Today sees the number of people with Fibre to the Home (FTTH) connections in the UK receive a major boost. The thousand or so homes in Bournemouth now know the details of the connectivity that will be available to them and it eclipses what every other provider in the UK has offered to date.
FibreCity has announced three providers that will provide the retail elements for telephone, TV and broadband bundles over the fibre network they are building in Bournemouth. Broadband speeds will range from 25Mbps to 100Mbps, and even offer the chance to boost download speeds to 1Gbps (1000Mbps) for a short period (probably 30 minutes). Prices start from £9.99 for a basic 100Mbps product, and exact pricing will depend on the triple play package people decide to purchase from the portal. Vispa is a name most often associated with ADSL, but has been branching out to offer a 10Mbps symmetric wireless service in the Manchester area. Velocity 1 will be known by some as the firm providing fibre connectivity to people in the Wembley area, including HD and some 120 TV/radio stations. Fibreband is perhaps a name less well known, but is another fibre provider offering triple play deals. The Fibreband website has a 100Mbps downloads and 10Mbps upload package for £49.95, with 40 TV channels and telephone, with the option to buy uncontended bandwidth at £1 per hour on the cheaper packages.
"The Fibrecity portal is a virtual market place that offers consumer choice by allowing multiple service providers to offer and deliver services over a single Fibrecity network connection. I am delighted that Fibreband, Velocity 1 and Vispa are the first service providers to join this portal.
This announcement is just the start, as we expect additional providers, large and small, to come on to the portal over the course of the year. Now that service providers have a technology platform to support next generation services, I believe they will develop media rich applications that legacy copper networks simply cannot support."Elford Thomas, CEO of i3 Group, of which FibreCity is a company
People who already have the fibre connection in place will shortly be being contacted to arrange delivery of a free set top box that will provide access to the service portal and allow people to browse the offerings. To encourage use of the box, an offer will run for a while whereby people will receive a number of free digital TV channels. So while at launch for many people their familiar broadband provider may not be listed, it is likely that more will sign up to offer services.
What this means for homes with the service is that a film purchased from iTunes that would have taken 4 hours to download on a 2Mbps connection can arrive in just six minutes. Families will be able to do things like watching video, while still using a VoIP service, or a webcam call and have two or three games consoles online playing games. The killer application for fast broadband like FibreCity is no one single application, but the freedom it provides to carry out a number of tasks without impacting on others in the home.
Residents of Dundee should be the next part of the UK to benefit from the service, with the infrastructure work starting in April 2010. We await the news of where roll-out will continue around the UK; FibreCity told us that they have a target of covering 750,000 homes by the end of 2012.
Point-Topic.com recently highlighted the lack of numbers for next generation roll-outs (Virgin Media is not in their analysis). BT according to Point-Topic had around 1850 FTTC/FTTH customers, but the majority are FTTC, which gives a variable connection speed of 15Mbps to 40Mbps currently. The total number of FTTP connections in the UK stood at around 1600 (business leased lines are not included in this count), so today's news provides a significant boost and should help other emerging FTTP providers to gauge demand for their products.