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BT Openreach – No Plans for ADSL2 Broadband from Street Cabinets

Friday, August 21st, 2015 (2:38 pm) - Score 3,203

Last year BTOpenreach revealed an interesting new technology that would have enabled them to deploy ADSL2+ (up to 20Mbps) broadband directly from FTTC street cabinets instead of telephone exchanges (here), which could push faster speeds to the most remote premises. But sadly there are no plans to deploy it.

The current Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) service can deliver a peak speed of up to 80Mbps, but you have to live less than 150-200 metres from your local street cabinet in order to stand a chance of receiving that and the speed drops away to just a few Megabits at the extreme reaches of 2000 metres (assuming it even works at all at that range, experiences vary).

By comparison ADSL2+, which is a much slower service and one that is also distance limited by the length of copper wire, can reach premises that reside around 6km away (speeds at that range can struggle to deliver 1-2Mbps). However, unlike VDSL2, the ADSL2+ service is normally delivered from a telephone exchange that is often much further away from you than the local street cabinets.

As such a cabinet based ADSL2+ solution might have provided extended reach beyond what is possible with VDSL2 (FTTC), which could get closer to homes by cutting out the long run from an exchange. But this is more geared towards meeting the 2Mbps for all Universal Service Commitment (USC) than the Government’s “superfast” (24Mbps+) target.

Unfortunately a spokesperson for Openreach has confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that the operator still has no current plans to deploy cabinet based ADSL2+, although they do claim to have looked at it closely and will continue to consider it as part of their broadband solutions toolkit.

The news is hardly surprising given Openreach’s focus on future 500Mbps G.fast technology (this may also find its way into some already cramped cabinets) and the Government’s increasing moves towards pushing subsidised Satellite technology as a solution for the most remote communities. In the end there wouldn’t have been much call for an intermediary fix like this, although plans can change and the option is still open.

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33 Responses
  1. Avatar Matt says:

    That’s what happen when morons upgrade and pay the Fibre Speed prices for an extra meg…

    Seriously.. I’ve come across people who have upgraded to FTTC (4-5meg) from an ADSL (2-3meg) connection….

    Granted, its an improvement, maybe the difference of streaming 720p instead of the limitation to 480p but considering that the price increase for these people is around £10-15 average on top of their ADSL costs… is that really worth it!

    But while these people pay these costs, Openreach will be very reluctant to do anything to improve their speeds!

    Now cutting the funding is what boosts the investment… as daft as that sounds… BT/Openreach soon rushed to get fibre out when providers like Virgin where stealing so many customers from poor ADSL line speeds, not that that worked out great for Virgin, says something at least!

    1. Avatar Max says:

      I would be one of them people that would consider that absolutely worth it. Going from 2mb to closer to 5mb is more than a doubling in speed. A 10 hour download now takes 5 hours. Live streams go from not working rleiably to working, and 720 and even 1080p will just about work on 5mbit. It’s a huge improvement.

    2. Avatar Matt says:

      Well Max, My apologies if I offend you with my comments above but at the end of the day, I don’t think Openreach should be allowed to sell the FTTC products at Fibre prices unless the end users (such as yourself) can achieve 24Mb/s or more!

    3. Avatar TheManStan says:

      Why should someone on ADSL on a 2-3 Mbps line pay the same as another on ADSL getting 20-24 Mbps?

    4. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Strictly speaking the person on a 2-3Mbps line, assuming it’s a physical line limit (e.g. remote rural), will often cost more to serve and so the irony is that they should often be paying more and not the same as everybody else. In fact many do pay more, while those in more dense urban areas with more ISP competition pay less (e.g. unbundling).

      It’s not very fair, but that’s economics.

    5. Avatar Craski says:

      I agree with TheManStan.

      Rural users on long lines are already “paying more” for level of service received by fact they are paying the same flat fee for the “upto XXMbps” service.
      e.g. My mate gets ~20Mbps service for the exact same price that I get ~2Mbps.

      I’d too be one of those who would upgrade from a ~2Mbps ADSL deal to a ~5Mbps VDSL based service. What alternative do we have? Taking a second line and bonding it would be far more expensive that taking the non-superfast VDSL for £10 to £15 a month more. At these low speeds every 0.5Mbps makes a huge difference in terms of overall percentage increase in speed!

    6. Avatar Matt says:

      Well Craski, the other choice is move somewhere where the bandwidth “required” is available or spend out on an alternative connection to a suitable infrastructure.

      I would rather go for a 3G service rather than pay out for a limited service…. but then I wouldn’t live in an area that couldn’t serve my needs!

      I already have my own issues paying for a “fibre broadband” service that is only partially fibre… but currently I have no interest in having any form of leased line or fibres installed to my premises as its rented.

    7. Avatar Craski says:

      @Matt

      Lets be honest, moving isnt really a sensible option for home owners (cost of solicitors fees etc) but I do agree it may be an option if you rent.

      I’d happily use a 3G service if a MNO would take one to our area which is currently 2G only with zero data ability on any of the networks using 2.5G or whatever they call it.

      I do understand that some would have a reluctance to purchase “fibre broadband” that isnt really fibre at all but many of us are not so lucky to have that choice not to install it. I for one would love to have the choice of taking it or leaving it, even if it was only a 5Mbps hybrid fibre/copper service!

    8. Avatar GNewton says:

      @Matt: “the other choice is move somewhere where the bandwidth “required” is available”

      Very true, we did that. You can waste your time chasing BT or other providers for a decent broadband connection, or do something like moving to another place. Our old place, though not a small town, and not a rural location, simply had no fibre broadband, many businesses were closing down, the town becoming more and more a run down place, so moving elsewhere was the logical choice. Don’t expect the BT beggars to do anything intelligent as regards fibre, they won’t. There is virtually no genuine fibre broadband in the UK!

    9. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @GN – where was it? Sounds grim.

    10. Avatar Ignition says:

      No Virgin Media either if no ‘fibre broadband’, then. Not ideal.

      Sorry, I’m not sure why, if neither company wanted to invest privately, it makes them in any way ‘beggars’. If the business case were there one or both would have built there.

      Whether you or I like it commercial entities will act in their own commercial interests. A town in its death throes evidently didn’t appeal, at which point the taxpayer would’ve had to step in, as BT / VM aren’t charities and aren’t going to spend their money to regenerate the community.

    11. Avatar FibreFred says:

      He’s owed plain and simple. He can set-up shop wherever and BT, VM or whoever must come to his beck and call regardless of their own cost.

      He must have his service and at a very reasonable price, the cost to the supplier is irrelevant I’m afraid.

      Not just a dig a GN/JN a lot of people see it like this

    12. Avatar Al says:

      Unfortunantly those that live on non-LLU 20CN have no competition )i.e BT have a monopoly) to drive down prices so that is where Ofcom should step in and impose a price cap to ISPs that has to be passed on to the end user of say +50% of what they would charge a LLU customer.

    13. Avatar GNewton says:

      @Ignition: ” if neither company wanted to invest privately, it makes them in any way ‘beggars’.”

      Just look at the BDUK, most of its money from the public went to BT, a private company which had no need for it.

      If posters like JN or FibreFreddy aren’t happy with their broadband why don’t they do something about it? Constantly praising or complaining about BT or Virgin doesn’t help.

    14. Avatar FibreFred says:

      No problem with broadband here, I think jn has the exact same issues as you

      And I mean exact 😉

  2. Avatar DTMark says:

    ADSL2+ doesn’t have any upstream capability to speak of. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 3G connection as slow upstream as ADSL2+.

    I also thought that the co-existence of ADSL2+ and VDSL compromises VDSL’s already rather limited capabilities.

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      It isn’t really ADSL2+ that compromises cabinet-based VDSL2 as such; it is the need for VDSL2 to coexist with *exchange-based* ADSL2+ that requires the VDSL2 to be degraded. VDSL2 wouldn’t be compromised any more by the cabinet-based ADSL2+.

      But the same compromise would have to happen to cabinet-based ADSL2+ too – it would be deliberately degraded to keep exchange-based ADSL2+ running, which Ofcom would require.

      The same need to degrade cabinet-based ADSL2+, ironically, hampers its range too … with the likely result that it would go little further than the exchange-based service it would aim to replace.

      The BT test documents also suggest that cabinet-based ADSL2+ wouldn’t run any faster than 12Mbps, partly because it wouldn’t be used for lines less than 2km.

      On balance, I don’t think this would be much of an option for long lines. I’m not really surprised it isn’t going anywhere.

    2. Avatar DTMark says:

      It doesn’t really matter how far ADSL2+ could reach. It is a truly ancient technology with no upstream capability at all and serves no place whatsoever in this decade. Next we’ll be bringing back dial-up 😉

  3. Avatar Finch says:

    When testing a GEA-FTTC we managed to sync devices at ADSL2+ on the existing infrastructure without anything more than a forced mode on the CPE, it’s just the DSLAM configuration that doesn’t allow for PPP transmission when in ADSL2+ mode. It would be a quick win for OR to deploy but it is a massive edge case and all of the ADSL knowledge within BT Group sits in BTWholesale not BTOpenreach so any faulting would require a full suite of new processes. Also there are two hardware vendors, we only tested against one, and multiple hardware versions with each vendor so there maybe more complexity than initially perceived.

    1. Avatar 3G Infinity says:

      Finch,

      Be good to hear more detail here, eg geography, vendors and tests carried out – distance v speed, etc.

  4. Avatar Patrick Cosgrove says:

    Mark – why “increasing” move to push Satellite? has there been an announcement recently?

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      No. Just a gradual accumulation of “we’ll be announcing it later in the year” statements.

      There does seem to be something official for Scotland and, IIRC, NI.

    2. Avatar Craski says:

      I do hope they dont push satellite hard as a way to justify switching off ADSL supplied by exchange so they can maximise VDSL to those nearest the FTTC cabs at the expense of those on long lines.

  5. Avatar Craski says:

    Any speed boost would be nice but in my local area (currently only 60% superfast), pushing ADSL out from the cabinet would only provide additional coverage to very few properties at the end of lines (which dont currently get ADSL) and a moderate at best increase in speed to the rest so I can see why it might not be the best solution for a lot of areas.

  6. Avatar PeterM says:

    So another option for those of us on long lines bites the dust.
    I take this as a clear indication that Openreach has done just about all it is going to do in rural areas and it is now moving back to the urban areas and going for G.Fast. All we can expect from Openreach now is BDUK2 and that doesn’t amount to much.
    Fortunately there are plenty of other options. The growing number of commercial Fixed Wireless operators are well able to fill the void and 4G is also a good, but expensive, option. Satellite is a distraction and a non starter.
    Most of us, I think, can rely on a commercial option without having to rely on the BDUK bureaucrats to perform. The future is bright for rural broadband.

    1. Avatar gerarda says:

      Why would BT invest in a sub superfast technology when it appears BDUK are going to let them off the USC hook?

    2. Avatar PeterM says:

      @gerarda
      Simple answer – they won’t invest. BDUK2 is the end of the line.
      The USC is not a BT Openreach problem it will just be fudged with satellite to save the politicians blushes.

    3. Avatar Bob says:

      4G simply does not have the bandwidth, I don’t see that going anywhere as a broadband solution

    4. Avatar PeterM says:

      @bob
      True 4G would never be a good solution for fixed broadband in urban areas but as a solution for the final 5% in rural areas it would certainly be viable.
      A rural 4G service would have twin benefits for mobile and fixed broadband users. It would also make the provision of these services much more financially viable.

  7. Avatar dave says:

    I would like to see BT Openreach launch a 10-17Mbps FTTC tier for the same price as ADSL2+ and kill off ADSL2+ for those cabinets that are FTTC enabled. That way everyone has a VDSL2 modem and decent speeds.

    1. Avatar PeterM says:

      @dave
      The trouble is that is simply not fast enough. Technology is moving so fast that in a few years I suspect even 24Mbps will seem slow.
      The best bet for those of us on long lines is to move away from a fixed line connection. Fixed Wireless can offer speeds of up to 180Mbps is some cases and 4G is likely to give good speeds when it is available in rural areas.

    2. Avatar Craski says:

      @Dave
      Dont think BT can “kill off” ADSL until such time as they can reach the same footprint. e.g. Around half of the ~270 lines on my FTTC cabinet cannot receive an FTTC/VDSL based service at all.

  8. Avatar PhilB says:

    My own personal circumstances…I live a long way from the exchange and can just about scrape 2.5mb ADSL.Then along came South Yorkshire’s answer to FTTC,Digital Region.This gave game me around 23mb down and 9mb upstream on a 24/10 package,which was brilliant for me.I was told I couldn’t get much more as my green cabinet was too far from my front gate. Apparently even though its about 200 metres away to walk to it the underground copper has a run of around 860 metres.
    Since DR went bust last year I am back on ADSL but we are now getting FTTC back again thanks to the local councils and the government giving BT a few million to upgrade exchanges that initially weren’t in their FTTC roll out plans.I continually live in hope.

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