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Virgin Media trial broadband delivery via telegraph poles
Thursday 11 March 2010 10:47:11 by John Hunt

Virgin Media have today announced that they are going to conduct a trial to deliver 50meg broadband to homes in a village in Berkshire by a deployment over telegraph poles. Homes in Woolhampton will be directly connected to Virgin's fibre optic network in the 6-month trial that will offer them access to Virgin's standard TV offerings with access to their 50meg broadband product.

"This unique trial will allow us to understand the possibilities of aerial deployment and may provide an exciting new way to extend next generation broadband services. With everything from BBC iPlayer to YouTube increasingly demanding reliable ultrafast broadband speeds, we're keen to ensure that all communities, in towns, cities and villages right across the UK, stand to benefit."

Neil Berkett, (CEO) Virgin Media

Virgin have plans to extend their network which currently passes 12.6 million homes to a further 500,000, and sees that this technology may be one way to achieve this. Indeed, it believes around a million homes in the UK could benefit from this technology, and many rural areas could get next-generation access (NGA) when combined with fibre through underground ducts. With talk of opening up BT ducts to competition, there is scope that this could allow other networks to expand cheaply. This Virgin trial builds on the back of a trial in Cornwall in 2009 which saw fibre delivered to BT's local street cabinets.

Comments

Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Very interesting! Who's poles though?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Hey Virgin, we got lotsa poles round here, come and do a bit of Lancashire rural fibre if the Woolhampton one works eh? Doesn't look like BT are gonna do it. Go Virgin Go. You obviously have moral fibre too.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Ermmm I don't think it will be fibre, it will be coax I'm sure.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
Yep, extension of CATV network.

No idea what you're talking about wrt moral fibre though, they are trying to widen their reach due to increasing levels of high-end competition in existing areas, especially if/when rules on aerial deployment are changed. They'll be getting their backsides handed to them by FTTP in urban conurbations.
Posted by dubpixel over 5 years ago
Isn't this how much of cable is delivered in the USA? I'm sure I recall hearing tale a while ago that the original amplifiers in cabinets overheated because they were actually designed to go onto poles.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
You are absolutely correct sir. Most cable networks in North America, Asia, etc, are delivered aerially. The kit is designed to be mounted on poles and pedestals.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
Excellent idea, if BT want to use your ducts, expand and remove ducts from thee equation LOL Genius business move, let BT have your ducts while you also use theirs and at the same time go into areas without laying new ducting :) Very smart thinking from Virgin. Talk about playing a fool at his own game hehe
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
They can't move into new areas without laying ducting, they will also need ducting to the cab.
Posted by timmay over 5 years ago
This is just simply Sub-Loop Unbundling. It is not unique it's just Virgin playing with FTTC (VDSD2+).
Posted by timmay over 5 years ago
* VDSL2
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
quote"They can't move into new areas without laying ducting, they will also need ducting to the cab."

What are you talking about they are all going to share ducts, they will use BTs duct and then the rest of the way have cable OVER poles.... No new duct needed, most they need will be a cabinet haha
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
I thought a lot of Poles had gone back home now that we were in recession :)
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
But more seriously - can they really call it 'technology' just because they are hanging a cable in the air rather than underground?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Sure CB that's if they agree to open up their own ducts of course.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Technology as in stringing fibre from overheards without the weight of the protection added so that the fibre does not break in a strong wind, as in running fibre through tubes is fairly recent.

Looks like this will be fibre to a cabinet that is Virgins own cabinet, and then probably the usual coax to the home.

If it was CATV over pure FTTH then one would expect a launch with a lot more noise around it.
Posted by Davidhs over 5 years ago
What goes around, comes around...
What a curious idea: It is some 30 or 40 years since the overhead telephone line to this farm was replaced by an underground cable, because running underground offered better protection to the cable and so a more reliable service. The underground cable takes a longer route, along the road side and down a drive, whereas the overhead used to cut across a couple of fields and so was shorter.

Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
I'm already waiting for the angry tenants appearing the paper stopping unsightly poles being erected outside their homes :)
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
I would be amongst the whiners then. Cabinets don't bother me because we already have them but my estate doesn't have any overhead cables at all. I would definitely object if someone suddenly wanted to drape cables everywhere.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
It's not VDSL timmay it's extension of the VM CATV network.

Carpet - Much as I know how enthusiastic you are about the idea of someone sticking it to 'the man' / BT they aren't using BT's ductings VM have fibre running through that village.

What's this about pole mounted fibre being 'recent'? It's been about for over 20 years.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
As a secondary thing the Government is mooting changing the planning rules regarding use of aerial cabling. It won't be something unique to Virgin having aerial cabling if the rules are changed it'll be likely that others will offer FTTH/P over the same thing.

Virgin need to expand due to their current areas becoming more competitive. Once ducts are opened Telefonica, Sky, et al will be considering FTTP, simply superior to the HFC Virgin are building here.
Posted by Oddball over 5 years ago
Imagines a load of eastern European workers holding up cables.
Posted by RichieBaby over 5 years ago
I'm pretty sure it's no unique. VM's cable network in Coventry when it first started in the 1980's back when it was known as Coventry Cable Television used BT's poles. They replaced your existing phone line with a dual core line, one for your existing telephone line and a secondary line that carried the analogue t.v. signals, both were and are copper core. You could see from the road which homes had cable as their phone line was much thicker.

Most homes that were early adopters of CATV would still have this line coming into their homes as well as their new underground fibre optic lines.
Posted by dch3dwj over 5 years ago
I wonder if the fibre could survive the lateral stress over longer distances than telegraph poles, pylons for example?
This could really start driving competition and expansion, I wonder if the Govt may do more harm than good with 50p? If I thought I could get Govt money I wouldn't be rushing to get my FTTH/CATV out.
Posted by dch3dwj over 5 years ago
"I would be amongst the whiners then."

Success depends of these schemes depends on how NIMBY people are about it. However, a guy from BT told me over half there network is overhead so perhaps the number of new poles wouldn't be that many.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@dch3dwj going back at least 10yrs there was a project looking into twisting fibre around the pylon to pylon cables and also broadband over the mains, not sure what happened to either
Posted by dch3dwj over 5 years ago
BT did a load of testing re broadband through the mains and its works but apparently could interfere a lot of old electrical (pre 1980s) equipment where the signal wouldn't be supressed.

I know Scottish power is keen of using its network for delivering broadband...
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago
"twisting fibre around the pylon to pylon cables"

Fibre on the 400kV grid begat Energis, which led to Freeserve, and so on.

"broadband over the mains, not sure what happened to either "

Keith Maclean (SSE Telecom) interview at ISPreview, and not much else.

The well known US overhead FTTP service is Verizon FIOS.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Yep those are em c_j cheers
Posted by redserpent over 5 years ago
They still have analogue cable with many abandoned roadside cabinets in Slough. Why don't they upgrade those to digital first ?
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
finally someone coming to senses and using poles.
Posted by timmay over 5 years ago
@Dixinormous Yes sorry it looks like this time when VM said fibre they actually meant fibre. That's got to be a first!

This is a silly idea as maintenance will cost more in the future and it will not be as reliable as underground cables.

Fibre in the ground could well last 100+ years. Above ground 10 maybe 30 years before they need major repairs or moving underground.
Posted by nmg196 over 5 years ago
It's not fibre - it's copper. The broadband via telegraph poles uses VDSL2 technology as reported on other sites.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
It's not VDSL2 - there would be absolutely no need to do a trial on 'aerial' deployment of VDSL2. It is a CATV build.

Virgin are doing a VDSL2 trial in Cornwall, this isn't it.

timmay - no, not FTTP/H, HFC.
Posted by timmay over 5 years ago
The [url=http://pressoffice.virginmedia.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=205406&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1401380&highlight=]press release[/url] is is very poorly worded!

"By connecting homes directly to Virgin Media's fibre optic network..."

I think we are all getting confused with previous trials in Higher Pill, Saltash and Hatt which were FTTC with VDSL2. [url=http://www.fiercetelecom.com/story/virgin-test-video-over-copper/2009-10-09]link[/url]
Posted by absent over 5 years ago
I've often wondered why Sky haven't put more effort into unbundling rural/semi-rural exchanges. They already must have a higher uptake of TV in these areas since cable doesn't to there and Freeview can be flakey. I would imagine they could steal quite a proportion of BB users in these areas. This is assuming they actually make money off the broadband and don't just offer it to compete with Virgin. If that's the case maybe this news kick them into more unbundling if suddenly there's competition from Virgin in such areas.
Posted by njalondon over 5 years ago
It's been reported elsewhere that this will be a FTTH deployment, why use HFC when it will cost almpost the same to fully deploy fibre and not have the HFC constraints. As Virgin haven't specifically stated what cabling they're using, for anyone to to state they know for sure is premature.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
^ Very much doubt it as they don't have kit in the cab's to provide FTTH nor will they have the fibre capacity back to the POP to cope, also why would they deploy FTTH and limit it to 50Mb? No sense at all. I think the comments so far are spot on it will be a normal Virgin delivery but aerial instead of underground. Virgin could of course provide FTTH but I don't think this is it. URL for "reported elsewhere" would help.
Posted by njalondon over 5 years ago
In Cornwall Virgin used VDSL2, they have cabs covering the older part of town, I doubt that Woolhampton will be any different. You have no proof as Virgin haven't been explicit in their technology choice, so all you're doing is guessing. Unless you can point me to anything that proves your point.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
Have to admit my instincts would be either vdsl2 or ftth - depending on what they are aiming to "prove" - perhaps they might try out both?

Given where the market in general (and Virgin in particular with its existing VDSL2 trials) has got to now, I cannot personally see the point in Virgin doing large-ish scale HFC rollouts.

In answer to GMAN's "why limit it to 50Mb", I would reply that this would be because (a) they are trialling things and (b) this is the current top-whack for Virgin.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
^

Another reason is if they put FTTH in it would give them time for getting the backhaul fixed.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@njalondon - everyone is guessing as there's little to go on. You did say you had a news source stating FTTH tho?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
"an exciting new way to extend next generation broadband services"

Although "extend" sounds to me like more of the same. Like Andrew says I'm sure they'd be lighting more fireworks is this was a true fibre service.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
Who cares its 50Mb, hardly any home user in the country sees that unless with Virgin.
Posted by 2doorsbob over 5 years ago
It's nice to carpet speaking possitively about VM for a change it was only a couple of months ago he was poking fun at the CEO's surname Neil berkett (Berk)..one thing that does spring to mind with fttc is in areas like south yorkshire where we are getting digital region and BT's fttc products now with the above news vm filling in the areas where there current network ends ,does this mean we'll have 3 cabs alongside the old BT copper boxes ..cont
Posted by 2doorsbob over 5 years ago
It does seem to me tobe a total waste of time and money as 1 cab with fibre vdsl2+/adsl2+ kit in it could look after all isp's ..it just needs ofcom to organise it (lol)..piss up in a brewery springs to mind ..
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
quote"It's nice to carpet speaking possitively about VM for a change it was only a couple of months ago he was poking fun at the CEO's surname Neil berkett (Berk)."

That was not me.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
"as 1 cab with fibre vdsl2+/adsl2+ kit in it could look after all isp's"

That is BT's deliberate intention with FTTC - to take control back from all of the local loop unbundlers by "fixing" the network so that it cannot (economically) be unbundled.
Posted by njalondon over 5 years ago
@ Gman http://www.fiberevolution.com/2010/03/friday-news-roundup.html
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
string CATV coax on poles and nailing it to walls is pretty standard technology, look around a typical Portuguese holiday resort etc.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
50Mb is 50Mb though Herdwick, i dont care if they provide that to people over moldy pipcleaners as long as its still 50Mb its faster than anything others have to offer to the masses.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
wirelessspaceman - SLU continues to be an option, it has just never been viewed as a viable by OLOs with the exception of SYDR. They have not considered themselves likely to make their money back.

Openreach did get a regulatory concession (which is nothing to do with unbundling) however they appear to not be using it in most cases.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
I just read the Samknows info, and the press release they cite, it doesn't mention FTTH it refers to 'fibre optic' in the same manner as the cable network.

I've asked a contact at Virgin to clarify.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
I know SLU remains a "technical" option - just rarely likely to be an economic one in my view
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
It never has been. What do you suggest BT do, remove some PCPs and rationalise them so that OLOs can reach a wider group of people with each SLU? The network wasn't built and PCP placement wasn't decided with the specific intention of making it uneconomical to unbundle at cabinet level I don't think.

Pricing on SLU is regulated by Ofcom same as LLU. How do you suggest BT arrange to offer the option to unbundle FTTC?

It's going to get much more economical once operators can place fibre into BT's access network - BT are hardly placing further obstacles.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
Confirmed btw - it's FTTH. Lucky Woolhampton!
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
Use of coax overhead is very old technology. Many cable systems (analogue) started in the sixties relied on overhead coax along poles and between bildings, examples are Swindon Cable, Redifussion, Coventry Cable and many, many others. I think this VM 'experiment will use fibre in a similar way to that used in the US, by verizon etc, and in Japan. Hope they bring the fibre to my rural backwater soon, then we can get 2 Mbps!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 5 years ago
quote"Confirmed btw - it's FTTH. Lucky Woolhampton!"

Lets hope this is the future from Virgin :)
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Really Dixi? Well that really IS good news.
Posted by sylvantos over 4 years ago
Virgin media in their quest to kill their own network dead because of already over subscribed ubrs, now plan to make it worse should be the lead story. I wish we had another cable company in the uk that can offer better speeds more RELIABLE connection and better upload speeds instead of them wasting on rural locations.
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