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Next Gen Services - where are the results?
Wednesday 10 February 2010 11:07:41 by Andrew Ferguson

Point Topic has published a new report that attempts to coin the phrase 'Superband' to refer to the Next Generation Broadband services that are appearing across the UK. The report suggests that broadband at 25Mbps and faster will be available to 2 million homes by the end of 2010 - though they are ignoring the DOCSIS 3.0 fibre/coax hybrid network from Virgin Media in this figure, which gives the option of 50Meg to around 45% of UK households now.

The two million households covers around 30 projects such as BT and other alternate network projects, though the issue with pretty much all of these is that so few people are connected to any of these projects. The current numbers will make a lot of people laugh, estimates suggest that these 30 projects had about 3000 lines actually connected at the end of 2009, with BT accounting for 1250 of these.

In short fibre roll-outs are happening, but the actual situation is not unlike that of 1998/1999 when BT was running a very small trial of ADSL that meant only a handful of people had the service. Some of the fibre projects mentioned by Point Topic are Independent Fibre Networks in Corby, Swindon and Andover, IsRightHere in Liverpool and Chelsea and Velocity1 in Wembley. H2O Fibrecity is fibering up Bournemouth with Dundee next on the list.

H2O Networks is a classic example, as we see reports from people in the area of work progressing, and we believe homes are connected, but as yet no positive sign of anyone with Internet access. Last we heard in 2009 was that a retail Internet Service Provider had been signed up, but H2O was unable to say who it was.

Things in theory are set to accelerate. Digital Region in South Yorkshire should have a good chunk of its 600,000 homes connected by 2011, and the BT FTTC wholesale product will be available to around 1.5 million homes by then. While this looks like good progress, if we compare this to Sweden 38% (1.2 million lines) of Swedish broadband connections are over fibre, so we are behind the leading edge.

While not purely a superband issue, adoption of BT Wholesale's WBC product range does seem slow amongst broadband providers, possibly because apart from BT Retail, all the big providers have their own LLU network already offering ADSL2+ in the same areas and the investment needed both in terms of switching networks and training support staff means that many small and medium sized providers are perhaps reluctant to rush into the product. The adoption of WBC is critical to making sure that the Openreach FTTC products are widely available, and the LLU operators who in theory can take an uncontended Ethernet handover from Openreach appear too slow to adopt, possibly due to the lack of control of the actual VDSL2 kit in the cabinet and customers home.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
BTs Next gen ain't in a rush while openretch can milk the old copper assets... what it needs is fibre getting out to the people who can't get adsl, and that will stimulate the market to deliver faster in urban areas too. It will be interesting to see what effect digital region has in yorkshire. Big colloquium planned for rural broadband if anyone is interested. has details.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Why would delivering fibre to remote areas which is more expensive stimulate fibre to urban areas which its cheaper?
Posted by KarlAustin over 7 years ago
As I've said many a time, DigitalRegion is IMHO a waste of £100m of tax payers money - Especially as they've installed one of their cabinets right outside our office (next to the BT Greenie) and still say it'll be September 2011 before we'll be able to get any service. BT will most likely have the same footprint covered by DR in the same time scale and with connection methods that ISPs are more used to dealing with (and more suited to ISPs - unless something with DR has changed).
Posted by chefbyte over 7 years ago
Sickens me to read this stuff as they need to get the basics sorted out first, I am on a 8 meg DSL and during the mornings and afternoons I get around 7.1 megs solid connection and in the evenings from after 4 it plummets like a stone to around 400k. I thought it was my ISP but I now have two lines in the house on different ISP's and they are duplicating the same speed drops around the same time.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Chris Doyle is always thin on detail in her statements. Even in rural areas there are many people close to exchanges. It's generally the ones scattered at the edge of the exchange area that are the problem.
Posted by 2doorsbob over 7 years ago
I can't see BT putting a big dint in fttc within the next 3 years DR have said most areas will be completed around where i live by the end of 2012 ..karlaustin has a point this is race to the finish line and who gets there first with a service that works will win would not supprise me if BT sit back and let DR do all the work and then buy them out
Posted by Thalgrum over 7 years ago
chefbyte, I had a very similar problem a few years ago with Orange broadband. Every day at 4pm broadband became dialup, took 16 months for them to admit it was server crowding, meanwhile they blamed bt line faults..

I switched to sky broadband, and no problems since
Posted by otester over 7 years ago

Which ISP's where they?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
Digital Region is designed to have 97% coverage in South Yorkshire, so those at the edges may still miss out, and a risk that as the commercially nice bits are gone, the 3% will have a harder time than with no Digital Region.

Posted by chefbyte over 7 years ago
@ otester AOL and PlusNet
Posted by michaels_perry over 7 years ago
Rural exchanges serve not just those within the village they are located in, but the greater number of users who live outside the village area. Some are in smaller villages and hamlets whilst others are more isolated. All of those will suffer from line length degradation and poor service. Most are served by overhead copper. Stringing fibre alongside the copper is far cheaper and more beneficial than any other proposals seen so far.
Posted by UKSTEVE over 7 years ago
We are in Sheffield and have four sites with broadband over three ISPs. None of the ISPs have, so far, signed with H2O, citing the wholesale fees involved. It's all very well announcing these services, but who will pay £80 a month for fibre service?

The H2O initiative is all mouth and no trousers in my humble opinion.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
m_p - People in villages near the exchange will have no problems. Problem is the time and cost of putting up fibre to the more isolated areas.
Posted by Rocklett over 7 years ago
BT will and are happily rushing headlong into FTTC which they call 'fibre' which is in fact VDSL from the cabinet to the premises. Generally this is a good thing as the speeds are so much faster than ADSL but as there is no pressure to do otherwise, the issue is they are intending to roll this out to wherever Virgin have 50Mbps Cable Internet, so the actual footprint of super fast broadband in this country won't expand for years.

There needs to be some governmental compulsion to ensure areas with no or poor coverage and poor available access speeds are dealt with first.
Posted by casique over 7 years ago
Where is the new home network International standard using electricity power lines?

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