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Potential new products from Openreach to help with digital divide
Tuesday 22 September 2015 15:52:33 by Andrew Ferguson

The news today that the BT Group is on board if the Government/Ofcom do launch a Universal Service Obligation of 5 to 10 Mbps in the next few months will be music to the ears of those who are stuck on ADSL speeds that they may have now had for many years. BT was clear that it is not expecting to take on the full weight of delivering any USO, but was willing to work with others and this gives Ofcom some freedom to define different USO providers for different areas, or some other solution.

The technology on offer from Openreach, beyond the headline grabbing G.fast (300 - 500 Mbps) and FTTP (up to Gigabit) revolves around a mixture of solutions, including a satellite broadband service capable of delivering superfast speeds, wireless solutions and the interesting Long Reach VDSL option.

Long Reach VDSL holds the promise of being able to deliver 24 Mbps from a cabinet out to distances of 2km, when currently you need to be at around 1km to experience 24 Mbps to 30 Mbps type speeds. The difference this makes is clear when you look at the spread of line distances from cabinets, and if every existing street cabinet was to be upgraded to offer a Long Reach VDSL service an extra 120,000 postcodes would enjoy a superfast connection (the 120,000 postcodes translates to around 1.3 million premises).

How close this new variant is to becoming a product we do not know, but we will this chase BT down and find out more. One interesting prospect for those who can get FTTC but are not getting superfast speeds is that a new product with a 15 Mbps speed cap may be available, no pricing, but clearly it has to cost less than the entry level 40/2 product does.

Update Friday 6pm We have managed to get a little more information on the 15 Mbps FTTC product option. This is set to be a special offer product from Openreach to Communication Providers and will only be available for those with existing ADSL/ADSL2+ speeds of 3 Mbps or slower. The idea of the 15 Mbps price point is to encourage those people to upgrade to an entry level product, price wise somewhere between ADSL prices and the current 40/2 product pricing is all we know. There will be a trial involved that will run for 6 months to judge demand, so once the providers are ready hopefully we will hear more. We suspect the appeal is meant to be for those that see the existing 40 Mbps products as too expensive and are happy to wait a bit longer for web pages to open and are not yet video streaming addicts.

Comments

Posted by binary about 1 year ago
Any updates on the plan for ADSL2+ delivered from DSLAMs in FTTC cabinets that surfaced last year?
Posted by SlimJ about 1 year ago
I'm currently sitting on around 21-23mbit at 1.7km from the cabinet (FTTC Clean High estimated 21.4mbit), feel lucky to get such a high speed considering the distance! But interested to know how Long Reach VDSL might affect my speeds.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
The last time that Long Reach VDSL was mentioned the consensus seemed to be that it wouldn't deliver what was promised.
Is this correct or am I simply wrong?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Will be chasing for more info of course.
Posted by stinga about 1 year ago
That is still slower than the current global average?
Posted by mikejp about 1 year ago
My goodness me! Is there a small sense of panic in BT land perchance? All sorts of 'ideas' coming out, and maybe once the 'opposition' has been screwed these 'ideas' will fade into the long grass?
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@mikejp
My thoughts exactly.
I think that we can conclude that for those of us on long rural lines, without many neighbours, BT can only offer FTTP.
This off course will only be available if the Government pick up the bill at some time in the far distant future.
Posted by craski about 1 year ago
@andrew
Do you have any info on Long Reach VDSL speed vs distance?
i.e. can it help those on lines up to 5km?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Did not get to grab photo due to heads in the way and slide only being on for a few seconds, but will endeavour to obtain a copy for deeper analysis. 5km might be pushing your luck though.
Posted by gt94sss2 about 1 year ago
"How close this new variant is to becoming a product we do not know, but we will this down."?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Have fixed the badly worded sentence :-) Blames working on a smaller keyboard rather than my brain.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@binary
Ideas for ADSL2+ from the cabinet never turned into plans, and seem to have been shelved indefinitely.

My best estimate is that ADSL2+ from the cabinet would have been flawed by the need to reduce power to co-exist with ADSL2+ from the exchange.

The flaw means there would be little benefit to long D-sides where the cabinet was within 2-3km of the exchange.

There is perhaps benefit for those whose E-side is 3km+ and whose D-side is 2-3km.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I've not seen any of the technical proposals for a "long reach VDSL", so can't comment. The press release from yesterday's event only mentions it in terms of research in Adastral Park, with no reference to a manufacturer product or trial.

On the standards front, the only thing that seems to have triggered work recently is for close-range VDSL2 - in adding a 35b profile, 35MHz, compatible with vectoring on 17a.

Is there really a "long-range VDSL2" technology we don't yet know about? I'm not convinced.
...
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
However, last November, Kevin Foster did post this amongst the "to-do list" for NICC in 2015:

"Complete maintenance work on ND1436 and ND1031 to enable long range VDSL2 operation (the ADSL2plus fall back mode)"

So perhaps the "long range" option really is ADSL2+ from the cabinet.

To me, longer D-side lines would get far more benefit if they didn't have to reduce power in the cabinet. Would it be better to force people off exchange-based services? Could we accept that politically?
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Conversely, ADSL2+ from the cabinet wouldn't ever meet the target that @andrew mentions in the article: "24Mbps at 2km"; ADSL2+ can get to 24Mbps, just, but only within a few metres.

To achieve that needs something very different from ADSL2+.

Does that mean something radical is in the offing? Bonding?
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Incidentally, NICC's ND1436 and ND1031 have both been updated to version 1.3.1 within the last month, to include ADSL2+ fallback testing.

http://www.niccstandards.org.uk/publications/index.cfm
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I've just read through the new test specifications in NICC's ND1436.

That document reflects identical limitations to those originally seen in BT's SIN 498:
- A maximum downstream speed of 12Mbps
- A maximum upstream speed of 1.4Mbps
- Downstream power constrained by the same ANFP power masks as VDSL2
- The tests are limited to lines of TP100 twisted pair (aka 0.5mm copper), with lengths of 2000m, 2500m, and 3000m.
- Tests include fast mode and interleaved.

From those test parameters, you can likely guess at the intended boundaries of usage.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@WWWombat
To get around the technical problem of having short lines and long lines on the same fibre cabinet, could they install a second fibre cabinet alongside the existing fibre cabinet just for the long lines.
Posted by RuralWire about 1 year ago
So let me get this right, now that Openreach is under threat of being hived off, BT are suddenly claiming that they are interested in bridging the digital divide with claims of "promising new technologies". The fact that BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson "pledged" yesterday that "the company would introduce a satellite broadband service", by the end of this year, tells me all I need to know about his "promising new technologies". No more than vague and ambiguous twaddle from BT for the gullible and naive. Laughable.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
Rural wire there are options for communities and have been for around 4 years for communities to work directly with openreach to enable infrastructure where it does not currently exist today -- see openreach FAQ rural not on a plan

Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
Dunsfold Exchange (Surrey) I would think has 100% access to fibre after finding post codes customers numbers showing FTTC/P on very long lines it looks like fibre has been used passed the 15 meg target. The post codes are not on Thinkbroadband maps but I would think they will be at the end of September return Q2.
Posted by moftot about 1 year ago
Like craski I would also like to know about speed vs distance for "Long Reach VDSL".

My cabinet that's about 2.5km away has been upgraded to FTTC some months ago. BT/Openreach has tried to upgrade med to BT Infinity 4 times a year ago, all failed because of the distance to the cabinet, the signal doesn't arrive at all so I'm stuck with 1Mbps download speed.
Posted by moftot about 1 year ago
Correction "some months ago" => "summer of 2014".
Posted by binary about 1 year ago
@WWWombat - thanks for your responses.

I wonder if you could expand on this a bit for a bear with little brain...

"To me, longer D-side lines would get far more benefit if they didn't have to reduce power in the cabinet. Would it be better to force people off exchange-based services? Could we accept that politically?"
Posted by RuralWire about 1 year ago
@fastman - What you say is true, but in my view, wireless technology has the potential to offer a more practical and pragmatic alternative in terms of coverage. If BT, Ofcom and the Government are genuinely interested in seeing the delivery of better broadband services to the more remote parts of the UK, within a meaningful time frame, then the issue of access to and the cost of backhaul needs to be addressed.
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago
@binary

Cabinet only services at selected locations is something I've proposed several times. However, there's clearly a big issue with LLU operators so it might have to be limited to exchanges where they aren't present. There's also the issue of customer equipment, wholesale cost and ISP interfaces.

Clearly is would need a different frequency plan and PSD optimised more to long reach as well or else service could get worse for some.
Posted by binary about 1 year ago
@TheEulerID

Understood re the issue of LLU operators (which is what I kinda guessed the 'political' reference meant), but what is the deal in terms of power being reduced in the cabinet that seemingly currently happens?
(I 'get' a fair bit but am on the edge of my understanding in terms of some stuff, but am keen to grasp it.)
Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago
Long reach VDSL my ar*e!

My exchange has 1 cabinet which is about 20m from the exchange and still 7km away!
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago
@PC

It's clearly not meant for those sort of locations. That requires fibre (or maybe wireless) pushed out much further into the network.

Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago
@binary

Where frequencies generated at the cabinet overlap with those from the exchange, the power density at the cabinet has to be "backed off" of else the cross talk will tend to swamp the exchange signals as the latter will be much attenuated.

One little nicety is that for cabinets a long way from the exchange, that "back-off" happens lower down the frequency spectrum as the exchange signals are too weak to be useful.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@binary
Signals put out by the exchange have, by the time they reach the cabinet, lost some of their power.

If the cabinet puts out higher power signals onto adjacent lines, this causes extra interference (aka crosstalk) of the exchange-generated signals, causing them to lose signal, increase noise, and reduce speed.

To ensure this doesn't happen, the cabinet's transmit power must be fudged down for all the frequencies that get out as far as that particular cabinet.

Political solution: Ban all exchange-based connections, including LLU, for that cabinet. This is the solution in New Zealand.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@chilting
No, that wouldn't work.

The problem isn't caused by the length of the line after the cabinet.

The problem is caused by the fact that ADSL signals (from the exchange) pass by the cabinet at a lower power than they could (theoretically) be generated within the cabinet.

The solution is to ensure that the cabinet transmits its signal (for any individual frequency) at an identical power level as that seen for the transiting ADSL signal. No higher. No lower either, for that matter.
...
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Another solution would be to bundle exchange signals in a separate cable from cabinet signals ... but that means re-designing the entire access network.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@RuralWire
You are right, no doubt. Wireless is much better than satellite, for speed as well as other performance figures.

But satellite is unbeatable for coverage, right now.

BT installing fixed-line deeper will take time. Anyone installing wireless will take time.

Should the sub-2Mbps people (0.8% of premises, according to TBB's "local" data) be kept waiting throughout that time? or be temporarily diverted to a viable (but not brilliant) alternative?

Seems to me like a pragmatic trade-off for now.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@moftot
IF "long range VDSL" really does mean "cabinet-based ADSL2+", then the answers can be figured out.

At the very best, you'll likely achieve the same as ADSL2+ works on a 2.5km exchange line, subject to a cap of 12Mbps.

Some speed is likely to be lost by power reductions, but (a) we don't really know how much, and (b) it will vary, depending on precise E-side lengths and D-side lengths.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I note that the "Openreach Charter" has this to say:

<<We will offer to upgrade 400,000 homes with slow copper lines, in fibre areas, with a special offer giving a ‘stepping stone to fibre’>>

400k homes is about 1.5% of the country, which is equivalent to the proportion of lines longer than 2km ... exactly the ones targetted by "GEA over ADSL2+"

I wonder if the charter is making a reference to the same thing?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
The 400,000 was mentioned at the same time as long reach VDSL. We have the model showing what they believe is possible, the 1.3 million in the article I wrote was derived from our data I should point out.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@blackmamba You should look at RH14 0PF this blows your theory of total fibre coverage on the Dunsfold exchange.

https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/?postcode=RH14%200PF

Feel free to check other sources too.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Andrews Staff.
See Elgin duct work this will I think cover this post code from an other exchange. Remember Dunsfold was on Exchange I covered.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Andrews Staff.
The Cab that covers the above area could also service long lines from Wormley that are showing low speeds under 2 meg by overhead fibre all the poles are there.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Andrews Staff.
I did think I said Dunsfold had 100% access but did not state speeds.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
But this is why people always question you, you said has 100% fibre access and it does not. Now this may change in the future, but then it may not.

If its future roll-out and 100% confirmed then describe it as such, don't say its already covered.

Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Andrews Staff.
As I recall Durfold Wood was Dunsfold numbers I could be incorrect.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@andrew

When you calculated 1.3 million, was this the number of premises that could have been impacted by a potential speed rise to 24Mbps? (Your article suggests a rise to 24Mbps)

Everything in SIN 498 and ND1436 suggests a cap of 12Mbps (which is reasonable for a 2.5km line).

Does your number change if you only count premises whose speeds could rise to 12Mbps?
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Otherwise, I think the term 'stepping-stone to fibre' is better, and probably more accurate, than 'long-reach VDSL'.

There's a moral here about never letting a sales guy announce your technical stuff...
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Andrew staff.
I am unable to get a tele number in Durfold Wood as a Referance.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Long Reach VDSL is not ADSL2+ deployed from a cabinet.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Andrews Staff.
I think that Durford Wood was under Haslemere 01428 for mtce but was in the Guildford area code 01483 GSA covering Dunsfold. I think the customers near the tuning to Haslemere were not under Haslemee but West Sussex.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
RH14 0PF lists three premises and none have fibre available to order at this time.

1 is connected to Dunsfold the other two say Plaistow exchange with not even ADSL available.

The aim may be to add FTTP overlays in the area, but until its built it is not available.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Andrews staff.
Thanks for checking and on Elgin there is 900 Mtres off ducting plus boxes completion date 5/10 this will cover aprox 100 customers I would think with fibre.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
For those not aware Elgin is referring to roadworks.org

Well aware of what is in the build sequence, but when some people have seen similar work and then waited many months for the fibre blowing/splicing and final activation one learns to be more circumspect about announcing things like 100% coverage.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@Blackmamba
I think that the residents of West Sussex on the Plaistow exchange may take issue with you when you talk about 100% coverage. Their exchange never has had ADSL. Only now is FTTC being installed. Luckily they are in Kijoma's coverage area.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
If long-reach VDSL isn't ADSL2+ from the cabinet, then what is it? Kinda hard to categorically state what it isn't without knowing what it is ...

The recent progress on "GEA over ADSL2+" is extremely coincidental, for something that was going nowhere; nothing else appears on the horizon of NICC or the ITU; BBRA is on hold.

That leaves FTTRN ... but why would they change the name of that?
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Chil.
I was refering to Dunsfold Area having a high fibre access the fibre may be cabled from Dunsfold to Plaistow the work is under BD/UK see works order there may be even North Chapel Exchange W S long lines involved.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@WWWombat I now have a copy of the infographic showing modelled range and waiting on some answers to questions and my own analysis of the effect, so will cover more on Friday fingers crossed.

30 Mbps at 1.8km, with the usual curve down to 7 Mbps at 4km and 4 Mbps at 5km.

Its the 30 Mbps figure that means I'm saying its not ADSL2+ that was always capped at 12 Mbps for the GEA variant.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@Blackmamba
I cannot comment on the coverage in Dunsfold but please be aware that in West Sussex many of the rural exchanges have a far from ideal layout for FTTC conversion. The cabinets are not evenly spaced but tend to be grouped and there are many long lines. 100% coverage by Openreach could only be achieved with massive public investment.
Posted by craski about 1 year ago
@andrew
In the BT infographic/models what wire diameter do they assume when quoting speed vs distance?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
0.5mm. Should add it is a model rather than observations from a trial in a real village and it is taking a more optimistic view than we do for standard VDSL2 but will summarise once I've seen the potential effect.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Okay processing has finished, so will publish a summary tomorrow, but a hint is that based on cabinets that are live today. Superfast at 24 Mbps or faster in the UK would be 89.3%, with our usual VDSL2 data its 86.6%.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@Andrew

Exactly. I think I made the same point that an improvement at any speed around 24Mbps+ implied it wasn't ADSL2+, and that the GEA-over-ADSL2+ had the 12Mbps limit.

30Mbps at 1.8km is a huge leap. Looking forward to seeing the graphics...

(written last night, but I forgot to post this until now, when I'm looking at the graphic itself!)
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Just seen the Friday update. Interesting additional price point, but a strange choice of qualifying threshold ... less than 3Mbps.

I wonder if that is based on estimate, or actual speed.
Posted by JacktheMac about 1 year ago
Wombat
'Should the sub-2Mbps people (0.8% of premises, according to TBB's "local" data) be kept waiting throughout that time?’

I’m sorry, but I can’t believe this figure. Should it not be 8%?

Many villages in England and Wales are beyond the 2.4km exchange cutoff and receive <1Mbps – and require an hourly reboot to achieve that.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@JackTheMac
2.4km exchange cutoff? My last line was 2.2km long (exchange-premises), and achieved 8Mbps on ADSL and 12Mbps on ADSL2+. An extra 200m wouldn't drop those to sub-2Mbps; a 5km cutoff would be nearer the mark.

Do you mean something different? Perhaps you are talking about the cabinet distance cutoff?

There aren't many properties which beyond 2.4km from the cabinet *and* beyond 5km from the exchange.

If so, here are the the national D-side length statistics:
http://postimg.org/image/bp372fcnn/

Not a lot out beyond 2.4km
...
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
8% or 0.8%? A very good question.

Ofcom thought (in Dec 2014) that 3% couldn't get 2Mbps, while 75% could get 30Mbps. Since then, the 30Mbps+ coverage is more like 86% (rising at 0.7% per month) ... so that 3% is likely to have been reduced.

The 0.8% figure, and others, come from TBB's own monitoring:
http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/

If fibre coverage has reached nearly 91%, then likely 90% can get 2Mbps+ speeds from NGA alone, ignoring exchange equipment entirely - so 8% seems far too high a figure.
Posted by JacktheMac about 1 year ago
@WWWombat
Sorry, your figures are of course correct (I meant to write 5.4km). I’m only 3.2km from my exchange but it was last updated 10 years ago to ‘Max DSL’ and BT have no intention of upgrading it further. Like most people in the villages nearby it’s good day when I get anything above 2Mbps down. Mostly it’s below 1Mbps.

Downloading today's Mac OSX upgrade will take around 12 hours.

FortunatelyGigaclear are coming to the rescue next year.

Is there anyone, anywhere who has anything good to say about BT (employees and shareholders excepted)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
What people often forget is that 0.8% is actually around 220,000 premises. We will start quoting to more decimal places when it shrinks some more.

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