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back to article Fujitsu promises rural UK 1Gbit/s - if it gets 'fair deal' from BT

Fujitsu is planning a joint venture with Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cisco to roll out 1Gbit/s fibre technology to five million homes in the UK, but the project hinges on BT's Openreach division providing access to its underground ducts and telegraph poles. “The plans rely on the remedy imposed by the regulator Ofcom, on BT …

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Re: BT

"We do look forward to Virgin confirming that they will open their infrastructure to enable all companies to have the opportunity to invest in a new fibre future."

Virgin didn't have most of their infrastructure (at least the ducts etc) put in at public expense, so they are under no obligation to open their infrastructure if they don't want to, unlike BT who inherited most of their network from the GPO...

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A couple of corrections

>Virgin didn't have most of their infrastructure (at least the ducts etc) put in at public expense,

True - but they haven't even come close to paying for it yet. VM's network is underwritten by the banks to whom VM still owe several billion pounds.

>unlike BT who inherited most of their network from the GPO.

What BT inherited from the GPO was a knackered, analogue network that was overpriced and barely up to the job. BT laid thousands of kilometres of fibre. Replaced the ancient mechanical Strowger exchange equipment with digital switches. Installed ADSL DSLAMS in almost every exchange. Is currently installing FTTC in thousands of cabinets across the country. They've done this despite regulator interference that has resulted in prices being driven down to stupidly low levels.

It's true that the local loop isn't much changed from GPO days (although quite a bit extended) and also true that BT could have done much, much more. However trying to suggest that the GPO network was fantastic and/or that BT have done nothing but sit on their laurels since their creation is stupid. Aside from anything else - when was the last time any government run organisation did a good job?

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

"Virgin didn't have most of their infrastructure (at least the ducts etc) put in at public expense,"

I think you'll find the original cable network rollout was at least partly funded by the last Tory government. NTL and Telewest swallowed all the little cable co's and then were eaten themselves by Virgin. Since Virgin took over they have done absolutely squat to lay a single new duct on erect a pole.

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Anonymous Coward

ERR Mr AC, Virgin not extended the network have they?

2 years ago Virgin were laying cable (hehe) out in New Milton, i know this because I saw it with my own eyes rather than just making shit up on this here interwebnet.

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what BT inherited

>What BT inherited from the GPO was a knackered, analogue network that was overpriced and

>barely up to the job.

... but inlcuded a whole load of very expensive to install cable ducting that can be reused for modern services paid for by the public.

... and the remit to have their ducting put in place for all new builds in order to deliver a universal service (as I understand it, I accept I may be wrong on this though)

The problem is that laying cable itself is fairly low cost. Digging up roads, getting legal agreements in place for installing ducting and installing roadside cabinets is expensive. This is one of the reasons the NTL, Telewest, etc. went under.

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Anonymous Coward

privatised ... really ?

">unlike BT who inherited most of their network from the GPO."

And bought in full by shareholders.

Yes, you can buy this company. But be warned that you may have to share some of the company assets with competitors at a later date.

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Happy

and...

a revenue-raising business based on the "old, knackered" analogue system that helped pay for the new shiny digital network - laid in the "old, knackered" ducting and hanging off those GPO-issue wooden poles.

Remember the crappy twisted pair is mostly still there under or over the street. It's only the backbone that's been upgraded.

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Anonymous Coward

I thought

making the cable ducts was the expensive bit, they can blow fiber through them AFAIK. They are doing it up in guildford at the moment.

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Headmaster

Re: Really?

"NTL and Telewest swallowed all the little cable co's and then were eaten themselves by Virgin."

In theory, Telewest bought NTL (due to transmission/partnership agreements in some channels relying on Telewest contuing to exist). The reality is that the merged NTL:Telewest is more NTL than it is Telewest. They then paid Virgin Holdings £10million plus shares for permission to brand themselves as Virginmedia for a 10 year period. NTL:telewest also bought Virgin Mobile. Virgin did not buy NTL, Telewest or any other cableco. Oh yeah. And Branson gets to be used (and paid) to front up some adverts and stunts on their behalf.

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Define 'too high'

It's great news if it goes ahead and if the coverage is good. It'd make a mockery of BT's current FTTC plans which is a bonus.

I am concerned though that it feels like posturing. First they send a letter to BT/Ofcom whining about the PIA prices (despite the fact they are already amongst the lowest in Europe) now they publicly announce somewhat grandiose plans.

What I see here, sadly, is that yet again the paying public are becoming pawns in some corporate get rich quick scheme.

Despite what some people claim there is a good reason why the final third exists. It isn't because BT hates those people. It's because the finances don't stack up. If they don't stack up for BT then it's hard to see how they can stack up for any other company.

Still - here's very much hoping it comes to fruition.

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FAIL

Right, so....

....BT can be out-competed if they agree low prices for access to their infrastructure, but they can block the competition if they don't.

Guess which of the two approaches will look more appealing to the BT board.

Someone needs to go and talk to BT carrying a large pair of pliers...

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BT

Once the pride of our nation.. Cant help but hate them these days..

Scum... cant help but feel like they need a big fine for something or other.

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did i miss a meeting?

wtf? when was bastard bt ever the pride of our nation? or did they once upon a time roll out x25 to the magic kingdom of narnia?

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Anonymous Coward

Aggressive PR, Masterful Move

Funny I always thought BT was formed by the purchase by private individuals of shares in the spun off entity from the GPO. Anyone would think that it was given for free.

PIA is a huge issue, it will be interesting to see what this does. Certainly it makes BT look ridiculous given their obsession with FTTC everywhere they aren't getting public funding for FTTP.

Either way a masterful bit of work by Fujitsu here, pressures Ofcom and Openreach.

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BT privatisation

> Funny I always thought BT was formed by the purchase by private individuals of shares in the spun off entity from the GPO. Anyone would think that it was given for free.

and they'd be just about right. when bt was floated, the share price was deliberately set low so that the privatisation was guaranteed to be "a success". everyone knew that. so there was a quick buck to be made selling the shares once they'd reached their true value within a day or so. bt shares were valued at ~180p the day after privatisation when the offer price was just 130p.

that political masterstroke cost the country 1 billion quid: 2 or 3 times that in today's money. this could have more than paid for the national fibre network which was suggested at the time.

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BTs fibre to uk premises?

A small minority of BTs roll-out is actually fibre to the premises. The vast majority is VDSL2. Anyone of a vaguely technical persuasion realises that this is _not_ "fibre broadband" as BT label it.

Heck, if it really were fibre optic and could only do 30-60Mbps (100Mbps at a push if you live in the box) over a short distance, it would be pretty rubbish fibre. So why does ofcom and the media let them get away with calling it fibre?

By the same token you could call ADSL2+ "slightly less fibre optic broadband". It uses fibre for its back-haul, and just has a longer copper segment!

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fibre broadband

Not seen a virgin ad then? they have a fibre backbone and copper to the customers, their claim to "fibre optic broadband" is just as valid as ADSL... (admittedly their form of copper is better, but it's still not fibre)

Also not seen an ISP advertising a service as unlimited [subject to staying below the limits]? ISPs can claim whatever the hell they like, none of the regulators will admit it's their job to regulate. The ASA says they don't regulate adverts for ISPs because they are communications networks so Ofcom should do it, and Ofcom say they are a communications regulator not an advertising regulator, they regulate communications networks not adverts.

All the while the ISPs just lie and lie and lie some more knowing damn well they can make whatever bullshit claims they want and nobody will take action against them for blatantly breaking the law.

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Anonymous Coward

Sigh...

I've posted here before, about how we live on the outskirts of a large town in southern England (ironically, one with quite a high-tech reputation), in a new-build house on a site that was a field ten years ago, about a mile from an exchange which has been upgraded for BT Infinity.

Can we get the Infinity service? Can we heck - BT says they haven't laid the necessary cables (um, why didn't they do that in the early-2000s when the site was being built on?), and don't know when they will, but we can sign up to be notified when (if?) they ever do. In the meantime, we have to make do with the 2Mbps (with a following wind) ADSL we've had since we moved in (OK, it used to be 512K until about three years ago, so it HAS improved).

Sorry to be pessimistic, but if the finances don't "stack up" in our area, are they likely to do so in a rural location? Good luck with it, though.

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Re: Sigh...

You mention a new build. That is your problem.

The builder have to *PAY* BT or another telco to lay cable. To save dosh they cable up with a third party who pays them instead and you are stuck with some really crappy connectivity and no chance of BT in the forseeable future.

Buying new build (<10 y/o) properties in this country is very likely to have severely shit telecoms connectivity and forget the possibility of a decent BT line wthout you and your neighbours paying BT a large number of K's to install either new ducting or poles.

Sorry, but serve you right for going new build without ensuring it has an existing BT line capability.

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Anonymous Coward

Dreaming of 1s and 0s

I live in the south east of the country inside a big city in a new build surrounded by hundreds of other new builds and high rise office blocks. The area is called Docklands and the city is called London. I get 3Mpbs (theoretical of course) and there are no plans to roll out fibre to me or the tens of thousands of other city workers that live in this modern area. Presumably as the 'numbers don't add up'. Could they please wire up the cities before the few people that still live in our countryside? I too would like to use BBC iPlayer one day, preferably within the next 15 years!

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Re: Dreaming of 1s and 0s

As someone who had to wait years after anyone else to get ADSL, I'm glad that someone is finally caring about the rural parts of the country.

Always makes me laugh when some Londoner whinges about how their broadband isn't fast enough. At least you have it, many people have it slower or don't have it at all.

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But who will actually offer me fibre?

It would make sense in my town to ask/force Virgin Media to open its ducts as well!

The copper BT line to my house passes under the street and paths of the cul-de-sac. If the ground-box lacks the capacity for fibre and/or the underground ducts are blocked due to land heave*, someone is going to have to dig things up! There is no room for street cabinets unless you do what NTL did and dig up the paths on the main avenue.

(* This is certainly going to be the case when attempting to run fibre from the ground-box to the homes. The plastic tubes carrying the CW1308 phone cables have been in the ground 25+ years and they will need to be dug up and replaced. With my BT cable running under my driveway and my neighbour's driveway, I cannot see that happening!)

The Virgin Media ducts arrive at the edge of most people's property boundary, which means laying fibre simply requires a route across the garden. It would be a simple job for me to dig a trench through the lawn and run some suitable plastic piping to the house. And I would be prepared to do that myself if someone could offer a decent fibre connection. I do not want to entertain VM's cable modems - I am still burned from the NTHell days and their piss-poor customer service who could not understand something as simple as a lack of down-stream power!

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Anonymous Coward

Do as I say...

You've noticed in your first sentence one significant fact about Virgin. Their mantra is "do as I say, not as I do". If anybody suggests that any conditions imposed on BT should be equally imposed on them they get all indignant. They don't see Ofcon as a regulator for the comms industry, they see it as a regulator for BT.

I would like to see direct competition between the two companies and indeed anybody else who wants to build the physical infrastructure (poles and holes). So when a new development is built BT the contract for the infrastructure should go for tender. Whoever wins puts in the ducts, poles, chambers and cabinets and the connection back into the ducts to the exchange. Of course Virgin (or indeed Kcom) could make this to their own exchange if they wanted, but of course they would have to allow other service providers to put their own kit in the exchange.

Competition like that can only be good for the end user.

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Stop

You forget who paid for the wire.

BT's infrastructure was paid for by us. The new owners did not pay for the actual cost of the infrastructure, just the business that operates it. So BT hit the ground with a nationwide network already installed.

NTL/Telewest's networks were paid for by shareholders (and, latterly, banks). Us the taxpayer were not involved. So they have more right to decide who else can use their infrastructure.

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Anonymous Coward

The wire

But how much of the wire out there was actually in place back when BT was first privatised?

Furthermore you speak of BT as if they were somehow a completely new entity created the day they were privatised. Of course they weren't. They weren't a brand new company that inherited an existing network, they were the same company with a new name and a shares issue. They were just the telecoms arm of the post office with new headed paper.

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Anonymous Coward

Cost to the end user?

This sounds like complete PR BS to me.

If they were really serious about rolling this out they would be giving some rough indicative prices. And even then I have my suspicions about their ability to deliver a real 1Gb/s connection to rural customers. Yes long haul fibre can run at 1Gb/s over quite a few kilometers, but that just takes you back to the local POP (not necessarilly a fully featured exchange out in the sticks). That then has to connect back to the nearest exchange. And from there into the exchange. Have these people heard of contention? Sure they have, but they're hoping that the average end user hasn't.

I've seen inside my local "exchange" and I'd like to know where these companies plan to install their kit. There just isn't the room. Seriously you couldn't get a single 42U cabinet in there. Will they pay to extend the exchange? Or do they expect BT to do that too,

If Virigin were even close to delivering 1Gb on their existing urban network I would take this seriously. Either this is just a pipe dream or they are trying to put some pressure on Ofcon. If they get the prices they want how long will it be before rural users find out that the 1Gb service isn't available to them?

And as for Cisco, who is their biggest customer by far in the UK (and AFAIK Europe)? BT. Do they really want to start encourage BT to shop elsewhere? Actually I wish they would, BT prices to the end user probably wouldn't be so high if they didn't pay the premium that comes with buying Cisco kit.

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Errm...

I don't think they're going to offer a 1Gbps service, just put the cables for potential 1Gbps. As for Virgin offering it, Virgin can't, they only have coaxial to the premises, not fibre.

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Grenade

BT blather

BT keep whinging about access to Virgin despite the fact BT already has access to every home Virgin does. It's a complete smokescreen.

This is all about rural areas where there's only BT network so the £2 billion Fujitsu's going to invest is fantastic - providing it's done quickly.

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Grenade

Access is the key word here

BT did inherit a useless load of tat from the GPO. Switches from the dark ages, cabling from the stone age, but most importantly a massive nation spanning infrastructure of ducts and telegraph poles that they "own" or at least control access to.

We paid for those to be installed so unless BT has replaced that tube or telegraph pole, then they should not get to charge for access to it at all.

IIRC the most important word used in most of the documentation concerning government and public worries about the privatisation of the GPO was to do with the word MONOPOLY.

BT still have an effective monopoly on comms access to our houses and other premises.

All the cable companies tried to create a parallel network and it crippled them.

So, except in a few areas BT *STILL* have a monopoly.

That is what needs regulating.

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what title

What you are all forgeting is that Virgin are looking at this as a way to offer TV, Broadband and Phone over the fiber not just Broadband.

They will be looking to get £50 plus from each customer not just the broadband fee.

I can forsee a lot of people signing up for this if it becomes available.

This is a dream situation for them, massive extention to potencial costomers without the cocst of doing it themselves.

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I can't wait

We really need a 3rd option in the broadband market, currently you either sell your soul to the devil for a VM cable connection, or you put up with dismal speeds on DSL. BT's 'late to the party' FTTC service isn't going to do much to change that, VM is essentially offering the same service except you get some lovely coax coming through the wall rather than shitty old TP "copper"

I have a VM connection and live in a high usage area, this means I'm back of the line when it comes to any network upgrades, the time delay between VM announcing a "free upgrade" or other improvement to the service, and actually having it deployed to more than 2/3rd of customers is typically on the order of 12 - 18 months.

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As usual.

Monopoly abuses market position to exclude competition shock. Regulator toothless, incompetent, unable to create true free market with low barriers to entry further shock.

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Troll

Cripes what will BT try next

I love the fact that BT talk about access to it's ducts and poles as if this is some new innovation they have decided to put forward. This has been around as a remedy for their dominance since the early days of liberalisation, and has only now been dragged out of them by Ministers looking to get something done.

As for price, it's pretty easy for them to obfuscate. Even if one part of BT pays sky high prices for access to BT infrastructure, it all washes around the opaque beast that is BT group...

Yet again BT is trying to muddy the water in an effort to prevent anyone challenging it's gifted hegemony. I say good on Fujitsu for actually trying to do something different. Let's face it, without them we would left with the incumbent hoovering up any and all Government cash possible to try and prop up it's outdated copper network that is the only infrastructure and choice for consumers in 50% of the country.

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free internet everywhere

if only they made the iPhone, then we could have all the moaners in one single set of comments.

BT is regulated by ofcom, giving access to ducts and poles, require a lot of careful consideration, and the undertaking that BT has with ofcom ensures that it is done properly. Some might think it is an easy task, if you do, you really haven't got a clue.

it has taken years for them to separate their entire infrastructure to give fairness for the competition.

hell they even give you 999 for free, give the service to virgin and wait for the request for a credit card before getting police or ambulance.

Back to the subject in hand, I think Fujitsu could be onto something here, perhaps provide a fresh approach to networking rural areas.

but I think it financially does not stack up

And please people make your mind up, you don't want that ex-national telecom operator, but you want top speed in the middle of nowhere ? which is it ? because one makes hardly any business sense, unless funded by the government, so you can have the cake and eat it.

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WTF?

WTFLOLROFL !!!!

"It is important that the companies concerned make it clear that they are willing to invest material sums rather than just spend public money in what could be a multi-billion [pound] project," said BT.

Yeah cause it ALL BELONGS TO BT !!!!!!!!!

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Flame

BT - still a monopoly in a lot of areas.

$orkplace is in the sticks and there's only BT around here.

As a result we pay BT 6 times as much for fibre connectivity as we would if there was a competing supplier - or in money terms about 350k/year, vs 50k/year (1Gb/s)

Yes, really. I checked the tariffs.

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