back to article BT to fibre-up another 114 exchanges

BT is upgrading a further 114 exchanges – the majority of which will receive fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology. The telco said this morning that the latest rollout would serve one million homes and businesses in the UK. The latest exchanges earmarked by BT are listed here. Its Openreach division said that it planned to …

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"passed"

I think you'll find that BT, like most other service providers (gas, etc.) uses the "passed" terminology to indicate the number of *potential* houses they can supply. i.e. if they cable a street with 50 houses then they have "passed" 50 houses, i.e. 50 houses which can get a connection if they want, no matter how many are current customers. It has nothing to do with copper/fibre differences.

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IT Angle

total rubbish BT and you Know it.

local monopolies are the competition BT need. They must be running scared of them to make an outburst. Usually they just ignore everyone. I would have thought they had conned enough councils into their superfast copper not to worry any more? I do wish they would stop calling it 'fibre broadband'. It isn't fibre unless its fibre to the home.

My dial up is fed by fibre from the local exchange. Superfast it ain't.

Cabinets are not the future. They are a stopgap to bring faster speeds to a few next to them, and to keep everyone tied to an old phone line.

In another few years everyone will realise this country has been held to ransom by a telco as we lag further behind the countries who have migrated to real fibre connectivity.

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LOL

They don't mind local monopolies when it is their own monopoly. Anyone in a rural location can vouch for that.

Some communities have had to run their own ISP to get a decent broadband service.

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FAIL

yay, more uselessness from BT. i'm guessing they'll, yet again, be 'succesfully supplying super-fast broadband' to the 90% of homes that can already get it from other providers, rather than doing what they're supposed to and supplying it to people currently doing without, out in the country and such.

oh yes and then bitching about the low take up rates, as though its some sort of surprise that the people who already have perfectly good broadband dont want to pay BT more money...

afterall, god forbid that BT should actually have to replace someone's 30 year old phone line to supply them with decent broadband - that would actually take some sort of effort, rather than just flipping a switch at the exchange and swapping some settings in the cabinet.

remind me, why did we hand BT a virtual monopoly, and then put next to no actual requirements on them?

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not sure about the rest

we live about 4km from the exchange on ALUMINIUM cable. We got about 4mb (and 1mb up) on ADSL which was pretty decent I thought. Granted that was LLU with BE* but still that isnt too bad. Most merkins have worse. Sure im happy now we have cable but TBH I could still do the same trawling and video watching on the 4Mb line and at least it was stable.

Sure there are people who got superfast broadband earlier and those who got 20mb on the same ISP from the same exchange, but then again a bloke at the end of the road has an audi RS4 that i'd love too.

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@Tieger

> remind me, why did we hand BT a virtual monopoly, and then put next to no actual requirements on them?

No actually we had a virtual monopoly from the good old days of state ownership. We then sold this state owned monopoly to get a bankrupt government some much needed cash.

Having taken the dosh for this monopoly it was decided to stop it being a monopoly.

But rather than allowing it to compete, they then had their hands tied behind their backs for the first 10 years. Otherwise we'd have seen fibre to most houses back in the 90s. But the law only let them offer Video on Demand as a easy cash winner, they were not legally allowed to do cable TV, so encourage competition from other companies, who it was hoped would invest it laying cables. VOD only escaped because when they write the law no one thought about it.

But back then the technology for VOD didn't exist. I think they tried it out in Colchester. Being BT of course they wouldn't do the obvious thing to make money and sell pron, so the market research suggested that the main money winner which would have paid for it all was sados who had missed the start of Corry or East Ends etc... and couldn't bare the thought of not seeing it and would happily have paid BT what ever they asked for to be allowed their fix.

But hey, it didn't work. So BT were left with no way of funding a high speed network back in the days when Internet access was for us weirdos and El Reg was a news letter (OK they might have become a website by this point)

Now I can sit back and watch all the down votes come in. I'm not a BT fan, they've screwed up a lot of things, but that is the history of how we got into this mess.

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Talk Talk?

TalkTalk's commercial boss David Goldie claimed that BT was trying to regain "the monopoly position that it lost many years ago" courtesy of its provision of fibre optic broadband.

Apparently disgusting that BT should actually INVEST in infrastructure.

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+1 Tony Green

Yes, That's kind of what I wanted to say. BT will only get a monolopy if they install this Fibre and no-one else does.

Talk Talk is free to install it's own fibre. Hell they should just be thankful that they will be able to resell the stuff that BT puts in; I'm sure than Virgin wouldn't let them do that!

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That's the problem

If BT invest in cable infrastructure that nobody else can use then that's not really helping the competition. BT has a huge advantage in that it's infrastructure is already there and available to most homes. Competitors can't easily go around erecting loads of telegraph poles or digging up roads to install cable.

Having competitors use a BT wholesale product is not competing with BT. It's like saying Virgin Media buying TV shows from Sky is competition. Either way they get some of your money.

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Cable growth

Who else is going to install cable though? Are Virgin rolling out cable?

This says only 500k more homes in 5 years and out of 71 million people that's not much.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/13/vigin_media_expansion/

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FAIL

No disgusting that BT has allowed the infrastructure to creak on this long without investing, all the while massively profitting from the network they got cheap, safe in the knowledge that most customers have no choice but to use thier ancient bits of wet string they laughingly describe as broadband

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Unhappy

Meh

Not my exchange again, then. Hey, ho. Being right on the edge of its coverage is a pain, it'd be nice to be even at the low end of an upgraded exchange instead of at the low end of a crap exchange. Not even as if I'm out in the sticks, either, mutter, grumble, mutter, mutter...

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I think I'm one of the ones they have passed

As in passed over. As far as I can tell, by looking at leaked BT cabinet rollout lists, they have no plans to update the cabinet I'm connected to, despite doing so for 95% of the other cabinets on the exchange.

Still, I suppose as long as you can only get FTTC from BT or an ISP buying bandwidth from BT, rather than an LLU provider, I probably wouldn't switch anyway.

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Mushroom

Doesn't fucking matter

When you've got 30-40 year old shit copper in the street and last mile this ain't gonna do a lot of good. BT so missed the boat when BlueYonder (or whatever Virgin used to be called) pulled duct up so many streets.

POTS just ain't coax/fibre to the home, yet Billy the Punter hasn't a clue and will buy it anyway and be very disappointed....

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Some interesting choices in where a cabinet is supplied from. Possibly evidence of BT's long term plans:

http://forums.thinkbroadband.com/fibre/t/4043153-re-updated-list-of-exchanges.html

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Woohoo

I'm on the list.....shame that the local council will not allow anyone to dig up the streets to put in cable, or underground power, or decent drainage.....

If only I could convince BT to join forces with the gas/leccie/water etc to browbeat the council into having it all done at once. We could get good roads and pavements an enough power that they don't ration us in the winter.

Oh sorry, that should say enough power that it doesn't cause sub-stations to turn themselves on whenever an engineer parks beside them.

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Bronze badge

Local authorities can't stop people digging up streets. They must grant wayleave to did up the streets for the provision of utilities, but they are in control of this wayleave and as such can stipulate dates and times.

The only exception to this is the section 58 restriction order. This is an order restricting the excavation of a road after "substantial works". Sunstantial usually means a newly laid road or a relaid road (not just chucking on bitumen and a layer of pea gravel). The restrictions placed on streetworks can last for up to five years. It basically means that only essential works can be carried out, which boils down to emergency repairs.

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Flame

Whoop-de-doo

My exchange was enabled months ago. Shame they didn't bother to enable my cabinet though, just (seemingly) every other *&%^ing cabinet attached to the exchange.

Note to author - upgrading the exchange can have zero effect on all the customers attached to that exchange. Presumably no word yet either on those folks who are directly attached to the exchange and not via a cabinet?

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Unbundling my exchange would be a start...

Never mind fibre, it'd be nice if I had some competition on prices at our exchange. Mind you, we're not on the list for fibre (shock). Looks like I'll be stuck with my crappy connection (even though I'm just 1 mile from the exchange) and over-inflated prices for the foreseeable... 15 mins out from Cambridge and you'd think I was in the Scottish Highlands.

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Anonymous Coward

Scottish Highlands?

Try Glasgow, my exchange was upgraded 18 months ago and still no sign of my local cabinet being upgraded - just trying to get some information from them about when/if they plan to do so has been a major PITA with no resolution in sight.

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too late for us

Since a small cable company covered carlisle in 50mb (and 100mb trial if you ask nicely) internet BT have slowly dropped off the map. Even businesses have swapped over.

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Facepalm

Doh!

I thought I was on to a winner with this. They've just resurfaced my road so digging some of it up for fibre laying looked to be a dead cert but alas no.

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Section 58

If they've just resurfaced your road you'll probably find it's got a section 58 order on it that prevents anybody digging it up for five years unless it's for emergency repairs.

FORTUNATELY that isn't usually a problem because most of BTs infrastructure runs under pavements which aren't covered by the order.

FORTUNATELTY BT try to lay new cable without digging, they just draw through the cable throught the existing duct.

UNFORTUNATELY loads of the ducts are blocked. I know a lot of people like to chunter at BT about this, but it usually isn't their fault. Contractors working on other utilities often damage or completely crush the ducts. Then there's subsidence and sometimes good old rat activity.

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Unhappy

The exchange ain't everything...

If all that mattered were whether the exchange was fibred up or not, I'd have no complaints, as our local cable-house has been BT Infinity-ready for some time now.

Unfortunately, as we all know, it ain't worth diddley if the cable to the house isn't fibre too, and judging by the sub-2MB speeds we receive in our less-than-ten-year-old home (in a new development on the outskirts of a supposedly hi-tech town), I'd hazard a guess that when it was built, they connected us to BT via a length of wet string.

Hopefully BT can/will divert some of the moolah they won't need to spend on our (already upgraded) exchange, to finish the other half of the job, or else we look set to be stuck in the internet super-slow-lane for the foreseeable future...

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Anonymous Coward

Err...

Infinity is fibre to the cab, not the premises.

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Anonymous Coward

Heard it all before.

My local exchange was "upgraded" 18 months or so ago. So what have I (still) got? A copper wire to the exchange that gives me 768KB/s on a good day - like 60% of the users of this "upgraded" exchange. They stopped rolling out the FTTC cabs long ago and went off to pastures new where the publicity is more beneficial to them.

This is the usual BT bullshit.

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Pint

CASH FOR SCRAP

Wonder how much there actually making by 'upgrading' to fibre...

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Anonymous Coward

One More Time

I've said it before and no doubt I'll say it again, but BT are spending fortunes upgrading exchanges to fibre when there are still loads of exchanges which haven't been upgraded to ADSL2.

We keep being told that BT are comitted to improving "rural" (ie anywhere that isn't a densely populated urban area) broadband speeds. We have also been told that fibre to the premises is prohibitively expensive in rural areas. However fibre to the cabinet would not improve matters in many rural areas since there is no cabinet. The long cable runs straight from exchange to the premises. ADSL2 would at least give some improvement over these long lines.

So for these people with either no broadband or painfully slow broadband nothing will change because BT can't be arsed to install ADSL2 because it doesn't grab headlines like fibre does. They won't install FTTP and FTTC isn't even an option.

But guess what - these people are still paying the same bills as everybody else. So the poor saps with slow broadband are subsidising customers who already have ADSL2+ to be upgraded to even faster fibre.

Both BT and the government tell us they are committed to providing "fast broadband" to everybody but I see no evidence of this. Com on uk.gov put your foot down and tell BT that they MUST cease upgrading people to fibre when they already have fast broadband until such time as every home in the country with a BT provided line has a minimum connection speed of 2Mb/s.

And while you're at it guys make broadband billing pro-rata on speed. People getting a 1Mb connection should only pay 5% what the people with 20Mb/s pay. That's one thing that would make ISPs pull their fingers out. After all if you are connected to a crappy exchange most ISPs (BT excluded) will actually charge more than if you were on a good exchage.

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Boffin

Re: One More Time...

They're not upgrading so many exchanges to ADSL2 because they're upgrading more to FTTP.

While I'd agree with your overall post, there are one of two errors/oversights contained within it. Such as, ADSL2 and ADSL2+ are very nice - if you can make use of them. The problem being that the signal drops below the noise even faster and on long lines this is of little or no use. As a general rule of thumb, if you're not getting more than 2.5-3Mb/s then you'll see no improvement - less than 2Mb/s it's worse AND you'd have an unstable connection.

As an example, when I changed ISPs (TalkTalk took over Pipex & I ran away) the new bunch put me onto an ADSL2+ connection.I went from a stable 2.5Mb/s to a very flaky (several disconnections throughout the day & night) 2Mb/s, until I was switched back to ADSL. It returned to 2.5Mb/s & remains stable.

Second point - Lovely idea to charge by the speed. However, you just know that those on sub-2Mb/s lines would still pay the same as now, while the price would then rise with the data rate...

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Anonymous Coward

"until I was switched back to ADSL"

If wanting to return to ADSL rather than its wider frequency range successors, wouldn't it have been easier for most techies at home to just configure their modem/router to use "ADSL classic" rather than "ADSL 2" or "ADSL2+" or "auto" etc? Are there any (modem/routers? ISPs?) that don't permit that kind of thing?

Caution: may involve web browsers.

Note: may not involve hours on hold to tech support and/or days waiting for tech support (or their comms provider) to do something and/or weeks of pain from a flaky connection.

NB

yes there are broadband providers who supply their kit locked so that you're supposed to be unable to touch its configuration. This is a reminder of why those folks should be avoided.

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Anonymous Coward

"As a general rule of thumb, if you're not getting more than 2.5-3Mb/s then you'll see no improvement - less than 2Mb/s it's worse AND you'd have an unstable connection"

Nope. We had a long line that was running about 900Kbps but somewhat variable on ADSL, changed to ADSL2 and got 3128Mb/s more or less rock solid.

Where are you getting your "facts" from?

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Unhappy

Well said!

The point about subsidizing faster users was exactly the thing that makes me spitting mad.

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Linux

Re: AC 09:01

It was the ISP that 'phoned me and pointed out the connection soon after the line was reconnected, I confess I hadn't noticed, due in part to only lightly surfing. A web page taking longer than 30 seconds to load I just assumed was due to general Internet traffic.

Plusnet was very good for customer service at one time, before they expanded too fast for the call centre to keep up.

Yes, there are lots of routers still that don't like that kind of thing - those supplied by ISPs, usually. Yes, I got one from Plusnet, just because I could & also no longer wanted to use the Smoothwall machine I'd build from old bits - too much electric being eaten.

Tux - because I mentioned Linux

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Facepalm

Re: AC 15:41

Have you not seen graphs such as these?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.992.1

or

http://www.techtir.ie/book/export/html/1002307

Just how long is / was your line? I don't mean how far from the exchange you are, but how much copper there is joining you to it.

Sounds to me more like your connection had been throttled or your connection wasn't too good physically & electrically - Moved to a different tariff / ISP / LLU or did they repair / upgrade the equipment in the exchange? Oh, wait, newly upgraded exchange...

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Anonymous Coward

My home exchange is being upgraded! But my line doesn't go to a cabinet as I live next to the exchange with the telegraph pole in the exchanges grounds. I wonder if I'll be able to upgrade?

I get 17-20MB at present so I am rather spoilt already!

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Wouldn't have happened in Brunel's day

If you want to be a World leader you need solid infrastructure. I feel totally let down by the whole thing, we're falling way behind other countries because these turds are quibbling over amounts that are peanuts in the grand scheme of things.

Line them up against a wall and shoot them.

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Falling behind?

Don't believe all the stats. In the UK you can get a 40Mb/10Mb BT Infinity service with unlimited bandwidth (whatever that actually turns out to be), free Wi-Fi access, TV service with free ESPN sports, TV on demand and 7 day catch-up (don't knock it), free local and national calls for £32/month (around AU$48-50). Here I get a 17Mb/1Mb connection with a 50GB cap and nothing else for $70/month and I live in the middle of one of the major cities.

Quit whining.

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WTF?

Quote

"In another few years everyone will realise this country has been held to ransom by a telco as we lag further behind the countries who have migrated to real fibre connectivity."

And yet, even though they are privatised, we as taxpayers will have to pay for the new technology to bring up up to date.

Just like the railways, water, gas.....

When will government learn, privatisation is not the answer to a UK infrastructure, it ends up SOOOooooo expensive in the end..

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Anonymous Coward

Where I live

BT is still on crappy 8meg adsl max, however TalkTalk have LLU'd the exchange. It was a no brainer going to TT as they are far cheaper and I get 23megs as I'm just around the corner from the exchange.

BT you treat you customers like shite and charge too much.

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Anonymous Coward

You're a TalkTalk customer and you're satisfied? Watch it they'll be framing you and hanging you on the wall at head office.

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FAIL

Oooh, what a surprise!

... just checked the list AND ...

My local exchange isn't on there. Well smack me upside the head with a bunch of fibre optic cables and call me backwards.

Guess an exchange serving only 2100 premises isn't high on the agenda, even if it is only 30 miles from London, 3 miles from the M3 & serves an RAF chinook base.

Are they picking these exchanges out of a hat, or is it purely based on how many premises are served by the exchange? - or is it simply down to the way the cables are being laid that determines the next set of exchanges to be hooked up?

I guess it's the latter, makes sense I guess, but I'm still going to throw my digital toys out of the cot and write to my local MP demanding faster broadband and cheap beer. (I've already written to Lord Snooty Arbuthtwat about the beer, didn't get a reply, but I know where he lives. )

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WTF?

Seemingly out of a hat. My exchange - Wrexham North, is due for an upgrade. Though the actual upgrade sheet gives the code for Wrexham Exchange. I wonder if the fibre will go from there as part of a very very long term rationalisation plan.

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DR

Why could you possibly think that 2100 premises were worth investment?

a different poster earlier commented about the exchanges and linked to the fact that Brackley (population ~14k) has to be served by Banbury (population ~41k)

2100 homes (even assuming 6 people per house which would be above average) would likely see a population of only ~12k?

consider how much it costs to install fibre with the people digging up roads etc the cost of the fibre, the cost of the people installing it, and the equipment costs... it's probably just not financially viable to put fibre into your exchange. probably isn't now, likely never will be without considerable population growth...

the idea that a RAF base should be a important deciding factor is also laughable, I work in an office next to a RAF base, in a rural area, broadband here to residences get normal ~8mb, possibly 20mb lines, the business I work for has decided (as an IT company) that a good speed connection is vital, so we have a 100MB LES.

I'm sure that the RAF also have their own lines, and are probably not using BTs residential services.

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If Talk Talk are unhappy with BT then why not get Virgin to allow them to use their cable, if they won't then why just complain about BT?

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Bronze badge

It's not about getting BT to let you use their cable. The point is that they should be letting other companies use their ducting and poles. One of the major costs of installing any kind of cable system is digging up the roads. BT don't need to do this because they were gifted a network by the government.

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Anonymous Coward

@Fuzz

BT had to dig up my road (and half of Berkshire) in order to lay the fibres to the new Infinity green boxes. NTL's predecessor had to dig up the road in order to lay copper for cable TV, then NTL had to come round and do it again (properly this time!), I daresay Virgin will probably have to do so again some time. The only conceivable difference between BT and all the other telcos is that they have some actual ducting and the telegraph poles.

Incidentally it's not exactly long ago that BT had to replace all the telegraph poles in my area as well.

So why should other telcos, who already piggy back on BT using their wholesale service, not do what BT and NTL/Virgin do? If they want to run a fibre service and there isn't one in that area, just pony up the cash and lay the fibres themselves.

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Unhappy

"Up to" is meaningless

My present "up to 8Mbps" ADSL gives me 200kbps on a good day. In fact sometimes upstream is faster than downstream. If they give me an "at least" speed then I might think about it.

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Bronze badge

"Up to" is not meaningless at all. It means anywhere above zero and the stated speed. So 200kbps (btw do you mean bits or Bytes). 200kbps is in the range described by "up to 8Mb/s".

Up to is in common use in advertising. Up to 50% off. You could save up to £150. And nobody complains about that. If an ad says that you "could save up to £150 on your car insurance" then people don't complain when they don't save £150. People are bright enough to realise what "up to" means. Why is it that when it comes to broadband* people assume "up to" means something different? Simple answer they don't really, they're just jumping on a bandwagon.

OTOH I would like to see regulation that means users are charged pro rata for the speed they actually get. It might make ISPs put some effort into improving speeds all round rather than improving the speed of people who already have high speeds.

* the term broadband does not actually mean high speed in comms terms. It has come to mean that since ADSL was introduced, but it did not originally mean that. Too many idiots assumed that broadband meant fast internet because it was faster than 56kb/s dial up. Unfortunately it stuck.

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114, just 3 in Wales -- same as last time, no geographical discrimination here is there?

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Anonymous Coward

Why are we using the terms FTTC and FTTP? The universally recognised term for FTTC and last mile copper is VDSL which is what BT are providing.

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