The signs are that BT Wholesale is starting to gear up to launch a self-install FTTC product, which follows on from their supplier Openreach running their own trial open to all other major providers like Sky and TalkTalk.
The pricing from Openreach suggests that the cost of activating a FTTC service may drop, possibly into the £40 area, but given that many of the large providers almost always have an offer on installs this will make little difference to consumer cost. We suspect it may help to encourage more 12 month minimum term contracts, rather than the very common 18 month or two year ones that FTTC can attract at the retail level.
FTTC when it was launched had a maximum connection speed of 40 Mbps and this was then doubled to 80 Mbps as the frequency allocations increased for the service. The next big boost got a big nudge when Mike Galvin talked about Vectoring as launching in 2013 in the UK when discussing the state of play of the BT fibre roll-outs. Vectoring has the potential to boost speeds to over the 100 Mbps mark, with some manufactures suggesting that 100 Mbps is feasible for lines as long as 400m to 500m.
If Openreach can get 10% of customers lines running at 120 Mbps or faster which is possible these days on VDSL2, then Virgin Media will lose its major advertising element of the fastest widely available broadband in the UK.
There is an interesting discussion on pushing FTTC speeds past 80 Mbps in our fibre broadband forum section. What we find interesting is where people are electing already to experiment with their own VDSL2 modems, that finding good compatible hardware is not that easy, suggesting perhaps that the UK may not be so behind the times as some would have us believe.
Update 3pm: We chased for a statement on the issue of vectoring and received the following statement from BT, which confirms trials will take place, but leaves the question of whether or when vectoring will be deployed to post trial.
"Openreach is planning to test the capabilities of vectoring as part of a trial involving its CP customers during Summer 2013. We will provide Industry with more details on the trial over the coming weeks.
It’s far too early to say whether we will be deploying vectoring in our network as any decision will be dependent upon the outcome of the trial. However, we believe vectoring has the potential to be a cornerstone technology of FTTC deployment in the future.
Customer feedback and the latest figures from Ofcom suggest that our fibre products are performing very well and, as you would expect, we’re continually evaluating emerging technologies aimed at further enhancing performance."BT statement on vectoring