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back to article Be co-founder mows BT's long grass in bid for fibre success

Dana Pressman Tobak can probably be spotted in the footnote of broadband history, having founded Be Unlimited with her university pal Boris Ivanovic, before quickly selling it on to O2 within a year of offering the product to the company's customers. And now the duo are back, this time under the guise of Hyperoptic – a Shepherd' …

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"claims download and upload speeds of 1Gbit/s for high-rise-living Londoners"

Ah damn, oh well at least I have nice views, big open spaces, fresh air and can see the stars at night here in rural Britain :)

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I'll give you another high horse: I'm in SE5 (zone 2) and don't even have Infinity, with no plans to get it.

I had a discussion with BTCare on Twitter yesterday about the fact that they've been telling me that it's three months away for two years now. On Monday it was 30th June, yesterday 30th September.

Go figure.

My friend in Scarborough is expecting his connection in the next week. I'm not saying that Londoners should get everything first, but the infrastructure cost must be lower in a city.

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Hope your friend can wait...

Engineer failed to turn up to install Infinity at a friends house, having to wait two weeks. Why you need an engineer in the first place is a mystery though..

We've had OpenReach vans crawling around here for months, maybe (for once) we're a bit special here in Scarborough? :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Not necessarily - maybe the ducts are already full or it's more difficult to get permission to dig up busier roads. Also when you are near to an exchange (more likely in a city) the line may run directly back to the exchange which means you can't get FTTC (which they are doing now) but the flip side is you are more likely to get FTTP when they start doing that.

So you may be stuck (as I am) with ADSL2+ now but be more likely to get the (superior) FTTP sooner.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hope your friend can wait...

They swap stuff over at the cabinet for current Infinity - the end user stuff is easy enough but often they check the boxes to try and ensure you will get a decent signal - i.e. on the master socket where possible etc.

So technically an engineer needs to go to the cabinet / exchange but not actually in your house (assuming your internal wiring is correct - as is not always the case).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hope your friend can wait...

> Why you need an engineer in the first place is a mystery though..

You don't. You do, however, need a technician, who wil replace the master socket with a filtered one which ensures that the DSL signal goes only to one extension point (or remains at the master socket) while all the other extensions are filtered as voice-only.

Nothing that a technically-competent amateur couldn't do, except that contractually only BT are allowed to touch the master socket since it is the dividing line between "BT-owned" and "occupier-owned" equipment.

It's worth it, though. 37Mbit/s download is nice, even in my office I only get 20Mbit/s on the company network...

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City Infrastructure Cost

Ian,

Infrastructure capital costs are far higher in a city. London is one of the most expensive.

When I am discussing civils (digging the road up) with my business customers, I generally set expectations of £135 per meter for London as a starter for 10. This doesnt even include wayleave costs, which can be daft depending on building ownership.

If you also factor in local authorities costs and permissions and any in built Boris tax, then costs and delays increase.

Cabling up an MDU is about the same no matter where you are, but you obviously need duct and fibre to the building to connect to anything. Wayleave issue doesn't go away though.

If it were simple, we'd all be sat on whizz bang 1Gbps connections, but you would be amazed how Local Authorities hinders service providers despite all their Digital Britain claptrap. Us Service Providers have the vision and we have the technology - we just don't have permission and the regulator hasn't the balls.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hope your friend can wait...

"It's worth it, though. 37Mbit/s download is nice"

I'm sure. It's therefore a pity that upload speeds remain in the dark ages for most broadband providers, and that they can't make the upload/download either choosable by the customer, or responsive to the actual throughput..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hope your friend can wait...

Lower upload speeds are a fundamental aspect of how asymmetric DSL works and are governed largely by the laws of physics. Symmetric DSL gets round this to a point but it's far more expensive and overall throughput (down + up) is lower than with ADSL.

Consumer broadband meets the needs of most consumers, most of the time.

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Happy

Gigabit Fibre in Rural Lancashire

Depends what part of rural Britain you are in. Residents in rural Lancashire will soon be connected to 1Gbs synchronous fibre. http://b4rn.org.uk/about-b4rn

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Paris Hilton

If the business goes downhill they could always do a sideline in studio-to-transmitter fibre links for pirate radio stations seeing they want to fibre up a load of high-rises!

Paris, 'cos she used to be a big fan of Kool FM back in the day and would often call in for a shout-out!

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Well...

The dates aren't real, they're just the estimated quarter. The best way to check it to use a site such as roadworks.org where you can see what work they're up to. My exchange went Live about 6 weeks ago on Infinity but two-thirds of the cabinets still haven't been turned on.

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Owners of start ups always sound so optimistic don't they? If there is a problem it's always someone else' fault and/or only the start up has the solution.

Once the business becomes established they sell it to some mug and run away.

Funny that.

NB:I was a Be customer until to recently and to be fair it was the best ISP I've ever known. But still. The overly optimistic tone of her comments and sniping at the big established players irritates me.

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Coat

My brain kept skipping over the second letter P in the name..... Imagine my disappointment when it turns out the company name was not Hyperotic.... And there was me thinking it was upselling the benefits of hard core pr0n.....

I've grabbed it on the way out, the dirty flasher mac....

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FAIL

"engineers had to be re-skilled".....Terry has to learn new tricks, "down rover down"

First of all it's not BT Openreach, it' "OpenReach a BT group company". They get very annoyed being called BT Openreach....lol

It's hardly new technology and to BT's credit they actually invented Air Blown Fibre in the 1980's. The fact that they are having to skill people up for something that is already 30 years old, kinda tell you how fast BT has been prepared to move in the fibre deployment.

OpenReach is still replacing damaged copper bundles with..... wait for it... copper.

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Happy

"...annoyed being called BT Openreach...."

Usually referred to as BT Opencrotch in these parts...

(Used to be Openwound/ world)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "engineers had to be re-skilled".....Terry has to learn new tricks, "down rover down"

Blown fibre was used in specific situations by some highly-skilled people. Now it's being used far more widely, far more people need to be trained. That doesn't seem unreasonable.

What would you replace damaged or stolen copper with? If you have a mile of copper, 1 metre of damage, then another mile of copper and hundreds or thousands of people out of service, what would you do? Tell the customers to hang on for a couple of months while you replace all the cable, all the exchange equipment and every master socket? Or just repair the damage and have everyone back in service again? You've not even mentioned the customers in that bundle who are running services that require electrical connectivity - would you tell burglar alarm owners "sorry, you can't have that any more?".

Copper and fibre and not directly interchangeable with each other, which should be immediately obvious to anyone. Next time you damage a power lead or Cat-5 cable, try splicing some fibre around the damage and see how that works for you.

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Re: "engineers had to be re-skilled".....Terry has to learn new tricks, "down rover down"

You bring up some good points, but I am quite aware as to how networks and services work and especially how to emulate them over fiber. it is not that difficult to either blow or splice fibre, it hardly requires highly-skilled people, just some skilled people with the right equipment. Having done this for real myself at SPs I can tell you it's not rocket science.

Having developed little to no program over the last 20 years to stop 'polishing the copper' and to begin to migrate services over to fiber is a massive failure from BT, but hardly a surprise when you look at the expensive mess of 21CN. Exactly where is the digital voice migration BT promised the market would have happened by now? Although I would agree its to late to bother as it will never pay back, landline decline / move to mobile etc. However to build a replacement network based on the idea of a dying product (against mobile) was obvious to most people as a failure.

Other countries carriers have done FTTP, and have detailed plans for other legacy tdm/circuit services and have consulted the regulator to wind down such regulated products.

There is no copper in my place and my alarm system works just fine using an ATA.....

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Anonymous Coward

Fibre to the Building

the key issue with this is that they need a big building for it to cost in - and there aren't that many of those around the UK (except old high-rises and some new developments).

How many buildings have Hyperoptic actually connected again? They say they'd "like to be in 100 buildings by the end of the year". But the website only has an availability checker, not a list of buildings. Funny that ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fibre to the Building

That is not quite so actually.

First of all there is fiber and fiber and fiber and fiber: PON, Ethernet Extension and a whole raft of higher speed tech.

Second fiber to the building costing require to chose the correct paradigm for in-building deployment which is _NO_ _TELEPHONY_ _COPPER_. Yes, right none of the preciousssssshhh... Cu. Fiber is not good too because most buildings have to be wired as start topologies and not ring so fiber does not compute either.

So, let's assume in first approximation that in-building it is Cat5 and shared Cat5 too - VLANs for isolation (if any).

If you use any tech different from PON or Ethernet extension this does not cost in for anything but a BIG building - quite correct here.

If you use any PON short of GPON you cannot feed any building with more than a few dwellings. No point in doing that.

The interesting use cases are 1G Ethernet extension and 10GBASE-LR terminating on the in-building Ethernet switch daisy-chained in a (set of) ring (s) topology to the next building. If you deliver let's say 250MBit to a customer you do ~ 100 customers on a 1G and 1000+ on a 10G leaf. Your cost ends up at ~ 10$ per customer for the switches (termination equipment). This compares very favorably to any form of Broadband which costs in the 60-100$ per customer for Access + BRAS.

So it is not surprising that there are countries which have gone down this access route and where the incumbent telecom operator is being eaten alive by the LAN extenders.

Coming back to "big" buildings - you are wrong it, will cost in for anything from 16 apartments in a building and upwards - you need to chose the right tech (and support it via the right OSS an BSS train). In fact BIG buildings are probably a place where it will be difficult to cost in because you have to put BIG expensive tech in the basement which becomes high theft risk and a high "point of failure" risk in the absence of proper cooling, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Hyperoptic

Our building should go live with Hyperoptic next month. We've had the faceplates installed and we're just waiting for the fibre into the building to be installed. Hyperoptic are very good as press spin, so it will be good to see how they perform.

Despite living in a block of flats built last year, BT installed Exchange Only lines, so we'll never get Infinity. BT do this due to cost I'm told. However now we have another option, my BT line will be cancelled at the end of my contract term.

Why do BT continue to install EO lines in places they know people will want faster broadband? Does the cost saving outweigh the lost revenue from people like me?

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Re: Hyperoptic

> Why do BT continue to install EO lines in places they know people will want faster broadband?

> Does the cost saving outweigh the lost revenue from people like me?

It is because everything Thatcher sold off went to asset strippers. All they want out of ex-public companies is golden handshakes.

It went west with the start of yuppie England whilst the rest of the country was get urine handshakes. And it was downhill all the way. 4 decades of it.

What we really need is a Thatcher image of a cheesy grin. So no more icons till I get what I want.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like a good idea...

...but an utterly crap name.

Guess they rejected Mega-fibre as not being big enough. No it has to be HYPER I tell you, Mega and Massive are just not awesome.

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FAIL

Cabinets?

Last time I checked, my estate is littered with cabling cabinets from the NTHell days (now Virgin Media) and the scars in the pavements are still clear to see in many places. VM like to claim they are offering fibre-optic Internet access, but we all know it's over copper co-ax. Like BT, they will have to re-do their cabinets if they want to offer FTTP.

Openreach (well, their contractors) have been installing their FTTC boxes all over my town and my ISP tells me it's available (just waiting on them to sort their daft business pricing). It will make a change from being stuck on 8192/448 for the past 8 years, but I would prefer someone to blow fibre up to my house!

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Re: Cabinets?

We would love to blow fibre to every ones home and business, but it is all about cost. BT and VM have last mile infrastructure mostly in copper form for residential use.

To replace hundreds of thousands of Km of copper with fibre is an astronomical amount of capital. Replacing equipment in an existing cab isn't difficult, but bear in mind all the exchanges and head ends/hubs would also require changing and core's being re-engineered.

Some countries pay for this out of tax, but in this current climate, I would be very surprised if this Government sanctioned it for the UK. They like to talk a big fight, but when push comes to shove there is never any hard cash on the table.

As I stated earlier in this chain, we (Service Proviers) would have done this years ago, but just don't have the Billions required to carry out this activity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cabinets?

The Australian bill for FTTP is looking north of $45bn when coupled with satellite coverage for outlying areas. Don't fancy paying for that out of taxes in the current climate if I can potentially get up to 100Mb/s from FTTC for way less cost here in the UK.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cabinets?

So what's the avergae cost per metre to blow fibre, including terminations and other associated kit?

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'the company became the first telco in the UK to offer speeds of 24Mbit/s in the country'

ISTR that was Bulldog?

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Blow Fibre

That is a pretty moot point. Overall cost of blowing fibre is relatively inexpensive - cheaper than copper in fact. Openreach for example charge £3.50 per meter for fibre blown in existing duct. To splice and terminate it, costs increase further. VM (or most other operators) are in this ball park also as for obvious reasons, no point in charging more than the incumbent.

If you are interested, openreach publish these various rates as per the below link, which you can copy into your browser.

http://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/products/pricing/loadProductPriceDetails.do?data=ZdqG%2Fxv%2FjSuBEEITnogh5uNOEwQ2%2FKws5WBAVcIlcholMnGHsqdC0vzO163bJmh34D91D7M0q8u%2F%0AIlSgtIFAKw%3D%3D

In BT's majority footprint, new civils and ducts would be required for the high fibre count cable that would be required to support all the new fibre tails into the home.

In VM's case, it is a similar story as local access ducts would require overbuild as existing ducts wouldn't be large enough.

If you are lucky enough to live in a pre-built area where a major developer may have provided duct for such fibre networks and a service provider has architected thus, then happy days. Fibre here would be a no brainer.

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