The Financial Times has published an article featuring Sir Christopher Bland discussing internet services that may eventually deliver speeds of up to 50Mbps.
Discussion of Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) technologies within BT is nothing new, Paul Reynolds (CEO, BT Wholesale) talked about this in April 2007. Technically FTTC and VDSL2 are a very attractive combination, but it is the estimated £4bn capital expenditure and issues like equivalence of access to the 85,000 street cabinets that are likely to cause concerns for BT shareholders.
Convincing the money men to come up with £4bn in an environment where the average consumer is only prepared to pay the current going rates for broadband services means the payback periods will be very long unless value-added services such as video-over-broadband start to generate significant income for companies. One comment by Sir Christopher Bland in the article has been voiced before by others in the industry, this was that as ever higher speeds were offered to consumers that the existing service speeds were more than enough. As the number of households with more than one home computer, plus games console and other devices such as streaming music players increases, the demands for bandwidth continue to rise. So while 50Mbps has no single application that needs it, the combination of a variety of things possible using an internet connection mean people will expand to fill it relatively quickly.
VDSL2 is an ideal solution for a cabinet placed deployment as it can manage speeds of 50Mbps on lines that are 1km long between the home and green street cabinet, for those with a distance of 0.5km to the cabinet it may even manage 100Mbps. Alas the money situation puts BT and other providers in a quandary since they need things like video over broadband to be a money spinner, but if applications like BBC iPlayer and BT Vision are too popular in the short term they could bring existing networks to a halt at peak times.
In the best traditions of Tomorrows World we would suggest a timeframe of perhaps 2010 for trials, with a limited roll-out in 2012.