back to article BT hires another battalion of troops to speed fibre rollout

BT has brushed aside the possibility that it could be hampered by any number of problems that might delay its plan to push "superfast" broadband to two thirds of the UK come 2015 2014, by hiring 520 more ex-armed forces bods. The company said today it had jumped one year ahead of the original target it set for rolling out BT's …


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  1. pikey

    i won't hold my breath

    after moving and paying BT an eye watering £46 a month for 18 months (I needed a new phone number only BT could provide it so had no choice) for a line and internet connection that kept dropping off, and lived up to at best 1.5mb on a good day, i moved to sky were i am only paying £13 a month, not expecting a any better connection but saving me money. But you know what, under sky I get now near 4mb (the speed BT said i could get with my distance) and the connection has never dropped even through the thunder storm.

    just goes to prove its not always the old over ehad wiring that is the problem.. it's BT itself.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge


      not really sure what this has to do with infinity. Are you saying that you had infinity at your old house and it was slower than 4mb? Im not sure how sky works, do you get your broadband for free if you take their telephone out with them? (i.e. the £13) do you not need to take a package with sky?

  2. Gti Jazz Blue

    Well that is all fine and dandy as long as BT upgrade the cabinet that you are connected to. Our exchange has been migrated to FTTC, but the cabinet that supplies our Village hasn't, the daft thing is that the cabinet on the other side of the (minor) road to ours has it's twin but ours doesn't.

    So I am stuck with a BeThere 6Mb/s connection - better than many - but not as fast as what I should now be able to have on our exchange.


    1. Mark Wilson

      Sounds like a good situation to me. BT upgraded around 10% of our exchange to FTTP and we were in the 90% left out, completely surrounded by FTTP'd areas we are effectively the hole in a doughnut stuck with sub 2Mb/s speeds. Worst thing is we aren't even rural and we have nice new ducting right up to each house so it would be very easy for BT to upgrade us.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    6MB/s ?

    What are you complaining about? at least you've got 6Mb/s to play with

    I'm in the same situation but only have 2 Mb/s at best :((

    1. Gti Jazz Blue

      I'm not happy, as I should be able to experience a connection in the region of 25Mb/s given my line conditions.

      But because BT have chosen not to upgrade our cabinet I'm stuck with the 6Mb/s connection back to the exchange. Incidentally the cabinet that has been enabled is closer to the exchange than ours.


    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      That's where I think the industry is going wrong. Too much concentration on high speeds and not enough on people with crap speeds. It's marketing and economics that's behind it but the fact is most people don't need more than 50Mb/s - even a family doesn't. However 2Mb/s isn't really enough even for a single person.

      VM in particular are getting it wrong in my view. Willy waving over totally unneccessary high speeds while doing little to nothing to extend their network to people struggling on BT's tired old local loop.

    3. dakisan


      We get 454Kb - albeit 7 kms from the exchange.

      Thankfully, Virgin provides the service, and BT doesn't bill us at all (BT is the absolute worst company in the world, of any company, of any type, btw, which spends money on making sales and then provides perpetually sh*t service).

      Even if technology can't deliver faster over copper, I've only ever had good customer service from Virgin when leaves/trees/snow/crossed wires have interrupted things.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        >Even if technology can't deliver faster over copper, I've only ever had good customer service from Virgin when leaves/trees/snow/crossed wires have interrupted things

        It's good to see that someone is looking after your local loop. Someone who seems to know what they are doing and is providing you with a good service - long lines can be a pain in the arse after all.

        However you seem to be operating under a misunderstanding. VM don't own or operate anything outside of their cable areas. The company that is responsible for dealing with 'leaves/trees/snow/crossed wires' is - wait for it - BT.

        As far as your service is concerned VM are just a reseller. When you report a fault they just turn round and report it to BT. It's like praising a restaurant for their food when all they've done is bought a pre-packaged meal from Tesco :)

  4. Tim Jenkins


    So they're hiring ex-squaddies to blow things up our ducts.

    What could possibly go wrong with that?

    (on the other hand, aren't Ghurkhas really, really small....)

  5. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    >Thousands of our engineers are busy installing fibre broadband across the UK at an astonishing pace

    He makes a valid point. For all their faults BT are spending more on upgrading the UK's network than anyone else. Their upgrades will also improve more people's connections than anyone else (take note, VM - give the country what it needs not just headline speeds of interest to only a few).

    Of course BT have a vested interest in doing this - they have to protect the value in their local loop. It's not altruism. They may not even be doing the right thing. But they are spending more money than anyone else and improving the experience of more people than anyone else.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge


      "aren't Ghurkhas really, really small" yes but really really wide (and great for climbing trees for sticking GSA's up there. Oh and lock up your guinness.

  6. Dave 45

    Digital Region

    Surprising how many haven't heard of this network. Or even South Yorkshire for that matter. "Yorkshire is Leeds innit?!"

    I decided to take the plunge and get fibre with a local ISP using the new network since BT had pushed back the date for the rollout of FTTC in my village for the 2nd time. Thales did the installation of the cabinet right next to the BT ones.

    Gone from 3Mb to a 37Mb connection.

  7. David_H

    Not only FTTC

    I don't need FTTC - I get a constant 8Mb sync even though being rural and over 3Km from the exchange. What I would like is something better than wet string from the local exchange to the next point in the network. The contention is so bad that I get 5+Mb throughput in the morning and 248Kbit in the evenings.

    I suppose 20:1 wasn't bad when we had contention ratios, but I though that had all gone now with BT's core upgrades. 248K means no iPlayer, or more importantly to me, no online training courses (mainly delivered with video feeds) Contention used to be 5:1 and was OK, but it seemed to change overnight about a month ago.

    1. tomjol

      I realise this might be extremely wishful thinking but, have you actually contacted someone to complain? If my connection suddenly deteriorated to the point of being unusable, I wouldn't be writing comments on El Reg, I'd be demanding they sort it out...

    2. Jacqui

      BT only support one PC!

      A recent UK network ops mailing list had a nice thread about BT stating that having more than one PC on your (BT) broadband connection makes it unstable and they used this as an excuse to not sort out faults. Eventually as various members of the press got involved BT PR flacks managed to amend this to a "jitter" statement but will still not come out a fix this obviously broken DSL line.

      Note that discussion was hilarious - with questions about network printers, net enables tellys and why does the BT route have four RJ45 ports. Some of the answers (on BT behalf as they continue to ignore the questions) are NSFW :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Where was this?

        Sure as heck wasn't UKNOF.

  8. Atonnis


    Boosting the speed is all well and good, even if it'll still be less than half the speed that other companies are already rolling out *cough*Virgin*cough*....and that same company is doing tests of 1.5Gb speeds in Old Street at the moment....

    ....but really as long as they have ridiculously small data caps then it doesn't mean all that much anyway...I'm all for fair-usage policies but I think they should apply to certain types of data or protocols.

  9. Gadget Rage is BAD

    Not in Scotland it seems..

    As looking at their own rollout plans it shows about a grand total of 20 exchanges getting it between now and Dec 2012.

    I won't be holding my breathe.

  10. ledmil

    If they can't keep the web page up to date....

    Apparently my exchange should be upgraded by the 30th September 2011 (this was after saying 30th of June 2011 in mid July). Hence my breath will remain unheld.

  11. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    The complete and utter Ba*&^%$ds

    They might be moving some plans forward, but other dates have been kicked way back.

    My exchange, Bracknell, was down in the list for upgrading by the end of Oct 2011, and now we've reached that day they've bumped it back to Dec 2012.

    So as Vivian would have said "The complete and utter Ba*&^%$ds"

  12. PaulWizard

    Oh really?

    Then why is it my exchange upgrade date went from March 2012 to June 2012 only last week then?? Oh yeah, it's BT :|

  13. b166er

    In Scotland

    Our home exchange had an RFS date of March 2011 for 21CN WBC.

    Then Virgin touted 50Mb and so BT had to gets into an arms race.

    They just dropped the RFS date and went to install fibre elsewhere to fend off Virgin.

    Our work connection comes via 200 pair from the cabinet, to an office complex supporting 50 businesses. Yep, 200 pairs for all the broadband and telephone/fax/banking/franking extensions required by 50 small businesses. Guess what? The connection is utterly shit, totally unreliable and we get at best 3Mb. Engineers best guess is that there is too much crosstalk on the 200pr.

    As soon as you get an engineer to rectify your faults, you only wait a week for someone else to report a fault or a client to request additional lines, and mysteriously you have a new fault.

    In what classes as the comms room (where the 200pr terminates, an Openreach engineer has written 'pure quality' on the wall!)

    It's OK, though, soon they will provide fibre to the cabinet and we'll get utterly shit and totally unreliable at 20Mb!

    @tomjol Extremely! We've discussed this, at length, with BT Retail and Openreach engineers. Doing the maths, conservatively, if every business here had to go through the same hoops as we have with BT (and they realistically would) and assuming a rate of £75ph (they charge £150 for a call-out (2 hrs)) for an Openreach engineer, it would cost (3x2hr engineers + 2x6hr engineers * 50 tenants) £67,500 to service this building. I would estimate that would have to be done at least twice a year.

    Fortunately for them, most tenants here just put up with it or move on.

    Amazingly (to me at least), it seems BT Openreach/Wholesale has no apparatus to determine that it would be more cost-effective to pull an additional cable rather than send engineers here at least twice a week.

    Perhaps we could bribe the squaddies to pull an extra 100pr from the cab, I'll even install some new panels, rather than the twist-on terminals that are in there at the moment (they're supposed to be soldered, but Openreach don't carry irons anymore, we forced the last engineer to jelly-crimp them at gunpoint (OK, I made that last bit up)).

  14. Brian Morrison

    Market One

    I'm on a Market One exchange, with a few areas served able to get Virgin Media and maybe TalkTalk broadband.

    Nearly 3 years ago I lost my nice 5-6Mbps connection and it slipped to below 2Mbps, probably due to cable damage but the fault threshold is 1.8Mbps.

    I can't see any chance of getting FTTanything in less than 10 years, our exchange is due to have a whole new development connected to it but the build rate of the houses has dropped to nothing because of the economy and hence the 10,000 homes we were expecting (which makes BT view it as a viable for upgrade exchange) will remain at less than 4,000 homes for the foreseeable future.

    Currently all it takes to make the connection effectively unusable for anything more than simple surfing is one Youtube SD stream running.

    But I imagine it won't matter really, the Eurozone is going to go into implosion mode soon when the markets realise that the fix from last week is actually not a fix and then we won't need fast broadband any more when we move to a barter economy.

  15. Kevin Pollock

    They should focus on bringing decent broadband to the "have-nots"

    I agree with AndrueC - the focus is all wrong. We need:

    - Better last mile speeds fo everyone - not just the lucky "majority".

    - Better backhaul capacity, so if I can clock at 6Mbps then that's what I should expect as throughput in a speed test.

    - Less asymmetry. I have a 17:1 ratio between my downstream and upstream clock speeds. I work from home and it would be great to do decent quality video conferencing. I can receive the VC picture, but can't send it back (some would say that's a good thing).

    - All Market 1 exchanges (like mine) should have an obligatory 21CN date by the end of, say, 2012. I could get about 18Mb/s downstream if the exchange was upgraded to ADSL2+. They'd have to turn up the backhaul speed at the same time, obviously.

    I have huge sympathy with Brian Morrison's plight of cable damage. The threshold for getting it repaired sounds like BS to me!



  16. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "Thousands of our engineers are busy installing fibre broadband"

    No wonder it costs a fortune. Wouldn't it be cheaper to use their technicians to do the installation, instead?

  17. Alex Bailey

    All well and good if they can finish the job in the areas they started. My exchange was upgraded to FTTC in October and a number of new cabinets have been installed... but they stopped short of the one near my house (on a new housing estate no less) and seem now to be working on the neighbouring town which isn't due for the upgrade (at least according to Sam Knows) until January - and in that case I'm seeing shiny new cabinets installed even in outlaying villages!!!

    I was actually quite annoyed when I read last week that BT only has to convert a certain percentage of an exchanges coverage area for it to be considered an upgrade... and to be able to tick one town off their list to make their figures look better.

  18. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    HR Rules...?

    How did BT manage to hire 500 squaddies ? Are squaddies the only people skilled & qualified to install fibre optic cabling ?

    Surely this is discrimination ?

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