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back to article BT opens wallet to send fibre to the home

BT will spend some £1.5bn on fibre optic cables to bring decent broadband to British homes and offices, provided Ofcom acts to protect its juicy margins. Regulator Ofcom made noises earlier this month suggesting it would move to protect BT if the telco did invest in a fibre network. A couple of weeks on, and hey presto, BT is …

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Required.

No matter how much I want FttH Im gonna stay away till they send Phorm to the dustbin!

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Coat

It does seem a bit odd ...

That BT can't protect their investment in fibre. Why should another teleco be allowed to sit back and let BT put all the infrastructure in place (i.e. the really hard expensive part) and then just piggy back on it.

I know that BT are evil but I don't see telecos demanding access to Virgin's cable infrastructure for nothing.

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Coat

I'm sure the toothless watchdog will side with customers

... just like they bravely faced up to BT over LLU deadlines.

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Bronze badge

Regulator Ofcom made noises earlier this month suggesting it would move to protect BT

"Whatever BT does, jsut so long as the numbered Swiss account is kept full"

See? I've fixed that article

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Paris Hilton

Going, going...

All those companies who invested in LLU can now watch their investments turn to dust.

Paris - because even she saw this coming.

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Paris Hilton

Finally..

the ability to get as far away from virgin media as possible!!!

Paris, because she enjoys the media circus

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Gil

Re: It does seem a bit odd ...

@ Anonymous Coward:

I think the difference is that BT's network was originally built by the state, but Virgin's network was financed entirely using private capital.

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Missing end of sentance?

"BT insisted that it would not be cherrypicking urban areas, but that the 100Mb network."

Anything more to add, or are BT's spokesweasles unable to finish a sentance?

@AC, I don't think anyone is demanding free acess to BT's new network, or ever has, only fair access to BT wholesale's products on the same terms as BT retail. Sadly the splitup of BT was bodged, leacing the UKs largest telco with effective control of the incombent (taxpayer funded) infrastructure. The split between BT wholesale and retail should have been much more absolute.

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Unhappy

OK, so

if they say they're going to do the countryside as well as the cities, how many years behind are they going to be? In my village people we only got the 'upto 2Mb' service (realisticly barely above 1Mb and in some cases 256kb) after the cities had started to get 8Mb.

I'm guessing we'll get it sometime around when the oil runs out....

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Unhappy

100Mbps

Great!

So, it will now only take about half an hour to hit your monthly "fair usage" limit on your "unlimited" account.

What a wonderful brave new world we live in where ISPs are eager to compete to get you the fastest connection possible, but with ever decreasing limits on how much data you can actually transfer.

Come back dial-up, all is forgiven!

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Unhappy

Gosh!

I could use-up my monthly download limit in seconds rather than hours, just think of the time it'll save me!

BTW BT, while it may be nice to have new shiny high-tech toys, please could you spend some of that money getting my Bloody phone line to work reliably!

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Anonymous Coward

@It does seem a bit odd ...

I can't say for definite, but I think it's something to do with BT being started or getting lots of grants with public money or something. Like I say I'm not sure, but I think that's the reason why BT aren't allowed to invest then keep it to themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

what is the point?

I mean, sure i could download a linux distro quicker, but there is only so much linux one man may ever need - and if I cant get a movie or a cd anymore due to the agreements being entered into with the recording industry then ill stick to my 24 down line.

pointless move by BT.

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Thumb Down

Re: It does seem a bit odd

"That BT can't protect their investment in fibre. Why should another teleco be allowed to sit back and let BT put all the infrastructure in place (i.e. the really hard expensive part) and then just piggy back on it."

...because aside from the new pull of fibre, all the rest of the infrastructure (ducts, cabs, copper to the house, systems, staff, vans etc) are all there broadly based on business grown when BT was a government owned monopoly. The same would be true for Virgin if their background was the same...

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Why?

Since my existing connection is already fast enough to support high quality video on demand, why do I need a faster one ? Seriously, can anyone think of a service that exceeds the data transfer requirements of streaming video, that I milght actually want ?

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Unhappy

@ What is the point?

Suits me. You can keep your 24 down line as you already have a reasonable connection.

They can come add the new tech in my neck-o-the-woods instead where the communication is still done using binder twine and two plastic cups. Maybe we can get a share of the 8Mbps+ action that the rest of the country is able to access but we cannot.

With luck, it'll tie in with the cheap offers that the rest of the country seems to get - am fed up of looking at Broadband options from BT, Orange, Sky etc that says get Broadband TV and talk for £18 a month, only to be told on applying that you aren't in the right part of the country and you can only have the broadband AND it'll cost you £5 extra a month for the privilege

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Stop

@Tim Schomer - Get BT to test your line

Its very easy to blame BT straight out the blocks. However I also live in the countryside and get a solid 7Mb link.

Look up where your nearest exchange is; http://www.samknows.com/broadband/search.php

Even if its a few miles away then make sure your own internal wiring is decent and remove the bell wire (google it)

See if your line speed improves (wait a couple of days)

If you still have a slow line and hear noise on your line when you lift the phone receiver, remove any extension sockets and if you still hear noise AND have tested its not your equipment making it, report it to BT as a noisy line.

See BT website, they will do some automatic checks and normally say nothing wrong, but then you can escalate the fault. ie. you state you will pay them if its your faulty equipment.

They will come out and check the wiring to your house, including the telegraph poles back to the exchange, sometimes the wiring gets damaged by tree branches.

BT were amazingly helpful when I reported the problem, they came out and traced the fault back to the cabinet. Climbing each pole to check the wire.

They even spoke about digging up the road but fortunately they found a spare unused pair in the cabinet and basically rewired me back to the exchange on new wires.

Noise gone and after a few days the line went up to 6mb and now holds at 7040kbps (live 3 miles from the exchange by car) I assume its shorter though for the wire!

Ensure that you check your internal wiring is decent first though, double check this, otherwise BT will charge you £100+ per hour if its your dodgy phone extension wiring causing the problem.

Also raising the fault on a nice sunny day helps to inspire the engineers to spend more time on fixing it!

Good Luck

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Flame

tiscali tv

At these speeds does it mean my tiscali TV will actually work?

Just had a spare axe to throw into the mix

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Anonymous Coward

Access for Nothing

"I don't see telecos demanding access to Virgin's cable infrastructure for nothing."

I don't see any telcos currently GETTING access to BT's copper cables for nothing either. Yes, they have the right to use them, but they have to PAY when they do.

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Joke

Village People?

"In my village people we only got the 'upto 2Mb' service (realisticly barely above 1Mb and in some cases 256kb) after the cities had started to get 8Mb."

Does that only apply to those at the YMCA?

//Try the steak, I'm here all week. etc, etc.

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Boffin

Monopoly money

Telecoms are a natural monopoly, like gas, electricity and water. The investment required is so huge that it makes sense only to do it once - you don't need 2 different power lines coming into your house, 2 different sewerage systems etc.

Therefore these things have to be regulated to stop them abusing their monopoly positions to charge high prices for substandard service. (In theory - in practice all government regulators are hugely inefficient and end up going native).

The model that has been struck upon for regulation of most of these industries is to split the retail end of the business off from the ownership of the infrastructure, then to lightly regulate the retail end (competition should do that for you) and heavily regulate the infrastructure, monopoly business. This is done (in a simpified way) by having a fixed return on investment allowable (say 15%).

However, this means we end up with creative responses such as this - play up the size of the investment to ensure you have a larger cost base on which you can charge your monopoly rent, then cut the size of the investment later to what is actually needed.

This is just the first salvo in a long negotiation between OFCOM and BT regarding what regulated cost base it is allowed. We should probably be examining how much it has cost other countries before judging anything that is said here with a forked tongue...

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Flame

err

The whole "faster internet" thing came about thanks to people downloading ridiculous amounts of porn, illegal music, copied games and pirated movies. Things like legal internet TV and Steam came about later.

So are they going to actively support these groundbreaking services, or just the later incremental ones?

Also, is all of this fibre traffic going to go through Phorm's servers?

Flame because if there's one thing Phorm's servers ever needed, it's that.

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Thumb Up

Upload speed?

what's the upload on one of these 100Mbps lines? Is it symmetric (as can be achieved using fibre)? If so, we may just be getting into a sweet-ass new world of... errr.. faster Youtube uploads.

Also, will this be another scam with a 1,000,000 to one contention ratio, or the wonderous 24/7/365 availability, uncapped, unlimited, unFUP-ed 1:1 contention ratioed, almost-orgasmically-good revolution that it really should be for the cost?

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Anonymous Coward

@ what is the point?

Yeah pointless, idiot.

Did you know that BBC1 on freeview broadcasts video at a bitrate of 15Mbps ?

Can you imagine video chats with people when the connection uses mpeg2 (or mpeg4, or h264) at that kind of bitrate ?

The only reason for download limits is that a high number of concurrent requests slow the servers down. There is a bottle neck in both the incoming and outgoing connection to the end user. Eliminate those bottlenecks and the whole system can run faster. Better ping times for online FPSs and higher quality audio and video are just the start.

If you are still thinking of the internet in terms of download capacity, then you are missing the boat. Why download then use a service, if you can just use that service ? Why "steal" copies of movies when it's quicker to watch it there and then ? (for a reasonable fee of course).

This is what the internet is destined to be - ubiquitous access to widely distributed resources, and you think it's pointless ?

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Anonymous Coward

Fair Usage

Actually the top BT product has no limits, none at all, I'm at just under 100Gig for the past 8 days. Since April I'm 740 gig down and 325 up.

Also @Tim Schomer So, only 2Mb, and how good is cable in your area?, I'm betting there isn't any. In fact I suspect what you say is an outright lie as I was pretty sure the 8Mb product line is now pretty much everywhere and it's more likely it's your ISP that's only doing the 2Mb.

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Charges?

They will charge £99.99 for first 3 minutes and thereafter £149.99 evey 5 minutes etc etc ......... with FUP of 30 minutes per month.

All to protect their investments with a wink & nod from OFCOM muppets!

Current LLU operators can then go to hell and pick crumbs.

Its a massive stitchup.

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Paris Hilton

Throthlin@Lightspeed

lol

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Re: what is the point?

Future of the web is the point.

Faster streaming videos

TV on the net

HD movies on demand

All your apps online, with no delay when editing docs, photos, videos, whatever due to painfully slow connections (though this does mean moving away from the current asymmetric nature of broadband). Key to the likes of Google to offer an online desktop OS for example. YouTube et al also where you could directly stream your videos and have them edited online (shared editing even), rather than using a powerful PC and very expensive video editing software.

Online/offline backups without having to wait for days.

Play your media anywhere in the world, fast.

Plenty of uses for home working where fast connections are a must to make it more like actually being at the office where you normally have 100mb+ networks and need to transfer a lot of files about, work easily on a lot of source code without having to use portable drives or remote desktop into a PC/server sat in the office running 24/7.

And plenty of stuff to support the bloat that goes with Web 2.0.

i.e. it's not just about big single downloads such as "linux distros" and pirate music/movies, it's about speeding up the net to allow us to do so much more.

Not that I hold out much hope for Fibre Britain. It'll be limited to a few places in big cities close to exchanges (and don't for a minute think that fibre solves connection hassles we have with copper over long distances).

And then what of cable companies? Despite what Virgin currently claim in their misleading adverts, their cable is *NOT* true fibre. It's only partially fibre. Much of it, including the stretch to the home, is coax. Very badly maintained and designed for analogue cable TV in the early 90s, not broadband, hence why their ability to provide a decent signal is so crap!. Hell, their coax stuff is broadcast based much like old coax Ethernet, sharing your data with your neighbours and all the traffic collisions that go with it (not to mention signal leak due to unterminated connections).

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Bronze badge

I'll believe it...

... when I see it.

And as pointed out elsewhere, whats the FUP going to be? 1GB, 3GB 5GB per day? Stream a couple of movies and thats your allowance trashed in an hour or so. I still believe the TISP's (Toilet ISP's) will be the better solution in the end - no worries about capacity, collapsed ducts or other challenges that the traditional telco will come up against.

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Stop

Stop whining!

Loads of free-loaders whining about "oh I can't download the entire DVD set of Lost anymore, so what's the point!". Shut up, you lot that drive the cost of my DVD's and CDs up! Alright it's more likely pure greed by the media companies, but it's been a bad morning!

Anyway, it's bloody obvious why they want this in.

BT want it in, so the the media companies will beating a path to their door to sell movie/TV on demand, although VM are shite ( I just left them! ), they are trying to seriously push the video on demand stuff. If you pay VM or BT for your videos, the nasty MPAA will not come after you and more than likely, if you don't take too much, the downloads from us will not count against your monthly allowance, only the nasty rubbish, illegal torrent sites.

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Joke

Noooooooooo...

we just had our pavement resurfaced after 25 years of waiting.....

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Universal Service

How about they can do what they like, but in return have to provide 2mbps+ to anyone who wants it at RAND cost - much like the way the telephone lines work.

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Flame

Built by the state: and then the state got the money back

"I think the difference is that BT's network was originally built by the state, but Virgin's network was financed entirely using private capital"

Balony. The assets of BT were sold for a very healthy profit by the state so now legitimiately belong to their shareholders. Seems to me it's fair that if BT invest shareholders money in upgrading the netowrk the shareholders get a fair return on the investment. That does not mean no access to other operators, just that the other operators pay a fair tariff to use the network. A scheme of something like 2% over base return on the assets assuming they are written down over 10 years seems fair. Otherwise why should the shareholders not just put the money in a money market account - which ifanyone has noticed are returning rather good rates at the moment with no risk and none of that faff of managing a major infrastructure project.

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but when will the country be fully fibred

We need to know and there needs to be a deadline otherwise bollocks telecom will drag its feet.

Took them a week to replace a faulty line card when I upgraded to ADSL max

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@Fair Usage - 8Mb everywhere?

In my village, just outside a medium sized town (2-3 miles from the exchange), I typically get <1Mb from Pipex. I just went to their website to do an "availability check" and got the following message:

"Congratulations!

Your line can receive up to...

500Kb broadband"

Congratulations indeed! Think again AC, before accusing people of an "outright lie". Why lie about what broadband speed you get?

A mile away (other side of the A1 duel carriageway) they get cable. If this initiative improves the postcode lottery for broadband speeds they I'm all for it, provided "protecting BT's investment" doesn't mean we pay through the nose for it.

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Make BT Infrastructure Not for Profit.

Of course if anyone had had any sens BT wholesale should have been set up as a NOT-FOR-Profit company in its own right responsible for the infrastructure. Then LLU might have had a chance of working. At the moment BT have no incentive to improve the infrastructure... it would just reduce profits, with little chance of return on investment. At the end of the day BT are a commercial company, not a state owned monopoly and have to act as such.

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re: what's the point

Aside from all the obvious advantages on the customer side of having a decent fibre-based infrastructure, there are also significant advantages to content providers and ISPs. If we have lot more cheap high-bandwidth links between the various ISPs and data-centres in this country, problems like the bandwidth demands of apps like iPlayer can go away. And if bandwidth becomes cheap, acceptable usage policies, throttling, traffic-shaping and so on also become less of a problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Backhaul?

It's backhaul isn't it?

You'll still get the 8meg link to the cabinet (the "up to 8meg") only there'll be half a chance of actually getting 8meg provided your connecting to someone else plugged into a fibre connected cabinet.

The 100mb malarky would involve fibre to the home and you'll have to be very freshly built city centre to get that, if anyone's building city centre flats 5 years from now that is.

>if they say they're going to do the countryside as well as the cities

Living out in the middle of nowhere will always result in crappier services because of the cost of supplying those services. Either you pay more or live with everyone else.

Many villages don't have gas for instance.

I'm sick of these moronic country bumpkins whining about their broadband speed, police, hospital access and the cost of driving. Presumably they want the rest of us - living stacked 20 floors deep without gardens or parking - to pick up the tab for their indulgent high land-use lifestyles?

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Has the cost of Fibre come down?

How on earth do BT think they can roll out a fiber network across the country for only £1.5Bn? Are they going to drape it across the existing telephone poles? 100Mbps? Funny!

The various cable companies that ended up becoming Virgin Media spent nearly 4 times that over the last 5-10 years and can still *only* provide "up-to" 20 Mb downstream! Don't get me started about cable upstream speeds...

More reliable, lower contended, fast upstreaming services is what is required. They also need to find a way to provide this at 500-5000 metres from the exchange, or anywhere where theres a tree or hedge in the way.

And don't spam my web browsing with adverts!

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Stop

Is calling someone a liar not a little strong?

"In fact I suspect what you say is an outright lie as I was pretty sure the 8Mb product line is now pretty much everywhere and it's more likely it's your ISP that's only doing the 2Mb."

The 8Mb product maybe available everywhere, but that doesn't mean you're going to get anywhere near that speed though, even in built up areas. I live on a new estate (actually it's a whole new village) and I'm on $ky's 16Mb LLU product but the max I can get is 2.8Mb because of how far away our local exchange is.

When the development is finished there are going to be homes for 20,000 people and 3 business parks where I am, but neither BT or VM thought to lay decent lines into the place before it was built, meaning that we are stuck using standard copper to the nearest town that is about 4 miles away.

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Seriously - What is the point?

Forget the physical issues surrounding ADSL - but I can't even saturate my current 8Mbps circuit let along a fibre connection.

There is an issue at the moment with connectivity, but it's not really the last mile. It's the pricing structure used on the backhaul connections. ISPs are already starting to restrict, with caps, throttling or even temporary disconnects. The BT pipe needs to be cheaper or ideally stop charging on volume transfered over the pipe.

I'd personally welcome fibre, but if you've already got a 50Gb limit or so then why on earth are people spouting downloading/streaming HD movies and Video on Demand....? 2 HD movies a month is pretty much all you'll get on a 50Gb cap - which'll cost around £15.99 a month from Orange/Tiscali/AOL/O2. Rather go to the cinema thanks.

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Pirate

It would be nice if the author gave a link to Ofcom's complaints box.

In what way is OFCOM protecting Virgin Media's investment (not that I like them, but I want a level playing feild).

By protecting BT's returns, they are by virtue of that fact being anti-competitive.

BT Wholesale needs to be removed from BT Retail all togeather. BT Wholesale should be back into public hands if we are going to invest in UK wide highspeed internet connections for private and public use.

I do not yet understand how OFCOM feels we benefit from the current way telecomes are split compaired to the gas (transco) model?

If the Government did somthing take them 'back-in-house' you could have them (top level) managed or over seen by the eductional body (jannet), as they seem to do a good job.

This new idea by ofcom is just like a ppp, where public pay & pay.

* I throw my toys out of pram *

But what I had hoped from this article was sombody to throw my toys at!!!

(image, because BT are Pirates and ofcom's there Parrett)

-ano

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Anonymous Coward

Why not 1000Mbps broadband????

Broadband in the UK plain sux! BT are hopeless!! We are so far behind the likes of Sweden, Finland, France and Japan etc. Why not leapfrog and go for 1000Mbps broadband???? Seeing as you only get one chance to put the fibre down.

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What price BT.

When have BT not ever charged way over the top for things? Can't say I am very exited as its bound to cost too much. 30 years in a large IT firm taught me that BT where not very competent bunch.

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Go

Mmm. Fiber. Mmm.

Does this mean that I could VNC my home machine and not have to wait a full minute for it to draw the desktop thanks to the A part of ADSL?

Yummy.

Steven R

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Promises, promises.

Apparently the scheme will result in 10 million households having BT fast cable. That's of around 25 million households in the UK.

Somehow it is difficult to see how rural areas have a hope in hell.

Blimey, we can't even get gas here.

Anyone know how to get BT Correspondence Centre to correspond, or to get BT Help number to help?

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Anonymous Coward

@100Mbps

> Come back dial-up, all is forgiven!

Errr... I was "lucky" enough to use dialup last week...

I'm afraid to say that if it ever was forgiven, it's not now.

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Surely the big question is...

Will 802.11n finally be approved by then? It's all very well having a 100Mb/s line, but if your router only goes at 54Mb/s... (yes, I know these are theoretical maximums, but still!)

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Dead Vulture

Life in the country

Well actually in a village.

There is one good (2.7Mb/s) line to our Close, the rest being (1.3Mb/s). Ring and complain to BT about the speed and you get the fast line - until the next person complains. Oh, and half that speed if it has been raining and the cable under the High Street is wet. Fibre to the cabinet won't help us as it's the last few hundred metres that's the problem!

BT think that we don't speak to each other and know what they are doing! Their attitude is "think yourself lucky that you are getting that speed" and "if you want faster move to a town"!

If the government spent as much money on fibre infrastructure (to benefit everyone) as they have on the cross London rail link (to benefit a few thousand people) then we would all have fibre to house!

Then half of us could work from home and the government might meet their CO2 targets with the lack of cars on the road.

Dead duck - because that's more use than any good ideas or connected thinking when the government or one of its monopolies are concerned!

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faster uploads and P2P dipsticks

Yeah I'd dearly love fibre to my house and to enjoy an Ethernet QoS (100 Mbps) like I do to my desktop at work but why are people calling for quick uploads, oh yeah, so they can serve crap american TV shows and suck up the habdwidth, great.

BT need to get rid of ADSL, install more cabinets and run Ethernet to the home, no more need for routers or a landline that people dont use.

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