Openreach has published some details of the Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) trials that it will be running in 2009. The trials will cover 30,000 premises and allow people to have an up to 40Mbps broadband connection.
Openreach is planning a technical trial in Foxhall (near Kesgrave, Suffolk) early in 2009. With two exchanges that will involve up to 15,000 customer premises in the summer of 2009. The operational pilots will be in Muswell Hill, London and the other one in Whitchurch, South Glamorgan.
"We are delighted to announce Whitchurch, South Glamorgan and Muswell Hill exchanges as the first sites chosen to pilot our fibre to the cabinet product. Services in these areas will be available to all UK communication providers on a wholesale basis. The sites were chosen in consultation with communications providers and took into account feedback from Regional Development Agencies, Devolved Authorities and similar organisations. It was also necessary to take into account current network topology and our ability to run testing procedures in the chosen areas. We have a good mix of areas, allowing us to test our products in both urban and semi-rural environments. These two sites were chosen from a shortlist and we expect to announce detailed plans for the initial market deployment of the Openreach product in early 2010, again following consultation with all interested parties"David Campbell, Openreach’s director of next generation access
Assuming all goes well with the trial we can expect to see a product launch in 2010, exactly what this product will look like in terms of pricing and speeds will depend greatly on what the communication providers who buy services from Openreach decide to do.
Fibre to the cabinet involves pushing fibre out from the local exchange building to the green street cabinets that are generally located within 1km of all the homes they serve. The advantage of this is that it removes potentially several kilometres of metallic phone cable and if just ADSL was used would probably see everyone connecting at 8Mbps. Broadband speeds of 40Mbps can be achieved by VDSL and VDSL2, which while faster than ADSL will not see everyone connecting at 40Mbps, estimates suggest around 50% of telephone lines would manage 20Mbps connection speeds using VDSL.
The variation in connection speeds will annoy some, but for people who suffer telephone lines of 5km or longer now the ability to shorten this drastically and see a boost in speed and hopefully broadband reliability will be very welcome. Hopefully at product launch in 2010 a good mixture of urban, towns and rural areas will have access to the product, roll-out will not be an overnight affair, since Openreach is located in 5,500 exchanges and look after around 85,000 street cabinets.