back to article Sckipio touts fibre-like symmetrical G.fast kit

Fabless G.fast silicon house Sckipio hopes to give the fibre-most-of-the-way, copper to the home market a kick along with silicon that gets close to symmetric performance, at whatever data rate the copper can support. Talking to Vulture South after the launch, the company's marketing veep Michael Weissman explained the …

  1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Perhaps rolling a truck is just easier...

    Ack in advance, YMMV.

    In our case, a technician showed up, strung the fiber from the pole (to the next pole, to the next pole, through about 100m of thick forest) to the house, and left. I blinked, so I missed him. I doubt it took him much more than an hour or so.

    The next technician showed up to screw a few little boxes to the panel. But that'd be the case with any technology.

    It really didn't seem like that much of a deal.

    When we had crappy 1.4Mbps ADSL, the technicians spent DAYS trying to get noise off the copper twisted pair. DAYS!!

  2. Adam Jarvis

    Pitfalls of G.fast

    Good to see the El-reg highlighting the pitfalls of G.fast, rather than {wonderfully rosy} bullshit articles 'BT tests 'upto' 1GBps G.fast (Copper based) Fibre', negating to state it was over a distance of 10-20m of very high grade new copper in a lab.

    Most new cabling (mine is) is fed via road in Parallel lengths of cabling (crosstalk heaven) at street level, not in a star configuration from Poles. Self Powered, back fed from the subscriber is a disaster waiting to happen.

    I can't see it ever been accepted in the UK on safety grounds, not sure many subscribers would be happy paying retail electricity prices to Power multinational equipment either. Another great money grabbing scam between BT and the Electricity companies.

    In very remote rural locations, it would be safer to loosely lay fibre optic in river beds/ verges, public footpaths etc, and expect some damage, using the revenues to slowly back install this protectively/properly over time, than backfeed power to 'carpet bombed' (in terms of numbers required) G.fast devices.

    G.fast is like trying to uniformly light a Christmas tree (representing the UK) with lots of single white narrow focused leds, you need a lot of small leds, very close together, each with its own power requirement, to get blanket coverage. The closer you position the leds together, results in an exponental increase in number of leds required.

    The alternative, being separately supplied (on the mains grid) for each G.fast node makes it exponentially expensive for all cable lengths greater than 500 metres (premises 250 metres as the crow flies).

    It's not a cheap alternative to real Fibre, its just an alternative that makes use of BT's legacy copper (in the interests of BT, and only BT). It will get rolled out iniitally as 1:1 mapping with existing FTTC Cabinets, so notspots are still notspots. It doesn't much help rurally, because of ongoing maintenance issues (fees for repairs which are set and run by BTOpenreach)

    If BT want to lobby/force pointless G.fast by bamboozling MSPs/MPs/Politicians fine, but don't use taxpayers money to fund this Pointless Cul-de-Sac* G.fast Technology, especially as a solution to rural 'upto' Ultrafast broadband.

    *Once it reaches it practical limit (more like a practical 'upto' 100-200Mbps if you're lucky, its very,very dependent on so many factors that are impossible to fathom, i.e. which way is the wind blowing today etc), you have to reverse (out the Cul-de-Sac), rip it all out, and start again installing proper Fibre optic - FTTP (which taxpayers should have done in the first place).

    Real fibre optic FTTP has so many advantages regarding lower maintenance costs rurally, you have to wonder why G.fast ever gets promoted at all (other than in the interests of BT itself) as a rollout solution for ultrafast Broadband.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

      AJ, you reminded me of an important advantage of FTTH (FTTP). Fiber networks often have no need for AC power drops anywhere along the route from the local Central Office out to a reported 40km as the fiber flies. 100% passive. Simplifies deployment. Avoiding not just the cost of the power, but the monthly base charge for the connection to the grid.

      PS. The Optical Network Terminal screwed to my panel in the basement has a battery backup. Reportedly it'll call for its own replacement when the time comes. But it's nice and cozy, so it'll be about ten years.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

      "... you have to wonder why G.fast ever gets promoted at all [...] as a rollout solution for ultrafast Broadband."

      From the Oxford English Dictionary: Placebo (noun) - A measure designed merely to humour or placate someone.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

      What "safety grounds" are you talking about? This is a few watts of DC power at a low voltage that can't hurt let alone kill.

      As for paying for power, if you are worried about the bill for powering something that requires 7 watts when it is running and has a low power mode when you aren't using the internet so the average will be less than half that, you must have really really really really high "retail electric prices" to be concerned. Just think of it as your internet bill costing that little bit extra every month.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

        Wrong end of the "safety grounds" stick - how do you make an emergency call if the power goes down? Mobile's only an answer if you have mobile coverage.

      2. Adam Jarvis

        Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

        It's both. Emergency Power & Maintenance.

        I don't see BT been allowed to self power devices from subscribers homes/offices as these would sit outside an area that get regular inspection/outside an area of BT's control.

        There is potential for that device to send 240VAC onto the BT copper pair. i.e. You'd have to have written permission from the subscriber for regular yearly access to check the Power Supply (fed via unverifed consumer 240VAC) is working correctly, there would need to be strict conditions. There will substantial costs involved.

        Outside an area of Control.

        BT can't control the conditions that device operates in, temperature, damp, vacant landlords/owners etc, yet it feeds power (originally from an unverified Consumer 240VAC source) into BT's network. I doubt it will happen.

        If it does, it negates much of the cost savings of having Passive Fibre optic (FTTP) all the way to the subscriber v so called cost savings of Powered devices/G.fast. BT's only way is to 'BT self power' these devices through its own equipment within its network, I can't even see them been allowed to use 2 pair copper to do this from their own PSUs. The reality been, most G.fast nodes will need to be connected individually to the grid.

        As said, G.fast gets exponentially expensive, depending on the blanket " 'upto' coverage" you are looking to offer.

        Of course, G.fast isn't designed to be about blanket coverage, its about selective coverage - this is BT.

        BT want a restrictive tap (as in water) between the subscriber and BT, to gouge its customers, by restricting the best throughput speeds through selective pricing. Its more difficult to do that if each subscriber has a passive fibre optic running into their house, why's this resource limited? where's the restriction exactly?

        G.fast is designed to be that artificial restriction, to make Ultrafast Fibre seems like a 'limited resource', yet the actual unrestricted fibre sits 20 metres from the subscriber on a Pole, with a active G.fast 'tap' device sat between it and the subscriber.

        Much of BT's argument can be shown to be a lie, 'Passive Fibre is expensive, Actively Powered Copper Piggyback Technologies like G.fast are cheap', its been conditioned into ofcom/Politician's little heads i.e Ed Vaizey. This is even before you factor in costs from Interferene/Cross talk/Low Frequency Pump/Induction Noise + fault finding costs.

        When you factor in the true costs, long term maintenance, it can be seen that BT's are biasing the technical reasoning towards technology which favours BT's legacy copper carcass, and only BT. BT are the only ones not seeing their Copper Network only in terms of its scrap value, post Brexit. Mediocre won't do in this new era.

        The local loop / BTOpenreach needs to be completely separated and that probably means taken back into public ownership.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

          There is potential for that device to send 240VAC onto the BT copper pair

          There is already that. Just think that pretty well most phone lines these days will have some mains powered kit plugged into them - none of it under BT's control, and some of it from (staying polite) less conscientious manufacturers/sources. And of course, this existing kit will be subject to all the same potential problems (damp, damage, etc).

          The other safety concern is having equipment powered from multiple premises - and thus creating a potential for a fault in one property to send a dangerous voltage into another. In practical terms this is unlikely as it would need multiple faults - a "power" fault in one property, a failure of the AC-DC converter in that same property causing dangerous voltages to be sent up the wire, a failure of the isolation on the other end of the wire (inside the BT device, so under their control), a failure of the isolation on another port allowing that dangerous voltage back out again, and a failure of the isolation at the other subscriber's end allowing them to get a shock. That's quite a catalogue of failures that have to happen at once - and having them occur over time and not be noticed is unlikely as some of them would affect service.

          There is also the issue of lightning - but that is already a potential issue so I don't think there's any change in risk there.

          1. Adam Jarvis

            Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

            The point here though is there is a choice/a crossroads.

            At the moment consumer 240VAC devices (made to the cheapest price point) connected to BT lines aren't actively acting as PSUs sending several watts to Power BT Equipment outside the subscribers home, which is what is been proposed, that's a big change, no opto-isolation.

            The sheer exponential number of G.fast nodes needed, hence the term 'carpet bombing', to get effective blanket G.fast coverage, rather than selective coverage (which is what it will end up, notspots still notspots).

            This isn't a cheap alternative to Passive Fibre Optic FTTP. Especially, if you rationalise it to lines 500 metres or more in length and when you rationalise it, you may aswell just stick to Passive Fibre Optic FTTP, across the network, keep it simple to one technology (cheaper to bulk purchase), going forward within the local loop. (legacy FTTC technology will be around for a while yet).

            BT using the difficulties of final termination of Passive Fibre Optic as the reason to rollout of G.fast. I don't buy it, that termination of Passive Fibre Optic is overly diffcult or expensive, when you factor in all the pitfalls of G.fast. I don't buy the BT line 'Fibre is expensive, G.fast is the cheaper'.

            G.fast is a pointless technically biased solution put forward by BT, for BT. Taxpayers should play no part in it.

          2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

            Can't they just stick a fuse in the master socket? Big enough to never blow under anything approaching normal conditions?

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

              "Can't they just stick a fuse in the master socket?"

              Fuses are ONLY there for fire protection. By the time they blow the electronics is already toast - and the amount of current it takes to kill someone is so low that even the smallest fuses would remain intact.

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

      Oh it's worse than that. Although they are keeping their cards close to their chest BT have indicated that at least initially their spangly new G.FAST units will be attached to existing FTTC cabinets. So they will be giving a speed boost to a subset of existing 'fibre' users rather than extending the reach of high-speed broadband.

      That will also rule out this symmetric technology as good cross-talk mitigation is essential.

      1. Adam Jarvis

        Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

        AndrueC, I did (try to) make that point in my first post:

        "It's not a cheap alternative to real Fibre, its just an alternative that makes use of BT's legacy copper (in the interests of BT, and only BT). It will get rolled out iniitally as 1:1 mapping with existing FTTC Cabinets, so notspots are still notspots"

        'notspots remain notspots'

        (maybe 1:1 mapping wasn't the best way to describe it, but it means it will only go into places where existing FTTC cabinets exist, the technology is mapped in, one for one, replacing one existing FTTC line card with a newer G.fast line card).

        Also a point often missed, the quality of PSUs in existing FTTC Cabinets will need be substantially improved to cater for the PSU noise sensitivities of G.fast too.

        Britain's Broadband gets an minor incremental upgrade (BT will certainly lobby to go the route of further handouts/taxpayer subsidies) to enable exactly the same people that were getting 'upto' 80Mbps beforehand, to get 'upto' G.fast speeds, which I'll be generous and say, 'upto' 100Mbps-200Mbps* (on a good day). As said, notspots remain notspots.

        (*as always 'upto' dependent on cabling alu/copper, site issues, crosstalk, low frequency pump/induction noise, distance from the FTTC by cable length, Backhaul/ISP traffic management/network management/congestion - restrictions permitting - ofcom's idea of regulation heaven, keeps them in a job, hence their unremitting support for G.fast)

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Pitfalls of G.fast

      "It's not a cheap alternative to real Fibre"

      It's not cheap at all.

      The advantage from BT's point of view is that they can charge you 250% of the cost of the terminating equipment upfront and still get to keep it. if they run fibre there's a much longer payback period.

      The flipside is that most copper in the Uk is so rotten that they'll need to run new stuff anyway. At that point it makes long-term sense to run fibre, but BT is so pathologically hidebound that they'll insist on running copper anyway even if it costs several times as much to do so.

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