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BT Update on LR-VDSL Broadband Speeds, XdB, FTTP and FTTC Progress

Thursday, June 8th, 2017 (12:00 pm) - Score 5,058

A recent meeting between ISPs and BT has yielded fresh information on the expected performance of Openreach’s new Long Reach VDSL (FTTC) broadband tech, as well as some updates on their XdB trials, FTTP roll-out progress and a few hints about other changes.

Firstly, the event revealed a few small tidbits of new information about existing progress and deployments. For example, BT confirmed that their Gigabit cable Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) network had already achieved a Total Homes Passed coverage of 400,000+ premises and they expect to reach an additional 244,000 between now and April 2018 (part of the current 2 million target for 2020).

Openreach has also introduced a number of expected improvements to their FTTP service, such as via the installation experience that now only requires a single visit and completion within 1 day. ISPreview also noted that the operator had issued a forecast for their future roll-out of slower Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology, which highlights how the pace is slowing as they reach smaller and more challenging rural areas (this is natural).

NOTE: Some Broadband Delivery UK contracts will also be drawing to an end in the below period, which has an impact.


Elsewhere they still expect to complete the XdB upgrade across their Huawei based FTTC network by September 2017 (full details). The upgrade allows their service to support target downstream noise margins of less than 6dB (current default), with the margin dropping to just 3dB on some lines. Speed increases of up to 9Mbps have been seen on some shorter lines and about 1.2 million lines are involved with the initial migration phase (started mid-May 2017).

We also got a small update on the progress of their FTTC focused Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SOGEA) trial, which is expected to enter the final pilot phase later this year and that should run until March 2018 (commercial launch to follow). This is Openreach’s product solution for giving consumers a standalone (naked) FTTC / VDSL “Fibre Broadband” line without the phone / voice service (more details here and here).

As part of that Openreach has become wise to the problem of “pair stealing” on SOGEA, which is something that cropped up all the way back in 2014 (here). This can occur when an already active broadband line is disrupted by an engineer (e.g. a third-party contractor like Kelly) who incorrectly takes over the line for use elsewhere (i.e. they might check for a “dial tone” first but this doesn’t exist with SOGEA).

The proposed solution for tackling pair stealing is a natural combination of better training and new tools (capable of detecting DSL signals).

LR-VDSL Performance

Last month Openreach issued an update on their plan to run a commercial pilot of FTTC style Long Reach VDSL technology, which could be used to support the Government’s proposed 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO) by pushing “fibre based” broadband out to 99% of the UK by 2020 (here). Since then ISPreview has been trying to get some fresh data on trial performance and happily that’s what we’ve snagged.

BT’s latest update hints of an “expectation” that average downstream speeds will increase by around 16Mbps at the point of strategic deployment, although the latest data from their on-going trials (excludes lines on the Clachan or Whitehouse exchanges) notes that the downstream improvement rates can range from just 0.1Mbps to 22Mbps.

However we’ve mentioned before that further improvements are on the way, which are expected to deliver better speeds but these won’t be signed-off by the ITU until late 2017 or early 2018. That’s all for now.

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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.
Leave a Comment
20 Responses
  1. Steve Jones says:

    Why, or why have Openreach produced that chart the way they did with the X axis being a trial identifier and the Y the speeds? If it had been plotted with the pre and post LR-DSL speeds on different axis, we could have observed any correlation. I would have expected those with the better speeds before to have gained the most, but it’s rather lost.

    1. MikeW says:

      Some graphs I came up with…

      Previous trial results, reordered, where the average improvement was 9.5Mbps:
      In that trial, 10 lines were below 24Mbps, and 6 were taken above that threshold by LR-VDSL.

      These trial results, reordered, where the average has been 7.5Mbps:

      In this trial, 38 lines were below 24Mbps, and 18 were taken above the threshold by LR-VDSL.
      For the USC, 7 lines were below 10Mbps, of which 6 were taken above the 10Mbps threshold.

    2. craski says:

      I input the values from the graph into Excel and can see that 35 of the 66 show an improvement of greater than 25%. Of those 35, all but one was achieving less than 30,000 Kbps Pre trial.

    3. Steve Jones says:

      Thanks, and its more useful. However, the correlation appears to be against the ordered line ID, and even if that is put into speed order it’s not quite the same as a before/after X-Y plot and correlation.

    4. Ultraspeedy says:

      @Mike your figures appear to be about right IMO, just looking at this quickly and doing very rough maths just in my head shows the average improvement on this chart is around 8-9Mb. There are small clusters in the chart like one near the middle for simple viewing that shows this best. (just left of centre does well just right does less so)

      I without counting them up individually and just looking would tend to agree its around half that show a significant improvement.
      Not so sure on the second part of the comment about all but one had 30Mb (too messy to see quickly) or more before the trial, though that is also possible.

      Could you share the spreadsheet you have produced, it would be interesting and the formula if any you have used could be used on other prior LR-VDSL trials as well as give people at least a VERY rough idea of what improvement they may see.

      Personally i think better speed is always aa good thing but and its a big BUT i do not see LR-VDSL being a 30+Mb enabler for those that can not already get 30Mb+ I hope it is only another stop gap for those a distance from a cabinet.

    5. MikeW says:

      “the correlation appears to be against the ordered line ID”

      Not sure what you mean here. My graphs came from putting BT’s data into a spreadsheet, line-by-line, then reordering. Sorting was done first by the before-speed, then by the after-speed. My X-axis is unrelated to BT’s original X-axis, so I’m not sure there is any correlation to be had.

      Nevertheless, I’ve altered the graph to come up with that Before-Vs-After scatter/bubble, with bubbles sized relative to the amount of increase.

      Does that help visualise it better?

    6. MikeW says:

      Something funny with rotation on that graph. Try this…

  2. MikeW says:

    Was there anything reporting on the project to replace 20CN with 21CN in all remaining exchanges?

  3. NGA for all says:

    Mark, – useful to see the plan for 878k, but where was plan for FTTP-infill, given it being referenced by BT in many public fora.

    If there is no plan for FTTP-in fill, then BT is returning all the capital deferral.

    1. CarlT says:

      There’s a section in the article mentioning 244k premises of FTTP between now and next year.

      Those FTTC premises are across BDUK and commercial programme. Nothing about BDUK mentioned specifically for obvious reasons – it’s irrelevant to CPs whether a build is BDUK or commercial.

    2. If you actually look at areas you will see them marked for native FTTP roll-out, so it is clear that lots more FTTP is on the way, though if you don’t look you won’t know about it.

    3. NGA for all says:

      Thanks Carl Missed that.

    4. NGA for all says:

      Andrew, which system are you referring too?

  4. When is Openreach going to do something about the aluminium network? I am less than 300 metres from the cabinet and the cabinet can only work on a 55/20 circuit despite me subscribing to BT Infinity 2. An attempt to switch to an appropriate speed circuit led to too many issues and that experiment was quickly stopped!

    1. CarlT says:

      If you mean replacing it with copper they aren’t.

  5. James says:

    Well this is all great if you live in their areas they like to upgrade. When they do something to my town I will be impressed. I could lick the NGA it’s so close to my window – and yet 80 is all wee can get – no Virgin around here!

    1. James says:

      I went to Norway last week for a business conference, lets just say I wanted to take the internet connection home with me!

    2. CarlT says:

      Most people are quite content on 80. There’s still a lot of properties to be upgraded from ADSL.

  6. Alan says:

    I pity the poor individual on that chart that prior to LR-VDSL had about 6Mb and after LR-VDSL still only had about 7Mb.

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