Skip Navigation

FTTP on Demand for those who want it
Friday 03 February 2012 08:22:06 by Andrew Ferguson

The digital landscape of the UK is changing rapidly, and Openreach has upped the ante with its latest product trial, which will hopefully see FTTP On Demand launched in Spring 2013. FTTP on Demand is the same FTTP as Openreach is rolling out in limited areas, but will be available as an option to those in an areas where their Openreach street cabinet is providing an FTTC service.

In our overnight item, we were unsure if the fibre overlay system would lessen the Openreach FTTP roll-out, but that will continue and in particular the expansion into Multiple Dwelling Units (MDUs i.e. apartments and flats) will continue, with the aim of 25% of the BT fibre deployment being FTTP. The on demand nature of this new product means it is down to us the consumer and small business to decide if we want to make that figure higher.

A trial has already taken place in St Agnes, Cornwall, with further trials planned for the summer of 2012. FTTP already offers a speed option of 110 Mbps, and is due this year to support 330 Mbps, with further trials planned of 1 Gbps. A key difference between fibre to the premises is that it totally removes the copper (or aluminium) local loop from the equation, and thus if you pay for a 110 Mbps connection speed that is what will be delivered (whether the ISP can supply data to fill it is another matter), the news of the launch of Fibre Voice Access completes the puzzle, meaning people can dump the antiquated copper loop if they want.

Unfortunately there is a cost implication to the on demand nature of the product, though pricing has yet to be announced, in terms of the monthly costs it is likely it will follow the GEA fibre pricing we already know, where the Openreach segment is £36.36 for a 110 Mbps download 30 Mbps upload service, no pricing has been announced for the 330 Mbps segment, but something around the £80 mark seems likely. The biggest issue will be the installation cost, as the fibre is only ran from the FTTC street cabinet, it should be lower cost to install than fibre based Ethernet solutions, but a price in the range of £500 to £1500 seems likely. There are indications that this could be spread over a time frame, rather than having to be paid up front.

The implications for BDUK projects are wide, there is now scope for local authorities to deploy FTTC to serve the 90% of households and businesses, and in areas where FTTC is slower to perhaps deploy FTTP on Demand to some businesses. What many don't realise is that there are rules on how the BDUK money can be spent, for connections to homes, the BDUK and council money should not be used to provide the last mile for consumers, but can be spent on the digital hub and other aspects of the project. Essentially if a local authorities opts for a full FTTP for homes, the commercial partner can end up shouldering more of the cost.

By the way in case people forget, BT has officially announced what most people knew, that an up to 80 Mbps FTTC product is coming this Spring, with 20 Mbps upload speeds. The scale of the FTTP on Demand announcement overshadows this, and while we understood the FTTC deployment did not pre-clude this sort of fibre deployment, we did not expect it to be announced for another few years.

Once the product is launched in 2013 it is going to be an interesting time to see how much demand there is for the fibre overlay, obviously the price is going to be a sticking point for many, but if your home is the property in the area with the best broadband then it might be considered an investment for home-owners and landlords.


Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 5 years ago
I wonder if this will finally shut up cyberdoyle. Fttc with up to 80meg at a decent price. And fttp for any one in an fttc area that needs the extra speed. It seems everyone but her understood fttc would lead to fttp and be the most cost effective solutipn.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Good this seems to confirm what most people have understood to be possible. That the cab can become a node for a full fat fibre connection for those who need/afford it and those who don't can stay on the semi-skimmed VDSL2 connection. And I'm guessing that those who fall in the part of the curve below then mean distance of ~450m will be perfectly happy with their ~65-70 odd Mbps VDSL2 connection.
Posted by vicdupreez over 5 years ago
What happens though in areas where there are no street cabinets, or if you are connected directly to the exchange without a cabinet? I am guessing that we will be left out in the cold again...
Posted by TheGuv over 5 years ago
CaptainHulaHoop - don't be daft, CyberD will remain the biggest "negative Nancy" in the UK.

This is positive news for UK Broadband.

Posted by Yorkie71 over 5 years ago
This is good news on the whole. So fibre is the future then? :) At £80/m though I can't see many consumers taking that. We'll see.
@vicdupreez makes a good point, this is all well and good if there's a cab nearby. What if there isn't?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@yorkie71 Remember pricing is my speculation, based on what we know about GEA 110Mbps.

They may allow FTTP on Demand at 110Mbps, but with a higher install fee, which would lower monthly cost a fair bit.

Time to see what the demand is like. 30 Meg upload would allow live broadcast quality HD feed from a home (sat truck uplinks limit live to 25 Meg currently). Hence why post-event packages often look better, plus longer edit timeframes.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@vicdupreez I have enquired already on this matter, and awaiting full answer. For now it looks like it is possible, either direct out of exchange, or back from a cabinet to you.

Watch what happens in Cornwall if you hear no more from me.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
Does this involve the new spade?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
If this happens, just.. wow
Posted by opticalgirl over 5 years ago
With speeds of 100Mbps, the last mile is going to have far more capacity per user connection than other parts of the network, and we're going to start finding out where the bottlenecks in the network really are. Traffic management policies and capacity provisioning in the core are going to matter much more. How are we supposed to know what broadband performance we're really buying?
Posted by pmgreenwood over 5 years ago
I just wish they would place greater priority on getting all exchanges to 21CN WBC never mind fibre to premises, some of us are still on ADSL max with no date set for "!CN WBC
Posted by fibrebunny over 5 years ago
This could prove to be excellent news for small businesses/social enterprises. Will be interesting to see what the actual pricing turns out to be. As dependent upon monthly costs, install costs of five to fifteen hundred would be within reach of many consumers.
Posted by WWWombat over 5 years ago

By ISPs being up-front with their traffic management policies?

Plusnet are indeed up-front with their policies, and have fibre-specific traffic management too, that limit individual protocols even during the day. Not obscenely limited, but the controls are there nontheless.

They don't yet have policies for 100Mb though, but it will be interesting to see those get published soon.
Posted by WWWombat over 5 years ago
As @themanstan says - the obvious next step from the current rollout was indeed a fibre overlay, with copper lines being upgraded in an ad-hoc (on-demand) way.

Whenever fibre was going to become a core part of the access network, there was always going to be a long period when the 2 networks would exist side-by-side.

I just thought BT were too focussed on the current rollout to start planning it yet, never mind bringing it live!

I guess they realise that they will have a lot of trained fibre-pulling staff who will peak in 2013-14, and would then have had little to do!
Posted by WWWombat over 5 years ago
@pmgreenwood - Did you see Ofcom's report yesterday?

It shows that the middle 50% of subscribers on 21CN ADSL2+ get 3-10Mb out of the supposed maximum of 20Mb or more.

Meanwhile, on FTTC, the middle 50% get 35-38Mb out of the maximum of 38Mb.

I think they'd be better off using the 21CN funds to expand the FTTC coverage - although they obviously need the backhaul part of 21CN to get FTTC traffic back to the ISPs.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
With FTTC the exchange is largely irrelevant, as the fibre can easily be run a dozen miles.

In 30 years my prediction is a lot less Openreach exchanges.
Posted by john (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
A lot of buildings will probably remain on copper though (perhaps with FTTB) due to it being too hard to get fibre put down in an acceptable way.

I know in my building the ducts are buried in concrete and BT didn't like the idea of trying to put anything new in with multiple 90 degree turns etc. They said could use existing cable to pull new through and risk have no service at all..
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago

Bottlenecks in the core are expensive to resolve but still easy to manage, hopefully your ISP will do it

Bottom line is, if you want guaranteed throughput they are available, business packages offer SLA's etc
Posted by vicdupreez over 5 years ago
Thanks Andrew. If that is indeed the case, happy days :D
Posted by donkey_hellfire over 5 years ago
Wow this is good news. Finally FTTP for anyone who wants it! That is if they are in a FTTC area with the local street cabinet enabled. I was campaigning for FTTP back in 2001- 2003 when BT classed the local exchange economically unviable during the original ADSL rollout. The former market 1 exchange was LLU’d by TalkTalk last June so with some BDUK / Lancashire CC funding we should get FTTC sooner or later. Happy days.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
This is one in the face for Virgin who don't have a FTTP product, I can't see their 1.5Gbps trial being available to the masses I mean the existing network seems to struggle with people on 50 & 100Mbps in places

This is such great news, no doubt the BT haters will find some issue with it though.

The FTTC keeps growing and will satisfy most, for those who want more they can have it :o)
Posted by irrelevant over 5 years ago
Looking forward to this. Currently we only get 5-6Mbps, which is getting to be too slow, what with all the VoD going on.. Load balancing across two lines helps, but isn't very reliable. No option of cable either (there are some manholes marked "catv", but the only street cab I know of anywhere near is derelict). Samknows shows an RFS date of June for FTTC, so fingers crossed!
Posted by arfster over 5 years ago
I wonder what the FTTP cost will be for those right next to their cabinet - mine is 50m away. If 330mbit was available for £80/mth and a not too silly install cost, I might be tempted.
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
gman99<<< fanboi This is such great news, no doubt the BT haters will find some issue with it though.
which makes you a BT fanboy.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Great news for urban dwellers. Not much use for rurals, so no funding should be spent on it.

I agree that £1k -£15k is ok for install, that is what B4RN is estimating and raising in shares from potential customers.

The difference being that the customers on B4RN will own their own network, and will have unlimited 1000 megabit symmetrical connections for £30 a month. (unlimited unless they are 10% over the average network user, in which case they get throttled to infinity. 40 meg or 80 meg). lol.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
It is great news though creaky. If liking the news that FTTP can be made available to millions makes my a fanboy somehow so be it. There are plenty of other positive comments in this article so they must also be fanboys?

@cd, not sure the average punter wants to own their network or 1Gbps, also bear in mind B4RN is still on paper
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
Out of interest, how is the dig going - IIRC it was due to start by January 2012?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago

Does this mean all the villages with FTTC cabs now are classified as Urban in your book?

I live in a village outside a city, the cab is fed from an exchange in the city and it's part of the roll-out. For which I'm thankful. As VM isn't interested and LLU makes very little difference at all to speed.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Additionally, there is no mention of BDUK funding anywhere with this product announcement and except to say that last mile solutions are not allowed (this has been mentioned many times). So it makes your comment look a rather silly.
More pertinent is that B4RN has 20Gbps to share between ~1200 connections, which equates to ~16 Mbps shared which is the same as the bandwidth that FTTC cabs share.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
New londoner, it was hoped to, but its done nowt but rain and snow since November so no digging yet. We work with nature. ;) The rest of it is going great you will be pleased to hear.
Posted by RMcC over 5 years ago
Watch while BT change future FTTP exchange upgrades to FTTC so they can re-coup the fees by charging users to upgrade to FTTP.

Why should some people benefit from FTTP straight off while others get a nice hefty charge to upgrade their upgrade to match.

Don't get me wrong I'll be delighted to get faster than 5 Mb but think the charge to upgrade people to get the same as large numbers are getting for free and will continue to get for free is not exactly right.
Posted by jtthedevil over 5 years ago
How do you sign up for these trials? I'd love to find out the costings for my premises. As i've mentioned, my cab has been upgraded for fibre but i'm still 6km away. I'd happily pay some money to get the 100mb package for a 200x increase in speed. Agree with RMcC's sentiments, but can't see my area being covered for many years to come.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
RMcC, it's not fair no, but it's also not fair for the same reason that VM isn't rolling out more cable. The same reason Fujitsu isn't going to build a national network. The same reason that Talk Talk haven't rolled out their own last mile network.
Fair has nothing to do with business, it's all down to will they make a return on the investment that is better than leaving your money in a bank. So these people won't be getting it for free, they simply are in areas where the expected ROI is sufficient.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
For fairness to be included UKgov needs to dig deep and cover the difference, some countries have done, this others have not.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
if the FTTP wasnt throttled to suit the anti piracy brigade so a full 100/100 product I would pay the £500 installation in a heart beat.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
The cynic in me says the current FTTP deployments were one big trial, you should certainly have to pay the fee for installing fibre to the home just like you'd pay a fee to have the business product installed (not as much obviously) its fair enough, Virgin quote £20k+ to customers to enable a street next to one already enabled.

Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
gmann cd, not sure the average punter wants to own their network or 1Gbps, also bear in mind B4RN is still on paper.

if someone offered you 1GB connection, {for a reasonable price} would you say no?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Me? No I wouldn't say no but am I'm your average punter?

Who is offering one? If your referring to B4RN its reasonable price + labour (digging yourself) and granting wayleaves, there's more to it than just a reasonable price.

Also bear in mind, currently its still a vapour product, hopefully digging will start soon
Posted by ADSL24 over 5 years ago
What happens if you are in an FTTC enabled area but the PCP your copper line is connected to was not FTTC enabled (ie no FTTC cab). In urban areas there is likely to be an FTTC cab that was enabled close by, and in my own case there is an FTTC cab 300m from my property but I'm connected to a PCP around 600m away that was not FTTC enabled. Would Openreach allow any FTTC cab to feed any property, as it would always make sense to use the nearest possible FTTC cab to the property to save on costs and time.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Nearest cab will not always mean cheapest.

They will probably use the most effecient cabinet, e.g. one that is closer may not have ducting heading towards your property.

Distance other than the cost is pretty irrelevant once talking about fibre anyway.
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
We have a cabinet serving our village, but no ducting. I hope they apply the same price everywhere ;-)
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago still hasn't hit phase 1 signup target ?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
There is announcement on the site that a threshold for the works to go ahead have been passed. However, this number is not actually mentioned and the front page number of households signed up may not be accurate. In the absence of any hard numbers in the press release, it's hard to say whether they achieved the original threshold target or whether it has been altered to another figure.
Posted by josh22 over 5 years ago
I think that £1,500 is a lot to pay for an Istallation of FTTP in your house for very fast Broadband
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.