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UPDATE BT’s 330Mbps FTTP Broadband Reaches 160,000 UK Premises

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 (1:36 pm) - Score 4,359

BTOpenreach, which maintains and upgrades BT’s national telecoms network across the United Kingdom, has confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that its 330Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based fibre optic broadband technology is now available to 250,000 160,000 homes and businesses (premises passed footprint). Meanwhile FTTC might eventually be boosted to 100Mbps+.

Long-time readers will recall that BT originally planned to make FTTP available to around 2.5 million UK premises, but this target was officially abandoned early last year (here) after the operator decided to focus instead on rolling out their slower ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service to “as many homes and businesses as possible, as quickly as possible” (currently holding around 21 million premises).

However Openreach hasn’t stopped their FTTP deployments and indeed the Government’s on-going Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) investment appears to be pushing related work in a growing number of areas across the country, which surprisingly often involves rural locations and areas where ironically FTTP might actually become the most cost effective approach.

Needless to say we’ve covered plenty of FTTP related BT rollout updates, particularly over the past six months. The pace of change also appears to be more significant than we first though, with ISPreview.co.uk noted that the last official figure we had for FTTP coverage put the total at around 150,000 during July 2014 and this stood at roughly 100k during early 2013.

A BTOpenreach Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

We keep FTTP technology under constant review, and we see it as a solution to satisfy demand for higher speeds from customers in future, in the next generation of our fibre network. We have managed to double the speeds on FTTC since it first launched and there is potential for further advances with technologies like vectoring and G.FAST.”

Interestingly the spokesperson also told ISPreview.co.uk that the current top speed of FTTC, which is set at 80Mbps, could eventually be lifted to a cool 100Mbps or possibly faster. “Technology is available to increase these speeds to over 100Mb in future,” said the spokesperson. This is perhaps an indirect reference to Vectoring technology, which is currently being trialled (full details), and there’s also the slim possibility of adopting a 30a Profile for further improvements.

But it should be noted that Openreach tends to see Vectoring as a “speed enabler” rather than a speed booster, which is because the primary focus is to resolve the rising levels of crosstalk interference that are slowing FTTC lines down over time (as uptake increases, more crosstalk is created).

UPDATE 13th November 2014

In a “regrettable” twist a BT spokesperson has just got in touch to say that the 250,000 figure they supplied as part of an official statement earlier is in fact incorrect. Instead the actual figure is just 160,000 and that seems more realistic given that adding 90k over the space of just 3 months would be quite tricky. We suspect somebody at BT might be getting a slap for adding all those magical premises to the initial figure.

Leave a Comment
36 Responses
  1. Avatar Bob2002 says:

    Apparently vectoring works on both ECI and Huawei cabinets but will there be a nationwide rollout or will they just apply it where necessary to improve popular cabinets?

    My impression is BT don’t like spending money, the broadband future for most of us is probably going to be vectoring, then years later, G.fast. Unless something truly amazing happens national FTTP just isn’t on the horizon.

  2. Avatar GNewton says:

    @Bob2002: I think new disruptive technologies are on the horizon. Also, as soon as the BDUK madness comes to an end, and councils stop using taxpayers money to compete against alternative telecom providers, better netxgen services will soon come.

  3. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    No mention of how many people have opted for the 330Mbps package. Must be a BT/OR top secret figure.

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Not many at all. Take up of 330Mb has, predictably, been pretty low.

      Last I heard from the rumour-factory it is considerably less than 5% of the total sales.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Can’t imagine many have a requirement for those speeds to be honest so I would expect the figure to be low

    3. Avatar Stoat says:

      FTTP uptake has been quite high, considering the rapacious installation charges.

      In absolute terms it’s still almost nonexistant. Very few households can justify the costs (I’m quite sure its priced to discourage uptake)

  4. Avatar Steve Jones says:

    I’m not sure why it’s considered ironic that FTTP is more cost effective than FTTC in certain areas. It’s simply that FTTC is a lot cheaper than FTTP in areas of relatively high density (and shorter cabinet to property distances) as it doesn’t require the most expensive part (running fibre to the property). The same might be true of G-FAST, although less so.

    Anyway, 250,000 starts to sound like a milestone number and I suspect it will climb quite a bit in the latter stages of BDUK projects when more difficult to reach areas start being dealt with and it’s clearer how much money is left “in the pot”. We also might start to see more FTTP in some urban areas, at least as trials. However, this is hamstrung by the requirement to keep a parallel copper network, and it would take legislative change (and, probably EU directive changes) to allow that to be decommissioned as it would have a clear impact on the market in any affected areas.

  5. Avatar Bob2002 says:

    Just found these short videos of John Cioffi, the “Father of DSL”, talking about the costs and benefits of xDSL over fibre to an Australian interviewer and Communications Minister John Turnbull –

    http://stopthecap.com/2013/11/20/father-of-dsl-bashes-fiber-broadband-as-a-waste-of-money-verizon-loses-800-per-customer/

    Fun fact, Cioffi is the founder of ASSIA – the firm that won the patent case against BT reported on ISPreview yesterday –

    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/11/uk-court-appeal-rules-bt-fttc-broadband-infringes-assia-patents.html

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Wow what a pile of FUD he was spouting there.

    2. Avatar Bob2002 says:

      Yeah, well I assume he was cosying up to the new Australian government trawling for business.

  6. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

    I think we’re looking at being the only first world country where the incumbent has deployed more FTTP in the rural areas than in the urban ones.

    1. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      I’ve no idea if it is true that BT is the only incumbent to do as you say, but it rather follows from the approach of maximising coverage for the available funds (commercial and subsidised). In that case, I’d expect to see fibre where it was the most cost effective solution, and hence that’s what we’ve seen.

      York might prove if there is a sustainable market for commercial urban fibre at this stage.

    2. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      They’re the incumbent everywhere besides Hull.

      FTTP has been deployed in no small part for ‘political’ reasons rather than commercially. At least one area that was decided on early cost a lot of money and took a long time. It wasn’t even considered in the back end of the deployment regardless of commercial factors.

    3. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      I didn’t say “the only incumbent”. Is said “the only incumbent to do as you say”. That is the first incumbent to deploy the majority of fttp to rural areas rather than urban/metropolitan. Very possible, but I’ve not seen any data.

      As for it being done for political reasons, well yes. At least in so far as it was to meet objectives in publicly subsidised projects, such as “Superfast Cornwall”. I’m sure if FTTC had been more cost-effective, then that’s what would have been done.

    4. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      There is only one incumbent, the rest are altnets.

    5. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Apologies, just re-read your comment. My mistake.

      Some of the commercial FTTP rollout was done for political rather than purely economic reasons – have a read of the MKBAG Yahoo group some time. Commercially it would’ve made far more sense for BT to forsake areas where FTTC would’ve been extremely problematic and simply deploy FTTC elsewhere. A conscious decision was made to deploy to some areas very early on and, after it turned out Openreach had made bad choices, commercial FTTP was no longer considered regardless of medium or longer term economics.

  7. Avatar Patrick Cosgrove says:

    But there are a great many more rural areas where we’ll get sweet Frances Adams. Does anyone know if increasing from 80 to 100 pushes the signal further up the wire? That’s what is really important right now. Whizzo speedy stuff can come later.

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      It increases range, yes.

      How much more important that is is, of course, entirely a matter of perspective.

    2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      If the question is would increasing from 80mbps to 100mbps increase the range of the FTTC service then of itself, the answer is no. However, the 100mbps will probably only appear if a technology called vectoring has been implemented (currently under trial). That cancels out cross-talk (at least to some extent – and that depends on how its done in conjunction cable management).

      However, it is being implemented in Ireland which has a very similar local phone network to the UK (not surprising, it’s rooted in principles established back in the early 20th century – an earlier – when under common administration). In Ireland it’s claimed that vectoring increases range for a given speed by perhaps 50-60%. I’ve seen a graph which claims 25mbps could even reach to about 1600 metres (as against 1000 metres on the current OR implementation). This would be on a “clean” line, which is properly balanced without “bridge taps” etc.

      I have a few doubts this much will be seen in practice, but it should still help considerably.

      Note the OR trials were extended. There’s at least some doubts one of the FTTC equipment providers are in a position to support vectoring (but that’s only rumoured). Further, to make best use of the technology, the configuration as regards cable management (just how pairs are grouped in cables) makes quite a difference to the effectiveness of the technology. I’ve not idea just how accurate BT’s records will be. They are, after all, the accumulation of change many, many decades of changes and it would be amazing if these didn’t contain lots of errors (IT systems to record it didn’t use to exist until relatively recently in history, and I suspect that in days past engineers worked – and changed – what they found).

    3. Avatar Bob2002 says:

      > There’s at least some doubts one of the FTTC equipment providers are in a position to support vectoring (but that’s only rumoured).

      I assume you’re talking about ECI cabinets, a well known member of Plusnet staff has apparently confirmed the ECI cabinets are vectoring capable.

  8. Avatar Simon says:

    Just try ordering Infinity 3 in Basingstoke, you can’t throw money at BT to get it and none of the checkers return that its even available despite being a ducted trial location with people down the road having had the plusnet version installed years ago…

    At least Virgin serve the area with their DOCSIS 3 network, but the upstream on 152Mbps is appalling.

  9. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    Of the billions of people in this country, all could buy a rolls royce or a personal jet. Its the same with FOD. Homes passed mean exactly that. Passed. Not connected. Not owning even a minivan let alone a jet. Meaningless hype. Superfarce. http://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/products/pricing/loadProductPriceDetails.do?data=0WyIM7tTGGgucFf0dXUIWK4XSAplAmgrRZNg5Pk%2B5%2F%2BkRgB7BL4KNYn%2FlKx2YB4Qe6YShZ82RgLOGLsH2e9%2Bmw%3D%3D how many families can afford FOD? it was supposed to be affordable. It isn’t.

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Stick to the facts. This is FTTP not FOD. Completely different things.

      Demeans your genuine case when you confuse the two.

      Unless you have 100% penetration every network passes more premises than it has connected.

      No-one ever said FOD was supposed to be affordable to the average residential user.

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      How can someone who claims to know about the subject mix up FOD and FTTP?

    3. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Not the first time and won’t be the last, she doesn’t understand the technology or the business. 😐

    4. Avatar Martyn Dews says:

      @Ignitionnet From what I recall, FOD was initially marketed to the masses, although those with a little knowledge always knew that it would be out of reach of normal consumers. The purpose of it was to tick the box to show that it was available. As you will know, some time later the prices were raised. Many times on Twitter, Bill Murphy has stated FOD as an option.

      @FibreFred As for your comment, I think it’s out of order. Chris would be the first to admit that she’s no technical expert, yet she has done more for the cause of rural broadband than most in this country, and deserves more respect.

      It’s easy to make these trolling comments when writing under a moniker, Maybe you should try commenting under your true name instead.

    5. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Martyn, I agree she has done more for the cause of rural broadband than most in this country, her commitment and drive is unquestionable, I absolutely respect that

      But that isn’t what I commented about, I said she didn’t understand the technology which you’ve just confirmed, she frequently confuses FOD with straight FTTP and also claims there’s as much fibre in a dial-up product as there is FTTC.

      It wasn’t a trolling comment at all, unless you are saying that its not possible to call out people that “get it wrong” without being labelled a troll.

    6. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      I’s agree that Chris didn’t seem to understand the issues. What’s more, what was posted was not a considered response, but something more like an outpouring using emotive language. I wouldn’t have bothered commenting save the abuse that some people got when giving a measured response.

    7. Avatar GNewton says:

      @Martyn Dews: “FOD was initially marketed to the masses”

      Wasn’t one of the original requirements of the BDUK to build future-proof networks, with upgrade-paths to affordable fibre?

    8. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @GNewton It was and is a requirement and remains a condition of the £1.2bn state aid. The wholesale price for FTTP on Demand was £30 a month.

      BT’s re-positioning of FTTP on Demand as a business product (£100 a month) can and should be challenged, by LA’s, BDUK and indeed EU Commission under the affordability clauses and the ability to extend the network.

      The evidence base in the form of LA and BT documentation is definitive from earlier in the BDUK process.

  10. Good to see the figure revised down as did not believe the 250,000 to be correct, was expecting a figure more in the order of 150,000.

    1. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      I was surprised too. I imagine that this is the work of a PR person who failed GCSE maths. A really, really stupid mistake.

  11. Avatar adslmax says:

    100Meg for FTTC in future (yeah rite BT) u saying that all times but never act!

  12. Avatar NGA for all says:

    INteresting Eircom saying in their response that for rural FTTH is cheaper that putting in so many active components. Quoting Analysis Mason on the ops costs. http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=92792044

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      I find this entirely believable. May explain why BT are able to deploy both FTTC and FTTP at the edges to those far away from cabinet at the same time to some intervention areas, despite the obvious cost of such small pockets of FTTP.

  13. Avatar Andrew says:

    Looking forward to having these speeds made available.

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