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BT Significantly Extends Coverage of UK Land Line Broadband Services

Posted: 15th Sep, 2009 By: MarkJ
BT has revealed the existence of Broadband Enabling Technology (BET), a new enhancement that aims to bring faster broadband services to remote and rural areas. Existing broadband ADSL based services become slow the further they are from a telephone exchange, with homes of 5 to 6.5km away suffering poor performance. By comparison BET claims it can deliver speeds of up to 1Mbps at distances approaching 12km!

Initial trials in Inverness and Dingwall, Scotland have been very successful, with lines of between 7km and 12km running stable 1Mbps services. Where a second copper line is available, lines can be bonded together to provide a 2Mbps (up to 1Mbps upload) service (note: this would be twice the cost, which could make it expensive).

BET itself is better known as Single-pair High-speed Digital Subscriber Line (SHDSL) technology, which is a cousin of the more familiar Symmetric DSL (SDSL, same speed both ways) service for businesses. SHDSL combines elements from ADSL to work using frequencies that are not as prone to deterioration over distance.

John Small, Managing Director, Service Delivery, Openreach said:

“We’re really excited about the potential of BET to extend broadband to the remaining not-spots. Thanks to BT’s past investment, the UK already boasts world leading broadband availability. By rolling out BET, we can help customers and assist the Government to realise its aim for a universal 2Mb/s broadband service.

We’re keen to work with local and regional authorities and other bodies with funding to discuss how the technology can be rolled out to their areas.”

As part of the initial pilot, BT Openreach will be rolling out the technology to a small number of lines in eight locations across the country. The BET equipment for the pilot is being installed by Openreach free of charge and the service will be available to UK ISPs on a fair and equal basis. The pilot will commence on 30th September.
BET Pilot locations:

Twyford - BERKSHIRE - South east england
Badsey - WORCESTERSHIRE - West midlands
Leyland - LANCASHIRE - North west england
WIGTON - CUMBRIA - North west england
Wymondham - NORFOLK - East of england
*Inverness Culloden - scotland
*Dingwall- scotland
BT Openreach will be contacting selected customers in each area to invite them to sign up for the pilot. Participating customers will still need to pay their broadband ISP for the service itself and there is some concern that the price may not be cheap, despite such obviously slower speeds.

BT claims that the service offers a more reliable solution for delivering broadband to remote and not-spot areas than Mobile Broadband or Satellite technologies, which is probably true.. for now. However BT has said that it will require more funding to meet the initial costs of deployment and is looking for partners to help it deliver the service.

Still we do have one question, SHDSL technology usually does not allow a voice line to be used at the same time and we are currently attempting to confirm whether BT's implementation has overcome this problem.

It's worth pointing out that BET is technically nothing new and has been offered to ISPs before, although many balked at the extra cost (well it’s not exactly fast for the money), hence why BT appears to be going it alone this time. Ideally BT would like to deploy BET to a wider audience and on a commercial basis from early next year.
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