Skip Navigation


Go faster stripes from G.FAST delivering ultra-fast for BT
Thursday 25 September 2014 13:18:52 by Andrew Ferguson

A common complaint about the Openreach fibre based services roll-out is that it is uses too little fibre and will not be able to cope with our Internet needs in a few years. The response from the BT Group is a stepped approach and FTTdp (Fibre to the drop point) is the next evolution in the various steps to take fibre direct into every home across the UK.

BT is almost ready to open its G.FAST lab at AdAstral Park in Suffolk and has released some information on what sort of speeds they are seeing from early G.FAST hardware. At 66 metres 700 Mbps down and 200 Mbps up have been achieved. On shorter copper runs of just 19m the downstream speed climbs to 800 Mbps. The split between download and upload speeds is not written in stone and can be tailored to suit deployments and product options.

FTTdp will involve delivering a fibre connection to the last telephone pole or pavement chamber before a fairly small group of properties and attaching the G.FAST hardware to the pole or in the underground chamber. The estimates are such that the speed test at 66m represents the picture for 80% of UK households.

G.FAST is yet to be ratified as a standard, but this is expected from the ITU with the designation G.9701 in December 2014.

It may seem stupid and short-sighted to stop the fibre when only 66m away from a property, but this avoids the extra layers of complexity involved in wayleaves on getting FTTH into a rented property, be it a flat or a house. Some past estimates from BT are that in the areas they have deployed FTTP, the final connection takes around 7 hours of work. Another factor is those areas served by overhead wires become more problematic.

Openreach has intimated that there is another option of deploying VDSL2 in a FTTdp configuration, though usually called Fibre to the Remote Node, which will shorten the run of copper needed, but only deliver the maximum VDSL2 speed of 80 Mbps. The remote node approach is something that is ready for market hardware wise and just needs the will to deploy to be given a little shove.

In a perfect world we would love Openreach to say that it was abandoning copper totally, but with over 27,000,000 households in the UK and little stomach to accept the short term costs of roll-out by major shareholders we are stuck with the stepped approach. Of course if the FTTH/FTTP roll-outs by CityFibre do hit the mark and show it is possible as quickly and cheaply as predicted then the money behind BT may change its mind. An interesting thought to end on is this, with BT taking a stepped approach the room for innovation and disruption is pretty large, though while the seeds do exist no-one has exploited this gap to serve millions of homes yet!

Comments

Posted by balb0wa1973 over 2 years ago
G.Fast sound very good to me , come on Openreach do it!
Posted by haydnwalker over 2 years ago
If this happens in the short/medium term, then great, but consumers need to be prepared to pay extra for this...bandwidth isn't free...

On the up-side for me...my drop point (telephone pole) is literally on the end of my driveway, maybe 5 metres away from the house, so whoopee :-)
Posted by joe_pineapples over 2 years ago
"FTTdp will involve delivering a fibre connection to the last telephone pole or pavement chamber before a fairly group of properties and attaching the G.FAST hardware to the pole"

I know its a typo, but what is a 'fairly group of properties'?
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
Openreach will provide the systems if the customer is willing to pay and there is a quick return on investment. I have a feeling that FTTC/DP will be provided in Surrey in the next 6 months.(SCC)
Posted by otester over 2 years ago
The voters have put in governments which have lowered infrastructure competition so don't expect this any time soon.
Posted by mobilebb over 2 years ago
I would not say recent governments have lowered infrastructure competition, it's still bt and virgin dominated just as it always was but rivals do now have more access to bt's infrastructure. Granted the regulator could have done more to boost competition at this level but it's not lower. I don't know how you'd get lower than the pre-2005 BT dominance of everything? Maybe I misunderstood.
Posted by adslmax over 2 years ago
G.Fast sound good but I don't believe it until it happen. Don't think BT will rush this roll out. Probably start off with vectoring first.
Posted by FlexIT over 2 years ago
DP=Distribution Point by the way. Sounds like a fantastic idea if the public want it.
Posted by Garfje over 2 years ago
BT don't want to do it, so their price (whenever they actually advertise it) will ensure only a tiny percentage of folk with very deep pockets will ask for it. Who pays the electricty? Who is liable if someone frazzles themselves while up the pole? This is not removing the wayleave issue, just displacing it.
Posted by chilting over 2 years ago
Another funding option is for the customer to pay for the upgrade. BT have a price list for FTTP, why not do the same for the new FTTRN and FTTdp technology. The costs would be lower and could be shared between neighbours.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
@garfje who pays the electricity for your ADSL modem now? It may not feed large amounts of power, but it is sending power in the form of a RF wave.

Even for the current PSTN current we pay for it via our line rental eventually.

Posted by arfster over 2 years ago
700mbit at 66 metres? On the plus side, that's the distance to my cabinet :-) On the negative, the cabinet is 3.5 years overdue ...
Posted by burble over 2 years ago
Well I've just come from a meeting which included an openreach manager and bt manager plus council, and one of the options discussed was FTTdp which may be included in BDUK2, as this will be the only feasible option to supply superfast (24+) to our location. Roll on February when we should find out.
Posted by dgmckenzie over 2 years ago
I would like them to sort the people directly connected to the exchange :-(
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Fttrn and fttdp can do that or standard cabs and is being done in some areas. Amount depends on ambition of County and the accountants
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
@chilting
Right now, that looks the way to go - put FTTdp onto the price list, and charge for it.

Perhaps that would allow them to build a mix of up-front & monthly payments, alongside a reasonable lock-in, that would make for a consumer-friendly proposition - where FTTPoD is only really business-friendly.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Good to see that they're including Alcatel-Lucent and Adtran into the mix. Might we see a shake-up in the vendor list?
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
On the FTTrn topic:

This is what Swisscom are doing in their FTTS project (S=Street), which is installing micro-nodes in pavement chambers, getting copper loop lengths to below 250m.

Today, they're installing VDSL2+Vectoring nodes. From 2016, they're expecting to start swapping these for G.fast nodes.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 2 years ago
Taking the fibre to the door would be pretty expensive take a lot longer to roll out and would provide little increase in speed for most. I doubt as well many would pay the price

FTTdp should be relatively low cost and provide a massive increase in sped. In most cases it should be possible to pull the fibre through the ducts and with most chambers being on footpaths and close together blockages should be less of a problem in most areas
Posted by Bob_s2 over 2 years ago
What is the likely cost of rolling out FTTdp. Most cabinets are no more than 2Km from the furthest homes served. Probably averaging the distance rather than having a cost based on distance from the cabinet is the best approach as it would increase take up particularly those that are furthest from a cabinet gain most and those nearest the least so les likely to take it up
Posted by Plankton1066 over 2 years ago
G.fast makes perfect sense financially. But it's going to take a mixture of competition, subsidy and regulation to realise it. Where I am in a semi rural area with Openreach as the only infrastructure provider, my long FTTC line will deliver me c17mbps but I pay the same as someone getting 80mbps. Under the current structures there is no incentive to deploy g.fast to me. OFCOM is all about giving me "choice" of provider, rather than product choice. The next technology is clear the frame work to deliver it doesn't exist.
Posted by gah789 over 2 years ago
Delivering faster speeds is not the only consideration for Openreach. By taking shared fibre closer to premises served they can bypass large stretches of the copper network that are either aluminium or in poor condition. That will reduce the pressure on them to upgrade the copper network, leaving it for phone use only.
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
If it is BT ISP who pays for the unit (16) on pole or in chamber will it be only their customers who will have access. If Openreach/ grant aided provides the Unit (16) all ISP,s will have access that is where the compertion kicks in. Then BT/ISP will go cherry picking easy fibre runs quick return.
Posted by Croft12 over 2 years ago
Is Fttdp that much more realistic. The costs i've seen (obviously a full deployment might radically change those) were significantly closer to FTTP then FTTC. I can see them cherry picking a few easier location but the people who probably need it most won't be helped.
Posted by Dixinormous over 2 years ago
Most recent estimate I've seen puts FTTDP at 80-95% of construction cost of FTTP.

Whether this included cost of the final drop to all premises or these are on an ad-hoc basis I do not know. I believe it did.
Posted by Dixinormous over 2 years ago
FTTRN - should be noted that Swisscom are using FTTRN in more rural areas. Urban areas are receiving FTTP.
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Hi Broadband Watchers
It starts to show why FTTC are provided with a 100 pair tie cable the method of 4 E sides on 24 D sides was used 30 years ago. Where this system is1/2 fibres on 16 customers should get a quick return and very cheap to provide.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
I can understand the cost to provide fibre to the pole and premise will be similar but surely when the fibre is at the pole the cost to connect the customer and all other customers on the same pole must be very little and that is where the benefit is, so the initial provide might be 85% the same but after that not
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Hi GM
There are maney locations where black fibre is very close to the FTTC/ DP with clear ducting so just requires jointing and a little time that is called cherry picking so cost effective. The problem is that the main initiative is to get the fibre to as maney Cabs as possible then move on.
Posted by chris6273 over 2 years ago
"If this happens in the short/medium term, then great, but consumers need to be prepared to pay extra for this...bandwidth isn't free.."

Bandwidth is extremely cheap these days so there is likely not going to be much of an increase. You'll find the construction costs will affect the price LOTS more.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
If people expect 1000 Mbps with no slow downs or bottlenecks then price will not be cheap.

Faster access speeds do not guarantee faster connectivity into the ISP network or on the peering links to the wider world.
Posted by chris6273 over 2 years ago
No they don't however by the time Openreach have made progress with the roll-out you'll probably find a lot of investment on ISP core networks.

Also by the time people start to get access to this, the price of bandwidth will likely have dropped even more. I guess you have to also consider the server end as-well - Not every website is going to be able to push 1000Mbps continuously. Will be interesting to see.
Posted by FTTH over 2 years ago
@GMAN99
A passive optical node is cheaper than a G.fast node.

Replacing a copper drop with fibre is not costly (The way BT do it is not easy, but it doesn't have to be difficult).

I would be amazed if G.fast is really cheaper than FTTP.


Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
For those complaining about paying just as much for their (slower) DSL on account of long line lengths, please bear in mind that your basic infrastructure is being cross-subsidised by others. If you are on the end on several km of cable connected to the exchange over several dozen poles, the costs of provision is much higher than for those in urban areas.

Of course, to some extent, it's a matter of luck whether or not you have an exchange (or cabinet) nearby, but the economics are that you will not be paying anything like the full price anyway.
Posted by FTTH over 2 years ago
Hardly Subsidised.
Those that achieve the 'upto' target get what they pay for and those that don't, don't.

If BT want the Monopoly they need to do all areas they serve and stop moaning and asking for someone else to pay. The day they loose money, fair enough.. But that is not the case is it, they don't do badly.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
Forgive me but I do not think that is a very sensible way of viewing an "up to" product.

I see the up to target advertised being the potential top speed with perfect line conditions (reasonable so far?)

I know its unlikely I'll get that so I use the line checker first to get my estimate and that (and only that) is what I expect to get on purchase, not the full up to, why would I get an estimate and then think I'm paying for the full up to speed

Your approach sounds nice for "you don't pay for a pint and then only get half" analogies but it isn't sensible at all.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
Anyone with half a brain knows what up to means and understands they'll only achieve what the line checker tells them, if you don't understand that more fool you
Posted by FTTH over 2 years ago
Not sure if I have half a brain. Maybe 1/3 but enough to know that all the GPON and Point-2-Point FTTP networks that we have put in for Operators in the UK deliver the required bandwidth.

You ask for 100Mb you get 100Mb.

Network designed for purpose.

Possibly, nearly, upto, might be, maybe broadband has a place but you have to be honest about what it really is.

As for the line checker, here's an idea.
Display a 'MINIMUM' speed and offer customers contract opt outs if that is not met at peak times?
Posted by Gadget over 2 years ago
As for the argument "the day they loose money...." that's the whole point of declaring a cabinet uneconomic and not doing it, and since no one else apparently can make it work commercially also the reason why some kind of subsidy is considered.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Cough, up to also covers the ability for the ISP to give that speed out to the Internet, so FTTH suppliers unless delivering uncontended access still need to use up to in advertising.

Also need to demonstrate that 10% can get above the advertised speed in adverts/product pages.

If you have 100 Mbps Ethernet it is impossible to get 100 Mbps of TCP/IP traffic by the way.
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
Did I say BT were losing money? However, those in less populated areas are being cross-subsidised by those in urban areas.

The same is true of services of course. However, this can only be done where there is a model that allows for cross-subsidy (which means company with sufficient "market power" to do so).

That's not the case with broadband as it's nothing like a national monopoly (LLU saw to that). Consequently there's no commercial model to cross-subsidise. Hence the difference in service levels.
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
Nb. if network locations are "cherry-picked" by fibre operators, the rural charges will go up. That's because there will not be a sufficient surplus from urban areas to subsidise the more rural areas.

Even the US has a (formal) cross-subsidy system for rural networks. At the moment the UK does not save the USO on metallic paths and a mandated single-price structure.
Posted by burble over 2 years ago
For the costs, I guess if you are only one connected to a pole or chamber then cost of FTTdp will be little different than FTTH, but with multiple houses connected to the pole/chamber this would drop price considerably, I our case there are 6 houses on the same pole, and probably 20+ on nearest chamber. either of which would do me.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
"Not sure if I have half a brain. Maybe 1/3 but enough to know that all the GPON and Point-2-Point FTTP networks that we have put in for Operators in the UK deliver the required bandwidth"

What has that got to do with understanding what an up to service is? Nothing.
Posted by chrysalis over 2 years ago
what is funny is that the fibre that goes to the cabinet across the road from me is within 5m of my pole. I found out it is routed alongside my entire D side copper run barring the last 10m, so BT have already effectively in my area got fibre in the ducts but just didnt use it for that purpose.
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
There's a big difference between the issues of running fibre to a consolidation point and then fanning it out on the D-side. Inevitably it will pass right in front of some people's houses, but it would still have to have distribution fibres running back from the consolidation point.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 2 years ago
@GMAN99: "Your approach sounds nice for "you don't pay for a pint and then only get half" analogies but it isn't sensible at all."

Wrong thinking here, Freddy. In the UK, quite often because of the postcode lottery, it is possible that someone with e.g. a 2MB service pays the same as someone else with e.g. 20MB.

It's a wrong pricing policy, lack of proper regulation, and a monopoly company which has fooled so many customers into believing its marketing hype.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
So how much should 2Mbps cost? In a market with 12 months free offers it is an interesting question.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
Not wrong thinking JNeuhoff, just a different and more sensible way.

Business users of xDSL pay a lot more than residential customers, do they kick off about only want to pay for what they can get out of up to 20 or up to 80

No and businesses re real sticklers, they understand what they are buying and have the same approach as what I'm describing.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Given underlying wholesale cost is same ie under £10 per month then no reason why business with higher commit rates does not offer variety of throughput/price points at retail level
Posted by astateoftrance over 2 years ago
In regard to rural customers being subsidised, which may be true, remember we also pay more on a Market 1 exchange. I pay £16.99 for ADSLMax broadband instead of the standard £9.99 (Plusnet), we also do not have many (or any) of the 12 month free or £2 a month deals. FTTC will also be more expensive when available.
Posted by astateoftrance over 2 years ago
Back on topic this G.Fast technology sounds very good if it means close to 1 Gbit speeds at less cost than FTTP.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
PlusNet is the only provider to charge more on market 1 exchanges for FTTC service.

The TalkTalk LLU footprint extends well into the market 1 zone, just 4% of UK households lie outside their coverage.
Posted by astateoftrance over 2 years ago
Ok, thanks Andrew, that is good to know I thought it was common practise. No TT LLU here, not that I really want it, would likely try Sky if that was here though.
Posted by 2doorsbob over 2 years ago
I just wondered if BT plan to replace ali drop cables when people take this product plus there would be alot of work involved in my area as there is not much ducting
Posted by MCM999 over 2 years ago
@JNeuhoff More irrational thinking. You concentrate on the difference in speeds achieved for the same cost yet totally ignore that the cost of servicing those who receive lower speeds can be and often is, considerably greater than for those receiving the faster speeds. You're clearly neither an accountant nor a businessman.
Posted by AndyCZ over 2 years ago
People are making the assumption that in the next few years this will be rolled out nationwide - when I suspect this will be far from the truth.

There is a marginal cost saving for deploying FTTdp compared to FTTH.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Who knows, the reality is it may be rolled out alongside more FTTH, i.e. where FTTH is cheaper that might appear, where G.FAST is cheaper you might get that.
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Hi Broadband Watchers
I would think that Openreach would go cherry picking first at the best locations in time and Costings where the plant is available so to get a quick return or where customers are complaining. This applied when WB 900 was used that is two customers on an E Side and D side back in the 1980 this was used befor the uplift on line plant.
Posted by godsell4 over 2 years ago
I could see G.Fast being a preferred option if the FTTH solution requires digging a trench to run the fibre into the home. My line, which I expect it not unique, is provided from the pole outside and goes to the master socket in an upstairs room. Why would I want to dig a trench?
Posted by JNeuhoff over 2 years ago
"My line, which I expect it not unique, is provided from the pole outside"

Almost our whole town of 10 000 is like that. Doing whole fibre here would be cheaper than FTTdp or even VDSL, it's all densely populated here anyway, and mostly exchange-only lines.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 2 years ago
Quote "There is a marginal cost saving for deploying FTTdp compared to FTTH."

It is a great deal more than a marginal saving. a Street chamber might server 12 to 20 homes and getting he Fibre to that point is relatively low cost. Taking the Fibre to 20 Homes would need over 400 man hours. Lets ay charge out £30 an hour that's £12,000 plus cost of materials. You could be looking at close to £1000 a home
Posted by FTTH over 2 years ago
@Bob_s2
20 Man hours PER HOME?
Possibly that is why BT's fibre deployment methods are not giving an accurate cost model.
From Fibre DP, 30-120mins MAX. Then standard install practice (applying to ducted or Aerial).

A new trench dig, granted will take longer but that would only be done when an area was done so still not close to 1k per home. Fibre from DP is cheap and easy.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 2 years ago
"Taking the Fibre to 20 Homes would need over 400 man hours"

Not sure where you get your figures from. We know from experience in our town that it doesn't take more than half an hour to run a drop wire from the pole to a house. Doesn't matter whether it's copper fibre, same amount of work.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
BT broke down their FTTP installation tasks into two components: the outdoor component, getting infrastructure as far as the DP, without an appointment; and the outdoor->indoor component, getting the infrastructure to the home, and then inside (plus the final blow), with an appointment.

IIRC, the second component was 7 man-hours per home, and IIRC was the smaller component.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
@FTTH
A home being ducted is no use without a drawrope.

Most underground ducting is for multiple properties, with a swept tee taking cable off the main duct into each property. Without a drawrope, you can't make the BFT go down one of these.
Posted by FTTH over 2 years ago
@wwwombat

Rod the duct and pull in a ruggedized fibre, or a thickwall duct and then blow.
OR
Just pull in a microduct in whilst you pull out the old redundant copper.

BT's fibre deployment method is possibly not the best.
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Hi FTTH
I am glad to see you have done the work and it seems not to hard to install fibre as for running areial fibre is this a time consuming work say on 10 spans plus is the costing high. It looks like the work is rather easy but there is a high demand on provision.
Posted by godsell4 over 2 years ago
http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/10/new-chips-will-power-the-gigabit-era-of-dsl-broadcom-claims/
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.