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UPDATE BT Trial Exchange Based FTTP Broadband with 500 Swindon Homes

Thursday, February 18th, 2016 (1:46 pm) - Score 2,596

BTOpenreach has announced that they are conducting a new trial of 330Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband technology with 500 homes on the North Swindon development of Haydon Wick. This will involve building fibre optic lines direct from the local telephone exchange.

We recall that residents of Haydon Wick have been campaigning for better broadband connectivity since early 2014 and the development is also part of or near to the area where UKB Networks were expected to cover with their new fixed wireless broadband platform, which recently hit some troubles due to a rejection of several new masts (here).

Otherwise the deployment sounds very similar to Openreach’s Fibre-Only Exchange (FOX) trial in 2013, which connected premises in the rural village of Deddington (Oxfordshire, England) to an FTTP service direct from the local telephone exchange (here).

Kim Mears, BTOR’s MD of Infrastructure Delivery, said:

“We’re really excited about the prospect of building an all fibre, ultrafast broadband network to parts of Haydon Wick.

The development has so far missed out on the benefits of fibre broadband, so I’m very happy to say that some of the locals will have access to some of the fastest speeds available across the whole of the UK from this Spring. What’s more, we’ve committed to leaving the FTTP network in place once the trial has finished, so residents in the trial area can continue to enjoy ultrafast speeds for a long time yet.”

Apparently the new trial will also “test a number of new techniques and processes for rolling out FTTP which could, if successful, be used to deploy the technology more quickly and widely to other parts of the UK,” although they don’t actually say what those techniques are (we wouldn’t be surprised if some of the same approaches as used in their FoD2 trial were playing a part).

The first customers should go live by the end of March 2016 and then the number of upgraded lines will ramp up over the coming weeks and months. Mind you one of the biggest problems with taking an Openreach based FTTP product is the lack of support among mainstream ISPs, but only a few smaller / more expensive providers and BT itself offering related packages.

UPDATE 28th Feb 2016:

The following street locations are included in BT’s FTTP technical deployment trial: Ariadne Road, Boatman Close, Clementine Road, Mayfly Road, Metis Road, Minnow Close, Ulysses Road and Voyager Drive.  A related FAQ is also online.

A similar trial is also under-way in the villages of Campton and Meppershall. The network build will serve the following addresses in Campton: Gravenhurst Road, Rectory Road, Priory Road, Greenway, Grange Gardens, Elm Close, Campton Road, Mill Lane, Brookside and The Glebe. Meanwhile only Shefford Road in Meppershall will benefit. A related FAQ can be found here.

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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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52 Responses
  1. chris says:

    smells a bit like gFarce. and at £99 plus vat a month they might not get many takers. Or is it not FOD? Wonder who is paying the ECC?

    1. FibreFred says:

      £99 a month? Where is that stated? It’s not fod

    2. Steve Jones says:

      What the hell are you talking about? This has nothing to do with g.fast. It will be G-PON. Just like most other consumer networks. The 330/30 price is, I believe, about £50 per month. The 80/20 and 80/10 speeds are priced exactly the same as for the FTTC equivalents,

      nb. whilst the fast Openreach gpon service is 330mbps, the 10G-PON has been tested, and that would allow for speeds over 1Gbps subject to the fan-out ratios and contention (all consumer networks have potential contention, whether it’s in local area, like cable, backhaul or peering connections).

    3. Steve Jones says:

      “consumer fibre” I should have said.

    4. JamesM says:

      It’s exactly what Zen charge for it – and have done for a long time.

    5. Steve Jones says:

      It may be what ZEN charges, but that’s their choice and they charge a premium and aim it at the business market. Other ISPs charge differently.

    6. Colin Jones says:

      @Steve £53.25 Per month

    7. Oggy says:

      Poor Chris Conder makes an arse of herself yet again.

      Such is her haste to have a pop at BT she makes another mistake.

      She really is an embarrassment for B4RN.

    8. FibreFred says:

      Chris does some great things for b4rn, her heart and drive is to be commended. But she shouldn’t be a spokesperson for them 😐

  2. Mark Jackson says:

    It’s not FoD Chris, can get FTTP a lot cheaper than £99 if it’s a native deployment (see BTInfinity 3/4). But they might use some similar enhancements to the FoD2 trial, not sure.. trying to find out.

    1. Steve Jones says:

      One very interesting little point is whether Openreach can be compelled to provide MPF services. As it is, the only major consumer ISP which supports Openreach’s GEA-FTTP product appears to be BT Consumer (I think Plusnet had it on a trial basis, but they are owned by BT so it’s a probably not indicative anyway).

      So for Sky & TalkTalk to provide services, they’d need copper loops. So can OR offer fibre-only services unless Ofcom allows for an exemption? It may be moot if this area is too far from the exchange to provide useful ADSL speeds (or is unbundled), but I’ve yet to find a definitive point on this. Could, for example, OR provide only FTTP to all new major housing developments and stay within the regulations?

      nb. OR could be covered by the “reasonableness” clause in the USO for supplying telephone lines, but surely there should be some explicit statement by Ofcom on this. I’ve found nothing.

    2. Steve Jones says:

      Incidentally, I wonder if this is a new approach now that Clive Selley is in control of Openreach. It may be a bit early, but a strategic decision to supply only g-pon to major new builds could be the sort of thing that a new head of the division might have made. The time could be right as surely Ofcom would look rather outdated if it was to enforce the parallel provision of MPF (as current regulations imply).

    3. NGA for all says:

      Steve, The Ofcom market definition (and the cost recovery) for a fixed line includes FTTP within its definition. So OR can provide FTTP as a substitute for copper. But MPF is not a FPF (Fibre Path Facility) which might create a bigger issue for OR and indeed an Ofcom defining a dark fibre product around a 1Gbps EAD minus the active equipment.

      The last fixed line market review from memory recognised the cost neutrality of fibre for cost recovery purposes. The issues around a FPF were not explored.

      Let’s hope OR will be given more latitude on these matters.

    4. Steve Jones says:

      @NGA the use of FTTP lines in the overall cost calculations for the regulated pricing of a phone line is a total irrelevance. The issue is that there is a USO for phone lines, and MPF is a product that OR is required to provide. There is, to say the least, a grey area over this. The previous fibre-only exchange trial required explicit approval by Ofcom as it is essentially prevents LLU operators competing other the to use the GEA products. I beleive the previous approval was for an exchange that was never likely to be unbundled. With the more widespread use of GEA-FTTC, it may be that it’s tacitly been accepted that VLU, not LLU is the direction things will go in the future, but there is, as yet, no explicit policy that I’ve seen from Ofcom on this matter.

    5. NGA for all says:

      @Steve No explicit policy but it is there in black and white, FTTP/ATA = PSTN for the purposes of the product definition and cost recovery.
      In a new build or re-furb, apart from the fibre and NTE the component list is the same in terms of the costs incurred. So it is an actual choice not to go the fibre route.

  3. GNewton says:

    I just don’t understand what GT is exactly trialling here. Have they never done fibre from an exchange before? Are they really decades behind?

    1. GNewton says:

      Correction spelling error: BT instead of GT

    2. FibreFred says:

      You didn’t read the article then?

    3. FibreFred says:

      They have been deploying fibre for decades sure.

      You really are putting less thought into your trolls these days, so…. you think a business any business (retail, telco, finance etc etc) they develop a process for the first time and bingo that’s it… it’s perfection. We should never ever revisit that process as there’s simply no way it can be improved.

      Can we deploy fibre quicker, cheaper, easier than before due to new tools and techniques?

      Who cares

      You don’t do yourself any favours.

  4. stuart says:

    Why are they doing fibre all the way to the exchange? Surly that’s more expensive, and less practical than installing new street cabinets, and then running the fibre from there? I mean it’s great, but just curious.

    1. FibreFred says:

      You don’t need cabs for Fibre, fibre is run from the aggregation nodes which also feed the fttc cabs

      I’m not exactly sure what exchange based FTTP means, I mean… all FTTP comes from the exchange.

      It could be referring to point to point fibre which would be odd.

    2. Steve Jones says:

      It’s just the way the article is worded. At the very least this will gpon, which means a local node containing the splitter. Very likely there will be aggregation points down manholes. Indeed, the fibre might not even go to the local exchange (the fibre for the cabinets in my area are connected to a town about 12km distant.

      In this case, I think that the local exchange might be Blunsdon (as some local numbes are on that exchange), but it would be very likely that the fibre would be connected back to the main Swindon exchange as Blunsdon is a small local exchange.

    3. GNewton says:

      @SteveJones: What I don’t understand is hasn’t BT ever done it before? I mean fibre from the exchange to the premises? What exactly is different here?

      BTW.: Please ignore FibreFred, has back to his insulting posters here!

    4. MikeW says:


      As you’ve now seen, it likely is trialling something new about the deployment.

      It seems that whenever you ask a question about why BT is running a trial, this turns out to be the answer. Because there is always something new to try out.

    5. FibreFred says:

      Indeed he asks the same question and it’s always the same answer trialling a new process

      Mr Newton is all about repetition

    6. GNewton says:

      @MikeW: Thank you for your reply. The article wasn’t quite clear on that, and fibre from the exchange to a premise certainly isn’t anything new, hence my question. New_Londoner kindly gave us the link with more details. There was no need for FibreFred to insult posters here, he’s been doing it for a long time and has no manners!

    7. FibreFred says:

      It was quite clear:

      “Apparently the new trial will also “test a number of new techniques and processes for rolling out FTTP which could, if successful, be used to deploy the technology more quickly and widely to other parts of the UK,””

    8. MikeW says:


      Its more a case of starting with the right assumption.

      Your style of writing, style of questioning, seems to start with “Why on earth are they doing this? This must be straightforward. Why haven’t they done it before?” with the assumption they’re getting something wrong.

      I simply start with “I wonder what’s new about this one?”, with the assumption that something is new … to then find out what it is.

      I don’t assume that Mark’s article will necessarily tell us everything, or that BTs PR will either. Eventually details emerge, and that initial assumption turns out right.

      If ever something looks odd, turn to the question of scale. Whatever you want to get right once for one line, BT needs to get right time and again for 28 million. Small improvements matter, so it is always worth checking. Always.

      At the extreme, with millions of lines, you can run continuous A/B testing if you wish to judge the effectiveness of each change. Continuous improvement, continuous trials.

    9. FibreFred says:

      MikeW his style of questioning is all linked to his primary agenda, to run down all things related to bt. Everything he posts about them is negative and if there’s not enough negativity to be gained from the current article he will pull in other resources such as trustpilot to bolster his line of thinking.

      I read the article as you did and it was plain to see they are trialling new methods of deploying fibre

  5. fastman says:

    this is FTTP not FTTC but it might be a new way of deploying FTTP in a brownfield area where copper is than FTTP has been deployed in other Brownfield FTTP deployments

  6. New_Londoner says:

    The Openreach FAQ document for the trial has a little more detail:


    1. MikeW says:


      Pushing rope through ducts to individual homes. Not a part of any deployment I’ve seen before.

    2. FibreFred says:

      Good find so it’s as we thought trialling new methods. Pretty obvious to those that read unlike others that continue to embark on there repetitive boring abuse

    3. Steve Jones says:

      Very useful, so this is trialing the new techniques for pre-emptively rolling out an FTTP network to a brownfield site. I can see how this might work with the right infrastructure, but not much use in my house which is connected via direct-buried cable. It would only appear to work where some form of microducting has been already installed to the house.

    4. GNewton says:

      @New_Londoner: Thank you for your link.

      This is what it says:

      “Via our existing underground duct / pipe that serves your property, we’ll push a thin rope through the duct,which will be hidden from sight as an existing cap will close and seal the rope within the duct. When, or if you order a FTTP product via your chosen service provider, after our network is built, this will allow our cable to be fed through the duct (via the rope) and then into your property via a small fibre tube. The end of the duct for your property is normally located by an existing utility box.”

      Not exactly high tech, I still think they could have done it years ago, but better late then never.

    5. stuart says:

      This makes a lot of sense now. Since I learnt about g.fast, I have been wondering about my own situation. There is a duct to my house, where the copper pair comes in. And I’m thinking, why would BT put additional hardware in the ground, to feed my copper, when it’s not that much effort to run a few extra meters of fibre all the way to my house. Possibly cheaper too, but either way, given there is virgin cable in the area too, surly it’s the better option in investment terms, and trump virgin.

      If this trial is a success, I bet that’s what I’ll be getting. /wishful thinking.

    6. MikeW says:

      The usual reason for not going the last few metres into the house is because, while a short distance for one house, there are 27 million places to go.

      In total, they’d use more fibre cable in the DP-home sections than in extending from the PCPs to the DPs.

    7. wirelesspacman says:

      I love the way they say they will “push a thin rope” down the duct. Am sure they cannot quite mean that! Blow a thin rope perhaps, but push one?!?

    8. Steve Jones says:

      I suspect they will push through some form of thin, very flexible rod and use that to put a “draw string” in (I suspect it will fall a bit short of a rope, but then how thick is a piece of rope?). No doubt they will trial several ways. Often, until it’s tested in the real world, nobody really knows how effective it will be. That why trials are run.

  7. MikeW says:

    This place might be relatively rare in the UK: standard suburban density, but with no superfast capability, even BDUK funded. An EO-only exchange in suburbia.

    It probably offers BT an interesting place to trial any new process, a little like MK of 6 years ago.

    I’d agree that the FoD2 processes seem to be likely. Presumably it also happens to be convenient to do this in a place where they didn’t already have a BDUK contract, so it doesn’t muck up funding. With a happy side-effect that it plays with UKB and VM.

    1. FibreFred says:

      Yep I’m guessing it will use pre terminated fibre something that should have been trialled before tbh

  8. fastman says:

    its not an EO only exchange there are lots of copper cabs in Haydon Wick but there may also be quite a lot of EO as well

    1. MikeW says:

      Hmmm. Codelook doesn’t think there are any cabinets, but the DSL checker says there is. Oh well.

      The exchange area looks to be incredibly compact.

  9. Haydon Wick Resident says:

    The area in question has some 6000 homes all of which are ducted all the way to the home. These are all less than 13 years old and suffer very low Broadband speeds. The deployment is being tested to confirm commercial viability with the hope that it will then proceed to do more homes within the area.

    The current HW Exchange does not have a fibre capability and no cabinets have FTTC Openreach are talking to both Sky and Talk Talk to bring them onboard as mist of the houses in the trial area are with thise providers already.

    1. Steve Jones says:

      That all makes a lot of sense. I imagine that the residents are hoping this proceeds as quickly as possible. It’s not necessarily something that is easily repeatable as for every development with infrastructure like that (which is almost made for FTTP), there are going to be many more with awkward mixes of direct buried, overhead delivery and so on.

      In any event, for this situation it makes a lot more sense than building new cabinets just to deliver VDSL or g.fast.

    2. Steve Jones says:

      nb. I should add that both Sky and TalkTalk have been very reluctant to support GEA-FTTP, despite the interconnections and ordering being similar to GEA-FTTC. That’s despite all their talk about OR not delivering FTTP. OK, the market might only be a few hundred thousand lines so far, but they really ought to show some support.

    3. MikeW says:

      The ducting makes sense with the FAQ. I wonder whether there is something special about the way ducting has been used there – that makes this trial different. Direct ducts, instead of swept-Tees, perhaps?

    4. wirelesspacman says:

      The only thing that makes this different is that UKB won the BDUK money. The rest is just window dressing by BT to try and cover up what it is really up to having previously declared no intention to do anything there.

    5. Steve Jones says:


      This is only a trial, not a full comercial roll-out and only covers a small proportion of the area. Operators can only prevent intervention in the OMR if there are credible commercial plans within a reasonable time frame. It’s that very rigidity the B4RN have complained about which they say also prevented them from responding to OMRs in their area.

    6. New_Londoner says:

      @Steve Jones
      The lack of support of FTTP by Sky and TalkTalk, the delays in either to sell FTTC, and focus of TalkTalk to sell 40Mbps FTTC show the true motivation of both companies. That is, create a PR smokescreen whilst sweating their LLU assets for as long as possible.

      In my view, TalkTalk in particular is undercapitalised and hoping to be purchased. Hence it’s continuing under investment in its network- for example its woefully poor cybersecurity defences. It talks a good story but actions speak louder than words, any company that fund dividends by borrowing is in big trouble.

  10. fastman says:

    be interesting to see what the Cps do once the network is in place

  11. John Webster says:

    I have read all the above comments, and am not worried about the arguments. All I know is that my street is named as one of those to be trialed, I am with BT, my current broadband is very flaky, and I hope I will be able to sign up sooner rather than later for something decent. As well as no fibre here, either to the cabinet or premises, nor any Virgin Media, I welcome the trial. The 4G broadband which Swindon Council is going for would be a very poor relation, so I hope this will be abandoned.

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