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FTTH/B about to enter mass adoption phase
Tuesday 14 February 2012 15:45:38 by Andrew Ferguson

Fibre based services such as FTTC, FTTP and FTTB (Fibre to the Cabinet, Premises, Building) are being rolled out in many countries around the world, interestingly a European Communications magazine feature indicates that in many countries growth is slowing. The number of fibre subscribers grew by 15% to over 112.6 million in the first half of 2011, though much of the growth was due to China which is now the worlds largest FTTH/B market after Japan.

The previous six months had shown an increase of 39% in the numbers, this apparent drop in growth, can be partly explained by how some Chinese telco's released information on penetration levels.

In Europe, where the UK is meant to have the best broadband by 2015, Russia has the largest subscriber base with some 5.2 million subscribers, and Sweden is second though showing little growth in numbers. France is in third place, but there are problems with getting consumers to switch to the fibre based products.

The UK has something like 450,000 subscribers on FTTx networks, but the availability of cable broadband to many may be reducing take-up of the fibre services that would be seen through early adopters. Cable and FTTC/P services in the UK are competing heavily for customers.

Tim Johnson of Point Topic, makes a very important point "Build it intelligently and they will come.", which means don't just build the new fibre networks where you started first building old ADSL networks. Look at a combination of factors, particularly the situation where consumers getting slower than 4 Mbps are much more likely to upgrade to a fibre based service offering 40 Mbps or faster than a consumer already experiencing 12 to 15 Mbps from ADSL2+. Also critical is the level of customer service, and installation experience. Getting this right will help with word of mouth type selling in an area.

The UK has a highly competitive broadband market with two local loops in most cities already, this brings low prices, which result in small margins for investment, which is perhaps why we don't see any roll-out on the scale of ER Telecom in Russia which has 1.94 million subscribers and plans to offer FTTH to 42 Russian cities.


Posted by Alchemyfire over 5 years ago
I agree with Tim Johnson 100%. Everyone in our village is fed up with the slow speeds and crawling internet during peak times. Most people would jump on to FTTC if they were to roll it out here immediately
Posted by SlimJ over 5 years ago
"the UK is meant to have the best broadband by 2015"

I bet there will still be many rural areas struggling to get 2mbit speeds by then...
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Would they jump on the increased installation costs for a (I presume) rural location - that is the problem
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Build it intelligently means build new fibre networks in rings round cities, it doesn't mean shove a few cabs in a few of the bigger villages. That isn't intelligence, that is patching up the copper cabal for another few years. If we keep doing that we'll end up in the digital slow lane for generations. The phone network was never designed to be used this way. The incumbent can do what it likes with it, but policy makers have to support new companies to provide competition.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Plenty of metro fibre networks, most major cities have two or three backbone providers at least.

A ring still needs fibre dragging to properties?

How many pops on a 5km radius ring would be needed?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
So the farmer knows more about networking and network design than one of the biggest communication providers in the world which has a presence in most countries?

I'm sure there's a job for you in BT ;o)
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
Not sure. I live in an "suburban" village where speeds go from 4Mbps with ADSL2+ to 35+ with FTTC. Despite all cabs being done, take up seems to be very poor still after 6m. The only publicity has been TTs confusing door-stepping. Things might change when Sky get hold of it, but I'm far from convinced it's a priority for the majority. Content is king, and except for a few fanatics who frequent forums, isn't compelling.
Posted by WWWombat over 5 years ago
"Build it intelligently" is a comment that looks to be that kind of "easy" statement to make, but is harder to live up to in practice.

Where you are a company that already owns local loop infrastructure, the "it" that gets built intelligently looks very different to the picture seen by a fresh company, new to the game.

Unfortunately, business intelligence (and cashflow) is rather different to pure academic intelligence.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
The biggest communication provider is that because he picks the low hanging fruit and is a virtual monopoly for majority. Virgin is making inroads, but is unlikely to go rural. BT don't want to do rural either, that's why they are partners with avanti. Don't you see, if there isn't competition we are never going to be able to compete with other countries soon? The industrial revolution made our country Great. Don't let the digital one make it pathetic.
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
WWWombat: I'd change your last sentence to "Fortunately . . .". I for one don't think the world would be a better place for being run by academics . . . though I'll grant they have seduced enough UK governments in recent history.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
Still the 'copper cabal' soundbite appears with no explanation. But BT has competition where there is a business that thinks it is worth it.

Most cities have fibre everywhere, please explain your ring concept.

What does the 'phone network' mean and how is that relevant?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
cyberdoyle don't you see the basic picture here that no-one, not BT, not Virgin, not C&W, not Fujitsu want to roll out into areas where it will take many many many years to get back their investment.

This is just basic business sense, private companies want a profit and as soon as possible, rural areas don't give them that profit.

There's no competition because the big providers don't see the returns. Can't believe how many times this has been explained and ignored?
Posted by Michael_Chare over 5 years ago
I do wish people would pay attention to Tim Johnson'd view. It is particularly perverse that the 10% of the population who possibly won't get FTTx and quite possibly the people who want it the most and would get the most benefit.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Spot on Michael, it is those people that would benefit the most by the increased speeds, but they are also the most expensive people to reach, if those people are happy to pay the increased delivery costs its do-able or another option is for that commercial short fall to be provided by another means (BDUK/European funding)

Either way it costs more so someone has to pay, would a bank lend you money on a very low interest loan over 50yrs? Businesses want returns they are not charity's
Posted by bosie over 5 years ago
Suburbs and villages seem to be the winners. Here in the West End of London we don't have any residential fibre or cable and there's no sign of that changing anytime soon.
Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 5 years ago
MY part of rural Wales they would have to give almost free, many have moved to wireless or mobile broadband. GMAN99, was with you until the Banks comparison.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 5 years ago
GMAN99 - I am not totally averse to paying a bit more so long as there is an equitable method of pricing. I have just looked at the Tooway satellite pricing and their data allowances look much more reasonable than they were. Another price reduction and it could be an attractive option.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Well you know what I was getting at hopefully Nil, companies don't want long term returns especially at the moment
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Michael, that's the problem the only way to "equitably" price FTTP is for one part of the market to subsidise the other... i.e. potentially urban to subsidise rural. However, the cost of provision of the service is not the problem, it's the infrastructure roll-out costs. Consider yourselves fortunate that it's not a USO... utilities are only obliged to pay the costs up to £3.5k, with the customer picking up the rest!
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago

There is no private money for rural roll-out because it's too expensive.
To make it worthwhile any company would have to be given a monopoly in those areas to achieve a decent ROI. However, OFCOM doesn't want monopolies, but as a UKGov Org (and I'm afraid you too CD) isn't capable of understanding that competition cannot work in these areas... there isn't enough revenue available. VM is making inroads? It hasn't increased it's footprint in years and is almost exclusively urban connections (the profitable ones).
Posted by radiomarko over 5 years ago
I have an ethernet to the home connection in a flat in Russia - 1.3mbps up and down that costs me less than £10.00 a month with no contention, no cap and no shaping. I can adjust the speed and tariff online. There are competing xDSL services. Cost of living is nearing the same as Uk now so why is it so difficult to make a profit on such investment in uk?
Posted by Fellwalker over 5 years ago
i have fttc. i now wonder why. OK, it is 36 Mbps. BUT it is not noticeably better or different to my previous 7 Mbps connection. until web sites can deliver content at fibre speeds, it is not a benefit. what would be good is faster uploading, then i could seriously use the cloud for backups or file storage.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
radiomarko, no problems with profits at all in flats. However, in the rural UK flats are a rare commodity. In fact as proportion of living, flats are a much lower proportion of housing than there is in the rest of Europe. We still have them in the bigger cities, but in the smaller cities and towns they make up a very small proportion. (Proper eurostyle blocks of flats).
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The reason 36 Mbps is not much faster than 7 Mbps is the limiting factors of HTTP, i.e. one URL can require multiple DNS lookups and many fetches/gets for all the elements.

Hence why advertising is pushing the multiple use element.

Upstream 10 Mbps is available now, but may cost more. 20 Mbps on its way.
Posted by radiomarko over 5 years ago
themanstan - thanks, I see it's a matter of density of customer base then. Btw I live in Uk and Russia, it's always a fascinating comparison.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Openreach has shown an interest in FTTB now, partly brought on by emerging competition I suspect from new entrant Hyperoptic.

Yes Gigabit is available in the right bits of London now.
Posted by pfvincent over 5 years ago
I was rather confused by the statement in the article that "Cable and FTTC/P services in the UK are competing heavily for customers". Surely cable is an FTTC service, albeit within Virgin rather than BT providing the infrastructure.
What is the distinction, and why are Virgin subscribers not included in the fibre based numbers?
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