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BT Wholesale checker adds more information for fibre connections
Friday 22 November 2013 11:52:23 by Andrew Ferguson

While Fibre to the Cabinet is not ideal in that speeds fall off rapidly the further from the cabinet you get, for many millions of people it is the only choice for something that is faster than their existing ADSL2+ based services. Take-up of the faster services has not been an explosion more of a slowly accelerating heavy vehicle, with our forums showing that some are now simply waiting for the self-install option because they either cannot or do not want to take a day off work to wait for the engineer to arrive.

Sample FTTC line on BT Wholesale Availability Checker
Click for larger image

Self installs look a little bit closer now, as the BT Wholesale checker has changed to reveal two sets of speed figures for FTTC based services, FTTC Range A (Clean) and FTTC Range B (Impacted). For all the lines we have looked at so far the two sets of figures are the same, and the high/low figures are identical, so clearly there may be further changes. The VDSL2 includes testing that can identify bridge taps once a line is active and this is what we are expecting to be reflected in the checker.

NOTE: If the checker does not know your telephone number, which is normal for an unbundled telephone line, use the full address check option. We recommend you avoid the postcode checker, as this is the least accurate way to check a specific property.

What do these changes mean and what is an impacted line? The clue is in the checker text which refers to a bridge tap and wiring issues. In laymans terms an impacted line is one where the VDSL2 service is running slower due to the presence of telephone extension wiring, or other things like non-twisted pair wiring in a home, or bad practice wiring (e.g. not using a coloured pair, but a wire from two different pairs). For the first four years of the FTTC roll-out these issues have largely been avoided, since the engineers arrive and install a filter faceplate and install a dedicated data extension if it was ordered. Once self-install becomes common we expect to see the same wiring issues cropping up that have regularly seen people with ADSL and ADSL2+ getting lower speeds than they should.

Self install should be cheaper for the end-user, and may increase the number of free install offers from providers, and we would guess that TalkTalk will offer an option of their own engineer to look at the internal wiring, while doing other things like setting up a YouView device.

Openreach appears to be gearing up to also offer paid visits to resolve wiring issues, but given how easy the interstitial plates are to fit, with a little guidance we hope that the majority of people will be able to resolve their wiring issues without spending a fortune on engineer visits.

A word on the presence of multicast entries in the checkers, this is not referring to a new type of broadband connection, but is linked to the ability to save bandwidth to cabinet and/or telephone exchange by broadcasting a video to lots of people at the same time, thus is behind things like the live sport offered by BT Sport on the BT TV service, and the copper multicast roll-out should mean that the in time the confusion over whether you get a YouView or BT Vision device will eventually end.

If you have used the checker and there is no cabinet listed for your telephone number this means that you are on an Exchange Only line, and to date have had no option of a FTTC fibre based service. Areas like Cornwall and North Yorkshire are now adding extra street hardware to bring FTTC to this areas, and in counties with the aim of coverage figures beyond 90% we expect the majority of exchange only lines to get FTTC, or as in Cornwall some may actually get FTTP. The situation in the commercial roll-out areas is less clear, particularly for flats which are also in the Virgin Media footprint but unable to order that service, hopefully the in-fill work previously announced will cover a good many of these areas.


Posted by zhango over 3 years ago
Perhaps many will be waiting in the hope that prices will drop or realising that they can do things with the faster connection that they can't do now. On a good day I can download at 4Meg on ADSL Max which is ok for me at the moment.
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
Remember that the initial rollout was only to areas already well-served by ADSL and they can't see any need for it, so it's not suprising that people haven't rushed. I don't know how large the absolute numbers will be (millions?) but there are actually a great number of people who are waiting, yes, but waiting for the service to actually be available and will jump immediately because their ADSL is no good. They have been waiting a long time and some will be waiting a few more years yet.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Yes those with 10 Meg and faster ADSL2+ are probably slower at jumping, but no reason why a village exchange selling ADSL2+ cannot offer those speeds. Physics is the same, i.e. 8 Mbps and faster out to around 3.5km line length.

For many it is the upload that is the big improvement, think cloud.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
Really csimon...

our village was on ADSLmax, with 2.5Mb connections on average (fed from exchange in nearest town). When the town got FTTC, we were not ignored they did our village too. Plenty of areas that had poor service have seen uplifts. It's a pity there aren't any stats showing relative uplifts for the roll-out.
Posted by adslmax over 3 years ago
Pretty pointless as why Range A & B are the same speed? Range B should been lower speed than the Range A
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@themanstan In my case speed before cabinet enabling 0.5mb Speed after cabinet enabling 0.5mb. Relative uplift zero.
Posted by zyborg47 over 3 years ago
i know a few people that have no interest in jumping to FTTC as they got a pretty good speed with ADSL and don't see any reason to pay more for something that is not going to be much advantage. I think with self install there are going to be more people with problems. I am going to hide, had enough with people I know having problems with ADSL.
Glad I don't need ADSl or FTTC.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
FTTC Range A (Clean) 80 80 20 20 -- Available
FTTC Range B (Impacted) 80 80 20 20


Wish It was my cab though
Posted by howardj over 3 years ago
I tried to get a fibre connection from SKY. The speed estimated was 20MB but the Open Reach engineers after more than 5 visits to check my lines blamed the low speed (< 9, average 7.5MB) was because of the distance from the fibre cabinet. So I am now back on ADSL. Today using the BT broad band checker indicates I should get 20 MB. So who do I believe?
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
@themanstan: Are you saying that your village was enabled ahead of cabinets in the town where the exchange is, that could presumably already get much better speeds than you? A lot of us here, on 0.4Mbps, are still waiting with no date in sight while others with speeds of 8Mbps-20Mbps have already been upgrdaded to FTTC long ago.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@csimon That's the problem with this rollout - public money spent upgrading those with a reasonable service while putting back delivery of improvements to notspots and slow spots by 5 years
Posted by Shempz over 3 years ago
"While Fibre to the Cabinet is not ideal in that speeds fall off rapidly the further from the cabinet you get, for many millions of people it is the only choice for something that is faster than their existing ADSL2+ based services."

...and never mind us poor suckers that don't even have ADSL2. If only BT were still a state run company, they couldn't hide behind a "profits first" policy.
Posted by 21again over 3 years ago
There will be a lot of people waiting for TT to offer unlimited use fibre connections from 5.99 GBP a month, or less :P
Not many of the mass market were prepared to pay 30.00 GBP a month some years back for a 1 Meg connection (OK I know things have moved on a bit) butsome folk EXPECT access to the www to be cheaper than chips :)
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
"Are you saying that your village was enabled ahead of cabinets in the town where the exchange is, that could presumably already get much better speeds than you?" - that certainly happened on the Stamford exchange, there was no hierarchy of deployment with cabs coming on stream in <2M areas at the same time as town centre ones.

I know a magazine editor/publisher who can get FTTC but is still on 1M ADSL.
Posted by Somerset over 3 years ago
@Shempz - if BT were a state run company there would be no money for investment. The reason for selling Royal Mail.
Posted by joe_pineapples over 3 years ago
Maybe if they gave better pricing options, I might jump in. Why should I pay the same for a 21meg connection, as someone who gets 40.
Posted by timmay over 3 years ago
Sky are now doing self-installs. They are providing a new black Sky Hub.
Posted by 21again over 3 years ago
One OR engineer was telling me that in our rural area and some of the more urban areas there are very few street cabinets so IF fibre is going to be deployed then it could be FTTP,depends on funding from the Scot Gov., however I'm not sure if he meant that the P is for premises or for pole as in telegraph. ;P
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
@Shempz - that woud be the business that had 249,000 people on its books and 6 weeks for a instill and no competition or choice and you can have anuything you like as look as it s black - you think that woudl be a good place
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
p would need to be FTTP or exytensive EO rearrangement where a new pcp and DSLSAM has to be provided
Posted by burble over 3 years ago
As I've posted before, at our exchange the only people offered fibre are those living relativly close to the exchange, most of whom are getting speeds that are already sufficient for their needs, so why bother paying more? Those like myself who can only get 1mb arn't getting fibre, this must be the stupidest thing policy going.
Posted by mdar5 over 3 years ago
You have amply demonstrated that you have simply no idea how bad BT was when it was state owned and was called the GPO.
If I was you I'd keep quiet....
Posted by broughtondon over 3 years ago
"...our forums showing that some are now simply waiting for the self-install option because they either cannot or do not want to take a day off work to wait for the engineer to arrive"

Some of us are are climbing the walls that their cab was installed in August and still not active...
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
brought self install will only be avaialbe when cab is live -- just becase the cab was stood - in agust there are anumber of reasons why it many not be live yet - self install will not speed any of thse -
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago

My village was enabled ahead of a substantial portion of areas which the exchange served within the town. We were not first, but by no means last in the rollout. The simple case here is that financials dictate roll-out. There are plenty of ISPs that have network infrastructure, but simply choose not to enter the last mile market. And VM which for all intents and purposes has stopped expanding.
Which means there will always people having to wait.

Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago

Which means you are in the unfortunate position of being to far from the cabinet. Have you asked VM for service?

Which roll-out? We are still in the BT paid roll-out. There have been no BDUK roll-outs to date. So what public money was used? Nothing likely has been spent yet, barring BDUK internals and contraactors.
Posted by rjohnloader over 3 years ago
By this time BT must have an idea of what the drop off in speed is over distances from the cabinet. I can only find 15Mb/s at 1.5km but nothing for longer. Has anyone else got a measure for say 2-4km?
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
rj once you get close to or great 1.5km (depensing on local conditions) then the VDSL performance is either on a par or worse than the ADSL performance and once it is worse only the ADSL performance will appear on the checker
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
I agree with Fastman. At a public meeting BT used circles of a radius of 1.5km to show the reach of the FTTC cabinets. If Andrews figure of 15mb at that distance is right the speed must drop off like a cliff after that.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@themanstan the roll outs have started and are generally concentrating on semi urban area. The first phase of the Suffolk roll out covered for example Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Stowmarket, Sudbury , Hadleigh and four areas on the outskirts of Ipswich.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Yes VDSL2 does drop off very rapidly, it does not have the long reach of ADSL

The need for the ANFP to allow for ADSL/ADSL2+ and other services also limits its long range performance
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
Hmmm... the cambs news item shows the majority of live cabs being villages. So predominantly rural so far.

But, yes you are right for Suffolk the emphasis substantially more sub-urban/market town. Although Manningtree calling itself a townis is a bit like Kidlington in calling itself a village.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
What people may not have figured out is that the exchanges handling the fibre handover tend to be the larger ones in an area. So enabling cabinets on those exchanges makes some sense before doing the more outlying ones.

What ever order they do things in, there will be those complaining.
Posted by chrysalis over 3 years ago
my impacted figure is lower than the clean one.
I do find it funny that openreach make a big fuss about apparent wiring issues ?(that I have never ever come across) and are completely silent on their own cabling such as join faults, HR faults, crosstalk issues etc. all of which are running wild in openreach's network.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 3 years ago
Never understood why the checker has fields for the full address. All it needed is house number or name if no number and full postcode
Posted by Storm_Force over 3 years ago
My town Hatherleigh WWHATH has recently had some cabs installed for fibre access, my parents can now get fibre and when the number is put through the checker it states which cabinet they are on.

However my phone number doesn't have a cabinet listed (I have checked a load of phone numbers in Hatherleigh and a lot have no cab info)I am around 500 metres from the exchange and there is a green BT cabinet in this road. What I be an exchange only line?
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