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Progress report from North Yorkshire
Saturday 22 March 2014 10:20:15 by Andrew Ferguson

The BDUK process and the concept of a Superfast Britain is almost one of the modern topics to avoid around a dinner table if you want a polite sociable evening, but the figures and details still need to be discussed, rather than just label it a disaster and waste of money.

North Yorkshire as one of the first pilot projects signed a contract with BT back in July 2012 and a progress report to the North Yorkshire County Council includes some good news. The project in its first version will in the intervention area be offering superfast broadband (25 Mbps and faster) to 77% of premises (149,944), which when combined with the commercial coverage brings us a to a figure of 87%. Three percentage points down on the target levels, but for a Government inspired procurement project 3% is a small gap. The other 44,788 premises are to be guaranteed a minimum of 2 Mbps, and £5 million is set aside to ensure this, a good many of these will probably be seeing speeds of 10 to 24 Mbps from the deployment of FTTC to their cabinet, but as they live beyond 1km from their cabinet. For those chasing performance data you cannot presume this means 23% of lines in North Yorkshire are too long, as there will be some small cabinets not enabled at all via the project plus the old issue of exchange only lines. It is worth mentioning that phase 1 included a contractual obligation on BT to limit USC satellite coverage to 3,895 premises.

In terms of actual delivery 399 street cabinets are live via the project already, which cover 106,460 premises so those with calculators can do their value for money calculations.

The future is where things get more interesting as the council now knows what money is available for Phase 2 and it looks likely that this will go to BT who are proposing to bring superfast to another 11,100 premises and deploying smaller fibre systems (FTTRN - fibre to the remote node) to bring superfast speeds to another 5,000 premises. Fibre to the Remote Node, revolves around deploying small VDSL2 nodes on telephone poles or in pavement chambers. A likely candidate would be the ECI minicab which can provider VDSL2 to 64 lines in a waterproof unit and if the spec sheet is correct the option for powering over telephone lines (this may be when just running in ADSL2+ modes). We know that similar ECI modules have been looked at by BT in the past and ECI is one of the firms supplying existing street cabinets.

For now a pilot project using FTTRN is set to take place in the Leyburn area, where the results will be important for not just North Yorkshire but all of the UK.

Phase 3 is looking further into the future with the aim of heading towards 100% superfast coverage and the suggestion seems to be that they want to see how the remote node hardware performs in the real world.

Of course all this technology debate could be consigned to the rubbish heap if FTTP was not so expensive to deploy to every property in an area, the desired outcomes from both the current and previous Government never ensured FTTP would be the only option, and the sums of money always fell well short of doing a FTTP roll-out to 10 million or so homes within a four to five year period.

Comments

Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
FTTRN - Very interesting,it sounds like what FTTdp pole mounted gfast will do in the future but now using VDSL2 instead
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
It was very interesting to see FTTRN mentioned, alongside a trial.

But perhaps more interesting is what was left out. There was a lot of emphasis of FTTRN as 'the' solution, but no mention of competing solutions such as wireless or NGA amplifiers.

Perhaps that suggests that those solutions are destined for even later in the rollout - beyond the 95%
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
Is this the first mention of BT using satellite to give some of their USC? Although that might be a solution for very isolated properties I cannot imagine it will go down well in villages to find after all their council and other taxes poured into broadband over the last 10 years that they end up with that as a solution.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 3 years ago
BT partnered with avanti for just this purpose ages ago, the writing has always been on the wall. putting stuff on poles either for headline grabbing gfast or yet another stopgap for vdsl is not a cost effective way of using public money. Far better to use it for start up businesses to come up with futureproof and low carbon innovations. In the same way gfast uses the customer's power to run it, it sounds like this does too?
why not do the job once and do it properly? Get all the long lines done first with the funding and let market forces come into play.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
Where are these start up business you speak of , what is stopping them and where have they been for years, these long lines have been long for a long time.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
I'm pretty sure it is the first time I've seen mention of satellite in terms of a signed contract, and I'm definitely sure it is the first cap I've seen.

In context, the county has 380,000 properties, so the cap amounts to 1%

And the capped number of properties is, very roughly, the same scale as the B4RN project, except spread throughout the county that is by far the largest in England, and nearly the most sparsely populated.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
@cyberdoyle
The question of power is a nicely emotive subject, but does it really matter who supplies it?

The fact is that central DSLAMs use power, but who pays for that power? Simple - the customers do, through their bills.

Who pays B4RN's electricity bills? That's right - the customers.

With reverse-powered FTTdp, the same people pay the electricity bills. Just through a different bill.

It's a great emotional argument to use, like most of yours. But it isn't one that stands up to logical dissection.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
"Far better to use it for start up businesses to come up with futureproof and low carbon innovations." - So gamble money on some new start up's who have no track record and aren't in a position to rollout anything anywhere whilst people are waiting for faster speeds and we have EU targets to meet. Yes sounds like a far better way to spend tax money
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
...saying that we give taxpayer money to "farmers" who produce nothing, farmers who meet the minimum quota to obtain funding but don't produce any dairy or meat from cows, just take out their cows in a morning and bring them back on a night after chewing grass and earn the "farmer" some money , so I can see why your views on how to best spend taxpayers money may differ from mine
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
I believe max VDSL xmit power is < 100mw. Of course, there's all the DSP circuitry, switching logic etc. Real circuitry uses more, but strides are being made in power efficiency. Power per link need be no more than a few watts. Poss £4-5 electricity per year.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
@theEulerId
The state of the art chipsets for FTTdp seem to run pretty low, and it seems that the power budget amounts to 10 watts for 16 users, including transmission & conversion losses. About 0.6 Watts per user.

I make that 5 kWh per year, or about 75p per year.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
They confirm they are paying a total subsidy of more than £200 per premise past, so the state aid subsidy is x3 times paid in Fermanagh and Tyrone. BT indicated at PAC it would be NI +12.5%. Great progress.
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
@wwwombat

That sounds like about the theoretical minimum just for line driving given that you can reach about 30% efficiency and there are 2 ends to drive.

@VFM - I think the 12.5% was a UK average and there was a wide range in the NAO report. North Yorks is at the rural end of the distribution.
Posted by rjohnloader over 3 years ago
Living in a village of 160 houses plus 120 "owned " caravans/chalets (not holiday rentals) and being 3.5km from the fibre cabinet I hope this will get us off sub 1Mb/s speeds. So hard to type with my fingers crossed.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
@TheEulerID Unless the cost of delivering power and the amont of new digging is substantially greater, then this presents a big future problem for BT Shareholders and missed opportunity for UK Plc.
There is nothing in John Moore's report on effciency gains, future proofing or references to exceptional costs for power or dig costs. If you extrapulate you get to c559cabs for the £25.6m subsidy. It suggests every route has been readied for FOD which is not referenced.
Posted by Gadget over 3 years ago
VFM - are you extrapolating based on assuming a uniform number of lines per cabinet?
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
Only an estimate. UNiform lines per engineering area, given the cabinet and the tie cables will not be dis-similar and PCP will have been installed assuming some minimum value. You need a lot more cabinets to reduce the average subsidy to less than £20k
Posted by Gadget over 3 years ago
I think you will find that the number of lines per cabinet varies, with rural usually being a lot fewer (and also business estates, if you look at the figures quoted on the news item for Slough Trading Estate)
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
@Gadget - BT has a finite number of PCP's -90K, finite number of rural exchanges, with a finite number of customers. Commercial rollut will be 19m served by c55k cabinets. 399 cabs serving 107k premises suggest very small gap is needed so perhaps a sigificiant proportion of the £26.4m of stare aid is yet to be spent.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Can see numbers for cabinets varying from 11 to the 100's.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
A good baseline for cost accounting, after stripping out ineptitude, will be the public accounts for Digital Region. It'll be a reasonable size in a defined geographic area, using the VDSL2 architecture. At this point we will be able to realistically calculate Openreach's costings for a reasonable proportion of their works. The sooner those accounts are published the better!
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
@andrew - you would not put in hundreds as PCPs do not exist. I am estimating extra 160 where the £47k subsidy on average is spent.
@themanstan - DigitalRegion new network and ineptitude immense, not an overlay, just look at NI (excluding Belfast) and add 12.5% as Sean Williams is on record as saying. Just look at BT commercial rollout £1.3bn capital for c55k cabs -fully allocated cost.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
@valueformoney I don't follow?

Are you saying that if below 160 active customers on a cabinet its not going to economic even with gap funding?
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
160 cabs. Cabinets serve a mix obviously. BT Commercial rollout 19m/55k = avg 345 premises where no subsidy is needed. BDUK 42 contracts 5.3m/c24k= 220 customers served. So far NY 107kpremises/399 cabinets= average 260 premises, so another 160 cabs is not unreasonable. Boost it to 200 if you wish, it does not change the risk on the subsidy level. But we do not know whether 71% of the £26.4m has been claimed.
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
It's notable in talking about NI costs, that another £24.5m (£20.3 public) is being spent on the next 45K properties, or around £450 subsidy each. It's important when comparing costs to choose (or adjust for) the differences in the areas being covered. Also comparing NI stats with BDUK ones is tricky as the stats aren't stated the same way.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
@EulerID you have seen 1265 cabs for subsidy of £16m. This took NI close to 90% - final 5% work will be higher.
The cost of cab, power, plynth, cable, repairs will be circa 12.5% higher as BT reported. So whther as a BT Shareholder or an advocate of public investment in rural networks (with BT mostly), this is one hell of a gap to explain.
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
@VFM
I'd concur with the avg 260 premises per cab so far, but remember that BDUK only counts >24mps lines, so if they've gone for the "best" cabinets first, that avg will go down (I suspect slightly over 200 to go if the avg build rate since the start is continued to October).
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
The EulerID but the NYCC report explicitly states the £26.4m will reach the 149k for superfast so if anything the cabs serve more if we include those outside the superfast footprint but meeting the USC. The issue remains, particularly as BT is seeking more for FTTRN possibly on the same routes, when FOD facilities should be available for the budget outlined.
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
@VFM
Of course (almost) all those on enabled cabinets who can't get 24mbps will count to the USC total, but my point is you can't count on 160 x 24mbps+ capable lines per cabinet as you get into less promising targets, and it's only the high speed ones that count to the BDUK target, unlike NI where they appear to have (initially) counted all lines on enabled cabinets.
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
Incidentally, reading the progress report it appears that in the rural areas FTTC takeup trends are such that the claw back mechanism will be invoked, which ought to be good news for wider coverage (although the news is less positive in areas where ADSL gives decent speeds). It would be interesting to know if BT adjust expected take up rates according to local conditions, or if they use a fixed 20% target.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@the eulerID "Of course (almost) all those on enabled cabinets who can't get 24mbps will count to the USC total" I think you may find in rural areas the numbers not getting the USC from FTTC could be significant perhaps 20% of the intervention area
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
@VFM

I suppose it depends what you mean by rural areas, but 20% of lines getting less than 2mbps seems a high proportion to me given that you ought to get 6-8mbps at 3km. However, I don't have access to line length distribution data.

http://www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/2013/chart-bt-fttc-vdsl2-speed-against-distance
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
The line distribution data is on this TBB website, alongside their speed-vs-distance predictions.

The speed prediction's aren't as high as the 'increase' website, and I tend to think they're a little too conservative.

The line-length distribution data is based on a 2008 report to Ofcom. The table seems to accurately reflect the graphs in the Ofcom report, but we need to beware... the data is actually based on attenuation data, and a model for 0.5mm copper. Line lengths could be longer... provided thicker copper is used.
...
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
...
The data shows:
80% of lines are less than 800m
90% of lines are less than 1000m
95% of lines are less than 1250m
98% of lines are less than 1500m

But there's no distributions for urban-vs-rural or commercial-vs-intervention

http://www.thinkbroadband.com/guide/fibre-broadband.html#what-speed
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
if 98%is right Assume 100% of urban lines are within 1.5Km then with 15% rural areas that leaves 2/15 or or 13% not able, so 20%may be too much overall but probably not far off in the most rural intervention areas. You are lucky to get .5mbps if you are 3Km from a cab
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
Is the reason that speeds are so low at 3km because of the ANFP for sub loops? On the face of it (and from the available graphs), you ought to get ADSL type speeds at that distance, but if the lower frequencies are banned/heavily restricted to avoid interfering with exchange services, it might explain it.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
BT will not offer VDSL at more than 1.5k from the cab as a general rule. Someone else may be able to give the technical reason.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
@Euler
Yes.

The power masks applied by the ANFP mean VDSL2 (in the UK) carries less at the lower frequencies than generic VDSL2 (theoretically) ought to. Those lower frequencies are the ones used at the longer distances.

How much VDSL2 suffers depends on the power mask applied, and that differs, depending on the distance from cab to exchange.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
@gerarda
Are you talking BT Retail and their Infinity product?

They usually do limit things, but to a speed of 15Mbps, not a distance.

I'm sure I've seen cases of longer distances with Plusnet.
Posted by flipdee over 3 years ago
Do we know if eircom (Republic of Ireland) are following a similar restriction as bt's anfp imposes?
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
Is it BT's ANFP or does it belong to someone else? Ofcom?
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
There are 2 ANFP's; one controlling access to BT's wiring, and one controlling access to KC's.

Both are maintained by NICC, which originated as a sub-committee of Ofcom, but nowadays appears to be an independent working group run by the industry.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
@flipdee
Google 'eircom copper loop frequency management plan'

Updated in early 2012 to allow VDSL2 from the cabinet, up to 17MHz. About the same timeframe as our ANFP.

The power masks employed at the exchange prevent VDSL2 use there, while there are a variety of masks at the cabinet, looking very similar to the ones in the ANFP.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
The Irish document itself states: "In general, this document is based on similar documents published by other administrations,
in particular the UK ANFP"
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@wwwombat
I dont think Openreach offer it wholesale at those distances.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2011/07/01/bt-launch-uk-faster-total-broadband-option-3-deal-for-sub-15mbps-fttc-lines.html

This should be good for up to ~2km, ~10Mbps at 2km, but a lot depends on the state of the wiring between you and the cab.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
I found the 3 year old case I was thinking about on Plusnet's forum: "I think 4.2km is by far and away the longest line we've got on FTTC."

http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php/topic,95005.msg799116.html

http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php/topic,94369.0.html/

He was getting 1.2Mbps
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