For those who have no access to broadband todays press release from the BT Group offers some hope. BT Wholesale is to run a number of trials that will see DSLAMs installed in the street cabinet or adjacent to an existing cabinet. This DSLAM would then be connected back to the exchange using fibre optic cable, giving rise to the name of FTTC, fibre to the cabinet, sometimes also called FTTK, fibre to the kerb.
The trials are focused on areas where broadband availability has remained an issue even with the relaxation of the limits on the 0.5Mbps service, which amounts to around 0.2% of BT's customers. The trials are set to run through until the summer of 2006, so will not provide a magic overnight solution, but are intended to assess the technical, operational and commercial feasibility of FTTC for both current broadband services and future roll-outs.
Four locations have being selected for the trial in South Yorkshire and five in Northern Ireland, and work should start in the coming weeks. Some customers who can already get ADSL may be chosen for the trial, and others with no ADSL access chosen to allow for a mix of test environments. In Yorkshire the places involved are in Wheatley Hill and Intake, Doncaster; Great Houghton and Dodworth, Barnsley; and Catcliffe, Treeton and Brinsworth in Rotherham. In Northern Ireland trial locations are in Larne; the Annaghmore area of Portadown; Glenavy area Crumlin, Co Antrim; Greencastle area, Gortin, Co Tyrone; and the Balmoral area of Belfast.
BT telephone customers who are having problems getting ADSL due to the use of fibre between their street cabinet and the exchange currently, in the guise of TPON will be interested in another trial set to start in December 2005. This trial will be using a similar technical approach, and will be used to get broadband to a number of trialists in the Charlton Down area of Dorchester, Dorset, and the Kingswells area of Aberdeen.
We must emphasis the trial nature of these services, BT will be identifying suitable trialists in the selected locations so do not go chasing individual service providers. As and when more information appears we will publish it. There is a real chance that the trials may not develop into something that is commercially deployed en-masse, this is the nature of a trial.
On the subject of areas with TPON based telephone lines, the copper overlay programme has made it into the news. This programme was started back in October 2003, and a fair amount of progress has been made. While not all TPON lines have copper available for ADSL, a good proportion now do. Where people are unsure of the state of roll-out of the copper overlay in their area, and their service provider is unable or unwilling to expend the effort to check the progress we can do some checking for people.
For more details and the full BT press release see the www.btplc.com/News website.
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