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Shropshire Includes Wireless Under its Fibre Based Broadband Definition

Friday, April 8th, 2016 (12:05 am) - Score 426

Over the year’s we’ve talked a lot about the different ways in which Government’s and operators choose to define terms like “fibre broadband” and now the local authority in Shropshire has managed to water it down further by adding wireless connections into the mix.

According to the local authority’s response to a recent Market Engagement effort for future broadband expansion, “Shropshire Council has an aspiration to connect all its businesses and households with access to fibre*1 based broadband, with as many as possible having access to Superfast Broadband” (here). A closer look at that asterisk reveals the following.

Shropshire’s Definition of Fibre Based Broadband

*1 Fibre based broadband is simply a broadband internet connection which uses fibre optic backhaul somewhere between the premise and the exchange. This can include various technologies including fixed wireless and traditional copper/fibre variants.

The debate over what type of connections can and cannot be included under the term “fibre” isn’t going away any-time soon. The purists usually maintain that it should only apply to true fibre optic connections (FTTP/H) that deliver the optical line all the way to your doorstep, while the big ISPs believe that it can also be used alongside hybrid-fibre services that also make use of some metal copper / coax cables (FTTC / DOCSIS etc.).

But until now we’ve at least been able to count on “fibre” being broadly a term that was used to describe fixed line solutions. In fairness this is really just Shropshire encouraging a technology neutral approach to future deployments, which is a good thing to see and future roll-out phases will hopefully make more use of fixed wireless connections when tackling remote rural areas.

Never the less we could do with less dilution of the term, not more. France recently took a very tough line on such things (here).

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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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8 Responses
  1. This is no-less dodgy that describing copper or aluminium wires as fibre.

    Don’t know why ADSL2+ can’t be described as fibre broadband though?
    If there was fibre to the exchange, and a new FTTC cab appears right outside the exchange to convert the exchange only lines, how come the ADSL2+ service is not fibre, yet the FTTC services 2-10m away are fibre.

    I’m being pedantic, but in the marketing world fibre sounds better. Can’t wait to hear how the majority of ISPs describe FTTP services.

  2. Avatar Optimist says:

    Who cares what technology is used? It’s the performance that matters – reliability, bandwidth, latency. And of course cost!

    1. Avatar High-Fibre-Diet says:

      Sounds like the thinking that must have gone on at a certain food manufacturer before they decided that their customers were unlikely to care what meat was actually used in their ‘beef’ burgers… after all its only the taste that matters!

  3. Avatar DTMark says:

    “Fibre” appears to be the new name for “broadband”. Neither implies any particular performance level.

    It is highly convenient for major providers with copper based networks to be able to sell their products as fibre, obfuscating the key USP the customer could use to easily discern the difference between copper and true FTTP networks and make a choice between them.

    And it will make it extremely difficult in future for anyone to market “fibre” as a selling point since it has been permitted to become meaningless.

  4. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    The word “fibre” in the phrase “fibre broadband” indicates that there is optical fibre at least part of the way from the exchange to premises. There are a number of defined variants, including FTTC, FTTB and FTTP. Despite the posts of some on here, there is no reason to limit the phrase to any one of these.

    If it matters to you as a potential customer of such a service then do some simple research to find out what you are buying – whatever happened to caveat emptor? Or do we have to dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator now?

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      “including FTTC, FTTB and FTTP..”

      You’ve left out 3G, 4G and wireless.

      If those cannot be included because they do not have “exchanges” then presumably Virgin’s “fibre” network cannot be included either because that doesn’t have “exchanges” either in the classic BT sense.

      I think the definition being limited to “fibre to the premises” is rather clearer and more meaningful.

  5. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    @DTMark
    I don’t see the relevance to mobile/wireless as the presence of fibre doesn’t impact on the performance to the user, unlike FTTC etc. I’m pretty sure the wording of the ITU definitions would encapsulate cable (eg the US generally refers to a “central office” rather than exchange).

    In any case, my point remains: why dumb everything down, why not expect people to do basic research on what they are buying if the details matter to them?

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      If “exchange” is a requirement, then all alt-net FTTP is arguably not in fact “fibre”.

      “Fibre” is being used as a clear differentiator which implies (and is designed to imply) a particular level of (uplifted) performance rather like “broadband” versus “dial up”.

      The customer might infer that “fibre” would be faster then 3G, for example, because of the usage of the term, while mobile providers cannot claim “fibre”.

      And yet here the “fibre” comes equally close to the premises give or take 50m.

      Can it only be “fibre” if it involves copper wires? 😉

      Regarding the customer doing basic research: here as an example, the speed estimate for VDSL is between 11 and 29 Meg (it falls steadily as time goes on, was once 16 to 36, the line plant ages before our very eyes even in a year).

      How fast will it be?

      If it were fibre, then of course, the “line rate” would be as fast as the one sold with the package.

      Since it isn’t, nobody knows.

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