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Openreach Trial SRA On UK FTTC Superfast Broadband Lines Again UPDATE

Monday, April 16th, 2018 (4:16 pm) - Score 2,884
openreach_fttc_street_engineer_female

Openreach (BT) has announced that they intend to conduct a new Proof of Concept (PoC) to test the impact of applying Seamless Rate Adaption (SRA) to their 40-80Mbps capable VDSL2 based Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) broadband lines, which could help to keep such lines stable.

At this point anybody familiar with SRA will possibly raise a wry smile, after all it’s not the first time that Openreach have tried to adopt it and indeed it’s already been implemented on their new hybrid-fibre G.fast service. The operator also tried to adopt it as part of their Long Reach VDSL (LR-VDSL) trial but that has now been shelved (here).

Prior to that the last time that we saw SRA being attempted on Openreach’s hybrid fibre VDSL2 tech was as part of their Vectoring trials between 2014 and 2015 (vectoring is designed to remove crosstalk interference and thus improve performance), which ran into a fair few development challenges and only ever resulted in a highly targeted deployment of Vectoring (the SRA component of that trial was not a big problem).

SRA helps to keep lines stable by varying the speed more effectively. A more technical explanation is to say that SRA can be used to “reconfigure the total data rate by modifying the framing parameters and the bits and fine gains parameters“. If the noise condition improves then SRA can be used to gradually increase the data rate again, potentially taking it all the way back up to what you had before a nasty bit of sudden noise impacted the line.

The good news is that Openreach are going to try SRA on VDSL2 again, albeit this time by itself rather than alongside Vectoring or any other more dramatic changes. Took them long enough.

Openreach Statement

This briefing is to inform CPs that we’ll be testing the impact of applying Seamless Rate Adaption (SRA) on FTTC VDSL2

SRA will vary the speed of a line as noise margin changes, whereas today on NGA1, if the noise margin drops beyond a certain threshold, the line will retrain. Openreach will be running a proof of concept to prove the benefits of this change.

As usual the full briefing is private but we should be able to add some extra details soon, although there’s not a lot more that needs to be written about SRA. Hopefully this is one change that can be introduced without creating new headaches for Openreach’s ECI based kit (their Huawei kit usually doesn’t have quite so many problems). SRA has been around for awhile and is fairly well understood.

UPDATE 5:19pm

We understand from ISPs that the trial will take place on just 200 lines via Huawei cabinets, which will start around mid-May and run until the end of June 2018. Apparently the trial will mostly involve Openreach’s own employees and their Network Operations Centre will then apply SRA line by line (Dynamic Line Management (DLM) will also be disabled).

Assuming all goes well then the prospect exists for a larger trial of around 100,000 lines, which could begin around September and run until the end of this year.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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40 Responses
  1. Tim

    All they really need to do is stop capping the speeds. I had a line that connected at 80Mbps for over a year. The max line rate reports at 85Mbps yet it’s capped to 67Mbps… I bet it’s even worse for those that have poor/long lines!

    • Mike

      Welcome to DLM another of their dumb systems that has never 100% properly worked.

    • Rahul

      This is exactly why we need Fibre to The Premises. This is the only real solution especially for buildings like my own where I live in a 20 floor high rise building that’s 800 meters faraway from the exchange.

      This is the reason why I don’t even have FTTC supported yet. The exchange is too far away and the max speeds that would be theoretically possible would be around 28Mbps if FTTC was supported on an 800 meter long distance.

      The max speed I get was 16.60 Mbps with stardard broadband. But of-course due to long lines in my case I have issues with noise margins. So my speed has to be capped to around 14 Mbps only then my internet connection is stable.

      Noise margins can drastically drop from 10dB to as low as 3dB and then back to 10 again. If I try to achieve max download speeds and the noise margins get capped to 3dB or 6dB the line simply cannot cope hence the intermittent disconnection will occur!

      This is why FTTP is so essential particularly in high rise buildings. FTTC is not enough and the same problems from before will simply carry over. I also received an email from BT Openreach a few days ago….

      “Hello Rahul,

      Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding.

      I’ve had a look into this for you and can see that your property is connected directly from the (BISHOPSGATE) exchange, without going through a green cabinet. This is called an ‘exchange only line’.

      Sadly, Exchange only lines are one of the small numbers of properties we can’t currently provide fibre to. However, the good news is that there is an ongoing project to divert your line through a traditional green cabinet, which will allow you to order fibre broadband once completed.

      But, as I’m sure you’ll appreciate, installing fibre is a technical complex civil engineering project. When we plan fibre jobs we have to take into account all aspects of the work required and give realistic timescales, so with this in mind we can’t give you any completion dates just yet.”

      That’s not good news at all especially since BT Openreach don’t even have a specific timescale date. My prediction would be that I’ll have to wait 10-15 years just to have FTTC from BT Openreach, lmfao!

      With BT Openreach expecting wide expansion of FTTP is very unrealistic. It will take 20-30 years and that’s not an exaggeration by any stretch of the imagination.

    • TheFacts

      @Rahul – why have you not tried other suppliers?

    • GNewton

      @TheFacts: Why do you care?

    • Rahul

      @TheFacts: As we have discussed before I have tried with other suppliers such as Hyperoptic. Main problem as mentioned in another article Dana Tobak, CEO of Hyperoptic, said:

      “One of our biggest challenges is actually getting wayleaves in local authority buildings..

      I am in exactly this situation right now. It has been since February 2015 where all 30+ building residents have registered their interest. I am in stage 3 Awaiting building permission

      “We are yet to receive permission to install Hyperoptic Full Fibre broadband to your building.”

      As we know this is the biggest problem we have right now, it’s a potential problem every building resident faces. If Building permission from authorities/managers were more spontaneous, this would’ve definitely forced more competition and BT Openreach wouldn’t be attempting to just upgrade to FTTC.

      BT Openreach obviously realise that many other Fibre ISP companies also have the problem expanding their Fibre networks to residential buildings where granting permission is not as buttery smooth as we initially thought. So BT have decided that they’ll just settle for FTTC since FTTP is so low in coverage right now BT know very well that no ambition is needed from their part in expanding FTTP as most of us will have to settle for FTTC as this is the best we would get in the current state.

      Regardless of other Fibre suppliers taking initiative, BT Openreach will always potentially remain an obstacle/burden in its current state of monopoly until and unless more stricter measures can be taken against them to stop their misuse.

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      @Rahul My understanding from your post is that you’re in local authority housing. I can tell you that it’s much worse for those who are in private housing, so count yourself lucky.

    • Rahul

      @JustAnotherFileServer: No I’m not in a local authority housing… Mine is a leaseholder’s apartment property which my parents bought over a decade ago when house prices were much cheaper back then. My building was under council management back then but is now privatised.

      So of-course I’m not lucky when it comes to Fibre Broadband availability. Lucky to have a leaseholder’s property but not lucky when it comes to Fibre broadband availability considering the fact that I live near the City of London. We have 2 other leaseholder’s properties as well and they too don’t have Fibre yet. This is why the 95% Fibre figure is grossly over-exaggerated and that’s FTTC. The FTTP support comes to under 4% in the UK.

      Of-course this is a problem for existing leaseholders because it’s impractical to move elsewhere just for Fibre broadband nor am I a tenant to easily move to another place with fast broadband.

      As I have discussed this on a few occasions in the past. Even if there was a property elsewhere with Fibre, there are other factors to consider, such as location, transport facilities, shopping facilities, size of apartment, balconies, noise, etc.

      My flat (room sizes) are relatively big for Central London. All the positive tick boxes are checked except for high speed broadband. Many places where there is fibre broadband supported, the apartment and rooms are so small like lifts. It would be of-course ludicrous to move in to a new flat just for Fibre but have rooms that are so small in size. For now I can only hope that one day Fibre will eventually be supported in my building. I wouldn’t want to leave this place just for Fibre and then face other side effects such as small rooms in another property, that would be an irrational decision. 🙂

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      @Rahul I know a lot of people who have moved out of Central London and have been much happier for it. Considering you’ve got a leasehold property in Central London, you could get a nice 4 bed detached property just 20 mins by train to Central London for the same money (with fibre). I know what I’d rather have.

    • TheFacts

      @Rahul – what is the misuse by Openreach? You say no other supplier is interested in your property.

    • GNewton

      @TheFacts: Short attention span here? Rahul already answered your question.

      If you yourself don’t like your broadband provision, you can always get in touch with other providers, or move to another place.

    • Mike

      “@Rahul …….. Considering you’ve got a leasehold property in Central London, you could get a nice 4 bed detached property just 20 mins by train to Central London for the same money (with fibre). I know what I’d rather have.”

      More nonsense posting from a reg. BT wiener, you do not know what the value of his property is, or what other property sizes he could afford. Unless you are now also an estate agent, have his address, and have been round to value his property.
      AKA Stop talking crap.

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      @Mike I always see you posting insults rather than reading and then posting sensible comments. If you had read anything, then you would know that he had posted his location and the fact he owned several properties in the Central London area. It doesn’t take an estate agent to work out that he could get something better else where with Fibre included for the money he has available.

    • Mike

      “………money he has available.”

      You’re an idiot, just because he lives in London does not mean he has excess money available. You do not know the value of his property either so STFU

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      @Mike Maybe you should leave this website until you’ve got your anger issues in check.

    • Rahul

      @JustAnotherFileServer: While I agree that I can find a cheaper 4 bedroom flat with Fibre. But it’s easier said than done. We don’t need a 4 bedroom flat, I live in a 3 bedroom flat and that’s enough since my family are total 3 people only. I don’t have brothers or sisters.

      My flat is within 10-15 minutes walk to City of London and Tower Bridge. This is where I’ve lived my whole life. My working place as a Junior Designer is also within 20 minutes walk to Old Street.
      Outside Central London it would take 50 minutes to an hour to get to work even with train. Finding a job immediately that is in a convenient location after moving elsewhere is not easy particularly as a Graphic Designer where it took me more than 2 years after graduation to get to a Junior position after working in Freelance and Internship positions.

      Also selling a property and buying elsewhere is again associated with expenditure, such as new apartment decoration, laminate flooring, kitchen worktop, moving in furniture’s, etc.

      Also you might get Fibre optic in a detached low rise apartment. But have you also considered other potential problems such as flooding issues and problems with rats? My friend who lives in a property in Catford told me he has problems with flooding and rats entering his apartment from time to time. Now living in a high rise block I have no rats and no flooding issues last 28+ years. Now if I have Fibre but I have problems with flooding and rats then it’s a deal-breaker! All that hassle, energy moving to a new home just for Fibre would be a waste of time.

      We have considered all of these issues. Property value is also going up and eventually we know Fibre will come it’s just a case of when. Actually there are property blocks within 5-10 minutes walk from my block with Full Fibre from Hyperoptic but A) Rooms are small and B) Property costs a million pounds. My property value at the moment is between £500,000-£700,000 but with much larger rooms. We bought it for £96,000 over a decade ago. It would make no sense to sell that and buy a property for a million pounds or go to a place like Dagenham just for Fibre even if that property costs less. There are other inconveniences to consider and advantages that I have right now which I will not get there. Also the property prices outside Central London wouldn’t increase as high as they would in Central London. That’s something else to consider as well!

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      @Rahul So you’ve found your comfort zone in Central London and it’s going to take a lot for you to move out of it. I hope one day you will find the courage to do so because the world is a big place and holds so many wonders.

      I’ve moved around a lot in my life time, but never had any problems with either rats or flooding. You sound like you’ve got a very interesting job and hope you have every success.

    • Rich

      Someones choice of where they live should have n bearing on what internet they can get.

      Rahul I suggest you stop trying to explain yourself to the troll.

    • TheFacts

      @Rich – or their ability to access a Waitrose.

    • Mike

      “@Mike Maybe you should leave this website until you’ve got your anger issues in check.”

      Maybe you should still just STFU

    • RepoMan

      @Mike I like how even after your comments get removed, you wait awhile and then try to repost them. #SendMikeToTrollRehab

    • Mike

      Blah blah #BTSausageThroater

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      I see Mr Hunt has been his rude self again

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      @Mike I hope you’re the one who setup that link as it records the users information. I know how much you like to troll this site about not liking people tracking you. HAHAHA

    • The American

      Mike nice to see you’ve graduated from kindergarten, hope you can make it at high school

    • Rich

      Poor Fibrederp. I hope you can one day make it out of your High Chair never mind the schooling part.

    • The American

      Rich, oh my bad I meant to say Mike (as you post with multiple names) the term Fibrederp is unknown to me

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      Don’t worry the American, every website has someone like Mike who trolls under different names

    • RepoMan

      @Mike again…………

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      I see Mike is still trolling

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      Keep trolling trolling trolling Mike. The Trolling Mike sounds like a good name for you

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      You’re still putting up comments after they are being taken down again. oh well, what ever turns you on I guess Mike the troll

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      Yes Mike, I forgot that the world needs to know that you spam links or trolls the internet, but then again do people care?

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      and there is me thinking you didn’t care

    • JustAnotherFileServer

      as you like to spam, I will just throw the eggs. hahahaha

  2. Phil

    Looking very much like those on ECI cabinets will not see SRA if it is deployed wider than a handful of staff. Give it 24 months for the trial to be expanded to a single exchange, another 36 months to see a rollout deployment that stops after a few weeks for more firmware tweaks, before it dies a death. Openreach should have had vectoring and SRA done and tested for the very first VDSL deployment, trying this stuff now is just for a bit of PR spin, it will never see the light of day.

    • TheManStan

      If I was OR, i’d put the ECI cabinets in the FTTP first list (FTTC area to FTTP conversion) as there appears to no benefit to expending time and money on any optimisation, given the history with vectoring and G.INP….

  3. John

    BT have given up on FTTP then. We won’t even get G.Fast by the looks of it, two 288 port Huawei cabs have just joined two full 288 port Huawei cabs around here. Why not add G.Fast instead, I bet the fact that most lines on the cabs are over 4-500M has something to do with it.

    All my hopes for faster upload are with VMs freshly installed FTTP but they show no signs of ovvering more than 20Mbps ATM. Would love an altnet to move in, your welcome anytime.

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