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BT Openreach UK Claims FTTC Broadband Can Do 100Mbps

Posted: 03rd Mar, 2010 By: MarkJ
fibre optic cableThe boss of BT Openreach, which is responsible for ensuring that all rival ISPs have equality of access to BT's local UK network, has claimed that its fibre optic based up to 40Mbps FTTC broadband technology "can achieve peak information rates of 100Mbits/sec". He also warned that demand for peak data rates of 1Gbps (Gigabits per second), as touted by its rival Fibrecity ( i3 Group ) in Bournemouth, will eventually surface but probably not for "a long time" yet.

Fibre-to-the-Cabinet technology ( FTTC ) delivers a fast fibre optic link to the operators street level cabinets, while the remaining connection - between cabinets and businesses - is done using VDSL2 (similar to current ADSL broadband but faster over short distances) through existing copper cable; FTTC will initially deliver speeds of up to 40Mbps (uploads 2-10Mbps).

BT Openreach's CEO, Steve Robertson, told PC Pro magazine's interview:

"Q. With Virgin Media announcing its 100Mbits/sec service will be live by the end of the year and initiatives such as Fibrecity offering bursting speeds of up to 1Gbit/sec in some areas, how confident are you that BT can compete with those speeds?
------------------------------

A. I think we will be able to keep up with Virgin and Fibrecity. Clearly our [up to 40Mbits/sec] fibre-to-the-cabinet offering is more limited than Fibrecity. However, we know that we can achieve peak information rates of 100Mbits/sec on fibre-to-the-cabinet. We know that, if you take the full quoted speed on fibre-to-the-premises, we know we can do a Gigabit.

There’s an obsession with access speed, but when I look at the world from an Openreach perspective, the last thing I’ll actually be worried about is access speeds. Even if we’re talking about 20, 30, 40Mbits/sec access speeds, to actually give the end user a true 30 or 40Mbits/sec experience on an end-to-end basis, you very quickly get to issues around the backhaul network, the way that the server structure that supports the internet works, and a whole bunch of other things.

Access speed is really important... but it’s a lot more complex and richer discussion than just the obsession about headline speeds when it comes to the real end-user experience."

Sadly Robertson does not detail the restrictions of achieving 100Mbps over FTTC, which until now was thought to have a maximum future download performance peak of 60Mbps (15Mbps upstream). We suspect that achieving that sort of performance, even over a short run of copper from the cabinet and into homes, would be quite difficult and only attainable by a very slim minority.

Likewise BT's faster 100Mbps FTTH / P technology will have a hard time keeping up with comparable products from Virgin Media UK. BT's current target for the summer of 2012 is to reach 10 million homes (40% coverage) with a mix of FTTC and FTTH / P technology. However its faster FTTH / P solution will only reach 2.5 million homes, which compares poorly with Virgin's ability to reach roughly half of the country.
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