back to article Copper feel, fibre it ain't: Ads regulator could face court for playing hard and fast with definitions

CityFibre has applied to take the Advertising Standards Authority's to court over its decision to approve the continued use of the term "fibre" to describe services delivered over copper-based networks. Last year the ASA found it was "not materially misleading" for ISPs to describe copper hybrid services as "fibre broadband …

  1. wyatt

    I was about to agree with the complaint until I read the ASA conclusion. Do consumers care how their internet services are delivered? I'd agree that they don't, that the speed they're going to be able to receive is what they'd make a decision by. However, the speed alone gives a 'rose tinted' view of the service they'll then receive as the number of people sharing that service along with a whole lot more factors will effect what they are able to actually get.

    What would be good is a break down of the package they purchase, if it's full or part copper/fibre, the contention, traffic shaping, drop off at peak hours etc would all help to make a decision. You could have full fibre with crap throughput for example.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I was about to agree with the complaint until I read the ASA conclusion. Do consumers care how their internet services are delivered?"

      The fact that ISPs use the word fibre in their advertising and it is generating this much interest among the ASA and ISPs suggests that consumers do care. Whether they *should* care is clearly a different question.

      However a full fibre network when working properly should be able to work at full speed regardless of distance (within reason). A part copper network has a lot more vagaries to what speed it can work at, including the length of the copper, the internal wiring, the copper type, the number of extra connections, electrical interference.

      Therefore with full fibre to the premises and a fibre router then any speed less than the service you have paid for* (minus overheads) is either down to faulty equipment or contention somewhere - either of which can be easily rectified.

      (*) to the point of that router - not including your internal WiFi or end user devices.

      With copper you start getting into SNR, speed profiles, learning routines etc.

      1. wyatt

        Give 100 houses 1Gb fibre connections running through a 10Gb router and they won't all get 1Gb throughput though will they (for example..)? Variations in what the service will comprise of are the relevant information that is missing in my opinion.

        People will still moan when VoD buffers and blame their internet service when it can be a number of other issues. I've 100Mb VM 'fibre' (copper) but can only download MS 2012 iso at about 3MB, is that Virgin Media's fault? No, it's what MS supply it at.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > Give 100 houses 1Gb fibre connections running through a 10Gb router and they won't all get 1Gb throughput though will they

          Statistically, they will. No consumer grade 1G service will let you fill 1G 24x7; the cost of transit continues to fall, but 1G of wholesale Internet transit in London still is of the order of £200+ per month.

          So you rely on consumers only using the Internet in bursts, and their *average* across the month is only a few Mbps each. And at peak times they might only get 100 or 200Mbps, but most of the time they get 1G.

        2. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Give 100 houses 1Gb fibre connections running through a 10Gb router and they won't all get 1Gb throughput though will they (for example..)?

          Well not if they aren't all trying to download big files from fast sites all the time. But most people don't. They use their connection in bursts. So if the chances are that 100 people sharing a 10Gb link won't notice that they aren't getting 1Gb each, but sure, there will be times when peak demand exceeds 10Gb, just probably not very often. Even when my son was burning his way through 300GB/month on my link that still works out as less than an average of 1Mb/s so a contention ratio of 10:1 would probably meant real conflicts were very rare.

          Back before people tended to have Internet at home, or even Jo public had ever herd of the Internet I did a deal with the network team at work to swap a whole bunch of 9600baud pad lines for a 64kb IP one. They thought I was mad and thought they'd got the best of the deal, while I knew I'd effectively upgraded everyone from 9600baud to 64k since we had a bursty (block mode) application and so sod all contention.

          Of course your mileage may vary, perhaps you do spend you're life downloading stuff at a constant 1Gb, but if so you aren't the average user.

        3. anti

          Can't say I agree, thought it may depend on what you're downloading and when. I have seen that Microsoft can pump some serious bits down your line... Windows 10 iso coming down a UK leased line at 100MB/s, which is coming pretty damn close to the 1Gbps line bandwidth. I have likewise seen Apple being able to give incredible bandwidth via Akamai down the same line.

          However, QoS can kick in at any point, hosting DC(s), internet provider, shared residential lines, poorly configure/overwhelmed consumer modem/router/access point, or the computer itself overwhelmed by the cryptocurrency miner running in a forgotten tab.

      2. Keith Oborn

        I used to work for VM (and ntl before that). Cable networks have always been more "fibre-ey" than DSL, but it wasn't until the DSL folks started using the word fibre in ads that the cableco started to do the same.

        The problem for operators who really do have fibre to the premises is how to differentiate their offering in their ads. "But BT's service is fibre: why is yours better?"

        So yes, consumers do care, but kind of in the opposite direction. It's not about delivered speed (although FTTP should be able to beat DSL, and maybe DOCSIS), but about the perception of speed, price and ad wording.

        1. Carl Thomas

          Heh, hi Keith. Hope you've been well.

          Hate to disagree with you but as I recall the first claims of fibre optic broadband in the UK came from what was then ntl:telewest.

          I think in the US cable companies started on the fibre optic thing in response to Verizon FiOS which is FTTP.

        2. really_adf

          I used to work for VM (and ntl before that). Cable networks have always been more "fibre-ey" than DSL, but it wasn't until the DSL folks started using the word fibre in ads that the cableco started to do the same.

          You have it backwards. Virgin started marketing "fibre broadband" in 2008 (if not earlier). BT VDSL trials didn't start until 2009.

          https://youtu.be/PCls_SCpPs4

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT_Infinity

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "But BT's service is fibre: why is yours better?"

          "BT's service isn't fibre, they just claim it is and the ASA lets them, just like they let them claim to be selling unlimited broadband which was capped at 10GB/month. The ASA isn't a regulator, it's a trade association of publishers and he who pays the piper calls the tune."

          That'd make a few piggies squeal.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I work for an ISP that provides 100% fibre to both business and residential customers. I work in provisioning Business circuits. Distance is really not an issue. On the Business side, we can provide 10Gig up to 120km from a CO with XFPs we have in stock and more bandwidth and/or distance if required.

        I, honestly, cannot say whether our Residential is oversubscribed. I can state that I have standard Residential Fibre at home and get over the "miserly" 150Meg down 50Meg up anytime I test that. The TV programming services portion is separate bandwidth so does not impact our Internet. Honestly, though as a Residential customer I consume very little of that total amount of bandwidth on a regular basis. It's not like I'm constantly transferring databases across a WAN over it.

        1. Def Silver badge

          150Meg down 50Meg up

          If you're really offering fibre connections, why are you ripping people off by treating them like ADSL lines?

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "However a full fibre network when working properly should be able to work at full speed regardless of distance "

        For some values of "full speed"

        I've spent time in a certain country in SE asia where the feed is fibre but the speed is only 128kb/s and for that you have to mortgage your grandmother.

        Why: 1 - gov monopoly (because they can) and 2 - with the average income being less than $5/day it ensures that locals don't get to see the unfiltered parts of the world the government doesn't want them seeing.

        (They used to have a firewall tighter than the Vietnamese one - which in turn was tighter than China's. now they just use extremely high costs to restrict access). That's going to break when Elon's satellite constellation shows up but I fully expect them to make ground stations illegal and attempt to locally jam them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > You could have full fibre with crap throughput for example.

      You could; but at least the problems would be definitely due to your service provider's network, and not due to crosstalk or rain in the joints or the phases of the moon.

      The fault rate for fibre is much lower, and it's easier to raise a fault when there is one, since basically it either works or it doesn't. Furthermore it works the same for all subscribers.

      All the copper technologies are fundamentally adaptive: they try to make the best use of a substrate which varies both in length and quality from subscriber to subscriber, and which even varies in quality over time. And therefore it can be hard to get the service provider to accept that the line is not functioning as well as it should.

    3. David Webb

      Do consumers care how their internet services are delivered?

      No they don't, and I can guarantee that the majority won't even know the difference between FTTC and FTTP, so if the adverts switch from "Fibre" to "Fibre To The Cabinet" their eyes will glaze over until the advert finishes and they go "ohh, Fibre, is it better than what we have? What do we have anyhow?".

      What they do care about is the actual difference (even if they don't understand it) and the difference is......

      Up To

      1. CertMan
        Unhappy

        Education

        I had to get 30% sign-up in each of 3 Parishes to get enough potential revenue to make Gigaclear a go'er for us. It took nearly a year to educate sufficient parishioners on the difference between what they had then and on what they could have in the future (now).

        Most were very happy that they could now Skype, order their groceries online, or use catchup TV, but 2 years on, I bet that most couldn't tell you what kind of service they have, only that it's much better than before.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Do consumers care how their internet services are delivered?

      No they don't, but they do care about the 'label'. So just as with 'HD' TV's consumers recognised 'HD' as meaning more pixels, higher definition etc. so they asked for and brought 'HD' TV's. the only issue was that the industry misused the term "HDready" to include any tv capable of receiving an HD input signal and downscaling it...

      I think to some extent the same applies to 'Fibre' broadband. Consumers have been told it is faster, more reilable etc etc. and so ask for it. So ISPs will offer 'fibre' so that they can tick the consumers box.

      Interestingly, if we going to be picky, I wonder if CityFibre's "full-fibre network" truely has a fibre only end-to-end data path; I suspect there are some copper-based routers, switches etc. in their network...

  2. David Austin

    Bah, ASA.

    If they don't know what the word "Unlimited" means, it's frustrating but not surprising they don't understand the nuance between FTTC and FTTP.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Bah, ASA.

      They don't know what the word theft means either, at least they didn't when I complained about the FACT advertising on a DVD I bought.

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Bah, ASA.

      May I add "broadband" to the list of words?

  3. balrog

    I dont give a f* if its two cups and a piece of string as long as I get the speed I paid for; they are arguing over a semantic irrelevance and have missed what consumers want entirely.....

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      But it's not just semantic irrelevance. It has relevance for quality of service, variance of quality of service, and the extent of future potential.

      When genuine fibre could go up to many Gbps; selling 'fake fibre' which never can but leaving the buyer with the false impression it could, is giving an unfair advantage to the 'fake fibre' pushers.

      I have been expecting this issue to blow up ever since the ASA allowed non-fibre to be called fibre. It isn't.

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        @Jason Bloomberg

        Whilst I agree with other comments about it being the overall QoS that consumers want, I totally agree with your comments about the effect on the "genuine fibre" industry; at the moment their message about the technical advantages of "real fibre" is being diluted and confused in the minds of the public by current advertising, many potential customers are probably not even aware of the performance of full fibre connectivity.

        Maybe we need a "Campaign for Real Fibre" to get the message clarified?

        But if any non-fibre services can match the real-world performance of fibre, we should let them call their product "I Can't Believe It's not Fibre"...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "100% whole fibre, no added salt nor sugar neither..."

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      By the same token you wouldn't care if your car was diesel, petrol or electric as long as it gets you from A to B. And yet consumers do care because diesel is more reliable, electric cleaner and petrol more fun. In the same way that fibre tends to be more reliable, have lower packet loss and have lower latency.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      .... and part of "getting the speed you pay for" is the fact that FTTC is a HYBRID line and the speed is impacted by the copper 'twixt cabinet and your NT point. That speed drop / increased latency affects precisely what consumers expect - a fast reliable service, I wont even start about the poor suckers who are tied to the sweated BT notwork by ally cable.

      Leaving aside that you seem blind to the *UPTO* part of your service description, there is almost always a loss involved over the Copper stretch unless you happen to live on top of your PCP, and thats just in the cable which is probably years old and past its prime with a huge number of dodgy joints and water ingress etc, and thats without losses caused by crosstalk. The only way to get the "headline" speed (or in your terms - "The speed I pay for") is to have Fibre to the Premises, that is fibre right up to the point where your modem plugs in, and that is exactly what FTTC ISNT and as such shouldnt be sold as such.

      Attitudes like that are the reason that the industry gets away with mis-describing an overpriced hybrid service, and why we see the clueless continually blathering on about "not getting the speed they pay for" when in fact the only way to achieve that goal is a proper FTTP service, which BT Openwound seem determined to make as many as possible fund by over the top build costs for FTTPod.

      How can people on a tech site like this seem not to understand those simple facts?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ASA are just a self-appointed advertising industry self-regulator

    so I hope a proper court of law gives them a good kicking.

  5. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I know most people couldn't care HOW their internet is delivered, but all the ISPs push their services as 'Fibre' for a reason: it sells. People do care what fancy words are used in the adverts. The word 'fibre' sounds more up to date than 'not fibre', so as long as they continue to be allowed to use the term, the ISPs will do so.

    So now the real fibre providers have to differentiate themselves. I would go so far as to say that the totally disingenuous way that BT started calling FTTC 'Fibre' (and then all the other providers followed suit) has slowed down real fibre penetration in the UK. Who is bothered with getting fibre into homes when almost everyone can (apparently) get it? When I tell people that only 3% of the country have fibre, they're generally surprised.

    If the cabinet is outside your house, then I suppose calling it Fibre does make sense, but quite frankly, if your cabinet is 3km away, it's hardly 'Fibre' now is it?

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Agree

      Using the Ads regulator logic, all the internet is "fibre", as there is some in the network, somewhere, even if it is in the core. So a 56K modem using POTS qould qualify as "fibre".

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Agree

        > Using the Ads regulator logic, all the internet is "fibre"

        And using the same logic back in the old days, every ISP claimed to have a 2MBb/s feed (or 1.44 for USA ones) based on the fact that the primary is that speed, even if they were only using a couple of channels inside it (@ 64 or 56kbps apiece)

        The ASA and others let them get away with that fraud too. It's no wonder that when BT and the other telcos moved into the ISP game that customers went to them on the basis that Big Phone Companies could be trusted not to lie. *ahem*yeahright*ahem*

  6. jms222

    A symmetrical 10Mbps copper connection to the street box to doors away would be more useful to me than what I have now (a VM 30 or 50 Meg service).

    Agreed the technology is irrelevant. Unfortunately to specify these things correctly is a waaay more complicated than just saying it's copper or fibre.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      VM <> FIBRE

      Of course, as you dont have fibre, but docsis over coaxial copper cable. Very different from fibre.

  7. adam payne Silver badge

    CityFibre chief exec Greg Mesch said: "The ASA's short-sighted decision to allow yesterday's copper-based infrastructure to masquerade as the future-proof full fibre networks of tomorrow is a clear failure in its duty.

    "It has failed to ensure honest and truthful broadband advertising, it has failed to enable consumers to make informed choices and it has failed to support a national infrastructure project critical to our success in a digital age.

    Not that you have a vested interest in it being reviewed, no certainly not.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      vested interest

      or enlightened self interest?

    2. David Nash Silver badge

      Nothing wrong with those who have a vested interest pushing for clarity if it benefits them. Nobody else will. In this case they have a fair point.

      Although there is a distinction between FTTC and FTTP, so the FTTP guys should start pushing that difference. Get someone advertising it as "I need a P" or something!

  8. Ian Knight

    Not all wires are Copper

    Interesting that everyone still assumes that the only metal used to deliver the final signal in part fibre networks is Copper.

    We have a mostly aluminium wire in our village from the fibre cabinet to our house. It can be reliable for months at a time but it is very brittle so the slightest disturbance in a ground box or large change in temperature can make it crack and break.

    A lot of the time if we see an Openreach van in the road working on someone else's fault we are braced for the inevitable connection problems that will cause us.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not all wires are Copper

      "A lot of the time if we see an Openreach van in the road working on someone else's fault we are braced for the inevitable connection problems that will cause us."

      I wonder if you can arrange for 'certain criminal gangs' to helpfully steal the aluminium cable?

  9. a pressbutton

    Plain english says the review should succeed.

    Well, I have a car for sale that has travelled 77,000 miles on the motorway and 7,000 in the north african desert.

    Can I claim that this car was 'driven on the motorway' without being misleading?

    Most people wouldn't care.

    So, never mind the tech, if you claim it is Fibre, it should be fibre

    and not fibre (and some copper).

    It does not matter whether or not some small sample of people care or not.

    It is not true

    1. ENS

      Re: Plain english says the review should succeed.

      "Motorway" is a good way to look at the 10Gbps fibre backbone.

      "Dual-Carriageway/Trunk A-Road" is a good way to look at the fibre network.

      "B-Road/Unclassified/Dirt Track" is a way to look at the copper network.

      "The Ikea Car Park" is a way to look at contention.

      Looking at places like Silverstone or Glastonbury, you can instantly see that it's getting out of the car park on to the A43 or A361 that slows and defines your journey, not the M4, M5 or M1 upon which you spend most of your journey. Merge left, merge right, merge, merge, merge onto Purley Way Croydon is the Ikea traffic experience, not time on the A23 or M25. The average person knows the difference and that maximising the motorway or dual-carriageway driving, and minimising the time spent on local roads will improve speeds. Once demanding users understand that copper is like a trip to Ikea, they will want Full-Fibre.

      1. ChrisC

        Re: Plain english says the review should succeed.

        "Once demanding users understand that copper is like a trip to Ikea, they will want Full-Fibre."

        B..but, what if you want meatballs???

  10. Captain TickTock
    Headmaster

    "Hard and Fast"

    Don't you mean "Fast and Loose" ??

  11. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

    OFC Mono-Crystalline Gold Connectors blah-blah-blah

    Spotify is just so much more nuanced.

  12. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Windows

    Alternative naming?

    People were (and probably still are) confused over the difference between HD Ready and Full HD for TV. This is just another attempt to polish a turd.

    The message that fibre is new, fast and good has been accepted. So everything,however crap,now has to have "fibre" in the name.

    So what should they be called? One suggestion:

    Full/pure fibre.

    Hybrid fibre.

    Legacy.

    Having FTTC on offer does raise the speed available to me quite a bit, but it is nothing like the speed offered by my VM (currently up to 200 MB/sec) or by FTTP.

    The main attraction of FTTP is the higher upstream bandwidth but I have no need for that at the moment.

    However, no doubt "fibre" will be redefined for marketing purposes, just like Broadband was changed from a transmission scheme into a speed rating. Anyone remember Narrow band?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternative naming?

      New, exclusive Cloud Fibre?

      1. David 18

        Re: Alternative naming?

        Don't forget the added AI!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternative naming?

      > Anyone remember Narrow band?

      Yes. That was dial-up.

    3. David Nash Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Alternative naming?

      "HD Fibre" of course

  13. Lee D Silver badge

    Ignore the ASA. They're toothless.

    Put out a series of ads that go for something the customer will understand:

    "Hey, that 'fibre' broadband they're selling you? Yeah, it could have the same 40-year-old copper or aluminium cable that your grandmother was using for the last mile and they can still claim it's 'fibre'. Whereas, with our product, it's fibre all the way to your door.... New FibreAllTheWay. Try it today."

    That's a USP if ever I heard one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      New FibreAllTheWay. Try it today."

      And they'll try it, and for most of them the only difference they'll see is the 2x monthly charge. Not a useful USP...

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        "And they'll try it, and for most of them the only difference they'll see is the 2x monthly charge. Not a useful USP..."

        Hey, it works for Apple, right?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You forgot the extortionate amount BT Openreach are quoting some people to install an FTTPod link that they will then charge huge of monthy charges for. Cake and eat it... BTO have heard of that.

    2. 's water music Silver badge
      Gimp

      truth in advertising

      Put out a series of ads that go for something the customer will understand:

      Enough speed to run a VPN for all your pr0nz (and al your neighbours too) without the need to explain to the rest of the family why their Netflix keeps on buffering

      1. Tom -1

        Truth

        I have two suppliers I can compare, because I need to use them both to keep my wife alive (by keeping her fom Englands very cold winter). In Spain, I was offered FTTP at a price lover than I was paying for copper, and told them I wanted it. An engineer arrived the next day with a replacement router and all needed parts to conect my existing telephones to it and also connect my computer and other digital devices, plus enough fibre to connect my house (by fibre) to the nearest fibre-connected cabinet; it was done qquickly; it worked - no problems. in England, I was offered "fibre", and I accepted it, and a week later a repacement router arrived by post withh instructions ast to how and when to connect it; I connected it; it didn't work; I called BT; a week later an engineer arrived; he discovered that BT hdidn't have fibre from the exchange yo the cabinet I was serviced by. I complained to BT. They sent an engineer to look at it about a week later - and I was without broadband for that week, because BT had configured things at its end so that for me only FTTC would be supported. No apology. No attempt to reduce the perios of disconnetcion. Completely useless crap compared to the treatment I get in Spain.

        Frankly, this disgracefully incompetent customer service that I see from BT is something I see all too often in England, not just from BT but from just about everyone who has a country-wide monopoly. I guess our rules protecting consumers from exploitation by companies that don't care for their customers are the worst anywhere in the EU - mostly because reductons of responsibility of suppliers by special permission for Britain allows our big companies to do things that would be illegal everywhere else in the EU.

  14. anothercynic Silver badge

    Fibre...

    ... The new buzzword.

    I support CityFibre and Gigaclear in this. The ASA screwed up royally. They should come out with their hands up saying "yeah, we cocked this up, let's fix this".

  15. Donn Bly

    Fibre vs Copper

    I have yet to see a residential Fibre network that is glass all of the way to the computer. They *ALL* convert to copper or wireless at some point as part of distribution and as such every one of them is still a hybrid system.

    If ISP A has a Fibre connection to the backbone and copper to the premise, and ISP B has a Fibre connection to the premise but runs copper to the devices, then if EITHER of them has the right to use the word in advertising then BOTH of them do.

    In the end, all the consumer really cares about quality. Quality can be defined as speed, uptime, jitter, latency, packet loss, or any number of other quantification measurements - but they don't care about the actual physical distribution as long as they can stream their cat videos without dropping frames. FTTP vs FTTC doesn't matter if the rest of the network is maintained properly.

    Advertisers are arguing over "Fibre" because of the perception that Fibre is "better", as such they want to be able to use the term and exclude everyone else - even though they are both Hybrid networks. What they should do instead is publish the CIR (Committed Information Rate) of their circuits and their competitors and compete on that -- but then they would have to admit that they all look bad.

    Until consumer circuits have an enforceable SLA then saying one is "better" than the other is just smoke.

    1. ChrisC

      Re: Fibre vs Copper

      "I have yet to see a residential Fibre network that is glass all of the way to the computer. They *ALL* convert to copper or wireless at some point as part of distribution and as such every one of them is still a hybrid system."

      But even with a fibre connection to the back of the computer, the probability of there not then being a fibre-copper conversion occurring within the computer itself is so vanishingly small as to be practically non-existent. So given that, for pretty much every consumer/business-grade connection, there will be a fibre-copper conversion *somewhere* between the ISP and end user equipment, where do you draw the line and say that if it's converted over *there* then it's too far away to be classed as a full fibre connection, whereas if it's converted over *here* then it's close enough?

      In the context of this advertising-based complaint, I'd suggest that if the ISP provides a pure fibre connection all the way to the termination point at the customer premises, then that'd be the point at which you say their responsibility ends, and therefore there shouldn't be any cause for argument if they choose to advertise their product as being pure/full/100% fibre etc.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Fibre vs Copper

        > They *ALL* convert to copper or wireless at some point as part of distribution and as such every one of them is still a hybrid system."

        The problem is the latency, jitter, crosstalk and other interference issues that come with converting from glass to a 17 or 33MHz multi-carrier 64QAM system running over a few hundred to a couple of thousand metres instead of a 333MHz 16QAM carrier running 100 metres at most (and usually mo more than 20)

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Fibre vs Copper

      No - fibre to the router is fundamentally different from fibre to some way down the road, then VADSL to the router.

      From the router you can run 10G over copper if you need to - it’s an ethernet decision. From the cabinet it’s a fudge.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Fibre vs Copper

        (copper) " From the cabinet it’s a fudge."

        So much fo a fudge that since my VDSL was installed, the achieveble speed has dropped from 96Mbps available (80Mbps delivered) to 65Mbps and is starting to dip below that - telco and ISP tell me "there's nothing we can do, sorry" - but they don't offer any discounts for speed drops either.

        That's _entirely_ down to the sheer number of VDSL connections interfering with each other, not line degradation.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Fibre vs Copper

      "I have yet to see a residential Fibre network that is glass all of the way to the computer."

      On the other hand there are plenty that are glass all the way into the back of the router.

      https://en.avm.de/products/fritzbox/fritzbox-5490/technical-data/ for one example. See that SC connector?

      There are also a bunch around that are a lot cheaper than the Fritz.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Fibre vs Copper

        >There are also a bunch around that are a lot cheaper than the Fritz.

        But not as well built...

      2. DougS Silver badge

        10Gb only with fiber?

        DOCSIS 3.1 allows 10 Gb over RG6 coax, and the full duplex variety makes it symmetric. Dunno how far, but based on cable losses I'd guess at least 100 meters. The important thing is that it doesn't require fiber to the house itself, which is the most expensive part outside of greenfield developments.

        Fiber to the home (let alone "to the router") is definitely not necessary for broadband FAR faster than anything anyone needs to their home.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: 10Gb only with fiber?

          "The important thing is that it doesn't require fiber to the house itself, which is the most expensive part outside of greenfield developments."

          If you have to pull a new cable then fiber is the same price (slightly cheaper actually) as copper - and it'd make sense to run a duplex drop to save work later.

          But do BT actually do that? Of course not.

      3. Donn Bly

        Re: Fibre vs Copper

        Personally, I would prefer have it delivered over ethernet and enter the router over an SFP+ port, but that's just me. My setup here is cat6 copper between my ISP's fibre termination and the router, twinax DAC cable between the SFP+ ports on the router and core switch, and then an OM4 cable

        to my desktop. Yes, it's overkill, but my read/write speeds to the SAN are faster than the internal SSD :-)

        Still, one of my points is that it no matter what it is a hybrid system and the physical layer doesn't really matter that much. 1 gigabit over fibre isn't any faster or slower than a gigabit over copper.

        Almost every commercial distribution network incorporates at least some fiber. If they run 100 miles on glass and the last mile on copper, does it make it any more or less of a fibre network than a company that runs 50 miles of copper and then 50 miles of glass? Is it the customer hand-off that defines it? The percentage mileage running over glass?

        They are both hybrid networks. Calling one of them "fibre" and not the other is just marketing doublespeak, and has no influence over which circuit is better or faster.

        1. stephanielee

          Re: Fibre vs Copper

          I favor twinax DAC cable, cause it can effectively eliminate the expensive optical transceiver required in the equipment they connected.

          If distance is not a problem, I will tend to choose SFP+ cable because of the lower power needs and lower latency it provides, and the power saving alone is significant.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fibre vs Copper

          "1 gigabit over fibre isn't any faster or slower than a gigabit over copper."

          This is false. Unless "copper" means symmetrical Ethernet with CAT 6 cables in very good shape and distances under 100 meters. That doesn't happen too often.

          Once you get pass that you will get interference, latency and other electrical problems inherent with copper and 1 gigabit isn't really 1 gigabit and even if it is, latency is 10 times of that of fiber, so you won't ever get actual 1 gigabit unless it's constant data stream.

          Typically"1 gigabit" in copper means 700Mbps down and 70Mbps up with a latency of 10 to 20ms. While respective values for fiber are 1 gigabit both ways and 2ms latency.

          "...and has no influence over which circuit is better or faster."

          False: Totally different technique and there's no doubt fiber is much better by any measurement.

  16. John Miles 1

    The choice of technology to deliver doesn't really affect the consumer, it is really a choice for the network provider: FTTC quicker and cheaper initial build, greater maintenance and upgrade cost. FTTP much more expensive to install, but lower maintenance and upgrade costs.

    So how about a new taxonomy for connections or service contracts that ignores the service delivery method and is just based on a guaranteed (not max) speed range.

    Level 0: 0 - 10 Mb/s i.e. less than the new 10 Mb USO

    Level 1: 10 - 20 Mb/s greater than USO, and actually fast enough for ~ 75% of subscribers

    Level 2: 20 - 40 Mb/s Higher levels useful for higher occupancy premises or power users.

    Level 3: 40 - 80 Mb/s

    Level 4: 80 - 160 Mb/s

    etc.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Nice idea but they'd never be able to guarantee it so they wouldn't do so.

  17. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    A question of degree, perhaps

    Pretty much all fibre links are a mix of copper & fibre, even if the copper part is just some patch cables and/or the router backplane. So the real question is not whether part of the link is copper, but *how much* of the link is copper, and (perhaps more importantly) what signalling protocol is being used over that copper. I have FTTC - but in my case the cabinet is right outside and visible from my living room window. It would be just about possible to run a cat5 cable from the cabinet to my home to potentially deliver 1Gbps bidirectional Ethernet, but the POTS wiring and modem that is used can only manage an asynchronous 80Mbps down, 10Mbps up.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: A question of degree, perhaps

      Agreed, copper can easily do 10Gbit just with ordinary protocols. But that's a specialised 8-strand cable. And though the back of an SFP module might be copper etc. that really just processing (we haven't yet found a way to reliably process light-only signals!). My switch interconnects on a switch stack are "copper" but they can do 10/40Gbit or whatever. Similarly, I have a "fibre" that can barely hit 10Mbps because it's old and shonky.

      But when it comes to "fibre" vs "2-wire telephone cabling" over the same kind of run, there's not much competition. As such advertising 2-wire as "fibre" is really misleading. And also technically wrong. And unhelpful.

      Fibre inherently possesses a potential for upgrade. Just change the modules at each end and you can go from 10Mbit to 10Gbit in seconds without having to repull the cable. Pretty much the distances involved don't matter (outside a reasonable range). Copper, that's not as true. Distance and quality of copper matters a LOT. Especially 2-wire copper, rather than Cat5e/Cat6a or whatever (which can still only do 100m / 40m depending on the speed you want).

      It's misleading but if we sell on the basis of "speed" then the fibre moniker matters much less. However, it should still matter - because of the upgradeability, etc. potential of the line. There's also consideration for the potential for abuse. Here's a 56K modem. It connects to our cabinet at the end of the road. From there to "the rest of the Internet" we have a fibre leased line. Can I still sell that as "fibre"? I don't think so. Even if I advertise the speed legitimately.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: A question of degree, perhaps

        >Fibre inherently possesses a potential for upgrade.

        So did copper, hence why the 40+ year-old twisted pairs originally envisaged to handle analogue voice have, with a little help, been massively upgraded by simply replacing the modems at each end.

        The issue is that the limitations of copper, particularly 40+ year old installations, as a high-speed communications medium are really beginning to bite. With fibre we know that we at the beginning of another performance ramp, with the majority of single-mode fibre being deployed, being capable of supporting 120Gbps using available (albeit currently expensive) technologies.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: A question of degree, perhaps

          "The issue is that the limitations of copper, particularly 40+ year old installations, as a high-speed communications medium are really beginning to bite. "

          Claude Shannon predicted the limits in the 1940s.

          The problem is that for nearly 150 years (until the end of the 1990s) telcos dictated how much phone and data we wanted, not the other way around. they're still trying to live in that mindset.

  18. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I would suggest that FTTP rebrands itself as something different from just fibre. Perhaps Ultra Fibre!

    I personally am not bothered about how my internet is delivered but more about the price. I would rather have a 2Mbit connection with no data cap and pay say £10 per month than a 20Mbit connection costing me £30 per month.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CenturyLink

    Some door to door salesman for Centurylink offered me 448 Mbits/sec because he said "Fiber Optic" had "just been laid" in my area.

    It turns out his math (and everything else) was wrong.

    It was actually 7 MegaBytes which he multplied by 8 and then 8 again (unknown why he didn't just multiply by 64) to arrive at his fictional 448 Mbits.

    When I contacted the main office they told me that there was no "fiber optic" in my area nor could they even tell me what area closest to my zip code had this mythical fiber.

    Only one of the five representatives I spoke to at Centurylink knew the actual "speed" of their service or how to convert megabytes to megabits.

    When I contacted the salesman to express my concerns he told me that he was the "General Manager" and that the only one above him was the "owner of the company" and refused to escalate my call.

    I reported all of this to a regional manager but nothing was ever done.

    The door to door salesman is still active and is still advertising "1 Gig" speeds on his social media accounts.

    As a side note: The door to door Centurylink salesman claims to have studied computer science but doesn't have any basic privacy or security settings on his social media network where he promotes the fiber optic so his advertising is intermixed with extremely graphic sexual posts/comments he's made to other social media pages.

  20. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    The full reasoning for our decision is available on our website. We will be responding to the application in due course."

    Why bother responding? I hope they won't be spending money on lawyers and turning up at the hearing either. There's no point. "The full reasoning for our decision is available on our website." How can you add to "full"?

  21. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    I bought my connection...

    ...after checking that it was 'full fibre' to the termination. That was an important requirement for my purchase.

    But now that i've read the ASA's research, it appears that I didn't care. Which was news to me....

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019