back to article BT superfast home fibre plans fall behind schedule. Again

BT won't hit its target of kitting out 12 exchanges with its new fibre network by the end of this year as originally hoped. The company's broadband programme director Johnny McQuoid admitted to The Register in May this year that BT had been forced to delay the rollout of its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, after …


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  1. AndrueC Silver badge

    Meh. No-one needs those kinds of speeds yet anyway. FTTC should be fine for most people. BT should be spending the money uplifting those stuck on slow connections. High speeds are just willy waving and only benefit a small number of people.

    1. john loader


      I lose 80% of my broadband speed between the cabinet and home due to aluminium cable, FTTC would still make service poor

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        ..but a lot better than it is. Ally cable is not as good as copper but it isn't /awful/. At present BT have a minimum speed of 15Mb/s so if your cabinet is upgraded that will probably mean you get at least that. If not then you fall into my 'poor sod' category and I would encourage BT to divert some of their resources from high speed development to helping you.

    2. Chris007

      Not sure why you're being downvoted

      Very reasonable point you made - How many people in this country get less than 1mb/s or even 512kb/s - gettings these people onto 2+mb/s should be the priority.

      (I have no axe to grind on this as I get 20mb/s but I know of another family member who is on an exchange which only has ISDN available (128k bonded !)

      Icon: for those who downvoted

    3. MiS

      You miss the point.

      I cannot get FTTC as I am direcly wired to the exchange.

      My exchange is FTTC enabled but I still can only get 2.5mbit, and with no cable offering there is really no applicabl;le options

      I would happyly pay 2 days of a BT engineers time to enable service

      FTTC and FTTP are complementory technologies

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Well I would miss your point since you didn't mention it :)

        Anyway 2.5Mb/s on a direct wired line sounds odd to me. Have you gone through the usual checking of internal wiring?

        Most direct lines are quite short so you ought to be getting in excess of 10Mb/s. What attenuation does your router report?

        Anyway it might be *you* missing *my* point. If you are indeed on a direct line with ally cable that reduces you to 2.5Mb/s then you are another 'poor sod' who I think should be uplifted before BT move onto higher speeds.

  2. Sir Adam-All

    anyone know how to get on the trials ?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cautious welcome

    It's often been said that the problem with BT's fibre upgrades, often isn't that the exchanges themselves aren't enabled for fibre (ours has been "Infinity"-ready for some time now), but that the connections from exchange to house are painfully inadequate. We're on the outskirts of a major town on a fairly new estate, yet we might just squeak past 2Mb download speed with a following wind. I sometimes wonder if they connected our house to the BT line with some overcooked spaghetti.

    Not sure when they'll fibre up our road, but BT: you have a future Infinity customer here. Please don't take any longer than you have to...

    1. Annihilator

      Don't hold your breath

      If they didn't connect your cabinet up when your exchange was enabled, I suspect you'll be waiting a long time.

      There was a spreadsheet somewhere on the net that I used to have, detailing when each postcode would be enabled - for the ones I saw, if they weren't done with the rest of the exchange, they weren't being planned at all.

  4. auburnman

    "some of the trials involving around 1,000 properties were taking twice as long as anticipated due to duct blockages that needed to be cleared."

    Imagine real world installations being more complex than the fictional perfect installation scenario - I am shocked and appalled. Real businesses have a damned cheek not being homogeneous if you ask me.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Because its so greedy with its pricing, there is minimal takeup of infinity too! (only 200,000 as per another report out today!). Way below the 5 million homes claimed is "capable/enabled" of getting it.

    Wholesale pricing for other ISPs has also not been agreed upon. Access to its ducts is also non existent and OFCOM (being OFCOM) is twiddling its thumbs.

    Good at making nice headlines of 300Mbps , but who would want it at high costs and restricitve downloads?

    Wankers all!

  6. ParaSitius

    Except BT keep putting the date back each quarter, my local exchange is now a year overdue and I'll be lucky if it's done by the end of this year.

    What really annoys the hell out of me is that the exchange has had FTTP installed for over two years now as it supplies the flats that have been built around Wembley Stadium, but they can't be bothered to do FTTC for the rest of us in the area.

  7. Russell Howe

    Infinity is not just from BT

    People can and do resell it. I had a service from UKFSN via Entanet at my previous place. 8 IP addresses and native IPv6. This was £30 a month pluys BT line retail.

    30G/month during peak times (8-8 weekdays I think) and unlimited overnight and at weekends.

    The pricing seemed OK to me - admittedly, it's not £5/month, but it's also not TalkTalk.

  8. JaitcH

    It's excruciating just reading about BT's travails

    This talk of 'duct' suggests that BT isn't following current practice.

    Many telecoms providers do NOT use ducts, they plough the cable in to the ground. A Western Canadian telco decided to break into the Toronto market and they used the traditional grid pattern configuration to install their fibre cables installing backbone cables both east-west ad north-south along major streets with junction boxes at intersection points for feeding smaller streets. No ducting, direct-to-dirt.

    My new mini-hotel is some eleven kilometres from the national backbone. I wanted IP TV feeds as well as the highest speed InterNet feeds. The vendor canvassed residences and businesses along the route, figured there was sufficient revenue and two months later the plough passed by our front door.

    Installation charge for fibre to every room, along with a terminal for the whole premises set me back $100.

    Ducts slow down installs, direct-to-dirt speeds the process.

    1. alwall

      Not so easy in the UK

      Possibility of damaging cables or underground utilities is a considerable problem in our dense urban environment

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the UK we have pavements and roads - dirt tracks are rare. I don't fancy seeing ploughs running down the pavement outside my house!

      1. JaitcH

        With half-decent utility maps and tracing gear

        Toronto is hardly a back-water, there are even 100 year old tree-trunk water mains, still in use downtown. And the other infrastructure is little different from most cities.

        In urban areas they don't simply plough them in all the way, they use other tools to navigate buried objects.

        One resembles a torpedo: inside there is a large spring-loaded weight that slides longitudinally along the body. Compressed air, think jack hammers, drives the weight back, then the spring carries the weight forward where it hits the rear of the nose, driving the whole the device forward. Since the nose of the torpedo is rounded, it either pushes objects aside or, in the case of a pipe, the torpedo is deflected.This device is used for gas and water services.

        The speed is approximately 3 metres a minute - just think how many front yards a day!

        Paris has placed fibre cables in sewers, using robots to affix them to sewer walls. Agsin in Toronto one system used disused water mains.

        The main point is, ducts are passée, the protection the ducts once provided is now incorporated in the fibre cables. The world has progressed, BT needs to, as well,

  9. Tim Jenkins

    Duct tape?

    ...some of the trials involving around 1,000 properties were taking twice as long as anticipated due to duct blockages that needed to be cleared....

    Um; my phoneline (and, I suspect, one or two others around the country) arrives via a tall wooden post at the end of the street, through an eyebolt under the roofline and then in through a windowframe on the ground floor.

    Not quite sure how they'd 'clear' that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Presumably there is a duct that runs to your green box?

      1. Tim Jenkins

        Handy for Starlings

        Nope - the line is overhead the whole run from the exchange, which I can see from a bedroom window. Nice for sync speed (a solid 7.4Mbs) but not so good for future upgrades based on alternative bearer medium. Still, when we get ADSL2+ out here (about 2020, on current progress), I'll be laughing all the way to the 'Bay...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    We don't have ducts! We have one piece of wet string set straight into the concrete!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "downstream speeds of up to 300Mbit/s from April 2012"

    And fair use limits of 2GB a month?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "No-one needs those kinds of speeds yet anyway"

    That's arguable.

    But it's not worth a downvote, or even a discussion.

    What is clear is that anyone who needs FTTC kind of speeds can get them today.

    They may have to move premises (or home), or pay more than they're willing to pay, but there's no problem getting decent speeds, at least in the areas of the country where most of the people are.

    Decent reliability (of the "bet your business" kind) is an entirely different question for a different day.

    "Many telecoms providers do NOT use ducts, they plough the cable in to the ground. ... Ducts slow down installs, direct-to-dirt speeds the process."

    Microtrenching may work if you're the first and last utility doing it in any given street. If there is already shallow infrastructure, you can't use cheap and cheerful microtrenching without risking damage to the existing infrastructure. Fixing that damage costs a lot and rather defeats the object of being cheap.

    That approach and that snag has already been demonstrated in the UK by a group of people going by names such as H2O Networks, i3 Group, Fibrecity, and so on. In Bournemouth, Dundee, and elsewhere, they delivered little more than publicity and holes in the street before they ceased operations. Someone else from their distant history has now started up a different company with a remarkably similar name (FibreCity => City Fibre). Read it and weep, e.g. [1].

    It was never going to be affordable anyway.

    Properly maintained ducts and proper sharing arrangements (hello Ofcon) would have allowed the ducts to be shared between providers. But incompetently regulated markets don't work that way.


  13. James Pickett

    Our exchange has just been upgraded to 21CN, which sounds convincing until you learn that it means '21st century', which probably tells you all you need to know. We have aluminium cables locally, too, so no amount of cabinet upgrades is going to help - bugger fibre, I'd be pleased to have copper...

  14. hplasm Silver badge

    BT Trials of blown fibre prove-

    That BT blow, but only half as much as everyone thought.

    Also, installing without a duct wouldn't last 2 minutes in the UK, as that is the mean time before someone else digs the road up. (MTBSEDTRU).

  15. daeus

    They'll also need to sort out their smart hubs of which the firmware cant handle these speeds at the moment!

  16. Alistair MacRae
    Thumb Down

    BT are silly.

    Did they not factor in when they came to run the cables that it may not be squeeky clean down there.

    I thought BT did this stuff for a living?

    Come on BT get real

    1. david wilson

      >>"Did they not factor in when they came to run the cables that it may not be squeeky clean down there."

      Well, it's always possible they did trials, and then found out later that the trial areas had been cleaner than average.

      Or maybe there had been the traditional game of someone asking the people who know, and then each layer of management adding a bit of optimism before passing the figures upwards.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        It's entirely possible that they based the fibre-blowing on commercial fibre blowing across towns. Ducts across towns that have fibres blown into them on a fairly frequent basis may well be much cleaner than residential ducting which doesn't have much done to it at all.

  17. Grease Monkey

    I really sympathise with BT over duct blockages. We experience continual problems with contractors failing to pay proper attention to the mapping of utilities. Here are a few of the things I've dealt with recently:

    A new pole being replaced and rather than install the new pole in the hole vacated by the old one they dug a new hole a couple of feet away and went straight into a water main. That was actually a contractor working for BT.

    A comms duct and cables being cut clean through by contractors installing a streetlight.

    Contractors investigating a gas main leak damaging electrical cables. This one is particularly worrying as a spark at this time could have ignited the gas.

    The thing all these incidents have in common is that the damaged infrastructure was clearly marked on the local authority maps.

    The thing about BT ducting is that it's often damaged by contractors without their damaging the cables. As you might imagine the cable tends to lie in the bottom of the duct so when some idiot hits the duct with his pick or pneumatic drill he can put a nice hole in it without damaging the cables. Now what would most people do in that situation? You might want to pretend you would report it to BT, but the reality is that most contractors would keep schtum. Remember not only are there potentially penalties involved in paying for the damage caused, but the local authority may well impose penalties if the works overrun. If you've applied for way leave to dig up the road for one day and you damage a duct and it takes another day or two for the duct to be repaired you may be fined by the local authority. So what do you do? You chuck a couple of shovels full of muck over the duct and keep quiet. Then when the hole is filled the duct fills up with muck.

    Along comes a contractor working for Openreach trying to blow fibre down the duct and he hits an obstruction. If he can't clear the obstruction without digging a big hole it will take more than two days to get the fibre in. Before they can start digging up the road they must apply for way leave from the local authority and this will usually take a week or more unless it's an emergency. If the road concerned is covered by a section 58 order then they will have to convince the local authority that laying new fibre to somebody's house is an emergency. Fat chance of that.

    And none of that even begins to cover idiot householders or previous occupants who have managed to block their own ducts. Cablecos got round this potential trouble in a lot of cases by simply laying cable unprotected a few inches below people's flowerbeds. No problems with blocked ducts in future there, if they want to lay a new cable in future they just dig up the flowebeds again. However they were storing up a whole load of trouble for the future with householders digging through their own cables.

  18. Dave 120

    Rural whatband?

    "No-one is keener than us to extend these super-fast speeds to rural areas"

    Which is to say you're not in the least bit keen at all but neither is anyone else.

    It's selfish of me I know but I'm 4 miles from my exchange and get 0.48mb - that's coming from samknows (I'm taking part in their long term survey and have one of ther boxes at home) so BT spending more money to make the people who have fast broadband even faster doesn't really make me feel all fuzzy.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      It's the 'but neither is anyone else' that is so often overlooked (obviously not by you). People whine and moan about BT but the truth is that it's upgrading far more people than VM. Even better it's giving them something that is genuinely useful in a lot of cases.

      BT might be crap..but the other telcos are worse.

  19. James Pickett

    @david wilson

    "each layer of management adding a bit of optimism"

    If that's not a law, it should be...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Samknows speed tests measure...

    "4 miles from my exchange and get 0.48mb - that's coming from samknows "

    There is an important difference between download throughput from a test server on t'Internet (which is what samknows reports) and sync speed between you and the exchange (which is what is determined by, amongst others, cable length from exchange).

    Obviously your download throughput can't go faster than the sync speed allows.

    Your download throughput can additionally be limited by other factors such as the competence and congestion of your connectivity provider (often but not always BTwholesale) and your ISP (often BT Retail but really shouldn't be except in unusual cases, eg BT employees where it's a requirement).

    samknows used to be good (I have one of their first few boxes) but it's not measuring sync speed, and afaik never has.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @GreaseMonkey, @ Jaitch

    @GreaseMonkey 16:16

    Thanks for that.

    See the thing is, none of that should be any surprise to anyone with a clue.

    So it should all have been catered for in the planning.

    Why wasn't it? David Wilson 13:46 probably has it: "each layer of management adding a bit of optimism before passing the figures upwards." Especially given that we're talking about BT here; more layers of useless management than you could imagine, all of them afraid to tell the awful truth lest they lose their jobs, all of them keen to blame someone else when it all ends in tears.

    @Jaitch 14:55

    The directional digging techniques you describe are fantastic where applicable, which is not everywhere. I watched them used a couple of years ago to connect a Berkshire village to mains gas for the first time. The soil was more flint pebbles than soil. The big diesel machine used to go under the streets managed OK although something (not explained to me) slowed them down vs the planned schedule. The compressed air "moles" used between street and house were, frankly, useless in that area according to the team; drives mostly had to be dug up the good old way.

  22. Dave 120

    @anonymous coward

    No, not really that important at all. That's the real world speed I get on an ongoing basis. Details of the survey are here. You can be disparaging if you want but it's good enough for ofcom (not much of a recommendation perhaps)

    In any case my point remains; why should I care that 20mb customers can soon get 40mb when so many people can't even get 2mb - the so called minimum we can all expect?

  23. Simon 4

    This can help users getting less than 2MB.

    I saw a client 2 days ago who lives in a London suburb and is getting only 770kbps downstream sync because he's at the very end of the exchange's reach.

    However, he knows that the Infinity cabinet is only about 300m away. So he could get about 17MB down on current FTTC and more if BT were to roll out this limited upgrade more widely.

    Client's biggest question is whether to go with BT Infinity or Virgin. Service sucks with both, so as an Entanet reseller, I've offered to provide FTTC with Enta - better backbone and service. All Entanet staff are in the UK.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      At 300 metres from the cabinet he will sync at 40Mb/s at present. Probably 90Mb/s when BT roll out the 100Mb/s profile. 300Mb/s profile I don't know. It'll be well up there though because 300 metres is quite close.

      1. Stuart Elliott


        That's nice to know, just check, and I'm 150 meters from my FTTC box as the road drives, and if my current connection stats are anything to go by: Upstream 9998Kb/s Downstream 39985 Kb/s then life is looking good for the 100mb profile.

  24. Alex Bailey

    But what about FTTC? My own exchange was slated for the roll-out in September... SamKnows now marks it as "available in some areas". I've put a few addresses into the BT checker and guess what, nothing. Funny since I see fibre cabinets being installed in villages outside Stamford, just a short distance from here, an area not slated for FTTC until sometime in the new year when I'm still waiting for one to be installed near my house!

  25. Mike Cresswell
    Paris Hilton

    Someone has to say it

    Should have got Paris to do it. I hear she's an expert on blowing!

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

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