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ISP PlusNet Gives First UK BT FTTP Broadband Customer Speeds of 77Mbps

Posted: 20th Jul, 2010 By: MarkJ
plusnet uk logo and FTTP ISP speedsISP PlusNet has today revealed limited details about the first customer in the UK to go live on BT Openreach's Fibre-to-the-Premises ( FTTP ) fibre optic broadband internet service trials. The news follows just a day after we revealed that BT's late 100Mbps FTTP pilots had finally got underway (here).

Obviously PlusNet wouldn't be reporting this if it wasn't for the fact that the customer concerned, herbiejhopkins (forum title), also happens to be one of their own users. Happily an initial speedtest showed that he was able to receive the following performance (latency times to the BBC website were rated as just 5-6ms [milliseconds]):
First Live FTTP Customer Speeds (Megabits per second)
Download Rate: 77Mbps
Upload Rate: 15Mbps
The numbers are impressive, though obviously such figures could drop once thousands of people begin using the service over the next few years. BT's existing £2.5bn plan will see approximately 2.5 Million homes and businesses receiving FTTP connections by the end of 2012, with slower 40Mbps FTTC solutions covering the bulk of BT's wider NGA deployments, reaching 66% of the UK population by 2015.

PlusNet's Dave Tomlinson blogged:

"We have about a dozen customers currently lined up in Milton Keynes to go on the trial and will be contacting other customers in the trial area to see if they would like to take part later in the trial. If you are in the area please feel free to post in our trial forum and we can check if you’re in one of the trial areas.

FTTP offers speeds of up to 100Mbps down and currently up to 15Mbps up (the upstream will be increased later in the trial). Unlike existing DSL broadband services there’s no copper involved in the connection, an engineer will run fibre optic cable direct to your home. As such certain limitations on copper such as the speed decreasing the further you are from the exchange are no longer an issue.

Is 100Mbps overkill? What will people find to do with 100Mbps? It’s hard to say, from an application point of view what services will make best use of speeds that high? File downloads will benefit of course and the faster upload will really help people that send large files or host services. Our first thoughts on the faster downloads will be the benefits it gives to people with slower speeds.

For those with speeds under 2-3Mbps on DSL the difference will be huge. Where in the past they may have struggled to watch online video for example they can now watch iPlayer HD with ease and also download files at the same time and have someone else in the household play games or watch another HD stream at the same time."

The ISP's next batch of FTTP customers are expected to go live on the trial in the next couple of weeks and several other internet service providers are also known to be involved. Naturally this is just a very limited set of pilots and commercial availability is still some months away.

Meanwhile PlusNet has also furnished the media with a small update concerning its Fibre-to-the-Cabinet ( FTTC ) trial. Services based off this 'up to' 40Mbps tech from BT are already commercially available from several ISPs, such as BT , Eclipse Internet , Fast.co.uk , IDNet , AAISP and others, though PlusNet has not yet launched a product of its own.

PlusNet's Dave Tomlinson added:

"Our trial is still ongoing, we now have about 65 customers on the FTTC trial. The results of the trial are very promising with most of our customers seeing download speeds above 30Mbps down and 6Mbps up."

Increasingly though there is a problem with FTTC services that has not got much coverage. Just because your exchange might be enabled for these new NGA service(s) from BT does not mean to say you will be able to get them.

With FTTC it is not just a matter of upgrading the exchange but you also have to upgrade a huge number of street side cabinets too, thus the availability dates can be misleading and some areas may also be left out in the cold. It's too early to tell how much of a problem this could become, if any.
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