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BT FTTP rollout delay by long installs by engineers.
Wednesday 25 May 2011 22:27:44 by John Hunt

The roll out of fibre-to-the-premises broadband (FTTP) by BT is likely to be delayed after engineers have been experiencing long installation times when performing managed installs at end user premises. BT were hoping their flagship product which supports speeds of 100Mbps downstream would be ready at 12 exchange areas in time for a September launch, but are now saying they are aiming for December.

The Register, who have been speaking with the super-fast broadband programme director at BT, Johnny McQuoid, were told that some installs during the trial were taking twice as long as anticipated and that in 25% of cases it was taking engineers two days to get the fibre cable blown into customers' homes. This extra time has largely been caused by duct blockages that have needed clearing before cables can be pushed through. BT were hoping to improve the methods used for installation so that the work could be completed in around four hours, but this is looking optimistic. Previously BT have indicated that installs took an average of 7 hours.

"FTTP is a complex technology which we are currently trialling at scale. We are pleased with how the trials are going, but have always been very clear that we will only launch it on a commercial basis once it has been fully tested and is ready for the market."

BT spokesman

The longer an install takes to complete, the more expensive it is to BT, and this additional cost is likely to be passed on to the end user through higher charges. The delays could also mean that BT will lag behind on their target of reaching two thirds of the country with super-fast broadband by 2015, although they may be able to ramp up installation speed further down the line.


Posted by FlappySocks over 6 years ago
BT's ducts are blocked.... doesn't sound very promising to other companies that are looking to use them. Unless that the motive behind this press release? ;)
Posted by tommy45 over 6 years ago
Blocked ducts,lol, but that will only apply to roads where the gpo/openreach have installed ducting, many areas where the cable to the house is not in any ducking lol, as they must of botched the job many years ago
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
What do you mean tommy, the cable to the houses are overhead?

Ducting to the street and poles and pole delivery to the house, this makes up most of the UK.

Yeah flappysocks that was my first thought, PIA won't work very well based on this, I do remember something about duct clearing in the proposal though.
Posted by ian72 over 6 years ago
GMAN: Is that true? I thought most built up areas had telephone lines delivered underground - certainly the case in where I live. That must make up a good percentage of the population?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Really? I'm the opposite I've never seen that, if yours are underground they must be in ducts?

Are we talking about the same thing here? Underground delivery to the cab, from the cab to the pole underground and then from the pole to the premises overground
Posted by uniquename over 6 years ago
I'd agree with GMAN. There are certainly a "good percentage" with underground supply to the premises, but (plucking a figure out of the air) I suggest 80-90% of urban homes were built long before that technology was introduced.

@GMAN. Don't forget we now have a generation of home occupiers unaware that mobile phones haven't always existed :).
Posted by KarlAustin over 6 years ago
Anything built from the early 90s onwards was usually brought in underground rather than on a pole. Blocked ducts have been an issue for years - just ask anyone trying to get a leased line in :(
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
"FTTP is a complex technology"

From a technology perspective, what on earth is complex about FTTP? Install fibre, terminate fibre, plug into kit, job done.

The only "complicated" bit really is the fact BT are using PON rather than PTP. They only have themselves to blame for that as this is purely being done to prevent effective unbundling.
Posted by Legolash2o over 6 years ago
Our town has a lot of telephone poles, there is like 5 just down one road i bike down.

Not surprised by this article to be honest.
Posted by Legolash2o over 6 years ago
@wirelessspacman, i thought the same thing when i read that :D
Posted by Dixinormous over 6 years ago
This clearly needs CD and her crew to take over the installs.

Must admit being confused as to why this is so complex, regardless of PON or P2P. I guess it's all about the need to reuse the existing ducting. Shame they can't either go overhead or remove the copper and do a straight swap.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
@wireless, how much would PTP cost compared to GPON? Have they chosen this method based on cost?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
I wonder how many (if any) of these trials are pole deliveries.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
BT will always claim it is because of cost, and no doubt be able to produce vast amounts of data to support their case. My arguement would be that, strand for strand, fibre cable will now be cheaper to purchase than copper. The only potential gain of PON over P2P is a reduced fibre count between the PON splitter and the "exchange" and a reduced active port count at the "exchange" (since one port serves multiple houses).
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
Given that so much of the deployment cost will be labour related (digging, clearing blocked ducts, pulling cable etc) it is very hard to truely see any point in PON - except that it hinders unbundling.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
I think the state of the ducts was always going to be trouble. I remember chatting with an OR engineer a year or so ago when he was working down the road about the time that PIA had been announced and he said there's not enough room for BT cables in some ducts never mind anyone else's

To be honest, I'd be happy for them to take all week to fibre me up :)
Posted by tommy45 over 6 years ago
Well, where i live 99% of bt line plant is underground, the parts that the bt cable is not in a duct is where the cable splits off to each property, as i said some properties are ducted others aren't mine is not,it's under the footpath just the cable no ducting, saw it when a contractor cut through a incoming mains cable,and had the footpath up to re connect it to a different phase
Posted by tommy45 over 6 years ago
AS for exchange to cabs maybe this is in ducting maybe it isn't, only bt openreach will know that, or should know,but it would go a long way to explaining why i have suffered and still do to a lesser extent with outside emi , possibly the bt cabling is running close to a mains cable at some point
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
Pity we don't the fat municipal ducts they do in Europe...
Posted by PJWilkin over 6 years ago
I live on a New housing estate (10 years old), and none of the houses seem to have their BT phones in ducts

It appears whoever laid it from BT just dropped the cable in a trench and covered it with earth rather than putting the cable in a duct then covering with earth

I had to have a BT engineer out when my ADSL was giving errors (the man-hole is outside my house) and he could see none of it was ducted to the houses.

BT are their own worst enemies
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
My house was built in 1988 and the entire estate uses underground cables. My mate's house on the other side of Brackley is a bit older and theirs are underground as well.

I don't know what the %ge is but a lot of houses have been built since the mid-80s so if most of those use underground cables it has to be a lot.
Posted by russianmonkey over 6 years ago
I do believe that they have to join different fibre ends as well. They don't do a whole fibre cable rollout so the engineers fuse seperate fibre cables together, this can take a few hours if they don't get it right.
Posted by polemonkey over 6 years ago

Little history for you...
Some areas have had ug cabling (to the house) since the 70's (some earlier), but this consisted of buried armoured cables and buried joints. If undisturbed and undamaged, buried cables are not a problem (except for the obvious disadvantage of not being able to pull in new copper or fibre cables) but buried joints caused (and still cause) problems due to difficulties in locating and repairing them.

Fortunately BT (at the time, but now Openreach) have learned from their past mistakes and prefer duct and joint boxes whenever possible.

Posted by polemonkey over 6 years ago

On "new builds" (bit vague but say 90's onwards would be reasonable) then ducting the streets was standard but some housing developers still chose to save money by using direct buried cables from joint box to premises. Not a problem until the house wants extra lines, or, as we will see in the future, fibre.
Posted by polemonkey over 6 years ago
I know the observant (and cynical :) ) amongst us have pointed out that PON will hinder fibre unbundling. Which, to be fair, it will.

BUT there is another convenient (but nevertheless real) issue regarding the physical space actually occupied by the "cable" (bft) in the duct. As mentioned by others, duct space is finite and some are already cramped. To compound the issue, OR are doing a parallel rollout new fibre alongside existing copper, so duct space is only going to get less, thus limiting fibre count on a fundamental level, i.e. size of cable.

Posted by polemonkey over 6 years ago
Also looking at fibre cable construction, especially bft (used from cab to premises) consist of a considerable volume of insulation (sleeving etc.) and empty space. So, although the fibres themselves are minute, the overall fibre count/cable diameter ratio is less than its copper counterpart.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Surely there shouldn't be any unbundling anyway? If it costs a small fortune to install FTTP why would anyone in their right mind let another provider take over that connection at not much cost?

Otherwise BT just put all of the money into the install, another provide takes it over , BT never gets to recover its costs?

Its a bit different with copper LLU as it is now, I'm sure the copper lines are well and truly paid for, but new expensive fibre provisions won't be, for years.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
You are missing the point totally with unbundling. Under EU/Ofcom regs the operator is allowed to recover their costs (with profit in the form of "cost of capital" a justifiable cost). There is therefore no reason for an operator not to be forced to unbundle if they have Significant Market Power and every reason to mandate it.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Thanks wireless, I wasn't aware of that.
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 6 years ago

which is why i find it a bit strange that virgin don't have to offer any kind of access to other providers as they have a +50% coverage, which many would see as a monopoly?
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
Have to admit I do agree with you on that one. I suspect Ofcom kept their hands off them for many years as they were not making any real money and indeed to a large extent were de facto bankrupt. Now that they have emerged into a force to be reckoned with, Ofcom seem to be hiding behind their traditional view of what constitutes a "relevant market".

In my own opinion, they have just as much SMP in their main areas of operation as the mobile operators do, but for some reason Ofcom do not seem to care.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
I think its ridiculous to be honest. SMP = "Where company X has a dominant position that makes it hard for other companies to compete" does that really describe BT these days? How many places are left in the UK where no-one can compete with BT? I'd say Virgin looks more like an SMP than ever, no-one else can compete with their high speeds in 50% of the country?
Posted by senator1 over 6 years ago
UA ducted all our streets about 12 years ago - it is now owned by Virgin but they say they have no intention of ever cabling most of the area.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
That's crazy, so they won't even expand into areas that are easy where they own ducting?
Posted by Finney144 over 6 years ago
It took four "engineers" with four vans to connect from their box to my new home over 4 hours. It's a wonder that anything ever gets done.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Without knowing what issues they had its hard to say whether that is good or bad, did you watch them? Were they doing anything or just sitting around for 3.5hrs?
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