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FTTH via Fujitsu, Virgin Media and TalkTalk on its way to Greasby
Friday 30 September 2011 10:54:49 by Andrew Ferguson

Openreach may be seeing the start of a new competing fibre network, as Fujitsu starts a trial which will see Openreach ducts and poles used for a competitor to deliver fibre based services to homes in the Greasby area of the Wirral (Halton Crescent being the first to benefit).

The network is being designed from the ground up to offer wholesale based services, with Virgin Media and TalkTalk and will use 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) delivery, with services running initially at 100Mbps.

"BT only offers Generic Ethernet Access (GEA) on its fibre optic products at the moment, which means we cannot replicate what we provide across our cable infrastructure as everything needs to be converted into IP delivery.

Essentially everything then fights for the same bandwidth - like how your DSL broadband will slow if BT Vision needs some of it. The architecture of Fujitsu's infrastructure supports RFoG (Radio Frequency over Glass), which enables us to dedicate specific spectrum for each service.

It's ultimately a better, more flexible service for everyone having that passive open network than to try to use something that's tightly managed such as BT.

Virgin Media spokesperson

Fujitsu has a short FAQ on the PIA trial at which will run for 6 months. Hopefully the trial will allow Fujitsu to learn how to work with Openreach and provide a showcase for what an alternative fibre network can provide.

The involvement of Virgin Media and TalkTalk is interesting as both have an interest in using a fast network to provide subscription TV services, Virgin Media with its obvious cable background, and TalkTalk will be looking to leverage the experience gained from its ownership of Tiscali TV.


Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
I guess if you only understand cable you have to make everything look like cable in order to understand it, from the VM comments.

VLANs can segregate services and surely GEA is Ethernet and need not be IP ?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
At last some Fuji movement!!!

Yeah not sure what the fuss is about GEA, VLAN for TV, VLAN for Voice, VLAN for Data, standard stuff really.

Lets hope the trial goes well and this rolls and rolls and starts some good competition.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Excellent news but as has already been said - what's with the criticism of GEA? The first letter is 'G' for a reason and the original specs mentioned QoS for various applications. It even mentioned implementing multicasting.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Virgin will be loving this though if it works, I said ages ago PIA wasn't so much about broadband for Virgin it was about TV and Broadband (and phone) if they can do it all like this they'll be laughing
Posted by Bob_s2 over 6 years ago
This though is an Opennetwork & not Virgin.
They will though be making the network support voice, data broadband and TV etc as that is the way to make money from it

We do badly need a second network acrosse the UK to compete with BT. Without funding though it will be slow going particularly as BT will have a headstart with FTTC
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Hmmm not so sure, without Virgin interest I doubt it would have gotten off the ground
Posted by jumpmum over 6 years ago
RGoF enables Virgin to uses exactly the same tools as DoCSIS so they will be able to rollout exactly the same packages as on the rest of the cable network. Makes it very good for them.
PON will use different frequencies so can (apparently) be run over the same infrastructure at the same time, running Ethernet / IP services a-la BT FTTP. ( But no 'Broadcast TV')
Posted by jumpmum over 6 years ago
Looking at Halton Cresent on Google Stret view, one of the two poles looks quite heavily loaded already. I am surprised the Wirral is not already cabled for CATV, looks like prime estate territory for them. But the poles may not cope with the potential (40%) penetration that CATV achieves on top of the existing load.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Cool, well regardless of gov funding of broadband for rural areas you'd think Virgin would just jump all over this themselves? It means they can expand their network above 50% without having to build any new ducting.

As I understand it moving beyond a trial is all down to funding, but surely Virgin could fund it themselves?
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
Good someone rolling out a new network... taken their time about it. All that hot air about PIA prices was doing my head... if the prices are similar to France, then it's a perfectly good deal. Their regulator has been on top of things since the start and has overseen a perfectly good competitive environment with multiple players. All that has happenend here is delay because ISPs, etc... can't make up their mind to commit.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Oh I doubt that's the end of its, its a trial expect more whining about price
Posted by FTTH over 6 years ago
Lets see what happens, PIA will help establish if pricing works. but also if the poles are suitable... and if the ducts are intact, if blocked how long to fix etc. Funding won't be a problem, broadband is in demand and plenty want to be in place to supply. Especially VM in areas they have no coverage!
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
Nothing wrong with pricing of PIA, PIA has been working in France for a few years now at approximately the same prices... what people should hope is that the ducting is good shape, but this is likely to be the sticking point.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
4.5M in that road with ADSL2+.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 6 years ago
You cannot compare PIA pricing in France with that of the UK.

The informal view of OFCOM are that BT are grossly overpricing PIA on a UK cost model. They are at present leaving it to the companies to sort out with BT. If agreement cannot be reached in a reasonable time OFCOM will step in and set a price
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
You obviously have inside knowledge then? I'm not sure how OFCOM can step in and set a price what if the price makes BT no money or even costs them money?
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
Really, I could have sworn everyone is happy with how cheap fibre BB is in France. So by virtue of the costs in France being lower a similar price in the UK would mean they are well priced. Very obvious to me... obviously not others...
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
Lets put this into perspective. France, has cheaper fibre broadband and generally good infrastructure. I hope we're all agreed on this.
That means the French PIA pricing is a based on this cheap BB pricing.
So if BT comes in with pricing that's similar, then how can it be expensive or overpriced?
Get it?
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
In no way is the proporsed BT PIA pricing overpriced on a UK cost model. If one takes the, perfectly reasonable, assumption that any take up of PIA will render the copper in those ducts or on those poles worthless revenue-wise, then if anything it is underpriced. Bob just chooses to be blind to this for some reason.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
I can see where you are coming from but it will be a while before the copper becomes worthless, it will happen over time sure but it won't be instant, this Open network will have to spread far and wide before that happens. I'm sure Bob is part of the open network consortium or certainly has very close ties ;)
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
If PIA is overpriced then competing providers can build their own because it will be cheaper. Simples.

OFCOM didn't achieve a whole lot with SLU pricing I wouldn't expect much for PIA either.

BT Accounts value duct at £4.6bn slightly ahead of copper at £4.2bn
Posted by Legolash2o over 6 years ago
PIA on it's own may be fine but if you add things such as Fibre Tax then i'm sure the cost can add up.

It's good to see them actually doing something though and wish them the best of luck.
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
Indeed the fibre tax is what brings disparity. BT has their special deal and VM has a set £7.50 per passed property vs £20 for other ISPs.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Maybe when another ISP has covered enough ground they can apply for their own deal
Posted by Legolash2o over 6 years ago
GMAN, we can only hope but it would probably be more of an incentive if it was 7.50 or whatever from the beginning.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Oh yeah for sure... can't see the gov giving up taxes at the moment though even if it does make more sense in the long run
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
rural area right?
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
If I understand the fibre tax correctly (a BIG if possibly!) then the £20 is the valuation on which rates are payable and the actual rate paid is around half of this, and is only on homes connected rather than homes passed?

If so, then in the overall scheme of things, I doubt it would put many off. It would certainly not deter me, though I accept I would probably quote it on my price lists!!
Posted by _Mike_B_ over 6 years ago
jumpmum, there's plenty of cable in Wirral. Tends to be in the not so great areas. Whereas the nicer areas don't have it!

Have a look at Halton Crescent on Google as there are some Virgin Media boxes there, and NYNEX manholes.

It seems to me like they started work on that area and never finished? This is the only part of Greasby with any sign of CATV so that may somewhat explain the choice.
Posted by Popa_Mintin over 6 years ago
Just so's ya know... PIA = physical infrastructure access.

Too much untranslated jargon.

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