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Lord Carter backs mobile and satellite for rural areas
Tuesday 21 April 2009 12:36:21 by Andrew Ferguson

Lord Carter the author of the Digital Britain report has been talking to the Daily Telegraph and gives an indication that he feels some 25 to 30% of the UK will not have an economic case for building a next generation fixed network.

Many of the people reading this news item will be surprised to read that the BBC iPlayer is considered a next-generation internet service, perhaps because our regular visitors will most likely have been using online video services for some years. We would consider next-generation internet video to be referring to HD content at a bit-rate of 4Mbps and faster (although the iPlayer is slowly heading toward including higher quality content).

The interview with the Daily Telegraph has Lord Carter admitting that many areas will not get new networks, so the current ADSL2+ (up to 24Meg) roll-out across the nation from BT will be all that people see for sometime. This is not all bad as those in small towns and villages living within 3 to 4km of the exchange should have line speeds sufficient for internet video at the rates commercial sites are delivering. The problems will be areas where past cost saving has seen the removal of telephone exchanges and the fringes of towns and villages, where currently people can only get a connection speed of under 2Meg.

There is an indication that the USO of 2Meg may actually be served by a combination of mobile and satellite broadband services. Satellite broadband seems to be popular for filling in hard to reach areas as Ireland, who have a contract with Three to provide Ireland's 100% broadband coverage, will use satellite to fill in the 8% of the country it can't reach with mobile broadband. At the Digital Britain summit Ronman Dunne, CEO Telefonica O2 UK seemed to talk of mobile as an adjunct to a fixed line broadband service.

As for Britain being on course for a different world of media use, sorry to say but the UK has been there for some years, with the public using peer to peer networks to get what the traditional media is not supplying. One thing people often say about peer to peer networks is that they can obtain video at a higher resolution and quality than is available to buy. The death of linear TV and the rise of non-linear on-demand TV has been well sign posted, and 10 years is a long time but we do not share the vision that all TV will be 'on demand' in that time, millions will still want to watch live events as they happen.

Comments

Posted by NetGuy over 5 years ago
Out out of interest does anyone (apart from, say, SamKnows) have info on what proportion of the rural users are close enough to a cabinet to benefit from FTTC ?

I'd have thought that despite smaller exchanges not being 'local' there are still cabinets around in outlying villages, so it would still be possible to supply higher than 2 Mbps to people closest to the cabinets.

My two-penneth!
Posted by adriandaz over 5 years ago
They will be ok as long as they operators roll out 4G services :)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Reducing the length of the copper will mean an improvement for all, FTTC will not guarantee 40Meg to all, but even long lines to the cabinet will see an improvement.

It will mean that someone on what is a 9km long line, might get 20Meg rather than the 0.5Meg currently, and those closer (1km) to the cabinet will be seeing 40Meg or maybe more.

Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
Mobile broadband? You poor sods :-/

As for satellite broadband - has the world gone mad? So we're going to broadcast over one to one media (IPTV) and perform one to one tasks over one to many media (satellite broadband).

Something ain't right there.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
"In less than 10 years, we will be in a complete 'on demand' television world," the minister says." Well, yes. VoD over IP is a reasonable use. Only problem there is that VoD has been available curtesy of Sky+ and V+ for years now.

Although a true VoD going back decades and including films would be nice, I doubt if many need it. Just being able to time shift the current week's shows is enough for most people.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
AndrueC - Cable modems and most wireless are both one to many media, it's nothing new.

A PVR (Sky+) is not VoD. Regardless of what people 'need' Virgin's stats for their VoD platform suggest a market. Sticking to what we 'need' rather than what we want would be a dull life indeed!

True VoD is the obvious and eventual evolution. Sky know it (hence Easynet acquisition and VoD projects), Virgin know it, scary that even Carter acknowledges this.
Posted by mikeblogs over 5 years ago
I just cannot understand how he can talk about TV on demand services and then in the next breath state Mobile/Satellite Broadband as a solution.
Not even FTTC/N is designed as a Broadcast Infrastructure.
When affordable services equates to peak hour allocation of 30Kbps per user, the UK digital commons is not designed for mass streaming of even TV quality images let alone HD.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@Dix.
Cable networks are designed around multi-casting. It's true that multi-cast infrastructure could be incorporated into general broadband networks but it's expensive and problematic.

Sky+ is good enough VoD I think for most people. How often do you /really/ want to watch an episode of Dad's Army at 3:17am?

For films, yah. Then again Sky's film service probably covers that base. Enough channels that the top ten films are VoD. Maybe the top twenty.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
..for a given VoD 'resolution' of 15 minutes anyway. Clearly VoD over IP is better. I'm just not sure how much better. Tbh although I'm a fan of Sky+ (never watch anything live these days) there is something special in booking a film and then knowing that it 'starts' at 7:15.

Being able to just select a film and play it when you want loses a little something for me.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
@AndrueC - Virgin's network had no downstream multicasting capabilities at all until the new DOCSIS 3 kit, all broadcast to small network segments. Cable modems drop the traffic that isn't directed to them, STBs lock to a frequency and transport ID at a time.

Incorporating multicasting is not expensive or problematic there are multicast enabled networks. MSANs are IGMP compatible however to offer multicast would reduce BT Wholesale revenue! Homechoice managed it just fine along with unicast VoD.
Posted by jumpmum over 5 years ago
NetGuy; Problem is the cabinets have fewer people on them. In a city 400 to 1000 per cabinet, so 250-700 BB over all ISPs (incl LLU), so possible 100-250 FTTC market but likely only 50-150 on non-LLU. It is still hard to breakeven at 20k capital (plus running costs) per cabinet with 100, (recovered by higher charge than exchange based! extra £10 per month?). Rural 100 per cabinet, so 70 BB, need them all to have any hope of payback, likely to only get 50% if very optimistic so never costs in. Most are direct lines from the exchange so nowhere to put a cabinet!
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 5 years ago
The entire concept of VoD from a central location is bluntly stupid for cities - that would be one of the uses for a mesh network cloud for cities. One deacent server per city for each content provider...
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
sorry lord carter, video stream is current gen, and web browsing is past gen. There is also inner city areas that cannot get 2mbit so if he feels its only fringes of towns then he has it wrong. You could maybe count hd quality iptv as next gen.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
andrueC sky+ recording facility isnt VoD as such, sky anytime is sky's attempt at VoD and it shows how poor sattelite is as a VoD platform. Notice the lan connectors at the back of sky+ boxes? thats the future plan to deliver VoD over a internet connection. Cable has far superior VoD but of course has a proper delivery mechanism to handle it.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@Dix:Sorry, but I don't believe you. If you're trying to tell me that VM's cable network transmits TV by uniquely addressing each box then you're going to have to provide proof.

It might not be multicasting in the IP sense but it is surely one stream to the 'exchange/cabinet' then one stream around the copper wire.

That is basically multi-casting.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
..and that is why talking about existing cable networks when discussing IPTV is not appropriate. IPTV would currently involve every box/computer having its own stream to the server. That would clog the internet with duplicate packets and be horrible.

Multicasting would reduce the duplication but as has been discussed before brings its own set of problems and costs.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
Sky+ /is/ a form of VoD. I watch my video when I 'demand' it. Sure it doesn't have the flexibility of true VoD (I have to wait for the programme to be transmitted before I can watch it) but as I wrote in my message - I think that's enough for most people.

I'll paste what I wrote last time:Clearly VoD over IP is better. I'm just not sure how much better.

If VoD is going to be the driver for FTTC it's going to have to be a helluva lot better than current solutions. Otherwise the financial argument just ain't there.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
@AndrueC - Broadcasting and multicasting are not the same things. A PVR is not a form of VoD any more than VHS tapes were a form of VoD. Record and play back isn't Video On Demand.

Multicast is easier to implement than you think, some ISPs already have.

http://support.bbc.co.uk/multicast/isps.html
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
The point I'm trying to make (and not being very clear with perhaps) is that network topography is what makes cable TV work. The fact that everyone sees the same stream going past (exactly like radio-based TV).

FTTx variants don't have that topography and for good reason - it isn't very good for data usage. Ironically cable TV will suffer more from VoD then FTTx because you will get congestion at the street level.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
ISP multi-casting is only saving bandwidth between ISPs and the source. It reduces costs but does little for the national network. If TV over next-gen cable takes off then multi-casting needs to be more effective. If not then backhaul and local loop becomes congested.

That means pushing it deeper into the network and putting the servers/routers into street cabinets and I don't see that happening.

As for VoD/PVR. The bottom line is that I don't think that VoD will be the killer app. You can bet that it will come with a charge and it's clear that most people will not pay to watch TV ever.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
@AndrueC 'FTTx variants don't have that topography and for good reason - it isn't very good for data usage. Ironically cable TV will suffer more from VoD then FTTx because you will get congestion at the street level.' - Nope, PON FTTP networks share the same downstream laser between a number of homes, all of them seeing the same signal - this is the same as cable.




Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
@AndrueC again - Homechoice had servers in each exchange, it's doable. Backhaul is unlikely to be a major issue given that BT have made comments about preserving an apparent 2:1 contention on FTTC and using multiple GigE fibres to FTTN MSAN to preserve this.
Regarding multicast routers being in street cabinets what do you think IGMP aware MSANs are?
Posted by mpellatt over 5 years ago
Aside from the rest of the discussion - how anyone can think IP over geosync satellite is fit-for-purpose for any general purpose IP application (thanks to the massive latencies) is beyond me. Unless it's LEO satellites, I guess. Oh yes, there is the old iridium (-1) network still in place isn't there. Should be cheap enough to use that, or launch a whole new sat cloud...
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
@mpellatt - it's not about being fit for purpose, it's about being able to crow about how the UK has universal broadband access. Again Lord Carter spent most of his career in PR and more recently a spin meister for Brown so taking anything he says at face value is a stretch.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
quote"It will mean that someone on what is a 9km long line, might get 20Meg rather than the 0.5Meg currently, and those closer (1km) to the cabinet will be seeing 40Meg or maybe more."

Assuming of course the planned FTTC roll out from BT allows people to subscribe to services with 40Mb or more speeds quoted. It will be interesting in what will happen if they offer varying UPTO speed XXMb packages and someone says subs to an UPTO 100Mb service but only gets say 15Mb again due to a long line.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
quote"sky anytime is sky's attempt at VoD and it shows how poor sattelite is as a VoD platform. Notice the lan connectors at the back of sky+ boxes? thats the future plan to deliver VoD over a internet connection. Cable has far superior VoD but of course has a proper delivery mechanism to handle it."
Real VOD services are a few years off yet, i imagine one day TV channels as we know them will not exist, ALL television programming (NOT just movies) we will watch in what can best be described as a bigger itunes/apple TV type of enviroment, TV schedules basically wont exist.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
True VoD is been able to pick out any program at any time (sort of like iplayer) and watch it as it streams live. Sky+ requires you to record the program first, sky anytime is a poor attempt that requires the box to store recorded shows overnight, and as such is severely limited by (a) what the sattelite can stream when you not using it and (b) the storage capacity of the local box.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
CB yes tv schedules will play a lesser role particurly in scripted programmes, live sports events will always have a schedule I feel tho.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
Live sport which is popular i imagine will at some point be entirely pay per view (a bit like some events on sky). Obviously this is not a good thing but it seems to be the way things are heading with regards to sport.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
Also agree about Sky etc, services like that are not true VOD, they are more a PVR type service.
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
I live in a small hamlet, 3.5 kms from our exchange. We have overhead copper feeding our phones/internet. There is a small cabinet on the edge of the hanlet, about 0.7 kms from my home but most will be nearer.
Providing FTTC in rural areas is not the problem foreseen by many in government, like Lord Carter. Use existing poles and cable network to suspend fibre, fit cabinets in villages/hamlets - everyone gets fast broadband cheaply.
Posted by Enrico21 over 5 years ago
I am not sure but believe that using existing poles and cable network to suspend fibre is not practical. If it was viable then it would be significantly cheaper to cover the country with fibre than having to do so by digging up the roads. Anyone care to expand on this issue?
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
There is probably space in existing ducts, there was a report on this somewhere.

FTTH would need overhead fibre for some.
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