back to article Openreach to trial G.fast in Swansea

Businesses and researchers around Swansea are going to get the chance to fool around with what will probably be copper's last hurrah, the VDSL-successor G.fast. BT has told an innovation summit in the Welsh city that it's been added to the list of trial sites, in addition to previously-announced field trials in Huntingdon and …

  1. Martin-73 Silver badge

    Excellent! Shouldn't it be Cardiff though, just for Torchwood's use?

  2. deanb01

    Come the revolution...

    Shame Openreach can't get FTTC broadband to our estate in Gatley, South Manchester. I get a faster Internet connection through my mobile phone. Also this year I've set up 7 regional offices in Preston, Norwich, Blackpool, Stockport, Wilmslow, Carlisle & Birmingham and Openreach can only serve "Superfast Broadband" to 2 of those. Not seeing much of a broadband revolution in the UK at the moment.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Come the revolution...

      ...Openreach can only serve "Superfast Broadband" to 2 of those.

      The other 5 must be served by their other subsidiary - "Outofreach"

      1. deanb01

        Re: Come the revolution...

        Brilliant!! We've now got a new name for Openreach in our office now. Thanks :-)

        1. Andy Livingstone

          Re: Come the revolution...

          What was wrong with Outrage? That's normally what their staff call it round here. Of course, we only have Group 1 exchanges, you know, the ones with white mice running round wheels, costing so much to feed that we get slow speed and big prices.

  3. JP19

    "supportive environment"

    Personally I doubt many people will pay more than a slight premium for more than 20Mb because the majority of people will notice no more than a slight difference..

    You need to be within 1.5km of a cabinet to get 20Mb with current VDSL and within 100m to get 500Mb using G.Fast. It needs around 220 times more cabinets to give everyone 500Mb.

    I doubt openreach will get much support from customers - idiot politicians are another matter.

    1. ilmari

      Re: "supportive environment"

      from the article, I get the impression they're basically using vdsl for basement to appartments.

  4. Adam Jarvis

    The sheer irony of BT, in choosing Swansea/Wales.

    The sheer irony of BT. If there is one place in the UK where G.fast will never be practical to do roll-out-en-masse, its Wales.

    Lets get the truth out there straight away.

    This is a BT 'trophy project' like VW building the Audi RX7, when 99% of what they sell are Polo's and Golf Match. If you're Welsh, live rurally - it will never be a rolled out, it just doesn't make economic sense.

    The FTTC solution that's being chosen by BT for the UK, works well in Cities/Market Towns (in the town itself) but its not a good solution for (mostly rural) Wales or rural hamlets / sparsely populated housing.

    Coverage en-masse - You need to 'carpet bomb' a new FTTC Roadside Cab every 2(km2) to cover the UK. Otherwise Not Spots are still Not Spots (in FTTC minimum speed terms). That's a lot of FTTC cabinets, to give you an upto 80Mbps (without any future proofing) to every part of the UK.

    To improve each FTTC cabinet with G.fast 'en-masse' you then have to take each individual 2(km2) area and 'micro-carpet-bomb' with a minium of 8 further FTTrN distribution points, to give a maximum line length of 500m to each consumer node. Currently these aren't self-powered so each require an expensive connection to the mains grid. (A total of 8 FTTrNs+1 FTTC per 2(km2)).

    Even then, you will have G.fast 'Not-spots' (or in this case, areas where speed is more like 'upto' FTTC speeds), as G.fast has a working range of upto 400m. Its unlikely that BT would ever have a maximum 'copper/aluminium' distance of 250m 'en-masse' to each consumer premises/node as the costs rise exponentially for G.fast (you'd need to add a 16 further FTTrN distribution points, 24 in total+1 FTTC per 2(km2)).

    The best G.fast can theoretically hope to offer is 650Mbps at 50m, Only 10% of customers per existing FTTC cabinet, even after you add 8 further powered FTTrN points, per 2(km2) could achieve this.

    There comes a point where it would be more cost effective to find an efficient method of connecting those premises with either Fibre Optic or something like Intel's Optical Thunderbolt technology, with consumer style connections either end, for ease of installation.

    Maintenance cost will also become prohibitive, because there will be so much delicate 'maxed out' technology between the consumer and the 'exchange' (in the conventional sense). Fault finding will become very difficult, lengthy and more frequent.

    Speeds, like VDSL/ADSL, are dependant on copper line quality/length, even more so. The land area of UK is 243,610 (km2). OK, not all of it populated, but generally most areas have a end node, there somewhere.

    Thats over 100,000 FTTC cabinets are around £15,000 each, a lot more than the current 5600 exchanges, with a further 800,000 FTTrN distribution points just to achieve a further 10% of customer's (per FTTC) obtaining a connection of 'upto' 650Mbps at a distance of 50m from FTTrN.

    Putting a piece of complex technology in between the premises and the telephone exchange in damp, windy, rural areas (Wales/telegraph poles in particular-FTTrN) isn't going to last either.

    And this begs the question, if FTTP is inevitable for Wales, why isn't there a policy in place, that copper cable renewals in Wales are ALL FTTP from now on, where line lengths are more than 250m from an existing proposed/future Cabinet/FTTrN roll-out. Because upgrading these premises is going to take a long time, they have no solution in sight, so we may aswell start today, working from the outer reaches in, towards the exchange.

    Conclusion - BT in their wisdom thought Swansea would be the best place to show off this G.fast Tech. BT are more or less, having private joke at the expense of the Welsh.

    1. POPE Mad Mitch

      Re: The sheer irony of BT, in choosing Swansea/Wales.

      Central Swansea would be a good place to show it off, a fairly densely packed city with a lot of recent urban apartment / city living developments mixing with burgeoning high tech and software industry growth, with some pundits pegging it as Wales's answer to silicon valley. Spread out farm houses and sheep this is not.

      1. Adam Jarvis

        Re: The sheer irony of BT, in choosing Swansea/Wales.

        Totally unrepresentative of the rest of Wales though, G.fast is a technology that has no place in Wales, well what most of us know to be Wales, not some token City Centre Swansea location.

    2. druck Silver badge

      Re: The sheer irony of BT, in choosing Swansea/Wales.

      Audi RS7, the RX7 was a rotary engined Mazda.

    3. mrs doyle
      Thumb Up

      Re: The sheer irony of BT, in choosing Swansea/Wales.

      Totally agree Adam, the superfarce that is gFarce is going to come back and bite them. A totally ridiculous situation, patching up obsolete tech. A disgrace. And eejit politicians and councillors fall for the snake oil salesman's hype every time. Nutters.

  5. thondwe

    Happy to volunteer

    cureently on 60mbs VDSL in rural Swansea area, but can always use more speed!

  6. bigtimehustler

    I think the people saying the speed won't matter to most people are very short sighted. You see, BT themselves don't even think they would cover UK in this for 10 years, by then, our data demands online will have drastically increased and we will probably be considering 500mb the same we consider 15mb now and still calling BT crap because other countries have had far faster speeds for decades. Infrastructure operators have to plan for the future, they have to see beyond you watching one thing on sky catch up, given most things in the future will be internet connected.

    1. JP19

      "our data demands online will have drastically increased"

      No they won't for the same reason a telephone conversations today needs no more than 8kb/s the same as when telephones were invented. Humans simply can't process more than 10 or 20Mb/s of information so pipes delivering more than that are only really useful to reduced the wait downloading big gobs of information for later processing and for serving multiple humans simultaneously. The first case isn't worth much and the second case doesn't happen much so people will not pay much to be able to do it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FFS, enough already...

    JUST PUT FIBER IN !!!

  8. Christopher Blackmore

    Meanwhile, in other parts of Swansea...

    On a good day, when the string the signal comes through is really wet, Birchgrove, Swansea, can get up to 2.5 Mb/s, but it's often down below 1 Mb/s.

    1. thondwe

      Re: Meanwhile, in other parts of Swansea...

      And that's the stupidity of the broadband grant system for "not spots" on Gower we got lucky that some keen individuals to push all the paperwork through. These schemes mean money and time wasted all over the place on commitities and admin etc. The whole thing would have just better if they'd just paid OpenReach (who do all the work anyway) to FTTC every cab in the land.

  9. Lindsay T

    In rural Scotland (but with an agricultural college and Forestry Commission offices on the same exchange) I get BT Business at around 3 Mbps if I'm lucky. Sometimes it's even fast enough to download a family photograph - as long as it's low resolution. Stories of such speeds as 500 seem as relevant as The House that Jack Built.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      While 3Mbps is pretty poor, what the heck kind of family photograph are you downloading that takes time to come in at that speed?

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