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The reality of ADSL coverage
Wednesday 15 August 2007 10:21:26 by Andrew Ferguson

For people aware of the technical limits over which ADSL will work, it will be no surprise to read over at icWales.co.uk that some parts of Wales are unable to get ADSL. Of course this issue is not solely a Welsh one. It applies to anywhere where ADSL is deployed around the world.

Stagecraft UK who are a supplier of garden centre displays is one company suffering due to the distance from their telephone exchange. A look at maps.google.com reveals the company is 7.9 miles (~12.5km) from the exchange.

The reason it seems these cases have made the press is that the companies are not too happy about the withdrawal of grants for satellite or microwave based broadband solutions by the Welsh Assembly when the deal to enable all the remaining exchanges was made. Criticism is aimed at BT as to why they are not helping the companies, which seems unfair as other communications providers may be able to provide solutions such as leased lines or microwave solutions. With broadband in the UK not being subject to any Universal Service Obligation (USO), there is no legal requirement to provide service.

While a USO requiring, for example, a 0.5Mbps service to be available to all who ask for it would be a good step forward, the problem lies with how it is implemented. Forcing the USO on the BT Group could raise prices and additionally give BT an unfair advantage in acquiring customers in less densely populated areas.

Comments

Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote "Forcing the USO on the BT Group could raise prices and additionally give BT an unfair advantage in acquiring customers in less densely populated areas." There is no reason BT as far as i know couldnt enable these people in the middle of nowhere even if it were with just 512k The real question is why dont they?? and to be honest its pretty clear why they dont... COST.
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
In these areas BTw services are the only ones available anyway, the choice customers in reach have is between the resellers of BTw services of which BT Retail is only one. Nothing stopping the g'nment & BT getting together (OK, other operators too, BT are no different from anyone else are they?) to provide satellite to anyone whose line BT have condemned. It's done in NI. The situation outlined in this article is far more widespread that BT would have us think but people want it brushed under the carpet. 8 miles isn't exactly outer space yet BT find it impossible to do anything about it.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 9 years ago
When your looking at costs of atleast £60/meter to lay cable its not complicated to see why people who live beyond the reach of ADSL don't get service. When asked if they want service the answer is almost always yes, when asked if they are prepared to pay the cost of running fibre from the exchange or for a direct feed that would work out shorted then the answer is no - they want it to be paid by someone else.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 9 years ago
Don't like the situation move! i have no pitty for people who choose to live in a nice rural enviroment, away from the hussle & bussle but then complain that they can't get all the luxuaries of modern living...
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
That unfortunately is the I'm All Right Jack attitude I've come to expect from this site with no consideration for people who are not as fortunate as you are. Remember that this situation is not confined to "nice rural environments" but is prevalent anywhere where there has not been enough investment, the cabling is not good enough, or has just been routed the wrong way. e.g. Milton Keynes.
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
PS. I do actually have ADSL, I'm more concerned with the places (domestic & commercial) that have been ignored. I'm not as selfish as you are and I don't bury my head in the sand and pretend that the problem doesn't exist.

So, when you had broadban, did you actually pay for the exchange equipment yourself? No, and I don't see why you should expect others to do the job of the telcoms companies. We all pay for it in the end via monthly charges. But you lot seem to want increasingly cheaper services - it's *you* that doesn't want to pay for broadband.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 9 years ago
Like i said, luxuary services, not a necessity of life. Yes i have ADSL, i had to put up with a horrible 3 months of not having it after moving into an exchange are which was at capacity. You know what i did about it? Nothing, no moaning, no ranting, went out and enjoyed some out door life.

If the topic was about people who couldn't get basic telephone service i'd agree with you but its not, its about internet access where half of the data going across it is smut anyway.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 9 years ago
oh and the cable wasn't routed wrong in those areas, they are fine for want they were intended to do - provide telephone service.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote "Don't like the situation move! i have no pitty for people who choose to live in a nice rural enviroment, away from the hussle & bussle but then complain that they can't get all the luxuaries of modern living..."
What an silly comment, its not just people in a rural enviroment, where i live i have adsl2+ which runs at about 17Mb if i had a max service it would run at its maximum. Less than 2 miles from me there is a small village (NOT rural) that cant have adsl max and are still stuck on 512k because they are on a different exchange, BT refuse to upgrade it... again its because of COST
Posted by rasczak over 9 years ago
Carpetburn - So some company has unbundled your exchange and you get ADSL2+, but the village 2 miles away only has basic ADSL from BTw. You say BT refuse to upgrade the other exchange to Max due to cost, have you asked your ISP why they haven't unbundled the other exchange ? I reckon it is probably due to cost. Please explain why it is OK for LLU companies not to unbundle due to cost but not OK for BT to upgrade due to cost ?
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 9 years ago
Carpetburn, you don't even know what's involved in 'upgrading' an exchange, you make it sould like a simple firmware update or something. At least their getting ADSL service, not BT's fault no LLU or cable company were intrested in their pokey little Village.

Everything in the world is goverened by money and cost, thats the way the world works. Its not some little excuse for not doing something its a simple fact of life, money = resorces, resorces are a finite, remember basic economics at school? probably not...
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
" Less than 2 miles from me there is a small village (NOT rural) that cant have adsl max" Really ? Name the exchange. The only exchanges that don't do Max AFAIK are the "Exchange Activate" ones (publicly subsidised) with a 512k offerring from a small choice of ISPs. If the exchange does Max then many ISPs will enable it on any line, but some ISPs don't do this which can lead to misunderstanding.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
You can get a decent broadband service off a mobile 3G card from T-monile or Vodafone these days, with 3GB FUP for less than £30/month with no line rental. Coverage is growing rapidly.

Perhaps 3G mobile would be a better way to deliver a USO or a subsidised notspot solution, increasing coverage as well as fixing the notspot.
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
"Like i said, luxuary services, not a necessity of life." Actually, I would consider the country's telecoms infrastructure as something rather vital to the running of the country, fast net acccess is increasingly important.

"no moaning, no ranting" Wow, you never, ever complaint or moan about anything? Not even petrol prices, interest rates etc. You're completely happy with everything? Suppose you do complain about something every once in a while, do you get stupid people replying "If you don't like petrol prices then move out of the UK"?
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
[q]do you get stupid people replying "If you don't like petrol prices then move out of the UK"?[/q] Yes, it is purely a taxation issue and the solution proposed is to try a different tax regime.

We could have a broadband USO, but who pays. The US phone USO was funded by a levy on all phone services so one way would be to put say £1/month on all ADSL, cable, 3G etc connections.

General taxation would be another, or forcing companies to supply - should this extend to requiring cable companies to cable up anyone in their franchise areas (which are much bigger than their current service areas) ?
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 9 years ago
@ csimon, your confusing 'needs' & 'wants', who is fast net access important to in the context of availability?

When you understand global economics and what drives inflation and oil prices you learn that moaning will not make a bit of difference, so why bother, the cost of fuel is something you have to accept if you want to drive.
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
"moaning will not make a bit of difference" - it will actually, if enough people kick up a stink about it, something will be done about it. Hence why this particular company got an article published in the press. ThinkBroadband has now chosen to publicise this. A lot of people just stick their head in the sand and pretend the problem doesn't exist, either because they're too lazy to do anything about it or the problem doesn't affect them.
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
"one way would be to put say £1/month on all ADSL, cable, 3G etc connections." - not a great deal is it to finally end the digital divide? But of course, the people who've already got decent services would not want to pay that.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
"if enough people kick up a stink about it, something will be done about it." try telling that to CND and countless other dead-end campaigners :-)

On reflection my £1/month may be a bit heavy, as that's over £10m per month so it wouldn't need to run for long. Either way it'll be less than the VAT currently included in broadband subs.

You then have to decide what the minimum speed is to be, if there is a subsidy limit per connection or if it is to be truly universal, what constraints if any on the retail price point, etc etc then put it out to EU tender.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 9 years ago
Actually moaning about it and countless wothless online campaigns will do nothing to convice a corporation to blow £ billions with no clear return just because people want something.
Posted by FRS_Plunderer over 9 years ago
Positive action through the local council to raise money for a fibre link for a villiage might if it is fully funded by the individuals who what it, BT as a good will gesture might even contribute something towards it if it gave them some positive PR and looked a little like charity work (which they do like to engage in). That kind of positive non-freeloading action might get these remote villages what they want - provided they even really want it (you'd be suprised how many people would object within a community even if they didn't have to pay)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote "Please explain why it is OK for LLU companies not to unbundle due to cost but not OK for BT to upgrade due to cost?"
Errmm the simple answer is BT own the exchange so BT are responsible for its working condition. The reason a LLU provider wont unbundle it is because by the time they have paid for the LLU equipment and also paid BT the relevant fee they wouldnt make any money (its called business sense). (CONTINUED)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
The reason BT wont upgrade it is due to cost, herdwick and FRS_Plunderer are correct when they say kicking up a fuss makes no difference either. It took this particular exchange almost 12 months to have ADSL available from it in the first place, even though the registered interest to BT was way above the required level long before that. I have spoken to an engineer at that exchange and he told me they wont upgrade it because of the cost involved and they want to do away with it.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
As newer ways to provide services becomes available the 200 which are connected to it will be moved to the exchange i am on and this old exchange will become redundant. Aparrantley its cheaper to move the 200 connections to another exchange than it is to upgrade the current exchange. I dont have a problem with what i do have an issue with is BT have not told anyone thats connected to that exchange the reason why and instead just say its not possible to provide, when clearly it is if they spent money.
Posted by rasczak over 9 years ago
Quote "The reason a LLU provider wont unbundle it is because by the time they have paid for the LLU equipment and also paid BT the relevant fee they wouldnt make any money (its called business sense)."
Which is exactly the same reason BT won't upgrade it ot maxADSL, it doesn't make business sense if it is cheaper to move the connections to another exchange. It is exactly the same scenario yet because it is BT and not the LLU provider BT are portrayed as being worse than evil.
Posted by rasczak over 9 years ago
Herdwick has a good idea in that maybe there should be some kind of BB USO, that applies to everyone else as well as BT. BT should be providing better speeds to more people, I agree that they can do more, but why should it only be BT that has to. Forcing the cable companies to provide access to all their franchise areas is a good idea. I also reckon that any LLU company that advertises nationally, like Sky, Talk Talk, Orange, should also have to provide to at all exchanges where they advertise. At the moment they cherry pick and no one bats an eyelid saying its OK BT should provide it instead.
Posted by adriandaz over 9 years ago
rasczak, that would screw Orange, BT, and Sky over then as they all advertise in my area yet none of them provide any service what so ever, the local loop isn't even BT, it's Kingston.
Posted by rasczak over 9 years ago
They advertise in my area as well, I am on BT local loop, and so, IMHO, any USO should include providing all exchanges advertised to with service. Maybe KCom, as I believe they have just changed their name to, should also have to allow their loop to be unbundled included in any such USO for unbundlers.
Posted by adriandaz over 9 years ago
heh, well they allow unbundling and offer wholesale services, but they are the same price as BT, thus making it economically unviable for any other provider to come in and compete, given the number of peoople in Hull and the surrounding areas. However, a level playing field where we could get any ISP available in the UK would be nice.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
THose in the KCOM area should keep an eye on consultations like http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/wbamr/ and make sure their views are represented.
Posted by adriandaz over 9 years ago
Yes, but it has ended and nothing was done about KCOM.

2.10 Ofcom proposes the following remedies on Kingston in relation to the market for wholesale broadband access in the Hull area:

requirement to provide Network Access on reasonable request;
requirement not to discriminate unduly;
requirement to publish a reference offer;
requirement to notify terms and conditions;
requirement to publish technical information; and
requirement to have accounting separation.

As you can see, nothing :)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Which is exactly the same reason BT won't upgrade it ot maxADSL, it doesn't make business sense if it is cheaper to move the connections to another exchange. It is exactly the same scenario yet because it is BT and not the LLU provider BT are portrayed as being worse than evil."
Thats my point entirely, BT own the exchanges if they aint willing to provide what people want others should be given the chance. Others dont get a chance though cos BT are a monopoly that control the market
Posted by rasczak over 9 years ago
Carpetburn, if you cqan ignore your obvious antiBT bias for a second and actually try to comprehend what is beign said. It is not necessarily that BT aren't willing to provide, though it is certainly possible in some cases, more often a case of there not being a viable business case to provide. Others are given the chnace to provide it, how else do you have ADSL2+, but they don't provide it eveywheere as there is no viable business case. (continued)
Posted by rasczak over 9 years ago
Why do you think it is fair to condemn BT for not providing a service that would not be profitable to them, but not to condemn your provider for not unbundling the other exchange even though it would not be profitable to them.
Posted by ab48uk over 9 years ago
I live in a Welsh village, about 2.3 miles or 3.8km from the Cynwyl Elfed exchange. Until a couple of months back my connection speed was on average 1.1Mb and sometimes got up to 2Mb.

Not too bad, considering. Then, after my line went dead, BT Openreach did a repair job and now I'm stuck on 512Mb!

This it seems is the best that BT can provide at my location. Can that be right?

I'm using BBC iPlayer OK but downloads do take rather a long time....
Posted by ab48uk over 9 years ago
Oops, that should of course read 512 kb!
Posted by hefilump over 9 years ago
quote "Don't like the situation move! i have no pitty for people who choose to live in a nice rural enviroment, away from the hussle & bussle but then complain that they can't get all the luxuaries of modern living... "

Frankly I find this comment extremely offensive. I live out in the country, in a small community in Wiltshire, supplying the food for townies who get all the services.

One thing that does not appear to have been discussed is the way that BT plan their coverage.

Posted by hefilump over 9 years ago
continued ...

I am 7.5 kms from the exchange I connect to but only 3.5 kms from the closest one. The nearest house that connects to the closer exchange is only 100 metres away!! They get 4 MBs and I can only get 384Kbs - if I'm lucky!

No matter how much you beg, complain etc BT will not work with their customers to give the best service possible. However they have probably spent 10 times the cost to move us to the closer exchange than they have in engineer visits when the line goes down
Posted by adriandaz over 9 years ago
The cabling was never planned to offer any other service apart from telephone, and that is probably still the same method which they use when adding new cable, or estates to the network... the cheapest way possible. In your case it would not be expensive I guess for them to move lines in your area to a PCP (Green cab) which connects to the other exchange...
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