back to article BT fibre-to-the-premises trial takes 7 hours per install

BT's new fibre optic upgrade is delivering better real world speeds than the company's old copper-based network when compared to advertised "up to" broadband rates, according to the latest figures from Ofcom. Meanwhile, the UK telecoms giant is continuing to test out its latest fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) kit. As part of that …

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Come to my house...

I will dig the trench myself & supply as many cups of tea and chocolate hobnobs as it takes to get me FTTP. By the time 21CN gets here (remember that?) the rest of the UK will be on to the next-but-one big thing.

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Linux

I won't complain, please do my village next

If some posh people don't want cabs in their back gardens, I'd be more than happy to have one in mine. Anything would be better than the pitiful 5Meg I get from BT's ADSL service. I'd even make the engineers mugs of warm tea!

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FAIL

5Meg? Pitiful?

Bah! I used to have nearly 6Meg until something went wrong with BT's cabling, now I get only 2Meg.

Like most others I would gladly provide a complete comestible silver service with tablecloth, napkins and background music for any installers that came my way, but I can't see it happening any time yet in my village, if ever.

Just think how much oil we could save if everyone could work from home more often, fast infrastructure is an essential to achieve this.

Total failure of anticipation on the part of the nation....

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Joke

2Meg? You were looky...

We got 150 baud through our piece of wet tinfoil,

where we live in t' shoe box in middle of road...

You tell that to kids these days, and they won't believe you.

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Joke

Tin Foil !

You had tin foil ! ee luxury we had to make do with sweet wrappers collected from pavement round local corner shop

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Happy

You 'ad a corner shop?

Kids today don't know they're born!

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Anonymous Coward

@Brian Morrison

"Bah! I used to have nearly 6Meg until something went wrong with BT's cabling, now I get only 2Meg."

Do I smell BS?

When your line is installed BT do a baseline on the performance. A lower limit is set at the fault threshold. If you were getting 5Meg it is likely that your threshold would have been set at somewhere between four and five meg. If your synched speed were to fall below that threshold and you reported it to BT the fact that it had fallen below the fault threshold would kick off a process that would involve testing the line and trying to get it back up above threshold.

This may involve a lift and shift (changing you over to another copper pair) or it may involve finding the fault and repairing it. I generally find they prefer to lift and shift as that's cheaper and easier than the repair if a spare pair is available.

Granted in some circumstances they will, after testing, reset the fault threshold at a lower level. I have, however, only had this happen to one of my customers and that was where the speed had dropped from 1.6M to 1.2M (and therefore below threshold) but no amount of testing could find a specific fault and a line of that length should only have supported about 1M anyway. The only solution would have been to replace about a mile of cabling to her house.

So have you bothered reporting your loss of speed? What action did BT take? Is it really a drop in sync speed or is it a drop in download performance?

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I'm due

I'm in Cornwall so this spring I find out when my exchange is due for upgrade, though aren't BT currently trialing 1Gb lines somewhere in Suffolk?

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indeed

at Martlesham, which by an amazing coincidence is where BT have a mahoosive research site.

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Grenade

What a surprise...

"BT has committed huge man hours to the project, while its main rival Virgin Media says it sees "no compelling reason why" it should heavily invest in FTTP at this time."

Especially not when it can wait 18 months then complain to OfCom (or whatever replaces it) that BT has a Monopoly on FTTP, using skill-sets and everything else it earned from the Post Office sell-out, and how they should be able to use that infrastructure for free.

But yes please, like most people I'll sign off the wayleave so that BT can put one of the gren cabinets in my front garden, and I'll not only provide tea and biscuits, but coffee too for the more cosmopolitan engineers, and enough bacon butties to see them through their seven hour shift installing to my house.

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Errr...

"Especially not when it can wait 18 months then complain to OfCom (or whatever replaces it) that BT has a Monopoly on FTTP, using skill-sets and everything else it earned from the Post Office sell-out, and how they should be able to use that infrastructure for free."

Or perhaps their existing co-ax infrastructure doesn't *need* upgrading, given how much faster it already is than the copper loops BT is replacing....

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Unhappy

but maybe if VM had FTTP

then they could properly claim to be supplying superfast fibre optic broadband and not the HFC network they have now?

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Unhappy

Sadly, VM is not the answer

Here in Harlow we had one of the first fibre-to-cabinet installations in the UK. It was a community service that replaced the old copper co-ax community system, which was intended to eliminate roof-top TV and FM antennae. When it first went in it was great, giving a much better FM signal than was available from a standard type antenna. This standard was maintained while it was successively sold to Cable West and then to NTL. I don't have TV, so the FM signal is important to me.

However, now the network belongs to Virgin Media and both its performance and their service stink. Back in December the cable FM signal quite suddenly degraded until it was much worse than I could get from 2m of unterminated co-ax. Did Virgin give a damn? Hell, no! When I rang to report the fault I was told that they would do something if I was listening to radio on TV but since I was using a stereo system I could get lost.

My neighbours eventually decided that the VM TV packages were over-expensive and lacking in channel choice, so they migrated to FreeView. They say the channel selection is better and that they're getting a better quality signal than the cable provided. That's true: when I visit them its obvious that the picture is no longer as grainy as it used to be.

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Coat

@Martin Gregorie

Over here in Newhall, most of the building on North Chase were pre-cabled with Sky and TV/FM sockets on the wall, provided by a underground cabling system from a shared dish/Aerial system somewhere on the estate. We get a full-strength signal on all signals, and rarely get any jitter. VM never got a chance to run any cables, and it's just as well. I've been bitter since they killed off RedTV.

Sadly, the broadband is utter tosh, we're lucky to get 2Mb, probably because we're so far from the exchange at Sainsburys. If BT wanted to put in FTTC here, I'd supply them as much tea and bacon as they could handle, but they'd have trouble finding space for a cabinet, as there's barely enough room to park!

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Anonymous Coward

VM Joke

VM are a joke. When they cabled us up they knocked a hole in the garden wall at ground level fed the cable through and then started to lay cable straight up the middle of a flower bed about three inches below ground level. I pointed out to the engineers that it would last about five minutes laid there and suggested several better routes. They told me they were under instruction to use the shortest fastest route into the property to save time and money.

I told them they could go back to base and explain to their bosses that I would be cancelling my order until such time as they could send somebody to do a proper job. A couple of days later we got an engineer in a subcontractor's van who did a decent job of running the cable to the property.

At least Openreach engineers can generally be trusted to do a proper cabling job, even if they don't document it properly.

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This also exists in Penrith too

And it doesnt take 7 hours per install - I know this for a fact. The newer housing estates around Penrith also have FTTP as standard too. Oddly enough the main exchange in Penrith wont have FTTP or even to the cabinet (since all the old aluminium cable pretty much goes back to the exchange anyway).

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Joke

Reskilling?

Does that involve telling the engineers "thicker stuff is copper, thinner stuff is fibre and breaks more easily - don't get 'em confused"?

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Coat

close

Solder is for copper, glue is for fibre...

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Alert

FTTC

"...FTTP cabling under and sometimes over streets throughout the land as it attempts to get its £2.5bn 100Mbit/s downstream broadband fibre optic tech rolled out to two-thirds of households and businesses by 2015."

Isn't the target a slightly less exciting FTTC to 2/3s?

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Anonymous Coward

Thanks for picking my exchange

I live in the area where this is currently being setup and the amount of manpower BT is employing to do this is insane. Not that I'm complaining, I think it's fantastic and if I wasn't already getting a perfectly adequate 6-7Mbps connection I'd have already signed up.

Great article, it's interesting to find out how it all works.

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Headmaster

FTTC

Life would be a whole lot clearer if people (BT included) would start giving FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) its proper name, which is VDSL. The important bit, the bottleneck, is the DSL bit not the FTT bit. Which is why they do their best to avoid mentioning it.

Oh and the ISP might be a bottleneck too if you pick the wrong ISP.

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Corporate lexicon

BT have a history of renaming standards to suit themselves. Anyone remember "Home Highway"?

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Anonymous Coward

Home Highway?

That was half an ISDN wasn't it? Even so they didn't rename a standard. They gave a name to a product. That's what everybody does. They give their product a snazzy name in the hopes that the name will make it sell better than the opposition.

Fibre to the cabinet and fibre to the premises are perfectly sensible names. They are very sensible when you compare them to EES, FEES, GEES, EAD and the like.

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highway

Highway used ISDN-2 (note - not "an ISDN" - ISDN is a network not a product) - but it added capabilities to it beyond the vanilla product. These were intended, I think, to make it usable by an average human and not just techies. Essentially a fairly clever Terminal Adaptor.

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To infinity and beyond ...

I have BT Infinity (FTTC), and i have to say its very very good.

I get around 37Mbit/s pretty much consistently.

I'd highly recommend it to anyone if its available in your area. Much better than standard ADSL and also doesn't come with VM's nasty STM.

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WTF?

terminology

nasty STM ? sounds like a disease...

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but

there ARE other providers out there if you are lucky. Some of us can get 100mb without virgin - check out smallworld cable.

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BUT

there is only one provider where I live - not even got the option of VM...

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Anonymous Coward

Real World

100Mb without Virgin. Most people who live in the real world have a choice of ADSL on BT copper or ADSL on BT copper. If you're dead lucky your line my go straight into your provider's kit at the exchange, but there are still plenty of poor punters out there on BT wholesale.

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Anonymous Coward

@Danny14

"there ARE other providers out there if you are lucky. Some of us can get 100mb without virgin - check out smallworld cable."

Smallworld? Smallcoverage. I've put in postcodes of friends and family who live all over the country and found that I don't know a single person who can get their services. Where do they actually cover?

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Coat

homes that don't have a cooper line

I'm on a whiskey diet. I've lost three days already.

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You Forgot Me

We live on one of the newer estates covered by Bradwell Abbey and are at the end of a 6km phone line giving us a thunderingly fast 1.5mbps, are we getting fttp during the trial? No. So we also don't get FTTC due to the trial going on and OpenReach won't commit to installing anything afterwards either.

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What about FTTC?

I don't hold out much hope for FTTP after the whole FTTC debacle. Living in a FTTC enabled town i have yet to meet one person who has actually benefited or able to actually use the infinity service. Infact most have noticed a sudden downturn in the stability since work was started (and never finished properly in my opinion) many months ago.

According to BT themselves you can't get infinity unless you are already pushing 15mbit on a standard copper connection as it is - so only people with already more than double the national average speed can actually use the service and that only leaves one hope for my measely 3mbit connection and thats FTTP.

As they seem to be unable to negotiate local councils and install FTTC properly in a relatively small town like mine i don't see how FTTP, which would truely benifit those of us who have substandard connections, will ever become available considering how much larger and complex the installs would be.

the phrase "Sort it out BT" comes to mind, but they'd only subcontract it out to the cheapest bidder and we'd be back to square one again!

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FAIL

@DisgruntledWebDesigner

Yeah, you don't really get the whole 'cabinet' part of 'fibre to the cabinet', do you?

The purpose of FTTC is to reduce the distance from customer to DSLAM, which is a fancy modem that talks DSL. In standard adsl, the DSLAM sits in the exchange, in FTTC, the DSLAM sits in the cabinet.

Synch speed on DSL is proportional to signal strength, which largely is inversely proportional to line length.

Therefore, synch speed on DSL is irrelevant to synch speed on FTTC - if your cabinet is 100m away, and your exchange a further 6km away from the cabinet, you would currently have a shitty synch speed of ~1Mbps on ADSL, but probably 40Mbps on FTTC.

What is more to the point is that FTTC/FTTP is *STILL* a fucking BT monopoly. I wouldn't pay those chancers one penny for internet service, and they seem not too keen to offer other ISPs wholesale access to FTTC customers. Fucking sort it out OFCOM.

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Fair enough

That's fair enough, I don’t claim to be a technical genius when it comes to the inner workings of FTTC, but from my consumer point of view BT are spending all this money to benefit only a small number of people – they aren’t improving the situation for anyone but those who already receive fast connections.

BT monopoly’s are nothing new – you should be used to that by now!

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FAIL

Check your facts...

It's completely untrue that there is no wholesale access to FTTC. It's provided on the same basis to other ISPs as to BT Retail as it's an OpenReach regulated service. Of course it means the DSLAM is an OpenReach one, but alternative service providers can use their own backhaul from the exchange or via their own POPs.

It's also open to other operators to put their own cabinets in the street via something called sub-loop unbundling, but that requires a monumental amount of investment and the field force to cover it. Not suprisingly there aren't many ISPs willing to do that as the investment for a reasonable coverage will be in the several hundreds of millions. It has, however, been done in a few villages.

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Flame

Check YOUR facts

Oh really, Mr AC (BT worker perhaps?). Name one ISP I can get FTTC from who isn't using BT's infrastructure and pipes.

Maybe I'm using the wrong terminology. Maybe 'wholesale' means 'still using BTs shitty overloaded and overstretched infrastructure'.

Where is the LLU equivalent of FTTC? Sub-loop unbundling is clearly a non-starter, no council is going to allow multiple cabs on a street.

Only one company is offering DSL speeds faster than ADSL2+, and that is BT, or operators using BTs infra. Nice little monopoly.

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As you can't be bothered to find links

If you could be bothered to do a bit of research, you'll find this (which is the product set)

http://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/products/super-fastfibreaccess/fibretothecabinet/fttc.do

Also, if you could be bothered to do some more research you'd find things like this where TalkTalk are taking registrations using the OpenReach FTTC network. There are other trials, not sure how many are yet taking orders - there's work to be done to integrate into SP networks, order systems and so on.

http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/4535-talktalk-to-launch-fibre-broadband-boost.html

As far as no council allowing further cabinets, then they have no choice (outside conservation areas). Appropriately licensed telecom companies have a right, subject to certain safeguards to install street furniture like cabinets.

And here's an example

http://www.wlga.gov.uk/uploads/publications/6070.pdf

Of course the real barrier is the huge cost, but basically you seem to have got pretty well everything wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Not Quite

"It's completely untrue that there is no wholesale access to FTTC. It's provided on the same basis to other ISPs as to BT Retail as it's an OpenReach regulated service. Of course it means the DSLAM is an OpenReach one, but alternative service providers can use their own backhaul from the exchange or via their own POPs."

It isn't an Openreach service but a BT Wholesale service. Wholesale sell it to BT and to other ISPs too.

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Anonymous Coward

And Underground

"As far as no council allowing further cabinets, then they have no choice (outside conservation areas). Appropriately licensed telecom companies have a right, subject to certain safeguards to install street furniture like cabinets."

They certainly do, just so long as they don't cause an obstruction. They can, however, also install underground. Sure it's not preferred for electronic goodies, but it's not out of the question and it gets them round the conservation area constraints.

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Boffin

Cost difference between UK and Aus

BT will supply FTTP to 66% of UK (pop. 62m) for £2.5bn.

NBNco will supply FTTP to 90% of Aus (pop. 22m) for £27bn.

The difference can't all be in the distances between cities, surely? Does fibre optic string really cost that much?

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Costs.

Its not so much the cable as the hole/pole to carry it.

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WTF?

Cost difference

As has been pointed out, the BT 66% target is a mixture of FTTP and FTTC, not FTTP alone, so that explains a lot of the cost difference. You might easily find that going from two-thirds to five-sixths coverage might require double the capital expenditure.

The other issue is that it is disproportionately more expensive to service smaller and smaller groups with further coverage. There is a nice irony that those who have the slowest ADSL speeds due to the length of line also require the highest capital and maintenance costs. All those extra poles and cable runs. Indeed rural telco customers are cross-subsidised by town dwellers. Same is true on power, sewage and gas infrastructure, albeit to differing levels (pipes cost a lot more than cables to lay).

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WTF?

Sod the "2/3rds of the households"

It's about time they resolved the problem for the remainder who always fall outside their catchment areas for upgrades. Let's get everyone up to something decent (and I'm not talking 2mg here) then worry about uber quick for the cities.

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Or...

...you spend the least amount of money to hit the highest number of people, and the upgrades trickle down through the network. You know, as if you were a company or something.

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Stop

Bust

I think that would be a good, quick way to go bust. Spend a fortune to provide service to a small number of customers for a product with a low selling price.

Companies have to borrow to invest and they need to explain their plans to the banks when borrowing it - who'd lend you any money for the plan above?

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FAIL

gash

So how is this any different to BT blowing in ISDN30 fibres, which they've been doing for years?

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Coat

Cooper line??

Is that like...

"So I rang up my local swimming baths. I said 'Is that the local

swimming baths?' He said 'It depends where you're calling from.'"

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Anonymous Coward

For those of us not in line to get fibre

Perhaps a mesh MAN of some sort might work. Shame Ronja doesn't get anywhere near 100Mb/s, but a microwave link will approach it and symmetrically too. Club together with a few neighbours to bond some adsl lines and install the microwave antennae on the mast with the TV aerial.

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