back to article BT claims almost-gigabit connections over COPPER WIRE

BT has claimed that ultrafast modern broadband can be delivered using a decidedly old school method: copper wires. The telco has released research which found that combined downstream and upstream speeds of up to one Gigabit per second (1000 Mbps) is possible using a mix of fibre and copper. It admitted that many folk assumed …

WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

because in another 4 years

BT: Hey guys want super fast broadband ??

Oh you still have copper on your line .... Sorry no can do and since we blew all our budget putting fibre only half way down the street were not going to put any more in.

Have they never heard of future proofing ?

case in point, i live in a newbuild 1 year old. why not just install FTTP ? it is a low cost option relatively speaking to putting down copper then pulling it all up again and putting in fibre at a later date.

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

Living in a large new estate with low broadband speeds and no fibre/cable despite the town having both. I am pretty certain the discussions go between BT & house builders - what is cheapest option we can do for legal requirements as house builders don't want to pay and BT want to angle for getting government paying for the fibre stuff.

Hopefully, after lots of pressure from residents, council and MP the estate I live on should get Fibre options late this year

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

best of luck with your fibre war, I couldn'y imagine going back from FTTC it would be horrific

I have FTTC and yes I am more than happy with my service and dont really feel the need to upgrade, in all honesty it would mainly be for bragging rights rather than actually using it to its full extent. but i really cannot understand the mentality of shooting oneself in the foot with half assed installs ............

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

I live on a new housing development, which was a test-site for FTTH (via Seethelight/IFNL) and there is no copper laid anywhere on the estate (VoIP). A couple of months ago we all received a letter from our local MP, who (ironically) was greatly concerned about the lack of competition since BT had no copper infrastructure there and we had no alternate choice of provider.

He'd apparently had a complaint from another resident that they couldn't call up and have BT install them a phone line; the suggestion being that BT must be permitted to dig up the estate and lay their ancient infrastructure.

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

@ Robert Simmons

So, the developer selected a network company that didn't allow alternative providers to connect across it? And no doubt your neighbour wants a BT line at BT's standard charges? That's a huge cost for little revenue. Why on earth would BT want to do so? The developer has made a choice on behalf of your neighbour - spilt milk.

Realistically, the only effective way to put the comms in to a development, and all of the development, is when it's being built. Doing it after is more expensive, and doing that for just a minority of residents spreads that cost over fewer people.

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

"WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!"

Money:

If BT pays fibre to every house as a general infrastructure upgrade it has to pay for it and recover the costs over 20 years.

If it puts whizzy bits of kit on the existing copper it can charge the ISPs the full cost of kit (and then some!) for one end and the enduser has to stump up the all the costs for the other.

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Unhappy

Re: Newbuild

a newbuild 1 year old. why not just install FTTP?

About 5 years ago I bought a flat in a development newly built by Wimpy. You can tell how much foresight went into the building from the fact that every flat has gas that is supplied through 15mm copper tube that runs up the outside of the building*. I'm surprised that's even legal.

Inside the flat there are wall sockets for phone, TV arial and satellite dish. I can only suppose these aren't actually connected to anything. The BT installer drilled through the outside wall and ran cable along the skirting board to a surface-mounted box in the good old way. Nearly every flat has a satellite dish screwed to the outside wall.

* Like the Lloyds building, only less stylish.

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Re: Newbuild

I fear the mistake you've made if to buy a flat from Wimpy the hamburger chain and not Wimpey the builder.

I also have wall sockets for satellite TV, which now work, but only after the leaseholders got together and had a whip round so that the management company could put in a communal dish. Much cheaper (and looks better) than individual dishes and avoids the issue that north facing flats will struggle with line of sight.

Of course, if most people have their own dish there won't be much appetite for a communal one...

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

I'm sure BT would do it, all overhead

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

Future proofing should't have to lock into one service provider. Each property built today should be provided with 2 or 3 15mm flexi pipes to a location in the property (beside fuse box say) that leads back to the local "telecoms cabinet" which allows the fibre to be patched into whichever providers want to connect to the box. With 15mm tube, one could even be pre-installed with cat6 type cabling ready to use for a phone/other copper based service if required.

Here in Stavanger (Norway) they are gradually going round town replacing a lot of underground cables and pipes, as they do so, they are laying LOTS of thin orange pipes feeding from comms boxes to homes (the property boundary anyway) then if/when the occupants want fibre, they just need to traverse their own property and through the (usually timber) house wall

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Re: Newbuild

Not denying Wimpey's crappiness, but I think that's the requirement now for flats, that the gas pipework be external. Makes leaks less dangerous, and as you say, the building uglier

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Unhappy

Re: "shooting oneself in the foot with half assed installs"

Well we are talking about BT here which says it all.

They installed a new cabinet 200m from my house and the copper went from running at 14.5 mbps to 12.3 mbps (on a good day). Some improvement eh?

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

It is a cost thing. Optical transceivers are too expensive. Of course, they are not even considering that in future the optical transceivers will most likely be dirt cheap. Several companies are aggressively working on silicon photonics that put tiny lasers, detectors, lenses and wave guides on-chip.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

" it is a low cost option relatively speaking to putting down copper then pulling it all up again and putting in fibre at a later date."

Not for the 40% of households who just want a phone line.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

"If BT pays fibre to every house as a general infrastructure upgrade it has to pay for it and recover the costs over 20 years."

No - the customers have to pay for it - if BT pays for it and doesn't make a return it runs into some trouble with the competition act. It would look like it's running at a loss to keep the competition out.

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

"If BT pays fibre to every house as a general infrastructure upgrade it has to pay for it and recover the costs over 20 years."

Well guess what they've been doing with copper for the last 40 years? Making a loss?

Clever wiring work in the street means not having to build new ducts or trenches if you're stripping out. Per-capita cost is going to be far less than Virgin is spending at the moment (they DO have to dig the trench and put in the furniture).

Digging holes: Let's not forget that the STATE put in the massive copper infrastructure and since 198-something, BT has been milking it whilst selling us services atop that we have little option over.

'Line Rental' : If it's a 'service' then you would expect investment to be costed into that rental to give you the 'service' that post-Edwardians expect.

ISDN-2: When you pick a horse, be willing to buy a new one. Huge costs have been backing up in exchange architecture that seemed cool even after it was defunct. The rest of civilisation went ADSL.

Reflects our international stereotype quite well. Used to be clever, chose the tweed jacket, still wearing it.

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

"ISDN-2: When you pick a horse, be willing to buy a new one. Huge costs have been backing up in exchange architecture that seemed cool even after it was defunct. The rest of civilisation went ADSL."

ISDN was the mechanism of choice for internet access pre ADSL in most of the world. Though when it was introduced in the early 80s it was a bit of a white elephant - "I Still Don't kNow what to use it for". In the 90s it was better than PSTN dial up for internet access. ADSL only came together in 1998.

Have to say I don't understand your point. ISDN was 15years roughly before ADSL. If you're saying ISDN was of dubious value but got lucky when internet arrived then I agree. But if you're saying we should not invest in today's technology because something better will be here in 14 years then that seems daft.

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

I believe his point being that BT still sell ISDN services now...

http://business.bt.com/phone-services/isdn/

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Re: WHY WHY WHY WHY !!!!!!

Was it? I must have missed that in the harangue. Thanks for clarifying. Some business customers can be very loathe to move onto new technology. I imagine it remains there to be sold because there are still some customers that specify it.

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Megaphone

Gigabit over copper?

You mean like CAT5E?

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Re: Gigabit over copper?

CAT-5E will carry a gigabit signal for 100m (330 feet)... considerably longer than the 19m specified in the article.

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Re: Gigabit over copper?

yeah, but gigabit CAT5-E uses 4 UTP to give that speed, all four channels are used.

by comparison, your phone line has two wires... and its spliced in ways that would make ethernet cry...

but in all fairness I would run cat6 to the edge of my property for them to get higher speeds, but i'd be happy for 100Mbs each way, no idea why anyone needs gigabit internet connectivity at home...

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Re: Gigabit over copper?

@MrXavia I have no idea why any user need more than 640 KB.

Okay sorry about that. Good answer re cat5e, I didn't know that.

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Go

Re: Gigabit over copper?

I'l raise your cat6 with a cat7 - what do you say to that

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Coat

Re: no idea why anyone needs gigabit internet connectivity at home...

It's for downloading large amounts of "research material".

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Facepalm

Re: Gigabit over copper?

"no idea why anyone needs gigabit internet connectivity at home..."

Which is a bit like the quote "640K ought to be enough for anybody."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Gigabit over copper?

I'm thrilled with 30/5 Mbps but as a freelancer, more bandwidth is *always* better.

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Re: Gigabit over copper?

I am wondering if a lot of the speed gain is precisely the elimination of such splices as most of those are between the cabinet and the DP on underground developments. Example, my own line: We're approx 60m from the cab as the crow flies, or about 100m as the cable runs, all u/g. There are 3 splices before the DP, then the actual splice in the DP itself, simply because of the way the local network (D-side) wiring is done

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Oh please, not the tired old "640K" crap

Please state a use case where gigabit is needed and 100Mbit is not adequate.

All the data we download and upload has to serve us meatbags in some way. Some of it acts as input to our brains. As speeds have increased we moved from an internet that was almost all text back in the 80s to today where people are streaming movies over it, so the input to our brains has improved. But that's as high as the resource consumption goes in that respect. We don't have holodecks, if we get them then forget gigabit we need terabit, but I don't see that happening. Netflix streams 4K in 15 Mbps, so unless you plan on needing more than a half dozen 4K streams at once, 100 Mbit is probably fine for your media needs.

If it isn't data that is being directly input into our brains in the form of media, it is some other type of data that is incidental to that process, i.e. computer instructions to create that input, either a program or encoded files that are input to those programs. Like say a Linux ISO. Surely if you download Linux you'd rather it arrive in less than a minute[*] than waiting nearly 10 whole minutes, right? But how often do you do that, and even if you were a reviewer whose job it was to download 5 Linux distros a day and see how smoothly the install process goes, it wouldn't be that much to ask to kick off the download of one while you test the one before it, right? The nice thing about downloads and uploads is that they don't require your attention, or impede you or your computer's ability to do other tasks while they're happening! Unless it is so fast I don't have time to even think about doing something else while I wait, it is "too slow" and I'm going to optimize that process by doing something else while the download occurs.

I have asked this question about "what good is gigabit" many times in many different forums, and I've never seen a good answer. When Bill Gates supposedly (but didn't) say the thing about 640K, anything with half a brain could come up with a ton of reasons why you'd want more than that, if not that day surely in the near future. Maybe people would have struggled to come up with a reason why people would complain about "only" 1GB in a phone or 8GB in a laptop back in 1985, but that would be like asking what we'd do with a petabit per second internet connection in 2045. I'm not sure I know what we'd really do with a gigabit per second connection in 2045! I don't think any of you do either, other than to cop out and say "surely technology will have moved on and we'll need that and more".

[*] I'm VERY generously assuming that whatever your speed of connection is, your ISP and the internet magically maintain it all the way to all the servers you connect to. This isn't true today, but maybe someday when everyone does have gigabit connections, whether they need them or not, you'll actually be able to download a Linux ISO at 120 MB/sec from any site that has it.

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Re: Gigabit over copper?

If my work also had gigabit internet, then I could access their servers at the same speed as the LAN in the office.

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Coat

Re: Gigabit over copper?

This explains why cats have taken over the Internet....

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@jonathanb

No you couldn't, the latency would be longer - perhaps significantly longer if your ISP doesn't directly peer with your work's ISP.

Besides, if you could access the servers at work at the same speed as you could while in the office, what does that do for you that accessing them at 100 Mb couldn't? How would that impact your ability to do your job?

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Re: Oh please, not the tired old "640K" crap

"All the data we download and upload has to serve us meatbags in some way. Some of it acts as input to our brains."

This is a fair point, but I'll have a go anyway. How about a family of four, each watching a different HD video? Your mileage may vary but each of those channels /might/ be over 25Mbit/s after compression and your 100Mbit pipe will struggle to deliver all four without glitches.

On the other hand, a gigabit pipe will handle a set of 4K channels comfortably, so video probably won't be the reason that (eventually) gigabit isn't enough. Perhaps some kind of multi-player, immersive virtual reality? I don't know how much they use.

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Re: @jonathanb

Try accessing a Sage Line 50 dataset on the other side of a 100Mb/s link. It is not a pleasant experience.

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Re: Oh please, not the tired old "640K" crap

Did 100Mbit ethernet or 54Mbit wi-fi turn out to be adequate? No.

Are consumers moving away from shifting data about in the LAN to shifting it in and out of the cloud? Yes

No, consumers aren't likely to utilize a 1Gbit connection 100% of the time, but when they upload or download something, the preference is likely to be; the quicker the better.

The basis for your argument seems to be about what people need. But the Internet isn't about what people need - Unlikely as it might sound, life can exist without the Internet! It is about what people want.

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Need vs want

Too true, I'm not saying no one should be allowed to get gigabit because no one needs it. I'm saying no one should be bent out of shape if some people are only able to attain 100 Mbps where they live instead of a gigabit. It won't handicap their ability to do anything the gigabitters can do.

Anyway, until the internet undergoes some massive upgrades it won't matter because I find even on my piddly 25 Mbps connection (which I could have upgraded six years ago but have chosen not to) the speed limit is set by limitations "out there", hardly ever by the speed of my link.

Since I have VDSL2 and a good ISP, I always get that speed - a lot of people think they need faster because they have a crappy ISP, or cable modems that have a faster speed initially that slows down for longer downloads, and their performance depends on how many of their neighbors are streaming Netflix or using bittorrent.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: no idea why anyone needs gigabit internet connectivity at home...

Research Material includes:

- A full install of World of Warcraft at 40GB;

- Destiny in several platforms, at several GB as well;

- The missus watching youtube and causing lag on my gaming;

- Full backups at offsite location; (3 copies, in 2 different places, 1 in offsite location, as usual).

and pretty soon we will have GTA 5 on Steam.

And if the band was really, really really large we wouldn't need to download the games, just log online and play, all the content would be served through network. No more waiting-to-patch.

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Re: no idea why anyone needs gigabit internet connectivity at home...

As soon as you get your ubiquitous gigabit internet you'll have the next generation of games that'll be 40TB then you'll need terabit connectivity.

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Anonymous Coward

I wish they would give me something anywhere near that...

Exchange has just been upgraded for FTTC. Looks like I'll now be able to get a whole 33/7 (if I'm very lucky).

A pity the upgrade didn't include actually putting some cabinets in the village (of some 200 properties) rather than using the one some 900m down the road :-(

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Re: I wish they would give me something anywhere near that...

I suspect they weren't allowed planning permission. BT will stick their boxes as close to the end points as they can because it is cheaper for them to do it that way.

If they are stuck out of town it is because they weren't allowed in town.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wish they would give me something anywhere near that...

If only - we live in an area with lots of small (ex mining) villages. The cabinet that serves most of the house in our village is located in another village that's closer to the exchange.

To put a cabinet (or two) in the village would have required significant changes to the phone wiring infrastructure, so it gets the "not viable" tag.

The council would have no problem granting planning (supported by the community) if it was requested...

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Re: I wish they would give me something anywhere near that...

Welcome to my world!

If you chase BT for cabinet / DSLAM rollout dates they will probably tell you your location is not economically viable as they did with me.

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Flame

Re: I wish they would give me something anywhere near that...

For me they said it'll come on such and such a date, but then on that date add a year as they have done for the past few years, NTL just told me to go away even though they keep spamming me with their offers I can't get.

*Waves fist with envy that a street away they have both NTL and BT Fibre to Cabinet Options*

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Re: I wish they would give me something anywhere near that...

Isn't Openreach supposed to have some sort of accountability process for the provision (or not) of comms infrastructure? Might be worth seeing if you could request the details of the cost estimate that returned a 'not viable' verdict. The cynic in me wonders if 'not viable' is code for 'can't be arsed.'

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Re: I wish they would give me something anywhere near that...

Don't you know how to solve that?

Setup a broadband company, chase EU funding for community broadband - you're eligible for it if BT says "not viable".

Get everyone signed into it, etc etc

Announce a launch date and do a but of groundwork.

Watch as BT magically change their tune and drop everything to install DSL to the area they once deemed "not viable"

Anticompetitive activities? Nosirree, just that the market conditions have changed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wish they would give me something anywhere near that...

" The cynic in me wonders if 'not viable' is code for 'can't be arsed.'"

I doubt it. Companies like to make a profit, as do their shareholders. Companies that pass up on opportunities to make a profit see them taken by other companies and shareholders demanding that the board be sacked.

My understanding is that the profit test is pretty important - BT has a large market share and selling anything below cost or unprofitably invites all sorts of legal action around competition. How would you feel as a startup fibre ISP if you had to compete with an incumbent selling below cost?

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Re: I wish they would give me something anywhere near that...

There's a community fibre company round here, I'm supporting it purely for the reasons you state, to suddenly make our village market conditions "better"...

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19 meters you say?

That's about my distance from the exchange. Now if they would only drag exchange-only lines out of the stone age I'd be sorted.

How it works out to be "cheaper" to do a green box, than upgrade the poor sods on the exchange (where 90% of the equipment presumably already exists) is beyond my economics-fu.

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Re: 19 meters you say?

AFAIK, this this is regulatory issue, not technical nor even financial.......VDSLx uses higher frequncies, and so produces much more crosstalk than ADSLx, and there are concerns about polluting other providers if VDSL kit goes into an exchange, as opposed to a cabinet where most of the noise will go into the open space around it.

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Re: 19 meters you say?

Agreed it is a regulatory issue, however they did talk about fitting cabs outside the exchange to host the VDSLx kit, but there seems to be no more information on when or if this will ever happen.

It would be nice to see BT bring their current infrastructure up to date before considering faster tech.

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