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New collaboration to offer FTTH to 5 million rural homes and businesses
Wednesday 13 April 2011 11:08:28 by John Hunt

A new collaboration between Fujitsu, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cisco plans to deliver next-generation broadband to 5 million homes and businesses in rural areas of the UK. Fujitsu will create an open-access wholesale network which will be underpinned by Cisco technology, and will deliver fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband capable of 1Gbps (both upstream and downstream) from day one. Virgin Media and TalkTalk have agreed to use the network to help expand their next-generation broadband offerings.

The new network will rely on using BT Openreach's Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) product which opens up access to ducts and poles for deploying their own cables. The collaboration are planning to provide an alternative to BT where local authorities and communities are biding for money from the £530m of government money for investment into next-generation broadband.

"There is a unique opportunity for the UK to re-establish itself as a world leader by having the world's most advanced fibre network. If done correctly this can be a key vehicle to accelerate recovery in the UK and bring genuine choice to generations of communities starved of participating fully in the UK economy. We believe our approach, in collaboration with these major industry leaders, will provide a future proofed network for at least the next 20 to 30 years."

Duncan Tait, (CEO) Fujitsu UK and Ireland

This new access network could provide a vital alternative access network to give BT a run for their money. Currently, BT are only really deploying fibre to cabinets (FTTC) which can only currently offer speeds of around 40Mbps but this could be increased to 60Mbps in the future (they are estimating around 16% of users will get FTTH). This technology will soon be obsolete though and by investing in installing fibre connections all the way to the home, Fujitsu will have an access network that is truly future proof and shouldn't require upgrades for many years. Whether the group will only deploy to rural areas or also duplicate their network to areas where BT are deploying FTTC will be interesting to see.

Of course, viability of such a new network deployment remains in question- Fujitsu, Virgin Media and TalkTalk all recently signed a letter addressed to Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, asking him to intervene in pricing for BT Openreach's PIA products which it believes are high enough that it would be cheaper to duplicate this than pay rental to BT.

In terms of operator involvement, this will provide Virgin a key opportunity to expand their network to areas where they don't currently have deployments which should offer a significant chance to increase their user base and encroach upon Sky's dominant position in the pay-for television market.

"Virgin Media's involvement in this ground breaking project is part of our on-going drive to rapidly create a step change in the UK's digital evolution. Fujitsu's vision and global expertise provides an opportunity to change the game in terms of broadband provision in parts of the UK that are otherwise being left behind. We now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the ambition of a digitally-enabled society a reality beyond the country's cities and towns."

Neil Berkett, (CEO) Virgin Media

Deploying an open network is key to allowing other network operators and smaller ISPs to be able to compete and give consumers the best choice of service available. This may even mean that BT themselves will purchase from the collaboration to increase their reach of next-generation services to more users.

Comments

Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
Absolutely fantastic news. We will be in the amusing situation where rural formerly 'underserved' areas have better services than the nation's capital.

Those 'investments' skimping out on places like London with FTTC aren't looking too hot now.

I do love a nice big bit of market disruption - here's hoping this actually does happen!
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
£106 per connection!!! I'd like to see the numbers how they achieve this costing. Maybe by having free access to BT infrastructure?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Not saying it's a bad thing that they are doing, but how much they'll be investing themselves to achieve this would help.
Posted by doowles over 5 years ago
Amazing! I'm speechless

nice to see companies stepping up for the 500 million bonanza :)
Posted by haydnwalker over 5 years ago
Its good to know that VM et al are thinking further into the future. Things like BT Infinity (and to a lesser extent projects like S Yorks Digital Region) are going to be out of date very quickly especially if this takes off!
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Wow. just Wow. Bring IT on. I just love it when a plan comes together. Must be some men of grit left after all. Forget the naff infinity, we will take Beyond.
chris
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
I doubt they'll be going quite *that* rural CD.
Posted by ElBobbo over 5 years ago
themanstan - the £530M is the total amount available in government funding, not what they will potentially receive, and certainly not the total cost for this network.

On the other hand, it does rather suggest that a fibre network to rural homes is not as far-fetched as some here might have you believe.
Posted by jrawle over 5 years ago
Presumably the uptake will be much better in rural areas, because they currently suffer from very low ADSL speeds. On the other hand, many in towns and cities will think it's not worth paying for FTTC when they already get 15Mb/s ADSL2+.
Posted by ElBobbo over 5 years ago
I thought Fujitsu is a competitor to Cisco in the network market; why would they be using their kit?
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
Very good news. As Dixi says this does make FTTC in urban areas seem pretty silly.

Well done to the contributing firms. It'll be interesting to see how BT react to this.
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
What is unclear from the story is how much money the various companies are proposing to contribute, and how much they are hoping to receive from the government's funds. Also, worth bearing in mind involvement in previous projects such as Bournemouth, which does not bode well!

If this largely depends on getting all or most of the government funds, and also in getting access to the Openreach infrastructure at rates that are effectively subsidised by BT shareholders then the "business case" needs careful examination.
Posted by Koppo over 5 years ago
Bring it. I'm assuming they can do all sorts of bundled services over this fibre. If they come my way, I look forward to the day I can ring up BT and tell them to shove their phone line and that I hope their investors storm the BT tower in london with torches and pitchforks, after they take a massive hit in profits for a couple of years.
Posted by dustofnations over 5 years ago
This is great news, I'm all for having high-speed infrastructure in place, even if it is not fully utilised initially, rather than very minor incremental steps. Fujitsu are actually very competent in this sort of area, so I would think they have plans for a nicely scaling back-haul.
Posted by dustofnations over 5 years ago
@andruec: Agreed, but if it proved viable in rural areas, I would think the argument for providing some level of service to urban areas would be strong. Particularly those out of reach of short copper.

This seems to follow the similar sort of model that Sweden has successfully used, with many different players operating networks, but cooperating in a mutually beneficial way.

cont...
Posted by dustofnations over 5 years ago
However, we must wait to see how it pans out, it would be interesting to see whether they can invalidate BTs cost claims for operating high-bandwidth infrastructure of this type. I'm not interested in the notion of lower cost broadband, and more attracted to the prospect of low bandwidth costs, back-haul scalability, properly implemented technologies (IPv6, intelligent fail-over routing, redundancy, multicast, IPv6 jumbograms).
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
It could of course just be posturing. First they say that PIA is too expensive then they announce their plans.

Trying to sway the jury perhaps?
Posted by Alchemyfire over 5 years ago
I'm so glad I flatly refused, and I think laughed pretty much through the whole conversation, when BT phoned trying to convince me to renew my contract with them.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
Comparing Fujitsu to Fibrecity is probably not a fair comparison. Fujitsu is a publically traded company with a market cap of nearly 7 billion.

Of course they're trying to sway the jury - it's quite a masterful bit of PR :)
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
@elbobbo

That's why I asked about how much they propose to put forward themselves...

More interestingly is whether the fact VM is offering open network i.e. wholesaling of this network, will be allowed (OFCOM) without opening their own network wholesale. As this would give them 75% market penetration.
Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 5 years ago
Fantastic, wake up BT! now there is some food for thought, for the shareholders abd profit margins.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
Really interested to see how much this is going to cost. Imagine the ROI will probably be shocking.

Given that leased line installations can easily cost between 10k-50k per premises for more remote areas this will be interesting.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
What will be interesting is the amount charged for wholesale access on this open access network!
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Its April the 13th right not the 1st? No seriously this is amazing if they can pull it off

God knows what the core network will need to look like to cater for it but still... very very interesting indeed
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
@TaRkADaHl Leased line installs can be expensive when you're doing one offs. Doing a whole community in one go makes this much cheaper. You're still probably talking about four figure sums per house in some areas though.

I suppose it all comes down to how rural they are talking about.
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
So does this announcememnt mean that Virgin will finally embrace an "open-access wholesale network" approach to the existing cable network? It would be great to see a bit of competition at the retail level to drive some real innovation!

Equally, will it be offering open access at knock-down prices to its ducts?
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
so the rurals are sorted, north west sorted, south east sorted. what about the various inner cities left out? they the new final 3rd?
Posted by jchannon over 5 years ago
Great news however...Will they have to dig all the roads up? Will they have to get permission from local councils? Might be an issue?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
^ Nope this is all about using BT ducts/poles from what I can gather. Wonder how long this will take to roll out
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Actually, thinking carefully about this set up. VM avoids having to make their network open. As they no longer need to rollout out significantly their own network, but buy wholesale access off Fujitsu... Has VM sorted out it's IPTV yet or do you still need their cable for TV?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
@GMAN99

I get the feeling people who get connected via poles will be easier to roll-out than connection via ducts.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
is the government funding for any of the final 3rd or is it only allowed for rural areas?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@theman, yep... it will be BT ducting to the street, up the poles to the house.

I hope they've had a duct spring clean :)

(seriously tho in some area's there's not even enough room for BT cabling so.. not sure how it will work in reality)

Nothing can happen tomorrow anyway as the pole access still isn't finalised.

Put me down for a 1Gbps trial tho...
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
I wonder where the cash comes from for this though? Are they stumping up the cash or expecting BDUK to do it with their pocket money?
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
@GMan
Difficult to take this seriously without at least some basic indication of the amount of private sector money that is being invested. There have beeen too many schemes that sounded fantastic but ultimately have come to nothing.
Posted by neils58 over 5 years ago
If the numbers indicated in the open letter about BT's pricing is accurate, this could actually work. At £4 actual cost per pole attachment, Including Fibre which is surprisingly cheap when bought by the spool, it'd only cost about £100 per KM. I'd certainly be prepared to pay installation costs in that sort of region to swap my 2Mb DSL for 1Gb/s Fibre.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
The Goliaths of the industry have bought into this consortium. Both Cisco & Fujitsu are global players and world leaders in networking.
This should make it feasible to roll out at relatively low costs and get a reasonably high take up of the service. If Virgin went it alone it could as low as one home in 10 initially. With the ISP’s on board they could get 1 in 3 homes passed particularly if the pricing is right as the ISP’s would move their existing customer base to Virgins. It also gives the ISP’s the possibility of up selling to higher speed broadband and TV
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 5 years ago
is there a link to the pricing in that open letter. the openreach list says £21 per pole attachment per annum, plus initial install fee, plus sub duct annual fees and install fees up to the poles, plus exchange annual fees and install fees
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
@CHH
The difference between your numbers and the £4 per pole inc fibre might explain the "open letter".

If Openreach are correct in saying that their prices are 15% below the European average, difficult to see why they, and their shareholders, would agree to a further 80%+ price reduction though!
Posted by Stoobs over 5 years ago
This is wonderful news, I only have one question..

When can I sign up?!

Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
Wuropean prices are irrelevent , different networks, different costs & different countries

What BT will have to price it at is cost plus margin and as BT's network is mainly very old I would expect the cost price to be low
Posted by Alchemyfire over 5 years ago
Just a quick question...

Is there enough international bandwidth to sustain 5 million 1gbps connections?
Posted by orly2 over 5 years ago
Not a piss in the winds chance of this being "just for rural". If it is, expect it to cost thousands by the time it reaches your front door. Or expect to see the companies involved racking up massive debts. The definition of rural might become "that village a few miles from the middle of Sheffield" rather than deepest Wales or the Highlands and Isles.

When are they planning to start rolling it out? If it's later this year or early next, then fine. What if it's 2016 before we see anything?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@Bob, I don't expect Cisco to have much involvement in this apart from shipping tin
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
@Bob_s2
European prices for access to ducts, poles etc are relevant, the type of network should not make a huge amount of difference. Surely a (telegraph) pole in Germany is broadly the same as one in Italy or the UK?

Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
@Alchemyfire
A good point! Assuming you can get enough, the next question will relate to cost as having sufficient bandwidth to avoid contention being a major issue is going to be (very) expensive.

It would be interesting to see what happens if this starts to flow through to retail prices, bearing in mind it will be far more expensive than national backhaul, which has been a pinchpoint up to today.

Contd.
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
You can modify national backhaul costs through contention, much more difficult with the rather more limited international bandwidth. Ditto server costs for datacentres if the BBC et al have to ramp up server farm capacity for iPlayer etc.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
We probably need to calm down a bit here :) its 1Gbps "capable", there's no reason to think that it what they will offer out of the box as a product. 100Mbps will do me for now ;)
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
I think it also needs to be noted that contention ratio will be pretty high on 1Gbps as it's just so hard to fill anywhere near that much bandwidth.

No-one is even contemplating supplying 1:1 bandwidth between core network and transit network either. Existing networks don't run that way as the core is never even 50% utilised on properly engineered networks.

100:1 would be perfectly adequate as a contention ratio to be quite honest. Quite generous in fact. Anyone who expects 1Gbps 24x7 to anywhere is deluded.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
there can be 1Gbps local, to local schools, hospitals, councils. traffic needn't go onto the 'internet' it can stay local and cost nil. Costs could be kept low, a fantastic service provided, a true NGA network. The sort of stuff could happen that never could through copper. Local datacentres with local clouds.
Then everyone can feel very sorry for those stuck on cabinets that BT say are 'futureproof'. If it happens that is...
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
cd - where is the design for 'local' traffic? Surely the same could apply for FTTC. It depends how the wholesale ISPs manage it.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@cd that's not how it works, if I email my local doctors a 5min walk away my email would go to a POP 50, 100 miles away and the data centre where my doctors server is located could be 300-400 miles away from that or even abroad. Nothing stays local. Copper or fibre makes no difference to the way the network works logically.. more reading ;)
Posted by billyliar over 5 years ago
Fantastic news....hopefully there will now be competion for the BDUK money and it will mean the end of the monopoly.... Well done to VM, Fujitsu and Talk Talk.... It would be even better if C&W joined them.
Posted by Gamerwillz over 5 years ago
Nice!!
Posted by chris6273 over 5 years ago
Blimey, this is definitely good news for Rural Areas if they deploy there first - they should!

I'm sure I'm not the only one who would pay for fibre to be installed on my property in Rural Areas.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
@gman99 it can work that way. Ashby has 1gig local. 100meg symmetrical to the world. Our project has 100meg local to uni, 30 meg symmetrical to the world. These are working now. Time for you to do a little bit of reading too?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
no cyberdoyle, your little set-up is not how it works in the real world. And that isn't how this proposed article will work, this is FTTH even if your next door neighbours has FTTH your actual route to each other can and does go all over the place, if you want to send an email to you FTTH neighbour it doesn't whizz up your fibre and down theres
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@cd:No. What you propose is technically possible but it requires the ISPs to push their routers deeper into the network. When I ping my mate on the other side of town the equipment in the exchange has no idea where he is. That ping has to travel the 80 miles to London to reach Be's servers. They promptly send it all the way back.

Yes it's inefficient but the alternative is for Be to install routers in every exchange which is expensive and a PITA to administrate.

It's just not something ISPs currently do.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
Now as the world moves onto 1Gb/s perhaps that will become a little more common. But then again why should it? Local traffic like that is a small part of the internet. After all the whole point of the internet is to link remote people.

If you want to communicate with your doctor you walk to the surgery. The internet is optimised for long distance communication. If all your community wants to do is talk amongst itself then it's missing the point and has no need of internet connectivity at all.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@cd:Oh and for reference the 'local network' you talk about is equally possible on copper. In fact that's exactly how telephone calls work. They don't go via a national trunk line unless they have to.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
What cd is talking about is a village LAN, as virtually all data would want to leave your village/town to go to internet it makes no sense to change the model and have local switching as there's no traffic to support it, doctors, local hospitals, library's don't host their own public facing services in their basements!
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
It will come. maybe not in our lifetimes, but i don't travel to california to get to preston, nor will data. Its the future. but it ain't here yet. Lets get the fibre in first then you will see. Oh ye of little faith.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Its not little faith its just traffic flow, there is little to no traffic flow locally as there is nothing to talk to, we are just clients, the servers are elsewhere.

Sure you might want to Skype or Video conf your neighbours or people 5 streets down, but in terms of comparing that to how much traffic leaves the village to go to your email servers, DNS, Google, iPlayer etc etc etc out on the wider net its nothing not even 1% which is why it makes no-sense to change things as there's no reason or demand for it
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
@CD - Stop spouting rubbish. As GMAN99 says, local companies simply DON'T host their own servers.

What you are referring to is a point to point connection, basically a large WAN, only useful for universities who run their own servers and businesses that are spread over, allows you to connect straight into the network as if it was a LAN. Avoiding data transfer costs and the need for VPN setups etc etc.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
Your local school, hospital, council etc will not likely host their own servers for websites/email locally.

That would require large expenditure and technical knowledge in each building, something that is a lot easier to outsource.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
These fast networks could be useful for councils to run their networks across many sites at high speed. That would be local traffic. It could also be one way of getting more value for money as the council might inject some of their own money into the backbone.

Everything else though is hosted in proper data centres far away from here. There's no point in doing anything else. If I were to host a server here it might make it faster for my neighbours to access it, but slower for 99.999% of my customers.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
CD
Firsty, you do know that France has costed it's FTTH at 30B euros... and they have a higher population density, which makes it a bit cheaper overall. So that is why we're very interested in how Fujitsu is going to pay for their FTTH, £530m is small potatoes in the costs for the final third.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Secondly, it appears your proposing having WAN locally, ISPs will supply a connection to the internet. But won't want to touch your WAN, this you will need to kit out, maintain, upgrade and repair yourselves.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
@themanstan if you do some digging they only actually want £500mil of the £530mil thats going :P
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
I think the 5 million is based on getting almost all the BDUK funding. But would expect something like £5 billion to finish their roll-out.

NOTE: BT 66% coverage planned ~14 million homes, Fujitsu 5million, shortfall of some 3 million homes (10-15%) still.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
Can't wait for cyberdoyle to start her campaign to get the final 1/6th FTTH!
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
cd has said about local data elsewhere and not been able to justify it so I don't know why she continues here. She is still confused between transmission and networks.
Posted by Alchemyfire over 5 years ago
Found article on BBC website:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13060548

Looks like they have a 2012 start date and a 5 year plan to implement it.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Interesting, so they want 500mill but the cost of this will be many many billions so they must be funding it themselves... phew that will take some time to pay back
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
Especially if people expect to pay the same prices they currently do, £6 -£15 per month etc. The ROI for this will take ages. The BBC article also states that they want local councils to fund this, not sure if they are aware how short of cash they actually are currently :P
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
I expect that people will have to pay of the order of £50 for this to be viable. But, this is a case of paying for what you get. If you want high speed expect a high price, if you want cheap broadband, expect to keep your copper and have <1 Mbps.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
@TaRkADaHl I think the local councils will be funding this because they will be getting the money from central government (their share of the £500m pot). The hope is that several councils will band together to deliver the service in their area rather than try to build individual networks on different contracts. All makes sense to me.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Oh and that's £50 for something with a 20GB limit or the like.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
If this is proper fibre and can deliver proper IPTV then I can see customers spending more than £10 a month for a connection. You might be able to get a basic slow connection for this much. But when Virgin are able to sell you TV packages and other services on top of that, some people will pay a lot more. Running a VoIP network is a lot cheaper than having to deal with copper based telephone exchanges, for example.
Posted by alwall over 5 years ago
@themanstan. France has just under half the population density of the UK
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
@Sheepfarmer - But Fujitsu want the £500 mill for themselves, and the councils to provide extra on top of that.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
@TaRkADaHl not according to this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13060548

It says the £530m will be given to local authorities. Fujitsu will then bid for the work in that area.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
@alwall

That's based on land area and total population. I'm basing on population centres and area of those population centres. Most french cities/towns have double the population density. And the rural population makes up 20% of France's population vs UK's 25%. Hence, why it's cheaper...
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
It's always more complicated than a countries basic area/population. For fibre roll-out France has huge advantages, especially in urban areas. not only do they have double the density, it also works out that cities of similar population size will be smaller in area as the population is concentrated. e.g. Lyon and Bristol, same population, however 10k vs 4k per km2.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Which means your passing more properties per km. But also you don't need to fibre up as much area, so it's quicker and cheaper.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Firstly there is not £530 available, £50 million has been given out for trials already, and salary running costs of BDUK come out of this too.

So around £450m left I'd say, the idea was BDUK manage which firms/authorities get the money. Very little has been published on the mechanisms, but EU rules on tendering are likely to feature heavily.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Another £300m is in theory available between 2015 and 2017 - hence the five year time frame.

FTTP for £100 per home appears impossible, since the visit to install fibre in a home will cost that alone.

20Mbps for 25GBP, 50Meg for 40GBP, 100Meg for £55 if I was a betting man.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
So where are all the cries of injustice about giving tax payers money to a private firm?

We are all cool with giving Fuji money but boooo if it goes to BT?
Posted by jeep over 5 years ago
i think it may be a case of somebody is actually going to try to implement this, BT have the infrastructure but it seems not the commitment,i would be perfectly happy if BT offered to do this & make it a future proof product.But they do not seem interested until someone else comes along with a proposal.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@SheepFarmer:If you want additional TV services get Sky. It's here already for 99% of the country and offers more choice than VM. The fact it only has 10 million customers shows that demand for PayTV is saturated.
Posted by LibbyB over 5 years ago
My only concerns are that the deepest rural areas (which need it most) dont have any poles of ducting belonging to BT - it is all direct buried copper - or "just slung along the bottom of the hedgerow" as quoted by a local BT engineer. This has to start at the outside and work its way in. As for contention - there are not enough of us in the rural areas for it to be an issue.
Posted by ElBobbo over 5 years ago
Your corporate overlords displeased with their current public perception, GMAN99? ;)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@LibbyB well that is probably the 3 million homes that are not covered by this or BT's roll-out.

Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
BT offered to match the full BDUK £830m fund back in December.

http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/i/4500.html reaching around 90% in total. Which is what I believe this proprosal from Fujitsu will get close to.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
@LibbyB - contention will happen at a national level rather than a local level if the final mile/hubs etc are all gigabit. There will be heavy contention with fibre.

Think about how currently, on your 5Mb or whatever service you continually have slow downs at peak times. Do you really think it will be better if everyone has connections that are 200x faster?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
lol @bobo I wouldn't know, I just find it a bit ironic that's all.

No public money should be given to BT to rollout this stuff... Fujitsu, oh yeah... no problems there, its like Panto :)
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Hmmm.... Fujitsu is a $50B turnover corporation... and BT is £10B ~$15B... so now the "small fry" is the bad corp!
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
TBH, if it was any other company I would probably say they couldn't manage it and would go bust... no real chance of that happening with Fuji :P
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/14/fujitsu_uk_rural_broadband_funds/

Fuji willing to invest £2Bil themselves, plus £500 mill that works out to around £500 per property...

MMMHHHH.....
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
It still all hangs on the PIA pricing tho, it looks like a nice game being played out by top brass. "Look, we'll sort out all your broadband woes for you Ofcom/Government, just put the squeeze on BT and we are there"
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Its gonna happen I'm sure, whether its delayed by 6 months or a year while they argue about it. I wonder legally where it all stands though. I mean... can Ofcom really say... You must charge £X or is it more advisory? I mean... who actually has the legal right. If Ofcom said you've to open up and charge nothing, could they force that through, surely not
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
1. Firstly Fuji say they will be working on the worst areas of broadband, BT are working on areas which they deem to make most profit.

2. Since rural has no broadband or slower speed there is a bigger chance to takeup.

3. Fuji is japanese and I trust the japanese :D
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
Wasn't BT's infrastructure originally built by public money anyway?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Then paid for by the investors who bought BT. So the infrastructure public money argument is entirely moot.
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
Ahh didn't know that, cheer themanstan.

But yeah, BT are working inside-out (Urban to Rural) whilst Fuji will be working outside-in (Rural to Urban).
Posted by Koppo over 5 years ago
"Look, we'll sort out all your broadband woes for you Ofcom/Government, just put the squeeze on BT and we are there"

BT deserve all the squeeze they get. It was their business decision to roll-out FTTC to areas that didn't need it and make losses (Cardiff - lol), it's their business decision to leave some exchanges with just bog-standard ADSL and no chance of getting on the 21cn road map. They had their chance to pony-up, now it's time to pay the piper. I welcome any competitor that will hit them in their balance sheet.
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
Well said Koppo,

Infact if Fuji phoned me and asked me to donate £300-500 to their cause and have a guarantee i would get connected i would certainly pay. I'm sure other people in the not/slow-spots would too.
Posted by ian72 over 5 years ago
@legolash. that could be done by them just charging that for install. But, as can be seen from BTs FTTC rollout if it is more expensive then many people won't sign up. I know that many people would not want to pay the going rate for FTTC/P installs and rental as they do not see broadband as being that essential (as compared to food, heating, transport, etc). 512Kb would be enough for most of the benefits of "broadband"
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
Depends where you live, if you can already get 10Mbps+ speed there is less incentive to upgrade.

512Kb is nowhere near enough, i would say 5Mbps, maybe 10Mbps in this day and age.
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
Apparently the UK made £22.5bn from the 3G spectrum auction, seems fair to some of the money on broadband infrastructure...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecoms_crash#Limited_license_sealed_bid_auctions
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Sticking point for roll-out in areas may well be the amount asked for in addition to BDUK funding from councils.

Or worse once detailed surveys are done of an area the price will go up.

As for starting in the worst areas first, I suspect we will still have the hardest 5 to 10% of UK to reach still looking for another solution.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@Lego:What do you need more than 512Kb/s for? I know web pages are getting a bit bloated but most of them are fine on 512Kb/s. I can't think of any essential service that needs more than that.

I agree that striving for 10Mb/s for all is a good idea but that's so that everyone can do everything. If all we want is 'everyone can access essential online services' then 512Kb/s is plenty.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
@Lego:
Mr Brown blew all that money many moons ago... remember the witty Labour treasury minister's post-it about there is no money left?
Just to remind people that even France's complete fibre rollout is ~98%. And is considered complete at that point. There will be a percentage for whom the only broadband they can have is satellite.
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
"so that everyone can do everything." you said it yourself, and in the majority today's homes there are multiple internet connected devices such as PCs, laptops, Xbox, PS3 etc...

Children can also use the internet to learn, using videos and interactive services.

512 is fine for just checking your emails and web browsing assuming the webpages they browse are not bloated.
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
For example in my house, we have 3 laptops, 2 PCs, XBOX, Wii, 2 smartphones, and 512Kbps is certainly not enough for just the laptops and PCs.

I had a 5Mbps TalkTalk connection and that was slow even in non-peak hours due to everyone being on their computers at the same time.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 5 years ago
Sell the computers :P

Or the kids.... I know which my first choice would be :)
Posted by 12eason over 5 years ago
Wow, so it seems you lot are gullible to believe this too.
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
LMAO! :D

@12eason, explain please :)
Posted by 12eason over 5 years ago
Come on. They are just making exaggerated claims to get the morons in government to force BT's prices down. Then they'll take all the subsidies, make some token gestures toward rural broadband (in some wealthy villages) but mainly just invest their own money in the profitable sections of the network.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
@AndrueC I'm talking about on-demand TV services. 90% of what I watch is iPlayer or the like even though I can get Freeview quite happily. I think that's where the likes of VM come in. That's where they'll be able to make the profit. Satellite broadcasts are great for live performances, but it seems quite old-fashioned to have to be watching TV at a particular point in time in order to watch a recorded show.

Budget airlines make a lot of their money from all the extras they sell you.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@Sheepfarmer, don't have the link to hand but there was an interesting article in the states about on-demand TV, they gave volunteers a range of on-demand boxes and turned off their cable for a week. Long story short it was a failure, they all wanted their regular TV back for various reasons, but the main one being they didn't want to have to choose what to watch, they make enough choices during the day and still want their TV served up for them and to be able to flick through channels. Very interesting.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
1Gbps is necessary to ensure complete dominance over BT and it being future proof.
Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 5 years ago
The line is now in the sand, OFCOM will now have to do a Job, and BT have some hard thinking!
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@otester, only the ability is necessary, no-one in their right mind would sell a 1Gbps product for home use now
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
OFCOM will take ages....
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
GMAN99, i agree 1Gbps wont be needed for a long time.

100Mbps service will be enough to have competition.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
VM arent BT, they wont be selling services for £10 and under a month, there is people on cable services paying just under £100 a month I kid you not. This FTTP will be for triple play. My 2 questions are (a) what of the big cities left with no next gen plans and (b) are we going to end up seeing BT and VM invest in these new areas (BT reacting like they do to other competition).
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
Virgin will not be offering a £10 a month offering their entry level Broadband is £13.50 a month

FTTP will not require triple play.

The network is capable of suporting 1Gbs but dont expect them to be seling that. It future proofs the network as much s possible

Built up areas are likely to get FTTH & rural areas FTTC. This does not though mean very remote locations will get it. If you have a couple of houses several miles from anywhere they may still have problenms getting broadband
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Don't get this bit "This may even mean that BT themselves will purchase from the collaboration to increase their reach of next-generation services to more users."

That could mean:-

Purchase their own duct space?

or

Purchase connections in place in their own ducts from a rival.

Neither seem likely or make sense

@bob,

There's a difference between the CPE being able to connect at 1Gbps and being able to supply 1Gbps throughput to everyone.

What is the core network of this consortium, I doubt its been built as yet? Unless its Virgin's core.. which I doubt can handle everyone at 1Gbps
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
Perhaps they mean BT could buy a lump of open access connection rather than running their own fibre. BT Retail, presumably, over Fujitsu fibre ?

There is no word "Wholesale" in VM's dictionary. You should see them try to avoid answering questions at conferences with the W word in. LOL. "That's not something we do".
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Thats what I was thinking but... if smaller ISP's can hook up it must be wholesale?
Posted by Oddball over 5 years ago
Here. Have this 100mbit pipe. But you can only use it for email and a bit of light browsing. Oh you want to download large files on P2P? Oh you can do that too. But only in the early hours. When there are no leaves on the line and when the sun is shining (sic).
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@SheepFarmer:Haven't you ever heard of a PVR? I haven't watched live TV for several years now. Sky+ cured me of that habit.

The only difference between a PVR and iPlayer is that I don't have any time limit. I can leave stuff on my PVR for months and years before watching it.

I can see that a true VoD service has something to offer but iPlayer and its ilk are just for when you've missed something or watching on computer.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
@AndrueC PVRs mean you have to choose what you want to watch in advance. That's a big difference. Most people aren't organised enough for that. And you have to decide what mood you're going to be later and choose the right programme to record beforehand. That might have to be days in advance!

When I want to sit down and watch television I want to choose what I want to watch, and I want to watch it NOW! I have little idea of when any of the programmes I watch are actually broadcast.

On demand tv is so much better than PVR or live broadcasts.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@GMAN99

Better to make it available than not, there will be a handful of people that would pay the extra (rich people).
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@Oddball

It's going to be an open network, hence you get what you pay for, you can get truely unlimited FTTC at a premium.

It's availability that counts.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@otester, maybe. Businesses usually drip feed products though.

Don't tell me it wasn't possible to produce the iphone 4G while they were shipping the 1G :)

Plus they'd have to build a core to support 1Gbps which may remain underutilised for years if take up of 1Gbps was low, remember Virgin 50Mb take up is low, 100Mb I expect will be even lower
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@Sheepfarmer:It's obviously a matter of taste but I don't understand why being organised is a problem. You see a programme advertised, you tell the PVR to record the entire series. Job done. Most things I do usually watch within a week but I have several series at the moment that are basically queuing up for a blitz viewing.

Does iPlayer let you do that? Nope. You have to find some time during the 7 day window when you are in the mood. /That/ requires organising.

I just scan the EPG for anything interesting (takes about ten minutes), mark what I want then pick something already recorded.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
(cont'd)I do like the idea of VoD but only if you have unrestricted access to everything regardless of age. Also a direct link to the studio. Basically a huge library of everything that's been published. I'd pay extra for that.

But iPlayer - meh. It's just catch-up. A final fall-back for when one of my PVRs screws up (which is rare).
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
Oh and I forgot to mention:95% of what I watch (three or four hours an evening) is high definition. That's real high definition. 1080i.

Sadly what I want is going to need more than an upgraded local loop. The problem with a proper VoD service it at the provider end. I reckon it'll be a long time before iPlayer even offers proper HD. Let alone a service that doesn't have an expiry date.

So sorry, but iPlayer and friends just don't cut it for me :)
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
@AndrueC it all depends on how you watch TV. I typically watch about 30-60 mins of tv a day - usually a single programme.

For me, a television programme is there to watch when I want to relax when I'm not doing anything else. The thought of having to find time in my life to sit down to 'catch-up' on programmes I've not seen really doesn't feature.

I'm really failing to see the logic behind recording a programme being better than not having to but still being able to watch it.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
The more articles i read about this the more spin I see in the original press release.

Are they a true collaboration? Probably not.
Fujitsu is the main player, with TT and VM being launch customers.
If it were collaboration VM and TT would invest in the new network or offer their backbones to link up the network.

The lack of detail behind the offer being made is very BT like (with respect to their rollout strategy).
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@Sheepfarmer, that's fine but that's not always the case is it? Stuff on iPlayer has a finite life before it slips off and you can't view it anymore.

Must admit I love my Sky+, but not as much as my Popcorn Hour :)
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
@GMAN99 you can usually watch any programme within a series until about a week after the series has finished. If you haven't caught it by then it's time to get on with life.
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
themanstan, don't forget Cisco are involved too.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
I don't expect Cisco will be doing anything apart from supplying their kit to be honest
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The issue with VoD for all time, is the cost of storing the material in the various formats.

TV stations cannot afford to keep all their material on internal online storage, let alone the multitude of formats for the different online players.

HDD are cheap, but video fills them very quickly.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
YouTube seem to cope with storing millions of videos in various formats forever.

Terrabyte drives are less than £100 now. That's enough to store a month's worth of continuous iPlayer streaming. Take out all the repeats, news, soaps and topical shows and you're talking about £1 per day per channel for storage. Yes, you'd need multiply this up for several servers, but you can see it isn't the cost of storage that is the barrier.
Posted by chris6273 over 5 years ago
@SheepFarmer Have a look at how messy Youtube is in terms of ads. That is how Youtube can afford to keep expanding.

iPlayer (As far as I know) has no external ads meaning it doesn't get any extra money through ads like Youtube.

As for the price of storage - the Hard Drives may be cheap but the hardware needs to be expanded in order to actually 'plug in' the Hard Drives.

Also, Imagine how much the BBC would need to add to their network capacity if they decided to keep all the old films.etc.

Finally, you might find that the BBC only has most licenses for temporary periods.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
iPlayer 800kbps and 3000kbps stream, in two or more codecs. Call it 10Mbps needed.

3TB a month for one channel. It would need to be a high speed 15K drive to cope with the number of concurrent accesses.

How many one month old shows are people going to watch? i.e. cost per view will rise, plus cost of retaining licence to show it on demand.

YouTube costs around $400m to $700m a year to run.
Posted by Legolash2o over 5 years ago
" It would need to be a high speed 15K drive to cope with the number of concurrent accesses."

Quite a few large companies have/are switching over to SSDs.
Posted by ian72 over 5 years ago
And for speed and resilience probably looking at multiple disks supplying a single file, expensive mirrored storage for popular material moving to cheaper storage for that which is irregularly accessed. If you look at real high end storage you could be looking at £20K for 2.5TB of storage- just depends on the amount of load that may be generated on the video provision.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@otester

Drip feeding only really applies when the technology is already there.

1Gbps burst has been done by Fibrecity, so it is possible.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
@otester

Not sure we can attribute the word successful trial in the same sentence as Fibrecity...
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
You don't need complicated, expensive, mirrored disks to serve video like this. Remember we are talking about files that once created, don't change. You can do this with cheaper hardware and allow for failures along the way. It's how Google do it. Lots of cheap servers with replicated content.

And if you're building a VoD service designed for fibre you only need a 3000kbps in H264 version of each programme.

You don't get much of a 'can do' attitude round these parts do you?
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
Oh, and have a look at the tv listings and see how much of the content is actually new. You're not going to be offering soaps from more than a week ago. You only need the latest news and weather. Topical shows aren't very topical after a week. The hours and hours of celebrity dance shows aren't going to be kept for months. The examples go on. You're probably left with a few hours of original tv per channel per day, and that's only with the main channels. Some channels only show repeats of other channels - Dave for example.
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
If it's all about TV the government shouldn't put money into it - just create more couch potatoes.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
otester - do you have a Fibrecity link about this.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
BBC iPlayer was running at about £4 million a year. You proposed an ever increasing size of catalogue, whereas with iPlayer the hardware is relatively constant, i.e. old out and new in.

Also single stream is no good, unless you are targetting a single hardware platform, e.g. VM cable settop box.
Posted by neils58 over 5 years ago
Going by the estimated costs, I think Fujitsu's priority is establishing the "Digital Village Pump" Network, which will probably take a large chunk of the £2 billion or so estimated costs connecting up about 5000-10000 villages. After that I expect that individual houses will be connected to the 'Pump' at something close to cost.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
@andrew it's not like every server has to carry a complete catalogue. If each server, say, manages 100 streams now, then it at most has to carry 100 different programmes. Assuming you don't have to handle any more viewers, you don't actually need any more servers and you don't need any more disc space.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 5 years ago
@andrew regarding the single stream, well that takes me back to where we came in. VM are part of this fibre scheme and will want to make money out of streaming video over it. They'll want to supply you with a VM box for that.

Besides H264 is playable on any computer with Flash installed, hardly a barrier for the desktop market.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
For volume VoD traffic you'll usually find big fat SANs running with RAID 5. Lots of big writes so relatively painless to stripe.

In addition a bucket load of RAM is always a bonus.

I've seen some VoD servers that are SSDs and a ton of RAM to act as a block cache.

Horses for courses I guess. The gold standard is RAID SSDs with big RAM block cache.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@Somerset

http://bit.ly/hjCrAs
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
@otester - never to be!
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
Interesting comments here:

http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2011/04/18/uk-isps-welcome-new-superfast-uk-fibre-optic-broadband-network-from-fujitsu.html


Posted by Alchemyfire over 5 years ago
Interesting comments... What does concern me, is this collaboration hinges on the sole hope that Fujitsu/Virgin will manage to win the entire allocation of the BDUK.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
Virgin aren't involved with the building of the network, they aren't hoping to win anything from BDUK.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
A number of people seem to be very confused about this Open Network. It has nothing to do with Virgin. It is a seperate Company which consists of consortium of members.
It is independent of Virgin, Cisco & Fujistu & Talk Talk

The Virgin Network may play a key part in the roll out but this will be on the basis of the Consortium leasing capacity off of Virgin it will be similar to what the consortium plan with BT where they will lease duct capacity off of BT
Posted by john1287 over 5 years ago
5 MILIION RURAL AREAS. Who exactky are the 5 million? I live in a rural area in orth east wales and get a massive half meg adsl. Am i one of the 5 million? Have heard that number banded about before, are we saying that in the uk there are 5 million rural users? Or are Fujitsu etc going to cherry pick 5 million of the most profitable areas? Should i at last be getting excited that decent broadband will be coming ot a place near me?
Posted by Alchemyfire over 5 years ago
BT have so many customers, 5 million clearly seem to be a drop in the ocean for them... Although, I am going to hazard a guess and say 5 million is the target population, not the number of actual lines ie 2-4 people in a home?
Posted by Lochnagar over 5 years ago
I live in the Lincolnshire Wolds and consider myself lucky to get 0.3 Mb, as some of my neighbours cannot get broadband at all. We don't even have copper telephone wires here: they are aluminium for some of their length. Although we are only 4 miles from the exchange as the crow flies, the telephone line meanders about 8 miles.
So I look forward to expressing my gratitude to Fujitsu for bringing a fibre-optic cable to my door.
Posted by ccxo over 5 years ago
Been a few weeks since the inital announcement, any more news soon?
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
We are all cool with giving Fuji money but boooo if it goes to BT?
are you in love with them gmann99?
Posted by cobbower over 5 years ago
It's nice to see in the news that rural broadband take up is high than urban. But this seems like its going stagnent without any new news.
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