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Farewell to BT’s Unloved 2Mbps Rural Broadband Enabling Technology

Saturday, July 30th, 2016 (1:03 am) - Score 2,169

Openreach (BT) has informed ISPs of their intention to stop deploying Broadband Enabling Technology (BET) to additional exchanges. The service could be used to extend the reach of a 1-2Mbps DSL line up to around 10km from a local telephone exchange, provided you had very deep pockets.

The BET solution (aka – SHDSL) was originally revived in 2009/10 as a possible method for meeting the government’s 2Mbps for all Universal Service Commitment (USC), which was useful because normal pure copper ADSL broadband services would typically run into performance difficulties when asked to work on lines over around 5-6.5km in length.

In practice there were problems with BET and it was only deployed at a limited number of telephone exchanges, such as in several parts of remote rural Scotland and a few other similarly isolated areas around England and Wales. The biggest issue was one of cost, with the basic connection fee on an existing SMPF (LLU) line reaching £600 +vat and that was only for the 1Mbps option.

Similarly the 2Mbps option could attract a connection fee of £900 +vat and that’s before you consider that it was a bonded solution, requiring two lines and a rental fee on top. Suffice to say that the majority of ISPs showed no interest and very few people actually ended up using it.

More recently Openreach has been busy expanding the reach of their 21st Century Network and FTTC/P based “fibre broadband” services, which are expected to cover the vast majority of the United Kingdom by 2019 (around 97% will be able to receive “superfast” speeds of 24-30Mbps+). On top of that alternative networks are working to fill in the gaps, which makes BET largely obsolete.

A Spokesperson for Openreach told ISPreview.co.uk:

“Openreach can confirm that, from the end of October, it will no longer be making its Broadband Enabling Technology (BET) product available from any additional exchanges. Existing customers supported by BET will not be affected.

This legacy product was originally designed to provide a better service to those customers served by long lines who experienced very slow speeds or no broadband service at all.

There has been little demand for the product in recent years as it has long since been superseded by Openreach’s roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband. This has helped to bring superfast speeds to more than nine out of ten UK premises.

Our fibre roll-out continues while we’re also supporting the Government’s ambition to deliver a 10Mbps broadband USO to the final few per cent of premises that don’t have access to fibre today. We stand ready to help and have identified a technology which could provide a solution, under the right circumstances.”

A migration path to FTTC does exist for BET customers and so we wouldn’t be surprised to see plenty of upgrades as Openreach extend further into remote areas, which may eventually result in BET being completely withdrawn.

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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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12 Responses
  1. Cecil Ward says:

    How does FTTC help users who are on a copper line > 10 km long?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      FTTC (VDSL2) does not work in the same way as ADSL. With ADSL you’re dealing with copper line length from the distant exchange, while with FTTC you’re dealing with a shorter length from a much more local fibre-fed street cabinet.

    2. tonyp says:

      VDSL from street cabinet doesn’t really answer the Exchange Only Line problem where a user is served by the exchange and no street cabinet.

    3. TheFacts says:

      Many exchanges now have cabinets outside them for EO lines close to the exchange.

    4. TheFacts says:

      Also cabinets appearing away from the exchange for EO lines and long FTTC lines.

  2. Kits says:

    What help is this when many live to far from the cabinet? I have a friend her cabinet is FTTC ready but she is to far from the cabinet what they doing for these people she stuck on 3meg down at best. 20CN exchange.
    BT have failed to keep with other countries because they keep the copper instead of ripping it out and weighing it in.

    1. FibreFred says:

      So other countries have ripped put copper and provided fttp to rural areas at great cost? Which countries are these?

    2. Andrius says:

      Well, for example Lithuania has 95% FTTP coverage. It is not Scotland but still, 95% means most of the rural areas are connected with fibre. On the other hand in Scotland not even it’s capital has FTTP… So basically you pay three times as much as in Lithuania for 1/10 of an upload speed (and at least 1/20 of upload speed).

    3. najaB says:

      I know I’m late to the party here, but Andrius’ comment shows the danger of quoting statistics. Lithuania has 96% FTTP coverage. Okay, by ‘coverage’ do you mean 96% of the population or 96% geographically? It’s a key difference as nearly 2/3 of the population lives in urban areas. Since Scotland was mentioned, not only is Scotland some 50% bigger again than Lithuania, it also has a lot of areas of low population density.

      Taking the Highlands area you have a population density of 9.1/sqkm as compared to 45/sqkm in Lithuania. So it’s a very different beast indeed.

  3. fastman says:

    a number of Communities have cofounded cab with openreach where they are far for the exchange

  4. Ignition says:

    This was very much one of those things that made you wonder just how much more money BT would be willing to spend maintaining copper.

    At some point hopefully the regulatory and business environments will be such that we aren’t in the absurd situation where Openreach are employing more people to maintain a copper network that should be in the process of being obsolete rather than actually replacing it.

  5. Martin Lane says:

    FTTC is no fix for Rural Scotland. My exchange distance is 6.5km and I get a paltry 1.3Mb/s. FTTC has been installed in my cabinet but they won’t even try. All I get is “your phone line is too long for superfast broadband” I’m 3.5km away from my cabinet so no help there.

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