The Openreach Broadband Enabling Technology (SHDSL) product is emerging from its trial as a live product with BT Wholesale announcing pricing for the product, that will come into effect on 25th November 2010.
For those that don't know, SHDSL is a DSL variant that can provide 1Mbps over a copper pair that is some 12km (about 7.5 miles) long and if bonding to a second pair, 2Mbps is possible over the same distance. In terms of utilising an existing copper based network, it increases the distance of what is possible and in terms of universal broadband it is another solution to add to the bag of tricks that includes fibre, satellite, fixed wireless and mobile wireless which will all be needed to meet the 2015 Universal Service Commitment.
SHDSL is itself not new, what is new is the willingness for BT Wholesale to deploy it as a solution, though the pricing is likely to put off most consumers who are thinking this may be a path to boost their existing 0.5 meg service to 2 meg. The basic connection price is £1,094+VAT, and if you want the 2 Mbps, version add £549+VAT onto the top of this. This is the pricing for just the BET part, there are also the IPStream Connect product fees which run at £6.90 a month, plus your share of the bandwidth the ISP must purchase from one of the 10 regional handover nodes. This bandwidth costs £122 per month per Mbps, and if an ISP exceeds the bandwidth they have bought then the excess is charged at up to £180 per Mbps. Doing some back of the envelope calculations, if an ISP worked on 20 users sharing 1Mbps, this would mean £6.10 per customer to give them 50Kbps permanently (16GB per month).
At around £1930 to install a 2Meg service, BET is far from cheap, but it does compare favourably with the current satellite service pricing, which can see a 2Meg service costing £200 a month, and around the £1000 mark for hardware and installation. BET will win over satellite for those using latency sensitive applications too, since its latency will be more inline with the normal ADSL based services than the round-trip time that satellite suffers. BET would be best used used for a lone property or two that are well beyond the reach of other technologies, where any full fibre or partial fibre solution would be too costly to install. The difficult area is once you get to clusters of 10 or more properties, since it may prove more sensible to explore the costs of fibre or wireless services, which ultimately offer more in terms of future bandwidth options.
The installation fee from BT Wholesale is a fixed price, with up to £5,000 of excess construction charges included in the price, but it is possible that when planning the delivery of a product that for some locations the cost to install to BT Wholesale may be above the £5,000 mark, at which point the customer may be asked to pay more. It should be said that any excess construction fees would be notified to the customer prior to the work commencing.