By: MarkJ - 11 January, 2011 (11:31 AM)
Broughton Digital Village Pump ukvtesse uk broadband ispThe consumer internet access arm for the national Vtesse Networks fibre optic networking specialist, ISP Vtesse Broadband UK, has officially switched-on a new generation of 'up to' 1Gbps (Gigabits per second) capable ultra-fast Fibre-to-the-Home ( FTTH ) services in the rural village of Broughton (Cambridgeshire).

The project itself was first announced last July 2010 (here) and had originally been expected to go live during the Autumn of that same year, although it appears to have taken a little longer than anticipated to deploy. Still, despite the delay, residents who could previously only receive sub-Megabit speeds can now get a 10Mbps link for £25 per month or 100Mbps for £55.

Aidan Paul, CEO of Vtesse, said:

"Broughton was chosen as it lies close to one of Vtesse’s arterial fibre optic routes, making the cost of bringing fibre to the community acceptable. Our community fibre distribution model uses telephone poles to carry dedicated fibres from our local broadband exchange directly to each home. There is no fibre sharing and every connected home has a dedicated fibre service.

With the unlimited capacity that fibre offers we are able to offer our Broughton customers services that range from an entry level 10Mbit/second through to a world beating symmetric 1,000Mbit/second (a.k.a. 1 Gigabit/second). We think that the combination of fibre overhead pole delivery to consumer premises and gigabit speeds is a UK first."

It's understood that the later than expected arrival of Vtesse's service might be at least partly attributable to the villages "complex" broadband problems. Broughton residents are 5km or more away from their serving telephone exchange in Warboys, meaning that BT couldn't provide a fast connection and many were even left with only an ancient dialup link.

To compound the issue, the street side cabinet serving the majority of the community was also nearly 2Km from the residents. As a result, an 'up to' 40Mbps Fibre to the Cabinet ( FTTC ) service was impractical; FTTC depends on very short copper line lengths and VDSL2 to deliver its higher speeds.

Ultimately Vtesse deemed that the only practical solution was to run a true fibre optic line to every home. Its higher initial cost is in part offset by the fact that it will provide a competitive level of service that will endure for at least 20 years compared to the potentially shorter life span of FTTC.

Broughton resident Nick Moulton commented:

"Vtesse has provided us with an impressively fast and consistent service, which is a huge step forward for us. For years we have treated our use of the internet as a necessary evil, often waiting minutes on dial-up for simple page updates that may or may not complete.

Streaming services or anything requiring large downloads were effectively unavailable to us. With the new service, everything becomes pretty much instantaneous, letting us focus on the content rather than the frustration that our old service delivered. Well done Vtesse!"

Sadly Vtesse Broadband had to install brand new telegraph poles to do the job, in spite of the existence of suitable existing poles owned by BT and the local electricity distribution company. The ISP felt that the protracted industry debate about pole sharing currently taking place with the regulator, Ofcom UK, was unlikely to produce a workable outcome for many months yet.

Vtesse revealed last December 2010 that it had decided to stall further rural deployment projects until the wider regulatory issues could be fully resolved (here). Naturally Broughton was already in-progress before that announcement, although the problems have impacted their plans to expand through similar "Final Third" communities in Hertfordshire, Wiltshire and Cornwall.
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