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Openreach waves its ultrafast kit around and connects first customers
Tuesday 25 August 2015 07:48:07 by Andrew Ferguson

The trial in Huntingdon is underway and Openreach has declared the first customers are connected, though with a much smaller scale than the 200 and 300 Mbps trials from Virgin Media earlier in 2015 we are still awaiting the first speed test results from the area.

"Today is the start of a new chapter in building Britain’s connected future. This is the largest trial of technology in the world and it builds on the pioneering research of BT’s world-class R&D teams.

We conducted the world’s first trial in 2013, and our experts have been heavily involved in creating global industry standards for this technology. We're now eager to support all our service providers in learning how customers enjoy the service.

The people of Huntingdon will play an extremely important role in helping us gauge how the technology performs, and how we might deliver ultrafast speeds to more of the UK over the coming years."

Joe Garner, CEO Openreach

The service that forms the trial is configured to deliver 330 Mbps download speeds, which matches the current top tier speed sold via native Openreach GEA-FTTP which will make it easier for the eight trial providers to deal with.

We know that many will question whether is a technological dead end and that it would be cheaper to deliver FTTH for many millions and while some will say Openreach will never deliver FTTH as it wants to sweat its copper network, part of the current trial is to take lessons learnt from the fibre side of the trial and apply them to a FoD2 product that will be trialled for a smaller set of premises. Fingers crossed this may lead to lower prices on a FoD2 service and quicker install times.

With regards to the economics of versus FTTH we hope that Openreach will consider a demand led scheme with people paying a deposit that guarantees them or if enough deposits are placed then rather than install a node a full FTTH deployment may go ahead.

The trials are set to run for six to nine months, and if all goes well roll-out should start in 2016/2017 with the ambition to have it available to millions of homes by 2020 and if lab work delivered improved versions further speed upgrades to 500 Mbps may appear.

The race towards who will be the ultrafast king of the United Kingdom is now well underway and the race is very much on with the nascent FTTH industry to see who can get coverage to a level to compete and whether the average consumer cares about the delivery medium. Both the Virgin Media speed upgrades and Openreach trials have the advantage that no work is needed for the final run into someones home, whereas the TalkTalk ambition for 10 million FTTH homes may be easy to achieve with micro trenching down a street but the final run across peoples drives and gardens could prove the stumbling block.

In case you are not up to speed on what means Openreach has a new ultrafast micro-site that will also give any detail on the FoD2 which is going to test a 1 Gbps deployment and covers both Huntingdon and Gosforth.


Posted by Dixinormous about 1 year ago
A step in the right direction.

Openreach have never shown any desire to compete on speed with Virgin Media, this is no different, but it's progress, albeit very incremental.
Posted by farrina about 1 year ago
Did Virgin (in between promising headline ever faster download speeds) ever get around to increasing their upload speeds ?
Posted by AndyCZ about 1 year ago
What is the need to compete on speed? The vast majority of people on FTTP take either 80/20 or 40/10, even though they could take faster speeds.
Posted by Dixinormous about 1 year ago
Yes Virgin increased their upload speeds.

Indeed Andy. There is no great driver. Most are far more concerned about paying as little as possible than what they are getting, though heaven help the service providers if the service isn't flawless.
Posted by crashmoer about 1 year ago
Please demonstrate your how unbiased you may be by publishing accurate data about the speed and length of g fast copper line for the premises who are being trialled on this new technology Only once this is well known and published will people be able to make up their own minds about the VFM this G Fast may deliver.
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago
I've no doubt there's a demand for speeds like that (some businesses, some domestic speed freaks), but whether there's a mass market (by which I mean a large number willing to pay a premium) which actually needs it is another matter. However, and it's a big one, never discount the impact of being able to advertise such high speeds, even if the vast majority never use a fraction of it. Marketing and image matters.
Of course it's relativley cheap for VM to upgrade. For OR this is quite a lot of real money, but probably something they have to do.
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago

It's very likely trialists will be bound by non-disclosure agreements as the results (especially in a technical trial) will be commercially rather sensitive and subject to a lot of experimentation. Whether this will extent to the trialists not performing throughput tests against TB (or other public speedtest sites) is another thing. Clearly TB could probably identify trialist by results and postcode (if submitted).
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@crashmoer As much as I'd love to be able to get in a car and spend the day measuring paths and spotting likely deployment and interviewing people on the door step, we will have to make do with waiting on the first speed test results for now.

One cannot make guesses at the speed until one knows where the kit has actually been deployed in the street.

Am pretty sure even if its a trial and people are not getting near the 300 Mbps mark we will hear about it.
Posted by AndyCZ about 1 year ago
Based on the data I have seen, the estimates for the vast majority of postcodes on the trial should see the headline speed of 300Mbps. Some are slightly lower at 270Mbps and there were a couple at 120Mbps I believe. New physical lines will be installed into properties also (existing ADSL/FTTC services will continue).
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
300mbps. Like many others if I had 0.2% of that it would double the current speed I and many other get delivered from Openreach.
For the health of UK plc they have their priorities wrong, but I doubt BT give a ..........
Its a crime OFCOM are allowing this work at all, Openreach have much higher priorities.
Posted by bpullen about 1 year ago
At > 1MB, you could do with 'Ultra Fast Fibre' just to view the header image on the Openreach micro-site :D
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Picture of a G.Fast node here, alongside a mini connection point (an SCP? A replacement DP?)

Do we know the manufacturer?
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Do you think Openreach should entirely stop research and development of future technology because they haven't completed the rollout of the previous stuff yet?

Even if that research and development leads to technology that has capabilities to go deeper in the network, providing the service you want, but cheaper than existing methods?
Posted by uniquename about 1 year ago
"The speeds on offer will allow people to stream live ultra-high-definition 4K video content to multiple devices at once, all whilst simultaneously browsing the web, uploading videos and photos, or playing online games."

Backhaul permitting!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Looks like same node as was in the labs and maybe even the same mini SCP

Not allowed a peak inside node because it was still custom chips at that time.

Always open to invites to see other new kit that might be rolled out to millions of homes.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago

The word live implying the multicast technology that YouView on BT and TalkTalk uses for live transmissions, reducing backhaul capacity needed significantly.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
@WWWombat yes. As Openreach has no plan to deliver any improvement to large parts of the UK, the R&D money should be re-targeted to complete coverage. A complete roll out means all the UK, I don't believe there is a plan for that.

The difference in perspective is explained by the multiple of speed difference between what Openreach deliver to you and me. If you were delivered 0.2MB on a good day you would think as I do.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
I feel G/fast and fibre to the home will be used where you have a area where the speed is below the 15 meg status and be cost effective to do so thus off loading congested FTTC Cabs.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@Llety Presume you have engaged with your local authority to find out where you are on their priority list, i.e. which BDUK phase you fit into.

Not all the coverage contracts have gone to Openreach in phase 2 and they are not in any of the phase 3 pilots at all.

The lobbying for diminishing Openreach monopoly in rural areas has produced this result so far.
Posted by themanstan about 1 year ago
Why should Openreach deliver your fast BB desires, why not Gigaclear or VM or Talktalk or Hyperoptic?
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
Hi @andrew Local authority have no impact, in Wales. Welsh Government will say nothing other than watch the Superfast Cymru web site. FTTP within 300m going live in December, we are 1 of 3 houses being left out.

@themanstan fast BB, you clearly misunderstand to a huge extent the rural area problem. reliable 2mb would be quite sufficient for our needs. 5mb would be like living on a tropical island.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
No, actually, I wouldn't think as you do. That thinking is far too passive.

You're right that there is no *Openreach* plan to reach 100%. Other providers, other technology, is currently more suited to the final, rural, 4%ish of population that is spread over nearly 90% of the land area.

To take money away from R&D is to condemn that 4% to *never* acquire a suitable solution.
Posted by themanstan about 1 year ago
Have you not considered satellite BB or mobile BB?
Posted by AndyCZ about 1 year ago
They are trialling two different DPUs/nodes. Not sure the manufacturers, but I would suspect Huawei or Alcatel will be involved.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
Openreach will go where there is money to be made when trading is in an open market ,so if it is cost effective they will respond with fibre to the DP/home and other systems as the roll out speed up.
Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago

So if its cost effective for say Gigaclear or a fixed wireless solution to come to my Hamlet, are you saying Openreach will respond by offering or FTTH?
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Phil.
If Gigaclear or Wireless are in your Hamlet it would not be cost effect for Openreach to offer under their commercial option, they would not be able to use LA money if Gigaclear had registered their option on your location. I feel your Hamlet should work as a unit and work via your LA.all best.
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago

The R&D money is OpenReach's commercial money, and unless it has the possibility of earning a return it simply won't get spent. There is no sense in which the R&D money can be taken away and redirected. It doesn't belong to the government. In any event, there are government funded projects exploring options for the last 5% (none of it with OR).

If the state wants the industry to provide 100% coverage, then they'll have to come up with a (financially) workable regulatory regime.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi TheEuler.
As Openreach has gone for a deregulated Exchange for testing their Gfast this should give a fair test to its profit potential and service capability so it could be used for the last 5% window in the next year.
Posted by tommy45 about 1 year ago
Yes Backhaul permitting! which unless they make some massive investments in that i doubt it will have the available reasources in particular during peak times

And if FTTH became available to me,i wouldn't buy it so i could stream 4k tv,

The quality of programes broadcast on TV gets poorer and poorer each year,no incentive to buy a 4k tv nevermind want to spend more money to watch steamed content most of it, mind numbing FUD
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
Hi @themanstan

Have 3G, conection drops when iPhones come home from work. kills vpn. Sat. does not work when it rains, evenings, weekends, etc. It worse than no solution.

I have a 12 ton track machine, so could lay the duct. OR just need to blow the fiber, but getting Openreach to even talk to you is impossible, they are not interested. Willing to put the work in, do the civils, but OR can't be bothered or I can't find the right people despite a lot of effort. Even if you are will to step up to the mark, there are no opportunities.

Posted by themanstan about 1 year ago
I think you need to find out LA why your group of houses is being left out. Formal letter to the council.

Also a 300m maybe one of your neighbours will consider P2P wifi connection.
Posted by Dixinormous about 1 year ago
@Blackmamba There's no such thing as a deregulated exchange as far as Openreach go. The markets and regulation apply to BT Wholesale's pricing, not Openreach.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
Hi @themanstan

Welsh Government, a wall of pointers to the superfast cymru web site and little else useful. Their statement is we don't yet know. Local engineers say we will be excluded.

I had been thinking along those lines. Going to test out a
Ubiquiti NanoStation Loco M5, but we don't have line of sight (sea one side, hills the other 3 sides) so would need at least 3 pairs. Running power is the hard bit, but done it before.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
That's more like the thinking.

If you have to run power out to the farthest repeater location, why not just run your own fibre there too? Only one wireless connection needed then.

Unless you are running PoE out there. What distance?

I guess the same thinking could apply to running your own remote 3G antenna.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
@WWWombat no, its bad I have to think like this. I may have the skills (or can aquire them), 95% in this situation don't. My neighbour could not do it alone. OR and WG have abdicated their responsibility. No guarantee a neighbour with FTTP will let us paying is Broadband bill.

We need 3 hops due to the terrain over other peoples land, 4 for the neighbour 1/2 a mile away. I already run a 3G, but at busy times VPN drops as new people join (true for EE and Three), so its not fit for purpose.

Hops are 83m, 130m and about 200m. 2nd leg to next door is about 300m, then 150m.

Posted by smaugy about 1 year ago
I'd pay around a £grand, perhaps a bit more, for a deposit or contribution to install costs for this kind of speed.

Currently I can only get 2.5Mb due to being at the far end of an FTTC-enabled cab :(
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Look at it from the other perspective. OR and WG don't have a 100% target, so they're not (yet) forced to have the skills/tools (or acquire them) to reach you either.

In that sense, they haven't abdicated responsibility ... they just haven't needed to /take/ responsibility in the first place.

BTW, the reason I suspect they've left you out is because you, and the other two premises, need a "cost per premise" beyond the "premise cap" set in most BDUK contracts. Usually £1,700.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
On that front, I wonder about FTTPoD that is due to re-appear in Wales. Perhaps you will be able to order that, as an extension from the native FTTP infrastructure being installed.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Because they don't need to do anything yet, and you won't patiently wait (don't blame you), you are forced to acquire the skills yourself.

I agree on 3G issues. Same for 4G here, but things got better as I made better provisions for the antenna. The more apparent power your device has, the more it survives busy hour.

Are your various hops powered from separate sources? What distance does the power have to go from source to wireless repeater?
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
If you want to keep a job which needs oncall and a mobile, let your kids have the same opportunities then waiting till 2020 or beyond is not an option. Depopulation of rural areas by forcing young people out.

Already have high gain antenna, don't think there is much scope to uprate it.

yes, 3 different places. 83m, 130m-ish and 150m-ish. only the 83 meters is operational today for the 3G.

Posted by maxnrg about 1 year ago
The Broadband have nots are not just restricted to rural areas. If you are far from an urban exchange and unlucky in the FTTP/C Cabinet lottery you can end up like me with 3.5Mb ADSL2. Obviously @Llety is worse off than me speed wise, but it still annoys me that I pay Sky/EE/BT line rental for 3 phone lines which is now over £50 + varying monthly fees to get 3 x 3.5Mb of bandwidth when houses less than 30m from me have access to 330Mb FTTH. And no it's not feasible for me to try and share this with neighbours I don't care to know.
Posted by maxnrg about 1 year ago
So while BTOR shouldn't give up on R&D, they should at least give those with the means the option of paying to do things like FTTPoD.

Also I'd gladly have Virgin, Hyperoptic or anyone else give me an option other than my ADSL2. Finally 4G is fine for limited bandwidth use (I have 50GB on a shared plan) but it's no good for home use as I could burn through it in a week.

Posted by michaels_perry about 1 year ago
When terrestrial TV (Freeview) is taken off air and put onto the internet, people will then need decently fast connection speeds. Each HD stream needs at least 4 Mbps and UHD needs at least 16 Mbps. But the real problem will be the backbone bandwidth available to serve the many millions of viewers who will then have to rely on an internet connection - which not all have even now, not even everyone getting at least 2 Mbps!
And what about doing something about upload speeds?
Posted by AspieMum about 1 year ago
(Part 1)FTTC gives fast enough speeds for my family's use without the additional expense faster connections usually cost.
Posted by AspieMum about 1 year ago
(Part 2) Virgin will never be an option here (they put leaflets through the door saying you're in their area but if you contact them they say its too expensive to connect your area up to their network).
Posted by AspieMum about 1 year ago
(Part 3) Also relying on mobile broadband isn't an option here either- 3G is non-existent & although phone companies think you'll get a great 4G signal you'd need to be flying over the roof tops if you can get more than a tiny unreliable signal at all (I get that in my bedroom- there's nothing downstairs). Basic broadband here regardless of ISP (except AOL who put us on a plan where they reduced the speed to even slower) is a variable 0.8MBs to 1.7MBs and the connection can be unreliable. You can be stuck on 0.8MBs for days at a time so its not just peak times.
Posted by AspieMum about 1 year ago
(Part 4) FTTC made broadband useable without as much additional cost that would have been necessary if they had put in something faster. Some people round here will be able to little more than basic web browsing & iPlayer etc work only if you download the program 1st overnight.
Posted by AspieMum about 1 year ago
(Part 5) Where I live is only 4 miles from a town and less than 10 miles from a city. Technically rural but its a big village and not truly rural. If we have those difficulties what do real rural places have?
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
Posted by maxnrg 3 days ago
So while BTOR shouldn't give up on R&D, they should at least give those with the means the option of paying to do things like FTTPoD

if that is true see openreach Faq not on a plan
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