Updated: 26/11/2010 09:40 - This new 5meg minimum speed is a new variant of the FTTC product, and the existing 15meg minimum will be used if appropriate for the line.
BT are to increase the distance of lines that will be able to connect to its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) next-generation broadband so that it will service connections that can only manage 5Mbps. This new variant of the FTTC product will be in addition to the current service that has a minimum speed of 15Mbps (which is used as the minimum speed to work out if there is a fault on the line). This change will allow the company to move more lines on to the new equipment, thus making a higher rate of return on the investment. With more lines going on cabinets, this may make areas that were previously deemed unviable for receiving a cabinet (as not many lines would benefit) more appealing.
The change is good for consumers as it means those that are perhaps too far from the exchange at the moment to receive fast broadband speeds will be able to get a speed boost, although it is some way off what could be called 'next-generation' speeds.
"There are no changes to our ordering process or systems and circuits should be ordered following the standard FTTC ordering journey. If a circuit has a predicted speed between 5Mbit/s to 15Mbit/s the order should be placed requesting a 40Mbit/s downstream and 2Mbit/s upstream option. The circuits will be provided to the highest speed supported by the line."BT Wholesale Statement
Other news out of BT today has revealed that those areas that are currently getting fibre-to-the-cabinet rollouts are unlikely to be supplanted by a full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) solution. The company are aiming to get 25% of the country on to FTTP but does not foresee replacing the FTTC equipment in the near future. Testing in the lab has shown that BT can get up to 70Mbps through FTTC, although when translated into the real world, speeds are likely to come out a bit lower.
"The vast majority [of FTTC homes] get between 33 and 38Mbits/sec. There's no point in going back and investing, just because it's something called P instead of C. We've seen 60 to 70Mbits/sec in the labs on FTTC. Is it future proofed? Yes."Liv Garfield (Group director of strategy, policy and portfolio), BT
Of course, with the intention to now put people who can only achieve 5Mbps on to FTTC there is likely to be some cases where deploying fibre all the way to the home in areas where FTTC is already deployed can make a huge difference.