Skip Navigation

BT Wholesale WBC ADSL2+ available to some 80% of premises
Monday 19 March 2012 11:30:29 by Andrew Ferguson

BT Wholesale has rolled its ADSL2+ WBC (Wholesale Broadband Connect) service out to some 80% of UK households and businesses, with the intention currently that the ADSL2+ service will expand to cover 90% of the UK in Spring 2013.

The increase in footprint of ADSL2+ from BT Wholesale will be welcomed by many, as even those on long lines (i.e. greater than 45dB attenuation ~3.5km) who will see little improvement to downstream speeds will probably see upstream speeds doubling, and the IP Profile system on the WBC service operates in a much more transparent manner.

Of course BT Wholesale is not alone in offering ADSL2+, TalkTalk has its ADSL2+ network reaching to around 90% of the UK now, and this network can also be accessed at the wholesale level. Sky has an ADSL2+ network similar in size to that of BT Wholesale, but Sky offers no wholesale access.

There are not many countries with three distinctly different options available at the retail level to such a large part of a country, and even fewer when you consider two of the networks are available for purchase at the wholesale level. Add to this the other smaller LLU services and the multitude of providers who use the wholesale networks and you can see how competitive the UK market is. Also we have a DOCSIS 3.0 cable network covering almost half the UK.


Posted by mitchja over 5 years ago
I noticed my exchange now has a BTw ADSL2+ RFS date for July 2012 (not that I've interested already been a Sky full LLU customer)

It does seem odd that LLU providers have been able to offer ADSL2+ for several year here and BT haven't!!
Posted by matbarrie over 5 years ago
O2 have just upgraded the cell that covers my home address to 3G. I now have faster data speeds via this cell than from my BT Broadband! Wonder if that along with 4G is pushing BT to upgrade.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The WBC network is more than just enabling ADSL2+. The problems of running one network while building another are a lot of the reasons for the difference in roll-out speeds.
Posted by djay over 5 years ago
80-90 coverage huh ? Where ??? As I live in Cumbria and towns just outside the city of Carlisle have nothing. Dalston no WBC Brampton no WBC longtown no WBC the list goes on and on. I'm paying a premium price for having adsl 1 upto 8mbit. I pay 30+ pound a month for my Plusnet connection with a paltry 60 gig limit. I pay 7.50 just to have 832k up instead of 448 and pay 7 quid just for traffic prioritisation !!!
Posted by djay over 5 years ago
Matbarrie I can't even get 3G off O2 where I live even though I can see the cell site out of my window. Just out of interest are u in the north or south of the country as O2 don't seem to give a dam about the northwest either :(
Posted by Mince1978 over 5 years ago
For those who are interested.... o2's 3g signal coverage is pants!! You can check all the mobile network's coverage data from there websites... I'm waiting on the Nokia Lumia 900 to be released and have checked out my area, it would apear '3' Network has the best 3g signal in the country, tho dont quote me.. check them out yourself via the relevant provider's website. As for BT.. still on a go slow.. My dad pays the bill tho i'm the techy so its usually me who takes on the telephone arguements with BT lol!!!
Posted by Mince1978 over 5 years ago
Cont.. Our local exchange 'Ely,Cambs.' Was supposed to be upgraded this month to 'Infinity'...They put that back about a month ago to Dec 2012.. I rang and asked why and got stonewalled.. Not fair really as those of us in rural areas subsidize broadband for those in the towns and cities. It should be on a pay for what you can get basis and not 'sorry sir you only pay for a 512k connection and if you get more its a bonus'!!! Bloody capitalists.. right, time i left this subject alone for today.. off for a pint n chill out!!
Posted by mobilebb over 5 years ago
I don't think it's that simple Mince. If it were just the cost of bandwidth and speed then you'd be right but the infrastructure for rurals is usually a lot more expensive to install and maintain. Most BT ISPs charge the same for everybody so some of those might well be helping to keep prices lower than they should be for you. I'm not quite sure where the balance is though.

Perhaps if everybody paid the real costs of delivery then rural prices might actually turn out to be a lot higher.
Posted by orudge over 5 years ago
According to SamKnows, BT have activated 172 exchanges in Scotland for WBC, out of a total of 1070 exchanges. That works out as 16%. 176 have been unbundled with some form of LLU - again, 16%. You can bet that the exchanges BT have been activating for WBC are the same exchanges that 3rd parties have already installed LLU equipment at, though!

Wales seems to do a bit better, with 90 out of 433 exchanges activated (20%), and 132 exchanges with some form of LLU. Meanwhile, 98% of exchanges in London have LLU, and 96% have WBC.
Posted by orudge over 5 years ago

It may well be that over the UK as a whole, 80% of "premises" have WBC, but a very different picture is painted when you look at exchange statistics themselves. And, of course, rural exchanges and exchanges in small towns where Sky, TalkTalk, etc, aren't going to touch with a barge pole are the very places where WBC (and, ideally, FTTC) would be most appreciated.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
No where have I or BT claimed 80% of exchanges or UK landmass, it was clear when I said premises, and it should be no suprise to learn that to get 60 coverage only requires a service to around 1000 exchanges, the 80% mark is around the 2000 exchange mark.

Leaving another 3500 to go.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 5 years ago
So BT are still spending money on ADSL2+. Having done this will they they want to upgrade these exchanges to FTTC?
Posted by orudge over 5 years ago
Oh no, I wasn't taking issue with your figures at all. Mostly I suppose I find it a little annoying how BT can give figures such as "80%" coverage, which is technically true when referring to premises as you say; but that typically only means coverage of large cities and towns, leaving rural areas out cold. If they had to give figures in terms of exchanges, it'd perhaps give a better picture of nationwide coverage. But maybe I'm just saying that because I live in a somewhat rural area. :)
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
For the "other side of the coin" here's an interesting link which matches District Council areas to percentages of sub-2 meg speeds. It seems to show not much difference between percentages between the more rural and urban districts, which means in terms of numbers?? See:
Posted by roph over 5 years ago
And only half a decade late!
Posted by georgethegent over 5 years ago
Wonder just how much it would be worth up here in Shetland - if at all!!!
Posted by 21again over 5 years ago
> "Add to this the other smaller LLU services and the multitude of providers who use the wholesale networks and you can see how competitive the UK market is"
True but doesn't apply to many rural areas with small exchanges.

>"reaching to around 90% of the UK now"
Only true if you count exchanges with a large number of subscribers.

Nine out of ten exchanges in a 1000 square mile area around here are still 20CN with no LLU and I expect that applies to other rural areas as well.
Time will tell if the various funds available are enough to assist those not living in an urban area.
Posted by desouzr over 5 years ago
For those of us in rural areas unlikely to see ADSL2+ we will have to hold out for upgrades via BDUK projects. This will likely mean FTTC/P for most (except those in really remote areas) but not until at least 2013 at the earliest...
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
Quoting the number of exchanges means nothing, they are all different sizes. Premises is the important number.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Upgrades to bring WBC which describes the IP backhaul, actually mean that the exchange is more likely to get FTTC.

Since at least one buyer of the FTTC service from Openreach is available in an area.

@21again on 9 out of 10, find me a country where that does not apply?
Posted by TheGuv over 5 years ago
@ Michael_Chare - You'd like to think they were not spending money on ADSL2. I reckon that the ADSL2 equipment being deployed is a mixture of old kit taken from FTTC exchanges when they are upgraded and the LLU kit Orange used to run before migrating their Broadband to BT Wholesale.
Posted by TheGuv over 5 years ago
As per Andrew's comment about the positive aspects of WBC. Upgraded exchanges should hopefully result in better services such as ISP connectivity to Content Connect (YouView/iPlayer etc) and the CDN for proposed IPTV services.
Posted by orudge over 5 years ago
@Somerset At least in rural areas, an exchange will relate to a particular town or village. Quoting the number of exchanges upgraded therefore gives some measure of, realistically, how many towns/villages can access these upgrades. Whereas you could likely upgrade every exchange in major urban areas and have, say, 80% coverage, yet still have many thousands of exchanges unactivated! Yes, those exchanges are smaller with fewer premises connected, but shouldn't they get treated equally?
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
Equally in what way? Upgrade 1 5000 line exchange or 10 500 line ones? ISPs who pay Openreach may prefer the first option.
Posted by 21again over 5 years ago
@andrew re. 9 out of 10, I'm sure it applies to a large number of countries and is probably a lot worse in many others i.e. no broadband at all.
However the perceived emphasis the government puts on broadband services now and in the future warrants a greater sync speed than 2Meg with the corresponding low throughput.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@theguv - When FTTC is enabled at an exchange, BT Wholesale does not remove any kit. Another iternet myth.

Also the old Orange LLU hardware will have been scraped or sold on to someone abroad most likely.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
my personal experience of adsl2+ on 50db attenuation was a significant loss of sync speed, however adsl2 proved useful over adsl1.
Posted by Kareha over 5 years ago
I think I'll be dead before I get access to either Fibre or ADSL2+ :(
Posted by Saurus over 5 years ago
Like most people in rural areas with BT not even indicating any intention of upgrading (unless someone shows them a large amount of cash eg BDUK, local Authorities etc) we pay the most for the worst service on a network which was paid for many years ago by us! It's good to see the Alan B'Stard government putting so much effort in (£530 million) to get this country back on it's feet compared to the £30+ Billion for a railway project which most people dont want/need but hey it gets MP's to London and back to vote on issues quicker!
Posted by paulhunter over 5 years ago
@chrysalis - As I'm about to get the upgrade, please could you expand on why "adsl2+ proved useful over adsl 1" if there is a significant loss of sync speed?
Posted by legalgeeza over 5 years ago
yet living a stone throw away from parliament and on the same street as MI5, all I am still offered is 8 or 9 Mbps...
Posted by WarpBurger over 5 years ago
My lines is 2.5Km and I get estimated of 3.5mb, my old sky BB stats are:
Downstream Attenuation: 54 db
Upstream Attenuation: 31.5 db
Downstream Noise Margin: 21.5db
Upstream Noise Margin 12 db
With that I got 2.5Mb downstream speed and 0.5Mb upload speed.
Im wondering why my estimates for a 2.5Km are so low compared to a max of 12-13Mb.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago

it's not your line length that relates to speed (although it can be indicative), it's your D/S db. 54db does give a 3.5kbps profile. But were you Sky LLU or wholesale of BT/SKY.
If 2.5k is the distance to the exchange, you can add another 1k for indirect routing and line within the exchange.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago

You lose a bit of downstream speed, but your upstream goes up. This gives a more rounded functionality to the service.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@warpburger as suggested 54dB is in line with around 3.5 Mbps, though a little more is possible.

The 2.5 arises because you have a 21dB downstream noise margin. There is lots of wasted margin there, so which provider are you with, and grab the full stats again after restarting modem
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago

Around the 45dB to 50dB mark is where the extra frequencies from ADSL2+ become attenuated too much. Thus falling back to ADSL2 mode (up to 12Mbps) can be more reliable, and sometimes perform better.

Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago

What would be the basis for equal treatment?
The level of revenue from a 2-5000 line rural exchange is going to be significantly less than a 20k+ exchange.

And not directly at you Orudge, any particular reason for just BT providing services, rather than VM and all the other ISPs? If we want competition and non-monopoly situation why not cries for other ISPs to invest in rural areas?
Posted by orudge over 5 years ago
@themanstan I guess BT because they already have the majority of infrastructure they need in place. That said, I would obviously encourage anybody to invest, preferably with them offering wholesale services to other providers too.
Posted by orudge over 5 years ago
@themanstan And I realise revenue from smaller exchanges is going to be less; yet BT managed to upgrade just about every exchange in the country to ADSL Max when it could have just left less profitable ones on fixed-speed ADSL. (Was this partially government funded? I actually don't know.) So why can the same not happen with ADSL2+? It seems unclear if BT have a plan to roll it out nationwide (I think this was once stated, and then retracted?) or just stick with 80% premises coverage.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
4km line...

(Going to phone them to get the gamers profile - lower ping)
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago

If you go back there was a fair amount of subsidy involved for ADSLmax rollout in rural exchanges. Scotland has had a couple of programmes more recently.
Posted by billyliar over 5 years ago
I wonder how many press releases like these BT have to put out before somebody looks back through them to see how many actually happened... :)
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
ADSL Max was largely adding a rate adaptive profile or two to existing kit. A change of settings.

WBC will help increase the bandwidth into an exchange and is a better way than adding another ATM backhauled DSLAM. ADSL2+ is a fringe benefit.
Posted by nstrudwick over 5 years ago
Coming to this rather late, but all these announcements just increase the frustration of those of us in the country where the final "local loop" connection is little better than two tin cans and a piece of string. Until BT are forced to do local infrastructure improvements, we will remain in the slow lane at a time when more and more technology companies are producing products which assume levels of connection we cannot hope to achieve.
Posted by nrflux over 5 years ago
Whilst I have sympathy with "djay" who lives just outside Carlisle I live 19 miles south of London Bridge and I have the same problem. My BT broadband costs me £24/mo with a 10gb limit and I rarely get between 2 and 4Meg if I'm lucky. Sky and Virgin don't even offer a service in my area.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.