back to article BT's Openreach plots G.fast end-user trials

BT's Openreach has taken another step in the introduction of G.fast services, and late last week briefed Brit ISPs on how to join customer trials. The talks, held on Friday 17 July, were staged to get providers on board for what it has dubbed “NGA2” (Next Generation Access). The G.Fast trial will be run in conjunction with a …

  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

    For the cost of it

    They may as well deploy fibre to the premises.

    But then they'd have to write the installation off over normal cable lifetimes instead of charging everything up front.

    On another aspect: G.fast runs carriers out to 106MHz with an option for 212MHz. This is moving beyond interference with hams into messing with FM and commercial comms. Deployment could get "interesting"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.fast

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just tell them...

    To stop playing about and deploy proper (symmetric-capable) fiber to everyone!

    G.fast isn't going to work well for most of us!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just tell them...

      There are 28.6 million premises in the UK. At £2,500 per premises, how far do you think they'd get before they went bust? That's £71.5 billion. Who would lend them the money to do it? Things didn't work out very well for the investors who lent the cable companies money.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks El Reg for the "current price" link to the Openreach FTTP price list.

    It shows that last year they nearly tripled the wholesale line rental (to £1188+VAT per year) and nearly doubled the installation charges charge (e.g. 400m: from £500+£1000+VAT to £750+£1750+VAT)

    Anybody would think they didn't want to provide this service.

    Costs of digging up the road to individual premises are fine, when you're not doing a whole street at once. But a "rental" cost of £119 inc VAT per month, for doing nothing - not even including Internet transit? That means you couldn't get a retail product below £150.

    If Virgin can provide fibre broadband Internet for £28.50 per month (retail), clearly BT's FTTP model is completely screwed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      fibre

      Virgin don't though. They provide service over a coaxial cable where they have network, and resell Openreach's FTTC product where they don't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fibre

        well, EMT are offering symetrical 300Mbit/s for 33 euro / month, so what's that, £25?

      2. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: fibre

        Bless their cotton socks - so their latest & greatest FTTP is 300Mbps DL + 30Mbps UL (less contention). Not sure what "long twisted-pair runs" have to do with measured speed across a fibre link, though, unless the fibre connection is plugged into something at the exchange connected that way.

        I'm quite happy in my 3rd party FTTP running 100Mbps UL + 100Mbps DL at £44/mo. Perhaps I might splash out a fiver and test out their 1Gbps each way service for a couple of days, although I can't really think of a use-case for it right now beyond bragging rights.

        Not entirely sure why a small company can roll out this fibre, and Openreach can't. Admittedly perhaps the small company are splurging some VC capital, perhaps have some govmt grant, and so can afford it as a loss leader for the moment, but BT *should* have the resources to hand to do this sort of thing efficiently (yeah, I know, not a word I'd associate with BT).

        Yes, upgrading the existing network is a different kettle of fish, but perhaps running FTTP to all new properties (or developments over a certain size) might be a good policy for Openreach to take... And then use these opportunities to upgrade cabinets in prep for mass FTTP deployment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @jetsetjim

          I don't think Openreach do the work on new developments. They're cabled up by the developers who I presume will tend to opt for cheapest/easiest.

        2. Alan Edwards

          Re: fibre

          "so their latest & greatest FTTP is 300Mbps DL + 30Mbps UL (less contention). Not sure what "long twisted-pair runs" have to do with measured speed across a fibre link"

          The article has combined two different products.

          g.fast, the 330/30 Mb/s one, is a souped-up VDSL FTTC service, hence the bit about long cable runs. It's fibre to the local cabinet, then copper wire to you.

          It then starts talking about fibre-on-demand, which is FTTP with the high install costs because you have to run a fibre cable to your house. If I've read Google right, fibre-on-demand extends the fibre cable from the nearest FTTC cabinet to your house.

        3. chris 17 Bronze badge

          Re: fibre

          Small company focussing on delivering services to concentrated accessible viable areas can offer astonishing prices. They can't provide that service nationally though and its not just because they are a small company.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fibre

        Even the Virgin "152Mbps" Internet service is provided over coax? OK, fair enough.

        I still don't see fibre as being significantly more expensive to maintain, once it's in the ground, than either coax or twisted pair.

    2. rhydian

      "Rental" is a different name for what is an ongoing maintenance charge plus the cost of supplying and maintaining the termination gear at the exchange, so not quite "doing nothing".

      As for VM, as AC above says it's fibre to the cab as a rule, then the last mile comes down a coax to your house/office that's shared between everyone else on your street (hence VM's reputation for having contention issues).

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Anybody would think they didn't want to provide this service."

      Of course not. it undercuts their retail business model of leased line services to businesses. (They're already smarting from mass dumping of low speed leased lines.)

      This is a prime example of why Openreach needs to be cleaved from BT.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't Openreach also suffer from the same conflict-of-interest of not wanting to cannibalise expensive EAD circuits with cheap FTTP ones?

        1. Bob H

          I used to be on a cabinet which wasn't upgraded to FTTC despite all the others in the area being so, I swear it was because all the properties it served were businesses and it would have killed the local BT Net fibre business.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Costs of digging up the road to individual premises are fine, when you're not doing a whole street at once.

      Actually, the way to do it is dig up a whole street at once and combine it with whatever other utility work is required. Individual access invariably means expensive resurfacing down the line. While you can't expect private companies to pay for this*, the state can quite easily and it's better use of capital than giving it to the banks. It can also afford to calculate an ROI over a longer term which means lower rentals. Higher take-up could conceivably lead to higher productivity, or at least higher market activity.

      * Well that was until the central banks started to hold interests rates down artificially. Correctly pitched (reasonable annual return, say 5%) and this could be attractive to pension funds who are starting to get worried about cashflow. "Correctly pitched" means: not as fecking stupid as the promised returns on the proposed new nuclear power station. The state would also have to sweeten the deal for more remote areas where the sums otherwise won't add up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @charlieclark

        There's a problem with the whole street approach.

        #House1 : Lovely, fibre broadband, thank you.

        #House2 : No, you can't come in, we use our mobiles for Internet access.

        #House3 : Oh no dear, I just have a phone by the door to call my daughter and the home help lady. No, there's no electricity socket there, just the phone.

        #House4 : Oh, that's lovely but I don't think it will work with my burglar alarm.

        In this forum, probably 100% of people would love fibre broadband. Out there *points* it's about one in six, one in seven. That remains true even if you offer it at a price that will never make a return. That's a tricky call to investors. "Can you lend us some money we'll never pay back, to install something that most people don't want enough to actually pay for?" I think the shareholders of a business making that kind of decision would get reasonably dummy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          dummy

          Dummy = grumpy.

          Autocorrect FTW.

      2. rhydian

        "Actually, the way to do it is dig up a whole street at once and combine it with whatever other utility work is required"

        The problem there is that, as a rule, the water, gas, sewerage, phone and electricity networks don't run tidily next to each other. In my experience you get telco at the edges of roads or on pavements, while water and gas tend to go down the middle of roads.

        1. rhydian

          @JetSetJim

          "Not entirely sure why a small company can roll out this fibre, and Openreach can't"

          Because small operations don't always scale up. I'm not sure where your located, but I'm willing to bet it's somewhere urban with middling to high housing density. Not everywhere will be like that.

          1. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: @JetSetJim

            @rhydian:

            Located in a small village, <1000 inhabitants

            @AC regarding Openreach doing/not doing cabling - the answer to that is "it depends". If you're a large developer, it makes sense to have some form of entry point into the development that you cable up during groundworks phase, and then politely ask Openreach to connect to (and even invoice Openreach for the work done). You may even contract Openreach to do it for you, but you don't have to, I agree. As to precisely what cables they lay, you have to adhere to their design rules, which cover both copper and fibre.

            In my experience - I've just built a house that has an Openreach pole on its boundary, with the nearest junction box one pole further down the street, and I was informed by their engineers that there were spare sockets on that junction box. Annoyingly, you have to go through a service provider to commission Openreach to make the connection - you can't actually talk to Openreach and get them to do it for you, and then contract a service provider. Unfortunately, the combination of BT, the BT ordering system, BT call centres and the occasional idiot meant that 2 months passed, 3 new line orders were cancelled, and two engineers appointments were ignored. Thankfully I had a fibre provider passing at just the right time, and they did the whole thing in 3 days from initial enquiry to me actually making a phone call on a whizzy Vonage box.

    5. Disgruntled of TW
      FAIL

      "Anybody would think they didn't want to provide this service."

      @AC - they don't. I called up and asked for FTTP at "any price" and they said "nope - never happening at your exchange". My exchange has had FTTC for 9 months now, so they have the bandwidth, just not the "will" or "desire" for reasons they are not telling anyone.

  4. Agincourt and Crecy!
    Mushroom

    Not the network that's the issue though......

    Doesn't matter how fast the connection to your premises is or whether it is FTTP or FTTC. Until the hateful HomeHub 5 with it's endless drops and reboots is fixed, you will be stuck with a crap service.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not the network that's the issue though......

      "Until the hateful HomeHub 5 with it's endless drops and reboots is fixed"

      There's a very easy fix you can do today.

      Unplug it, take it out on the street and chuck it under a passing bus.

      The go and buy a decent router.

      I'm very happy with my Fritzbox 7390 which does everything a HomeHub does (except the telco backdoor and mandatory public BT Wifi) and more. The 7490 is even nicer. Both are also PBXes which have a couple of fixed line outputs, + DECT + Voip and intelligent outbound call routing (meaning you can route your calls over the cheapest provider without remembering to dial stupid prefixes)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    G.fast - what a joke

    I live less than 2 miles from a town with Superfast Broadband, 50 miles from central London, yet I cannot get a fast broadband service or a decent mobile phone signal from any of the major providers. The town itself (over 9000 people) has such poor broadband coverage that the service is very unreliable.

    The office where I occasionly work in London is in the City, but cannot get superfast broadband, and has had to buy fast internet in, provided over a dedicated fibre, from a third-party.

    How about just rolling out a good basic service for mobile and broadband to bulk of the population before providing ever-faster services to an ever smaller number of people? So much for the Chancellor's plan to get Ultrafast BB to 95% of the population. I live in one of the most densly populated regions of the UK and yet my estimate (despite the 'official' figures) of the penetration of Superfast Broadband (ie speeds above the 20Mb of ADSL2+) is less than 50%. I'd be surprised if the penetration of speeds above 5Mb is more than 70%!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: G.fast - what a joke

      I think the plan is that gfast is one of the potential solutions to your problem.

      One of the scenarios manufacturers are pushing is gfast at the pole top fed by fibre from an fttc box or by bundled copper running EFM.

      I think your problem is primarily commercial though. The mobile telcos and Virgin haven't come your way because they can't make any money from doing so. If that's true, then the incumbent can't come either without government input because selling below cost by the operator with significant market power prevents the others from playing and tends to see people going to prison under the competition act.

  6. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "The office where I occasionly work in London is in the City, but cannot get superfast broadband, and has had to buy fast internet in, provided over a dedicated fibre, from a third-party."

    This is not an accident.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "This is not an accident."

      It's more likely to be there are no BT cabinets within the square mile, which make deploying Fibre to the Cabinet difficult.

      1. Soruk
        Go

        Who needs a wire?

        Have you considered Relish? Service is provided wirelessly over 4G, and the only wire you will need to use is the one used to plug the router into the mains.

      2. Bob H

        I've seen BT skip cabinets that were entirely used by businesses, there must be some interesting threshold that preserves the BT Net fibre business by skipping these cabinets.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still waiting

    for the promised universal 2Mbps...

  8. kernow12

    Poles

    People all so have to remember that that they need to install lots of new poles as the current copper is contacted to the electric poles in many places witch they aren't aloud to do with the fibre so they need their own poles

    1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
      Coat

      Need to Czech Re: Poles

      Grammar checker?

      all so = also

      witch = which

      'they aren't' = who 'they'?

      aloud = allowed?

      Phone lines attached to mains electric distribution poles is quite common in rural (even not so rural) France but haven't seen it in UK much. Of course, this doesn't mean it does not happen, just do not see it often in semi-rural Cheshire. I seem to remember, (in the mists of time) that Post Office telephones 'rented' poles for telephony so they may have originally been electricity distribution. All the 'poles' round here (edge of south west Manchester) are BT poles for the final 50-100ft to your (usually terraced or semi-det) house.

      BTW not sure about fibre to house/premises via a 'pole' point of distribution, (pole presumably being connected to a nearby cabinet). Technically possible? desirable? We don't have any cable network locally for me to fall on experience here.

      1. rhydian

        Re: Need to Czech Poles

        There is normally co-operation between Openrach and the local electricity networks company when it comes to pole sharing, however it isn't done that often for the simple reason that phone and electricity cables don't always follow the same route. In many rural areas the phone service will come from a village exchange, whereas power will come from another direction (usually from the nearest town).

        As for fibre via poles, it can be done, but is in some ways more difficult than underground (you need to compensate for wind, temperature and ice formation). There are plans apparently for fibre-to-the-distribution-point, where the DSLAM that usually lives in a cabinet is mounted to a pole to serve 10-20 houses, with power being supplied the "wrong" way down the copper i.e. from the customer's premises.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Need to Czech Poles

          They are ban from putting the new fibre cables on the electricity poles. that's why when they installed fttp to are farmhouse in cornwall the had to put in new poles so the could go around the electricity ones, but the got the measurements wrong so when they came to connect the wire up from the new cab the engineer couldn't because the electricity pole was in the way. before we where connected directly to the exchange with some of the wire underground some on bt poles and so on the electricity ones. with the electricity that was in the why is where the old copper cable as it spliter box instead to split the wire in to 3 with to wires one way and and the ours the other.

  9. Banksy
    Trollface

    Gosforth and Newcastle?

    Do you mean Gosforth, Newcastle or have the residents of Gosforth been ejected from the city?

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