taxpayer funded scheme it might even catch up with 3G HSPA. But, now we have 4G. It would be funny if it were not so sad.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Dear God… the place I lived in, in Welwyn, back in about 1998, still has no broadband at all.

      Address xxx, WELWYN GARDEN CITY, AL7 2xx on Exchange WELWYN GARDEN is served by Cabinet 51

      WBC ADSL 2+ Up to 1 — 1 to 3.5 Available

      FTTC Range A (Clean) 80 78.1 20 20 — 31-Mar-14 <- how many years is that? Still not there yet.

      Perfectly ordinary built up housing estate of 80s build houses in an urban location which couldn't even have ADSL at all at the time – maps of that area show a few scraping the edge of 1 Meg.

      Yes, we should all check very carefully before we move.

      Question is, should we really have to?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      “BT seems to want to be viewed as a telecoms company” It doesn’t seem to want it is, plain and simple, I know you have an axe to grind but it doesn’t change that fact , sorry 🙂

    • Avatar DTMark

      I wonder if the people who live at that location in Welwyn now would see it that way.

  3. Avatar Neil McRae

    hahaha Classic #fail.

    DTMark – does Virgin (or anyone else) go to your old place or do you reserve your criticism just for BT?

    Neil.

    • Avatar DTMark

      The Virgin network stopped in the neighbouring housing estate.

      The rules around “significant market power” mean that Virgin won’t expand.

      Or, they stand to have private assets price controlled like OFCOM is trying to do with Sky.

      Otherwise it would have been a no-brainer with hundreds of houses with no alternative options.

      When the old phone company is being given taxpayer’s money a private operator would have to be mad to go up against The State.

      The State and its telecoms arm *are* the problem.

  4. Avatar Neil McRae

    what a load of old codswallop. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_power for some clues.

    Virgin stopped building, or rather Telewest and NTL because they couldn’t make any money and both had to go through chapter 11 and then merging (after a load of them had already been bought, sold and merged (NYNEX, CWC, Cable London etc etc)).

    if it was so easy then we’d have millions of companies building networks, oh wait a minute its not easy other than to spend a lot of money and deliver nothing, whats the name of that company in Yorkshire again?

    • Avatar DTMark

      Not really. The tense was “Virgin won’t expand…” as is now.

      Don’t know for sure, but if Welwyn is like Harlow, another New Town, Virgin (or whatever it was called then) probably didn’t install much if any ducting in Welwyn, it was put in by the State and then sold to the cable company.

      The cable companies then came close to bankruptcy because of the cost of building out their networks to premises.

      What all of this does rather demonstrate is that the biggest cost is building out a network to reach homes. There’s just no way around this.

      It also suggests that the entity best placed to facilitate that is the State. For once, an argument for some State involvement to correct the horrendous mistake of selling the old GPO last mile along with the retail side.

      You’d have thought BT best placed to reach homes with its poles and ducts, but evidently not. BT itself says so. It takes 7 hours to wire up one house. It just can’t be done. I’d choose to believe that has much more to do with the ancient underinvested state of the network than a lack of engineer motivation or competence.

      This is why even BT can’t decide on the pricing for fibre-optic broadband (FTTP). For whatever reason, they just can’t do it efficiently given the assets they have. So in the long term, the solution cannot be BT – BT says so.

      It might also be a good idea to finally accept that you can’t have a public-private hybrid like BT and expect a market and private investment.

      So the place to target with a BDUK style project is the last mile to premises.

      Which now comes neatly back to the premise of the article.

      Had the State facilitated duct laying for new networks, this would have paved (!) the way for private sector investment resulting in the lowest cost to the taxpayer and the greatest choice to the customer.

      It would also have miraculously meant that BT was suddenly able to roll out a fibre optic network where it was not possible before, because, now, competition threatens it.

    • Avatar No clue

      Good old fred, new name same abusive content content.

    • Avatar DTMark

      For some reason, and I could well be wrong on this, I thought Neil McRae worked for BT as a network architect.

      If it’s the same Neil McRae.

      If so, Neil would be best placed to tell us why other companies can roll out networks to premises but BT simply cannot. Or, will not?

    • Avatar No clue

      Nope quite clearly it is Fred, note this post in another story…
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/02/fixed-access-review-delay-triggers-bt-openreach-line-rental-hike.html#comment-130778

      Note the Neil post above and its last paragraph…
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/02/uk-isp-fluidata-claims-real-competition-can-drive-bt-go-fibre-optic.html#comment-131155

      Notice the similarity and tone in attacking a very specific project Within 24 hours… Coincidence? Doubtful.

      Note the totally random lets attack Virgin media content also. Who else often does that? Especially in items when Virgin come out on top of BT, we can always count on fred and the nonsense Virgin congested posts.

      BT are a bit dim at times but i highly doubt they are dim enough to employ people like that.

      The trouble with fred is he for some reason sits there works himself up to a frenzy and then goes and makes himself look silly, with total random attacks, either on individuals or random companies.

      I expect tomorrow when it sees this we can look forward to another of their regular personalities agreeing with itself.

    • Avatar George

      A few days ago Fibrefred accused me of being another user, he then vanished for a couple of days and this place was far less hostile and much quieter. Now obviously he is back and rubbing various people the wrong way.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Perhaps. But when you attack the person rather than the issue, you lose the argument.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Oh please no? So I’m Neil? lol

      FibreFred is the only name I post under – period. Deduction, we don’t all need multiple persona’s

  5. Avatar FibreFred

    And Deduction I don’t attack Virgin I merely bring them into the conversation, so many people on here concentrate on running down BT like they are only large provider out there, obviously they are not which is why I often compare to Virgin their largest competitor.

    I really do wish you’d just post under one persona and have done with it but what you post makes that untenable for many reasons.

    DTMark for what its worth I also thought Neil McRae worked for BT

    Re your comment on ducting, not sure there Mark , I think even with ducting you’d be hard pressed to get any big ISP to rollout their on FTTP widescale

    • Avatar Chris

      You really are unhinged you think everyone is Deduction.

    • Avatar No clue

      I suspect he is just bored at least i hope that is why with all his spite he often multi posts minutes apart attempting to attack. COuld be worse could still be pretending he is female like he has on TBB previously.

  6. Avatar Raindrops

    It seems to be becoming a recurring theme that FF likes to attack people and accuse them of being other posters. Perhaps this is his new rage filled way of dealing with things when shown to lose an argument.

  7. Avatar Neil McRae

    No I’m not anyone other than myself.

    I am not attacking VM or anyone else for that matter. I’m merely pointing out that its expensive to build networks, why hasn’t it been done? Well because the demand doesn’t exist and the overwhelming majority of the market are happy with the FTTC and Cable based solutions that exist today. Published figures on take up of higher speed services says it all, and not just in the UK either.

    Regards,
    Neil.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      Of course you are not. Let’s see.
      Multi posts like fred CHECK!
      Multi posts in this story 2 days after the last response at the same time fred multi posts in another story CHECK!
      Has no clue and attacks Virgin then denies what they have done in prior posts CHECK!

      Yes you are convincing everyone, well everyone who is dumb enough to believe anything you say.

  8. Avatar Neil McRae

    Oh and Mark, one thing i do agree is that other countries are able to deploy fibre because of better underlying infrastructure, notable Sweden, even parts of France. The key difference to those countries and ours is that willingness for the tax payer to fund such development of the underlying infrastructure.

    Here in the UK we generally don’t have that will at least not outside of health.

    I’ve been inside cable chambers, ducts, sewers etc when working for a variety of different network operators and here the UK we suffer from significant blockages, etc that make blowing fibre very expensive. In Paris for example, the sewers provide simple access to pull fibre to whatever location you want (after you’ve had the jabs for the poisonous rats (not pleasant)).

    Cheers,
    Neil.

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