back to article BT commences trials of copper-to-the-home G.fast broadband tech

The first customers were connected in a BT trial of its 330Mbps "G.fast" ultrafast broadband in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire today. The test, which was announced in July, will later be extended to Swansea, Gosforth and Newcastle. G.fast uses a fast link from a specially equipped cabinet to a distribution point, then employs …

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Silly...

The fiber to my home (FTMH) involved three steps that I witnessed.

The trucks rolled through the neighbourhood, much quicker than you'd expect.

On another day, a guy installed the fiber to the side of the house, I think it took an hour.

And then a guy showed up to plug in some boxes in the house.

Step 2 was trivial. People are too scared of the Last 100m bit.

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Re: Silly...

That said, 330 Mbps is 10% faster than what's presently on offer by fiber (at my house).

But they've gone from 175 to 200 to 300 Mbps in about a year, so I assume it's slowly heading even higher.

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Re: Silly...

In Spain Telefónica offers 300 Mb FTTH as standard. They can raise it to 600Mbps or more if needed, including, for example, 10Gbps. And can be symmetrical.

Those "up to 330 Mbps" are already obsolete.

And fiber is reliable, and not affected by galvanic corrosion or cable theft.

It is also cheaper to mantain than metallic access, and almost as cheap to install.

It just doesn't make sense not to install FTTH.

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Re: Silly...

"In Spain Telefónica offers 300 Mb FTTH as standard. They can raise it to 600Mbps or more if needed, including, for example, 10Gbps. And can be symmetrical."

Well that's nice. Is it really available countrywide? For everyone and a reasonable price? I have just messed around with Googles Maps and with a random zoom in on Spain, discovered "Albarracín".

Will Spain Telefónica really be able to supply 10Gbs-1 to Albarracín? Even UK grade FTTC at 80/20 Mbs-1 - can they do that, for say 50-60 euro m-1?

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Re: Silly...

"and almost as cheap to install."

When the copper is already there installation costs are zero and fibre is infinitely more expensive.

Most people are using wireless networks that can't keep up with 80Mb vDSL. Give them 300Mb and they won't notice the difference and they won't pay a premium for something they can't even notice.

I don't know where they are trying to go with G.fast. People close to cabinets will get more speed but I don't see them being willing to pay much for it. I don't see people who live too far from cabinets to get any benefit from G.fast will be willing to pay enough to have new cabinets installed close to them.

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Re: Silly...

@gerdesj: You really think BT are going to have anywhere near the same kind of rollout? There are still places that can't even get a few Mb of broadband, even with VDSL.

I just spent an instructive 18 months with BT. I work for a private school near a MAJOR town inside the M25. Our ADSL gave us 2-4Mbps. We had two business ADSL2 lines. We upgraded one to VDSL. We get "45Mbps at the property boundary" (technically "up to 75Mbps service", so they aren't lying about that). By the time it gets to where it's needed, we were getting about 10-11Mbps. Those are DOWNLOAD. Upload was laughable, and we wanted to run our own services.

Two years after a leased line order, we were still waiting and then got told that there was "no room at the exchange"... .this is AFTER they installed fibre tubing all over the site and down the local telegraph poles.

We're not in the middle of the damn outback, but we had to include such factors into every purchasing decision, governor's meeting and future plan because they were so hindering. And it just didn't matter how much money we had to throw at the idea, they just could not deliver.

In the end, we cancelled contracts while they were still trying to supply - even had them turn up on site after cancellation after not seeing action for 6+ months. Turned them away. Virgin Media were able to run a leased line to us in a few months with only legal hassle over who owns the bit of land they were digging up to delay them (literally, not even the Land Registry knew who owned the land, so they had to go through a special process to advertise it, claim it, allocate it to the borough, who leased it to the school, which finally let us give VM permission to use it).

Just because something exists does not mean you can buy it, it's priced sensibly, it's available in your area, that BT can deliver, or that it's even possible to get it to you in a way that doesn't degrade service to make it unusable. Hell, there is no mention of upload whatsoever. 300Mbps download is useless without at least 30Mbps upload (the sorts of ratio you see with ADSL and which still aren't good enough for non-residential purposes).

Hell, there are still places in Britain that you can't even get a phone line, let alone dial-up, let alone ADSL, let alone anything-to-the-cabinet, let alone anything-to-the-house, let alone this new tech that will need all new routers again. You might get maybe 40-50% of properties able to receive this in ten years of so, and almost all of them will be smack-bang in the centre of the big cities and sod the rest, Jack.

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Re: Silly...

And fiber is reliable, and not affected by galvanic corrosion or cable theft.

Only if your thieves know the difference between a fibre cable and a copper cables. And they might not spot the difference until they've cut the cable... :-/

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Re: Silly...

so fibre keep working when some idot steals what he things is copper cable?

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Re: Silly...

There are only a few non-insider jobs when it comes to cable theft and once they discover that what they've stolen is not only worthless but tripped every monitoring alarm in the area (it's possible to monitor fibre for disturbances even before its cut and know roughly where things are being fiddled with) they'll be unlikely to try again.

Even if they get away with the theft, the fact that the "cable" is worthless will discourage them. The dumb ones might take a few rounds to learn this but the lack of profit will ensure they give up eventually.

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Re: Silly...

"The dumb ones might take a few rounds to learn this but the lack of profit will ensure they give up eventually."

It is a universal rule of human nature. There is always a new set of people who think they see an opportunity that no one else is apparently exploiting.

However there is a school where they learn to avoid such mistakes before they would make them - it is called "prison". A friend who works in the probationary service says some of her clients were first sent to prison for a minor offence - and came out with knowledge of a wide range of criminal techniques..

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Re: Silly...

I believe the fibre to your house will actually be 330Mbps but sold as 300. GFast will be capable of significantly faster, but they've clearly picked on 330/300 just to have something to use in their trial.

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Re: Silly...

@Aitor1 - putting aside the religion around FTTH, these GFast deployments are a step along that path. The GFast "DSLAMs" need to be close to the customer's house. So the fibre actually gets a good deal closer to the customer that in the fibre to cab deployments (on average anyway)

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Re: Silly...

Um, well I think you've defined the problem there, a guy installed the fibre, say another hour per property, and then another one took an hour to bring it into the house. So if you extrapolate the costs of doing the last mile, that's a hell of a lot of money and time to invest, nationally, but if you can get away with installation to the cabinet for reasonable speeds, you'll save millions.

There are 25 million homes in the UK, at two hours per home that's around 30,000 man years of effort and £1.5 Billion in staff costs. How many engineers does OpenReach have to do this?

So my village might get high speed sooner rather than later this way.

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Re: Silly...

@JP19

That's fun logic but as someone who used to work for an ISP, I can tell you that a lot of the copper between the street and people's houses is crap and in need of replacement. At that point, the costs of fiber and the costs of replacing the copper are a lot closer.

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Re: Silly...

@JP19

Little bit of searching turned up....

G.fast distribution points are placed within 250 metres of premises For example, it could be in a manhole, on a pole, in a mini-cabinet at a relatively close distance (within about 250 metres) to the premises to be served. It could also be located at the entrance (inside or outside) of a building.

The obvious is on the pole for the final drop to the premises - OpenReach owns the pole (at a guess) and if the distribution point is not unduly large, I can't imagine there's any planning permission issue with what they put up there.

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Re: Silly...

if your running a business and need business class symmetric internet service ADSL is not the way to go. It seems you where badly advised at the start.

Its more than likely that your VM service goes through the local BT exchange on BT's backbone and across to VM via the BT to VM interexchange, and was installed by OpenReach with NTE hand off to the VM router on your site. Its possible to be next to an exchange and only able to get 8MB broadband whilst those miles away can get 70Mb.

i totally agree with your upload point though. I'm on VM 50mb and hating the 3mb upload

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Re: Silly... @Cynical

"Up a pole" ignores the fact that the distribution point will need power. Most telecom poles will not have any power at all. Add to that the fact that there may be several houses fed from the same pole, and no matter how small they are, you will end up with something quite sizeable sitting in the air, where it's vulnerable.

No, it's going to be on or under the ground.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Silly... @Cynical

Peter, Wrong, it has the telco equivalent of power over ethernet for the remote devices.

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Re: Silly... @Cynical

@Peter

One example of one approach ..... from the Alcatel-Lucent web site.

"Part of a complete end-to-end portfolio of Alcatel-Lucent ultra-broadband solutions, the new G.fast residential gateway also provides a more efficient way to power the growing number of distribution point units essential for delivering on the G.fast standard. With an integrated reverse power feed capability that powers the remote G.fast distribution point unit, operators no longer need to connect the distribution points locally to the power grid."

Doubtless some will scream about powering a utility providers network - but it's a choice. Provide power for faster service or choose not to and settle for VDSL2 at best.

Ultimately as FTTH is just too expensive and unlikely to happen, anything that offers the chance to push the bandwidth levels higher is worth consideration.

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Re: Silly...

In spain Telefónica want tu pull the copper cable just to protect the fiber.

Anyway, I no longer live in Spain, and have FTTC.

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Re: Silly...

Why don't they just go ask Google how to do fibre properly?

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Re: Silly... @Cynical

Well, who knew that the teleco's would steal power from their customers! (although I'm sure that it will be in the terms and conditions of the contract).

I certainly didn't!

I hope it will be isolated from my neighbours. I would not like to let them steal power as well.

I must admit that I hope that the power draw is quite low and suitably protected in the router, because I would not trust the wires in a 4 pair telephone cable to carry any significant amount of current. And, yes, I do know that it's currently providing the power for a POTS phones at the moment.

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Re: Silly...

It is starting to get available in plenty of places, and the coverage is going to be way better than Openreach, and fiber to the home, so no galvanic corrosion.

You are asking if Telefónica is going to provide 10Gbps, well, I am asking if openreach is going to provide (REAL) 6Mbps DSL for greater LONDON. Not parts of it, but all of it.

As for Albarracin, you have by chance found a small village near a mountain far away from main roads in the lowest density province of spain.

So, when is openreach going to provide that speed in Broadford, Skye?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Silly... @Cynical

No Peter, they're not planning on stealing your power, the power is coming from upstream of the other end and up to the device that needs powering.

See the comments, some of them are quite insightful...

http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2015/01/bt-confirm-uk-rollout-1000mbps-g-fast-ultrafast-broadband-2020.html

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Re: Silly... @Cynical

The 'FibreOP' system can span a reported 40km with pure passive fiber optics.

No power required anywhere in the middle of this run.

No cabinets.

No copper.

Effectively no distance limit since the telcos already have COs closer than that.

That said, whatever is cheaper is, ah, cheaper. Yep. YMMV...

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A predominantly domestic product

This product will suck for you too - if you are on a big site the decrease in bandwidth as distance increases means it's no good. That's why these are primarily domestic products. I'd imagine that 80% (or some high percentage) of UK domestic properties are less than 10m from the pavement. These are predominantly domestic products.

Did you think about building a shed near your boundary, moving the phone lines to terminate there, installing power there and then running your own fibre from there ?

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I wonder...

...what this will do for the domestic router market? Will we all be forced to have BT routers at home, or else double up on an extra firewall?

Is this something the competition commission needs to look in to?

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Re: I wonder...

G.Fast is a standard, therefore I very much doubt it will take long for integrated VDSL modems to come out supporting the standard, much in the same way that BT originally provided Openreach-branded VDSL standalone modems. It didn't take long before Draytek, ZyXEL and Sky brought out routers with integrated modems that didn't require it.

Regardless of the method, I can't imagine them be able to force you to use anything other than a BT *Router* (Modem perhaps) - The only company I've ever come across that try and pull a fast one with regards to using your own kit is Sky, which use MAC Encapsulated Routing (Grrrr....) and even their new routers have VDSL integrated now.

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Re: I wonder...

Such poor reading skills.

From the article:

"Openreach is working with eight communications partners, which will then provide retail services to consumers. The trial is open to all communications providers on equal terms. This means people will have a choice of service provider and any technological developments will benefit the wider industry."

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Re: I wonder...

@ Adam JC

VM require you to use their own router, i had to buy the 3com router in 1999 to connect to their 512kbs service, at least they provide one free now :(

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Here I am promised "60-70" getting 20-30...

because BT route the copper 1500m from a cabinet that is 350m away (yes, there is a road and duct that goes the short way)

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Re: Here I am promised "60-70" getting 20-30...

I am 5 metres away from the cabinet. BT send the cable about 100m down the road away from my house, up the telegraph pole then back through the air to the top of my house, all the way down the house and then in at the ground level.

I've a good mind to just dig a trench myself, put the cable in and pay the next BT man that turns up to the cabinet (which seems to be every other day) £20 to wire it up in the cabinet.

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Re: Here I am promised "60-70" getting 20-30...

Seen this before many times.

BT provide the original cable distribution, based on projected planning by local authority etc.

More stuff is built but no-one wants to pay for upgraded local distribution -- certainly not the developers who just build and bugger off.

I put a line in to a flat in St Albans, next to the exchange. But there is no handy local distribution so the feed comes from over the road via several hundred metres of re-jigging.

Sure isn't BT 'fault' -- they provided the original but if developers are not prepared to include extra cable infrastucture why should BT (or any other provider) foot the bill?.

Me?

I see a Virgin cab and piping on my side of the road but LLU doesn't work the other way so I'm FTTC then U/G then O/H.

A bit of reciprocal LLU would work wonders.

(though it seems that only the BT cabs are left locked and secure)

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Re: Here I am promised "60-70" getting 20-30...

I must be the lucky one. BT not only snuck in FTTC in our village well before the half-promised date, but having signed up for Infinity 1 I am getting the full 40Mbps up and 10 Mbps down (8X better than I had before) after being "guaranteed" 35 Mbps. I could apparently get Infinity 2 at double the speed, but didn't fancy spending the extra £7 per month for the privilege. It helps that I am only about 100 m from the cabinet and my phone line goes pretty well directly to it on an overhead wire. Those further down the road have been promised much less, though presumably better than they get at the moment.

Apart from better Skype performance and the ability to stream HD on my video box the extra speed doesn't seem to make that much difference to web browsing performance, so paying a premium for 330 Mbps doesn't seem like a great deal for the domestic user (except perhaps when the family come to stay with their iPads, phones etc.).

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It took BT 6 months to spot the corroded screw connection on the copper-up-a-pole outside my house, which had reduced the 4.5Mb/s to 56Kb/s......coming soon to a 300Mb/sec fibre-to-corroded-screw near you...

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Don't blame the workers . . . .

some time back I worked on 'broadband repair. In its infancy we could use standard line test gear to check the cable and spot potential isssues.

After a while we were told that it was now automated and we were not allowed to 'interpret' the results -- if it came back as 'O.K.' then we passsed it and sent the job on.

This was despite glaring errors in things like capacitance, S/N readings etc.etc. where, once looked at as a whole it was easy to spot things like a dodgy joint --- to the extent of ringing customers and asking them if the line worked better when the weather was dry or damp.

Due to our wanting to sort out the issue and get engineers sent to exactly the right place it meant we were overbooking our time on the job -- basically refused to pass it on in the 'proper' time allowed.

But no, severely castigated (our line manager also getting in shit for backing us up) and told to follow orders, eventually told not to contact customers direct but put it in the notes (which no fucker ever read as the game became 'pass the parcel').

All we wanted was a decent service but as everything (ie. bonuses) were/are based on not having parts of the job fail in specific work queues we got constantly shat on by middle-fucking management.

Eventually they removed our direct access to the test gear - though we could see results in the job notes -- and were told NEVER to look at the test results and diagnose, if the test said 'O.K. then it was 'O.K.'.

Now every company is using the same test methods and 'diagnosis' and 'get rid of the job ASAP'.

Admittedly though, BT learnt from Tiscali who would take a job and pass it to us without even a cursory glance as thier time limits seemed to be maybe ten minutes in thier job queues before it failed -- and if anyone remembers thier 'cornflake packet' modems you'd know why, they caused more faults than anything esle for a while.

There still are people who want to sort out things for the customer -- but they are not allowed to. Some of us enventually got pissed off and took the money. (after our Helldesk went to Mumbai and then returned home again).

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Re: Don't blame the workers . . . .

Whenever I've suffered with a line fault, once we actually get a proper Openreach (not a piecework paid subcontractor) tech on site there's a fighting chance of getting the issue fixed.

The problem is the layers of incompetence between the techs and the paying customer.

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Re: Don't blame the workers . . . .

That describes the problem prefectly ok.

Copper/alu requires either proper maintenance or crap service.

As maintence is expensive, most telcos have decided that crap service it is.

Still, ppl insist on copper, I don't see the reason.

For G.fast you have to install fibre equipped cabinets.

The copper/alu is, almost for sure, in bad shape.

Ppl WON'T get 300Mbps except maybe on trials as they will probably change the copper.

It will be "up to 300 Mbps", and then they will get a lot less.

If you have to change the copper to provide decente service, you might as well put fiber.

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Exactly the same happened to us.. But in my case it took complaints spanning 5 years and approx 15 visits by Openreach engineers to fix our issue.. Even though I had asked for them to please just send somebody up the pole not 50 feet from our home to inspect the connections inside the poles top black box. I had suspected water ingress inside said black box as I was sure that directional weather conditions over the years were contributing to this issue as this is when the internet connection would drop.

I had explained the problem over and over to our broadband providers BT, then SKY. And even every Openreach engineer that visited got the story, plus the pages of notes I kept regarding connection dropout times, rain conditions, windy weather, router stats etc etc..

Everybody got the message that *when there was strong winds/heavy rain etc from a South-Westerly direction, the phone line would get very noisy, it would then start crackling and perhaps a day or so later once water had had time to soak-in, the router would show a falling Downstream/Upstream Noise Margin, then the connection would start to drop out!*

This to me was water penetration somewhere! A few days later the phone line noise would decrease, and the broadband would become usable again once the Noise Margin recovered... This was until the next spell of wind/rain!

One afternoon a we actually got an engineer who wasn't afraid of going up the pole. Which was great as I was getting so peeved-off that I was going to get up the bloody thing myself to take a look. Previous engineers were telling us that they were not allowed to go up the pole. Hmmm!

Anyway this engineer went up the pole & 5 minutes later came back to our house with the connector strip that was inside the box at the top of the pole.. It was green with corrosion and basically falling apart in his hands.. Even he was amazed at how it had degraded!

So a piece of equipment that I had suspected to be problematic for years turned out to be the culprit. I wonder how much money BT could have saved if they'd have just sent someone up that pole 5 years before?

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Unfortunately "Up a pole" is now classed as specialist work, requiring either "special" ladders or a cherry picker. I know of some areas where overhead work to replace 100m of storm damaged cable (supplying service to 10+ properties) took weeks.

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Anonymous Coward

Only old-fashioned alloy ladders on my van yet I climb poles regularly, no idea where you got the 'special ladders' from, somebody told you a porky methinks. Hoist are used where it is either impossible or unsafe to climb.

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No non-conductive ladders for you? Might get interesting around here where the local electricity supplier and BT share poles extensively. Kudos for you for getting the job done,

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Anonymous Coward

Joint poles have a whole set of separate safety rules and I rarely have to concern myself with them but there is always a set available.

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Ouch... Screw terminals should be removed EVERYWHERE for BT wiring, they're very old hat and considered legacy now. I replace all of them that I come across with jelly crimps, much better :)

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London Docklands - Hyperoptic

I live in London Docklands. ADSL speeds in my area are horrifically bad - I gather that the infrastructure is the same lines which were laid to serve the docks, and never updated. Also there is an excuse that many lines int he area go straight back to the exchange as they were in the past alarm connections to warehouses - and they were not passed through junction boxes.

Anyway Hyperoptic came along and put an excellent infrastructure into my apartment block. 19inch rack int he basement, with a direct fibre link. Cat 5 cabling to all the apartments, and you get an excellent service which starts at 1Gbps.

Just shows it can be done.

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Re: London Docklands - Hyperoptic

Also in Zone 2 south london here... on a 1.1km EO line so cant even get FTTC... Thorough sick of hearing all the crap about rural broadband/fibre for farmers when fairly central london is still stuck with single digit mbps!

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Re: London Docklands - Hyperoptic

Chris, I am south of the river so you are probably near me.

Hyperoptic business model seems to be to take on entire blocks, so if you are in a house they won't be much use. But if you are in a shared block see if you can get some neighbours interested.

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Re: London Docklands - Hyperoptic

Talking about south London, anyone remember the days of meshed wireless networks?

In the days before everyone and his dog was signed up for ADSL by BT, geeks had the idea of sharing their network connections via meshed wireless.

One lot had a room up on top of Greenwich Town Hall and had some antennas up there.

I think the nearest node to me was across on the Isle of Dogs actually.

Whatever happened to them?

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Stalking horse

In the days before everyone and his dog was signed up for ADSL by BT, geeks had the idea of sharing their network connections via meshed wireless.... Whatever happened to them?

In the days when BT was telling us that we would never, ever get ADSL in our village because it was technically impossible, there was a company dedicated to delivering rural broadband via wireless. I signed up and volunteered to have an aerial mast installed on top of my house.

No sooner had the wireless company started installation, than BT suddenly discovered ADSL was possible after all. So the company went bust and I had to pay somebody to remove the aerial.

Interestingly, when BT began to install FTTC around the country, we started to see posters and leaflets from a non-BT company promising super-fast fibre to villages in the area. I registered an interest, but I could never find out any more about the company. Shortly after, BT decided to run fibre to all the villages. I can't help wondering if somebody invented the "fibre company" as a stalking horse to get BT moving.

You might try something of the kind in Docklands/Greenwich.

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Re: Stalking horse

> Shortly after, BT decided to run fibre to all the villages.

Anecdotally, that seems to be BT's main MO - priority is given to where there is a potential competitor to be squeezed out. This appears to have been the case for a few places in B4RN's patch - places that were "not on the list at all" suddenly appeared to gain priority status as the B4RN network came into view.

https://br0kent3l3ph0n3.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/dolphinholme-overcomes-fud-to-light-up-on-b4rns-1gbps-fibre/

If only the B4RN or B4YS network (or something like it) passed my house :-(

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