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At last over half of Wales can get a fibre based broadband service
Monday 21 July 2014 11:28:39 by Andrew Ferguson

Wales has often languished at the bottom of the speed tables and while things are improving the scale of the task has been made clear by the latest roll-out updates from BT.

  • 800,000 Welsh homes and businesses able to access fibre broadband
  • Roll-out of fibre broadband driving employment across Wales
  • Welsh Government and UK ministers welcome the achievement

"Over half of consumers and businesses in Wales now have access to world class broadband speeds with 55 per cent of all premises in Wales covered by BT’s high-speed fibre broadband network."

Extract from BT Press Release

The task in Wales was always going to be harder since the starting point was so much lower, particularly as Virgin Media cable coverage was a lot lower and the Superfast Cymru project is a mixture of commercial and gap-funded roll-out. In fact the name of the project and various statements by politicians over the years may not be helping with the expectation management for the project, hence the level of sometimes outright anger at the spending, both from the BT project and other not-spot projects that seem to have had little impact.

The reality is that with a 96% target figure for premises with the option of ordering a fibre based broadband service the number getting superfast speeds will be in the order of 80 to 85% (our full analysis back in June 2014).

The easy target here is BT, but it is likely they are simply delivering to the metrics of the contract. The political pressure built up from years of campaigning meant that politicans had to be seen to be doing something and the BDUK process is the result. The fact that the coverage in the press of rural areas and people sitting on hills using a laptop means that the public get the wrong impression that the most remote locations will be those that benefit.

What is clear is that much more work will be needed after 2016 to bring Wales up to the standards of the best areas in Europe, but getting decent comparisons with other similar countries can prove difficult. We complain about the lack of coverage and roll-out plans in the UK but the pattern repeats for almost every country unless you believe the press releases.


Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
One possible way to extend the reach of "superfast speeds" would surely be to review the ANFP in rural areas. The current frequency plan is sub-optimal for VDSL reach as it avoids conflicts with ADSL exchange-based services. However, if all on an enabled cabinet are VDSL enabled this is irrelevant. Obvious conflicts with LLU, but is that an issue in rural areas (I know there are some other services which might suffer interference).
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
That is essentially what they've done in new Zealand: Once a cabinet DSLAM is installed, all lines are fed from the cabinet, and exchange-based LLU is stopped.

Adding vectoring is another way to extend the reach of superfast speeds - perhaps another 300m.
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
Clearly what you've outlined would cause enormous commercial implications in the UK. It would surely conflict with EU rules and LLU operators would create legal obstacles. (It might also deal with EO issues at some exchanges).

That's why I suggest a more limited approach which is specific to individual enabled cabinets.

As I understand it vectoring wouldn't rely on ceasing exchange ADSL services, but that would be optimal.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Price to the consumer? Current NGA services are premium priced, so if we want no ADSL on certain cabinets, will price regulation ensure people can buy a cheap up to 16 Mbps for the same price as now?

Many want faster, but many don't want to pay a lot more.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Commercial implications? Certainly. Solvable by virtual unbundling? Maybe. But you can't deny that it triggers great benefits technology-wise (and speed-wise).

In NZ, it also means that they can have VDSL2-based modems in the exchange... so long as they only serve lines that aren't on upgraded cabinets or are EO.

But NZ took this approach a while back, for ADSL, not just SFBB - so people can still choose cheaper connectivity options based in the cabinet.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
But the principle of targetting specific rural areas by forcing services through a specific cabinet DSLAM is a reasonable one - especially if it frees up the power mask.

BT will have to take management steps to match this when the test out FTTRN. That will need to take the same care, putting service through the RN node, and not a "higher/earlier" FTTC cabinet.

Same would go for basement-located VDSL2 DSLAMS for MDU. That's an issue in Oz for NBN mk II.
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago

I would envisage that those who don't opt for NGA-type speeds will not be disadvantages. Probably the fairest way round this would be to have a new OR product speed capped to that of the ADSL+ BTW products (or maybe ISP set cap) at a similar wholesale price. Of course, certain ISPs might be even more "embarrassed" by back-haul contention...
Anyway, surely worthy of consideration.
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
It's also worth mentioning that with a "VDSL-only" cabinet approach, in rural areas it's possible to be even more creative with power masks such that reach is extended at the expense of ultimate speed for those close by. I see no reason why a "one size fits all" power mask should be used across the country.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
There is not a one size fits all mask used, three masks are used already.
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