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back to article Sky asks Ofcom to unlock BT cabinets

Complaints about the competitive landscape in Britain's broadband model have led Ofcom to announce a review which may include enforcing unbundled fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) access. Coming hard on the heels of a UK National Audit Office report that savaged the country's behind-schedule (particularly in rural areas) broadband …

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Terminator

Hasta la vista, baby

Sky does networks?

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Re: Hasta la vista, baby

Sky does networks?

They own Easynet.

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Facepalm

Re: Hasta la vista, baby

No they don't own Easynet. They used to, but offloaded it to venture capitalists in 2010.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/21/easynet_sky/

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Re: Hasta la vista, baby

Hmm, missed that somehow - thanks for point that out. Still - the article says they retain the network and LLU stuff. So Sky does networks even more than I thought it did :)

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RE: Re: Hasta la vista, baby

They used to, but offloaded it to venture vulture capitalists in 2010.

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Isn't there likely to be a problem with space in these cabinets ?

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Anonymous Coward

There is space problem by design

The service cannot be delivered to 100% of the population by design. It is designed for no more than ~40% uptake (if memory serves me right). Even that requires a fugly "extension" to the already fugly piece of Huawei built street furniture. The standard uptake for the standard single cabinet install is even less than that.

So the only way I can see this work is Sky getting a permission to install its _OWN_ cabinets next to BT and use the fiber to the exchange for backhaul. This would have been a viable idea if the cabinets were on one of the places which exist in every neighborhood while being "out of site and out of mind" - the electricity substation. There is plenty of space on most of them too. Unfortunately, instead of that they will fight to put them in the street.

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Re: There is space problem by design

Sky can put FTTC cabinets where it wishes now, as others have done (Rutland Telecom, South Yorks Digital Region). They're just bitching about price while giving away 12 months free broadband. Doh !

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Anonymous Coward

Sky's own backhaul

It would be ok if they had any. I'm on their ADSL and iPlayer doesn't even work properly at busy times.

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It's an interesting request. Back when FTTC was being discussed I saw an Ofcom document that stated there was no interest in unbundled FTTC and that everyone was happy with GEA. Now it seems Sky are saying that there was interest but BT blocked the idea:

Sky's new suggestion.

"In the early industry discussions around NGA during 2008 and 2009, Sky and other CPs advanced proposals for several possible unbundled FTTC access products. These were rejected by BT. Sky considers that with the progress made to date by BT, and experience gained by all CPs in the roll-out of BT’s FTTC, it is appropriate to reconsider access products unbundled to a greater extent than the current GEA product."

From reading that it seems Sky have two things in mind. Firstly BT's poor service record - presumably in terms of installation/maintenance rather than throughput. Secondly I think Sky might be looking to compete with BT in the local loop (they talk about not enough use of PIA).

I struggle to see how simply unbundling a cabinet the way they do exchanges would help in itself. Last I heard BT manage the cabinet to exchange backhaul perfectly well anyway and I can't see where cost savings would come from. So I reckon Sky have definite interest in moving into the local loop properly. Maybe doing their own FTTPoD?

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Sky considers that with the progress made to date by BT, and experience gained by all CPs in the roll-out of BT’s FTTC, it is appropriate to reconsider access products unbundled to a greater extent than the current GEA product

This translates to:

"We didn't want to share the costs of installation but now that BT have spent all the money, we reckon we ought to get access on the cheap."

I don't know what the charging model is for all of this and am prepared to accept that there's an argument that BT are padding it a bit, but I can also see BT's side of it.

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Who did you think would be candidates for this?

After BT and Virgin Sky were the obvious candidate for this.

Love him or loath him but Rupert and his gang team of dedicated henchmen staff have the sort of wonga needed to make this work.

The key thing is that there would be an actual choice in the backhaul other than "Openreach, a BT division."

Right now there is no effective competition and a new player with deep pockets ready for the long haul (no pun intended) just might start it up.

BTW did anyone think it funny Sky went to BT, not to the regulator directly to discuss this? Not even a copy to Ofcom.

AC@06:20

No iPlayer. Do you think perhaps that might have something to do with that part of the service being done by BT and it's over contended?

A cautious thumbs up.

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CM
Meh

Crowded streets

The old greenie box gains a twin for the FTTC gear, now Sky want to possibly bung more? Where will pedestrians walk (cyclists speed)?

There seems to be plenty of air in the tinny Virgin boxes near me. The local kids helpfully leave the doors open. How come Sky don't go for VM too? They have the infrastructure but badly need a kick up the ****

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Re: Crowded streets

If I had the choice of shooting for space in newly installed cabs that were linked to my own backhaul points of presence, versus putting new kit into new POPs and old, insecure, poorly maintained 20 year old neglected cabs, I know which way I'd go...

Making cabs physically secure feels like basic hygiene to me but the need to do it seems lost on VM...

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Paris Hilton

Re: Crowded streets

Your Virgin boxes have Doors! My god we still have those plastic covers here!

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JMB

We had other companies sharing our (small) buildings at my work and they were given unsupervised access. It was a real PITA with often things like junk left behind, the people who looked after the sharing would often not make sure they fulfilled their obligations so we had to sort out the problems ourselves. I hate to think what it would be like having other companies, especially Sky, sharing a small cabinet.

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Require the other party to provide a precise list of what they will install on each occasion they want the cabinet opened (every item of electronics, wire, tools etc). Anything not on the list can be removed at any time.

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Madness

Surely this is madness. IIRC as part of the GEA product Sky should already have the ability to move the traffic onto their network from the exchange backwards - I can't see any benefit in installing their own dslams in the cabinets (which are pretty small anyway - there's probably no room with the current cabinet design) and running their own fibre back to the exchange (through ducts that may be full already).

If it's to reduce costs, surely the best thing is for OFCOM to look into GEA rental for that part of the network and lock OpenReach down on the wholesale price. I can't believe it is more efficient to have additional companies DSLAMS in a cabinet, or even worse multiple cabinets!

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Short answer

I would strongly suggest that Sky are told to OffFuk, and that they aren't getting access on the cheap.

If they want cabinets, let them put their own up. Competition is not competition if it relies on the opposition doing all the work then waltzing in at the last minute.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Short answer

You mean like the UK Taxpayer funding all the install and stuff for the post office then BT getting it for nothing as a private company?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Short answer

Not to mention getting loads of money from the government to install more fibre.

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Re: Short answer

You want the taxpayer to subsidise Murdoch as well?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Short answer

"You mean like the UK Taxpayer funding all the install and stuff for the post office then BT getting it for nothing as a private company?"

Other way round, the post office subsidised the government. The exchequer took the GPO's profits and used them to keep tax bills down. That's the primary reason that the growth of the telephone network was slow, the GPO couldn't re-invest profits.

BT got nothing for free. The government sold the assets to shareholders. People who bought shares *bought* those things from the government. It may or may not have been the right thing to do, but no-one got anything for free.

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Re: Short answer

@AC

BT did not get it for nothing as you put it. The shareholders of BT bought the assets from the government if you remember. The total paid at the time (over three tranches) amounts to about 75% of BT's current total capitalisation before adjusting for inflation. You can't sell something then claim it was given away...

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Why not access to Virgin cabinets?

The ones where the door swings open at the lightest touch, and you can have hours of endless fun repatching the neighbourhood.

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What we should do, is hand over responsibility for the last 5 miles to the local councils.

Then every time they dig up the roads for whatever arbitrary reason, they could lay fibres.

Let BT do the backhaul (or anyone else) and let the local not for profit organisation do the last 5 miles.

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Stop

The very thought of relying on my council for anything internet is giving me a migraine.

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JMB

'What we should do, is hand over responsibility for the last 5 miles to the local councils.

Then every time they dig up the roads for whatever arbitrary reason, they could lay fibres.

Let BT do the backhaul (or anyone else) and let the local not for profit organisation do the last '

The mind boggles at councils trying to organise that, they would probably just contract out to someone, probably end up in the hands of some foreign telecom company just like everything else. Would put the costs up with a few more layers all wanting to make a profit out of it.

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Angel

Virgin

I'd like to see the Virgin cable network made accessible to other providers.

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Re: Virgin

I'd like to see the Virgin cable network in Lincolnshire.

Back in the 1950s the 'redifussion' system was part of the build when new towns were constructed.

Since the Millenium we have had estates added to Bourne and Spalding etc. that have doubled their population. Why was cable not compulsory for these builders if we are serious as a nation about competition?

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Re: Virgin

Why should they?

They built that network with no public subsidy, that is equivalent to say you should be forced to give me a lift if you go past my work.

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Re: Virgin

'Their' network has unbelievable subsidies.

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JMB

Re: Virgin

I would think much of the BT infrastructure went in after privatisation or at least has been replaced since privatisation. I agree though that if BT have to allow competitors to use their buildings, cabinets etc then those competitors should also make their buildings, cabinets etc open to BT and others.

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Space?

Given the size of most street cabinets, and the complaints generated when BT have installed larger ones, I'm not sure how this is going to work. Imagine half a dozen LLU providers all wanting to install stuff in that little box by the side of the street and dig up the street to run their fibres back to the exchange or elsewhere.

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Satellites?

Surely Sky of all companies could develop/offer a satellite based broadband product? Rural areas would rejoice!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Satellites?

Have you ever tried Satellite internet access? I have, and wasn't impressed.

The minimum Ping time is about half a second as the signal needs to do four times the distance to geostationary orbit. During this flight, I found a significant number of packets didn't make it to the other end. It's also incredibly expensive for what you get.

Hopefully high altitude long endurance drones will sort out all of the problems, but financially, they're unlikely to be able to compete.

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Why do Sky need access to the cabinets?

For the benefit of those of us not up on the intricacies of FTTC, why can't Sky route via their own backhaul from the exchange? Why do they need access to the cabinet?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why do Sky need access to the cabinets?

"For the benefit of those of us not up on the intricacies of FTTC, why can't Sky route via their own backhaul from the exchange? Why do they need access to the cabinet?"

If I understand the product description properly, they can use their own backhaul. This seems to be more about Sky wanting to put kit in the cabinets as well. That model exists in telephone exchanges - Sky or whoever can rent space in there for their kit, it looks like they want that model extended to the boxes.

The logical argument then would be "well, build your own cabinets" - but then you don't get access to the copper last mile - though you could use some kind of wireless access.

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