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Sky test Fibre to the Cabinet
Tuesday 08 July 2008 12:51:59 by John Hunt

Digital Spy are reporting that Sky are carrying out tests of Fibre to the Cabinet technology in East London in order to try and boost broadband speeds. Sky already operate their own equipment in some BT telephone exchanges and Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) requires extending fibre from these exchanges out to roadside cabinets where equipment can be placed to provide DSL service. This has various advantages for an end user with regards their broadband connection as existing technologies such as ADSL2+ can provide faster speeds with a shorter line length between the user and the roadside equipment. It also allows technologies like VDSL2 to be deployed which require very short line distances to reap the benefits (100Mbps (mega bits per second) at 500 metres, halving to 50Mbps at 1km).

Although fibre to the cabinet based systems are often seen as a stop gap to a full fibre to the home deployment, it should help increase speeds to users and also provide more higher quality content such as high definition TV. Overall, FTTC is not dissimilar to how Virgin Media operate their broadband service, with fibre running to the roadside green cabinet and then a copper coaxial cable from the cabinet to the end user's premises.


Posted by Somerset over 9 years ago
How does the cost compare to exchange based equipment? x10?
Posted by planetf1 over 9 years ago
I shouldn't be greedy but I'm stuck on max 2Mbps on a large housing estate. Lousy (retrospectively) cable routing makes it 5.5km+.

I have a cab <100m away so this is exactly what I'd be interested in! Depends if the economics works all around...
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
interesting, but I cannot see sky doing a network wide rollout anytime soon as much as I wish for it.
Posted by KarlAustin over 9 years ago
I'm no fan of Murdoch, but at least someone is finally having a look at it, copper doesn't have to be dead just yet and FTTC is a good stop gap for 90% of users. Also once they have fibre to the cabs, they could in theory roll out FTTH in the future quite easily - fibres back to the cab, multiplexed on to the pairs back to the exchange. Done in two stages, saves having to go cap in hand to investors for so much money (which they don't like handing over)
Posted by nredwood over 9 years ago
I wonder which parts of East London. Not much activity around my way
Posted by davidt67 over 9 years ago
I would be glad just to get Sky / Easynet on our exchange! 2MB for free would be better than paying Orange for an unreliable connection.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"How does the cost...."

Who cares lets just give them credit for actually bothering to try it no matter how big or small the trial is, better to do something than nothing at all.
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
'Sky told the Mail On Sunday the tests did not signal a change in strategy but were "a few men in white coats making a technical study with no commercial involvement".'

So why East London? I'm sure it cannot be to do with possible publicity from supplying high speed BB to Olympic villages.
Posted by Balb0wa over 9 years ago
good on ya sky, least someone showing balls and doing something about it,BT never will
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
Those of you knocking BT seem to be overlooking the fact that they have already done their 'technical study' and have even installed FTTH at Ebbsfleet. BT even have an existing product line that allows people to ask for fibre to be blown to 'street furniture'.

So unless someone can correct that Mail On Sunday article (or me of course) it sounds like Sky catching up with something BT did several years ago.

It's good to hear but nothing new.
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
Let's wait until Sky actually start rolling out FTTx before we give up on BT.
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
This is the article on the BT product:
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
I partly agree there is no reason to bash BT in THIS story the item (and im normally one of the first to bash them) this is nothing to do with BT... If i were a betting man my money would not be on BT or Sky to be the first with a FTTx service for large areas of the country. Like ADSL2+ LLU i think fibre will spawn a whole new breed of provider/s to begin with.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
Andrue We talking FTTC not FTTH, many of us feel FTTC is a more reasonable next step than FTTH. Lower costs and helps those of us with long lines.
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
Oh I agree about FTTH - I'm sure it's the best next step. I'm also pleased to see that Sky are looking into it.

I'm just commenting that on this occasion it has little or nothing to do with BT and in fact BT have already been there and done that.

You could certainly ask why BT haven't gone any further but it's incorrect to imply that Sky are ahead of BT.

So far :)
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
Blast - I meant FTTc. Ho hum. Time I went home :)
Posted by Somerset over 9 years ago
Although BT may be providing the F to the C. Presumably there is a Sky cabinet next to the BT one.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
FTTC is a blind alley if there's any prospect of doing FTTH. Why bother adding all that complexity only to throw it away, the single fibre to the cab is hardly a major asset for a FTTH rollout. Maintenance and operating costs will go up with FTTC but down with FTTH.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
Looking into this a bit more I can probably guess sky's motivation, its already been revealed on skyuser website that sky are moving in the direction of streaming tv over dsl as well as VOD services, VOD will work in a streaming manner however rather than downloading so for this to work they ideally need as many customers as possible on high speeds and with stable lines (why they trialling DLM also). This will include hdtv quality streams.
Posted by Somerset over 9 years ago
herdwick - why, that's what VM do? And if the short distance of copper can carry the bandwidth then why not?
Posted by KarlAustin over 9 years ago
I don't see FTTC as a blind alley - that single fibre pair to the cab, can be used to breakout fibre to every home connected to the cab - Why does each fibre pair have to come from the exchange? That's a rather stupid way of doing it IMHO, and a heck of a lot more capex intensive. If you look at it like this, when you build a large corporate LAN, you don't wire all the PCs back to one big room - You wire them to a wiring closet on the same floor, then that is connected back with something like 10GE back to the main comms kit.
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
I wonder if in fact the newspaper article is just partial reporting? Could the Sky tests in fact be using the BT Street Access product anyway?
Posted by kev445 over 9 years ago
Of course there is a commercial interest; otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it! Unless it’s a team building exercise for geeks, I would personally prefer to go paintballing or bowling.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
"that single fibre pair to the cab, can be used to breakout fibre to every home connected to the cab" - that isn't the architecture of any defined standard, GPON (Openreach's choice) uses passive splitters to put 32 properties per fibre.

It is a dead end because it involves rewiring of copper that will be obsolete with FTTH and provision of kerbside electronics and cabinets that have no place in a FTTH architecture.

The high cost of FTTH is in connecting each property, not in pulling a fibre or bundle of fibres through a duct to a PCP.
Posted by KarlAustin over 9 years ago
There comes a point though, where there is no more duct space - do you pull 4000+ fibres through to an exchange, or do you pull 40 fibres through from street cabs? Yes connecting the properties is expensive, but so all that extra fibre. As for architecture - if you're dealing with data, then IP is the logical choice with a small MSAN in the cab, you backhaul as IP back to the exchange over a single fibre pair, job done. There's no need to have every fibre from every house go back to the exchange.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
herdwick correct it is is obselete with a FTTH, but there is no FTTH to render the FTTC obselete. So your point is mute.
Posted by KarlAustin over 9 years ago
The point I am trying to make, is that this can be an enabled for FTTH, as FTTH from the cab to house, is cheaper than house to exchange. With a single fibre pair capable of handling 100s Gbit/s of traffic, there's no need to lay a pair to evry house all the way back to the exchange.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
[q] there's no need to lay a pair to evry house all the way back to the exchange[/q] amusingly, only you are suggesting that. GPON will carry 32 properties per fibre with optical splitters. No need for kerbside electronics, power, maintenance etc. That's BT's chosen architecture. Others may choose sometihng else.

By the time FTTH arrives it'll be 60 km range GPON with a massive reduction in the number of exchanges.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
"but there is no FTTH to render the FTTC obselete"

equally there is no FTTC. Why waste money if you're going to rip it out. Or why do something that will ensure you don't get FTTH.

Fibre is cheap, holes and poles and people aren't.
Posted by CaptainW over 9 years ago
Pardon my ignorance, but what does GPON mean? I don't understand the last 3 posts.

Could someone clarify for me pls :)
Posted by jgmullett over 9 years ago
It took a few seconds to put GPON in the search engine to get countless pages of explanation of Gigabit Passive Optical Network. The best is found at
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