The rollout of Fibre to the Cabinet from Openreach, has moved control and visibility of crucial line data such as connection speeds and errors further away from providers. This is particularly the case for LLU providers, where until now they had full control of their own hardware at the exchange.
A pilot has been announced whereby communications providers buying a GEA-FTTC (Generic Ethernet Access - Fibre to the Cabinet) service from Openreach will receive reports for all their customers. The purpose of these pilots appears to be to help an unnamed provider assess with some confidence how suitable a particular line is for linear IPTV (as in all customers watching that channel will see the same image at the same time). The data will cost £1500 + VAT per month, and initially will only be available on the 19th of each month, but after the pilot daily updates to the list will be made.
The data parameters that will be exposed are:
Obviously this data will prove useful to providers who want to build a database of how stable a customers line is, during the pilot a monthly update is of little use, but once the daily statistics are generated, it will help to build a historical profile of how stable or variable lines are.
The reason that a provider delivering linear IPTV will only want to provide a service to a very stable line, is that with live TV streaming you cannot run the extensive buffering that catch-up TV services use, some buffer 30 seconds of data to ensure a smooth viewing experience. The FTTC products offer the potential to run a decent 10 to 15 Mbps bit video stream, which is the bitrate used by HD services such as Sky HD. As to who the communication provider driving the pilot is, well that is anyones guess, but most likely BT Retail (BT Vision) or TalkTalk. There is an outside possibility that Sky who are yet to launch their FTTC offering are considering the product to supplement its live satellite feeds.