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Openreach announces two more trial sites covering 25,000 premises
Thursday 10 March 2016 12:42:59 by Andrew Ferguson

While the biggest news in terms of numbers is the announcement of trials in Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire and Gillingham, Kent providing ultrafast broadband (up to 330 Mbps download speeds) to 25,000 premises there is more Fibre to the Premises too.

Business Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) with up to 1 Gbps speeds is to be trialled in two locations in Bradford, i.e. Kirkgate High Street and Listerhills Science Park.

"The UK is a leader when it comes to superfast broadband. Nine out of ten premises have access to fibre today and this will grow to 95 per cent by the end of next year – but I want to get high speeds to everyone, so we’re also developing solutions for the final five per cent of the country.

I’m determined to roll out ultrafast broadband, and technology is the best way to deliver that to the majority of the UK as quickly as possible. We also plan to roll out significantly more fibre-to-the-premises, and we’re trialling a range of options in Bradford to use that technology increasingly in future – wherever it makes sense.

A large number of new housing developments will also get fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure built for free under our latest plans, so that’s great news for developers and homeowners too."

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach

The press release goes over the usual numbers that our regular readers will know well, but the 10 million premises passed by an ultrafast option by 2020 ambition has been repeated though still with the caveat that the regulatory environment has to be favourable. The key messages are that has not vanished and the trials are getting larger and there is talk of more FTTP with the ultrafast delivery described as a mixture of and FTTP.

In terms of time scales the Gigabit FTTP trials have seen work already start with the first businesses due to go live in Spring and work in the new areas will start soon.

Moving forward we have asked about FoD2/Fibre Premium as we always do, but there are signs of a new Gigabit business-grade product aimed at the business community that will sit between the existing GEA-FTTC, GEA-FTTP products and the traditional Ethernet/leased line services.


Posted by chilting 8 months ago
I don't understand why Openreach call these trials. They seem committed to Why not say it is the start of a nationwide roll out - unless they are stalling for some reason?
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop 8 months ago
I would assume it's not just trials of the technology but also all the associated systems and processes to go with it as well as working out what kind of staffing resource is required, all kinds of data is needed before an actual product and pricing can be delivered
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop 8 months ago
If they just came straight out and said it's the start of a nationwide roll out before they had worked bugs out of the system or worked out every thing else to go with it and for some reason hit a problem and had to delay things they'd come under fire for not delivering
Posted by chilting 8 months ago
Maybe, but I am not convinced, anyway why do they need trails for FTTP?
Openreach have done as asked with the BDUK FTTC roll out but they certainly make a meal of things. No wonder people get so frustrated with them.
Posted by CarlThomas 8 months ago
They need to trial different deployment methods and their own internal systems. Same with the

I'm unsure what these are but pilots are the start of the rollouts, they're the last step before commercial deployment kicks off.

Openreach have to take extreme care over things as if they go wrong it's... not good.

Given the political and commercial attention they have I guess caution is advised.
Posted by WWWombat 8 months ago
BT is, historically, conservative. All the old requirements for availability and emergency service access mean that things have to just work. And keep working for decades. And keep working in extremes.

Throw in new commercial imperatives, and there's always something new to try out, to make things cheaper or more robust. New things, or new methods, mean new systems, new skills and staff training nationwide.

EoI means being fair to all CPs together.
Posted by WWWombat 8 months ago
Bringing that all together: A trial is a short term commitment, and can be abandoned. Going live brings a long term commitment - and they need to be sure they can stand behind the product; highly available, robust, scalable, cheap, profitable, fair, and will stay like this for decades.

Having to stop FoD is not the norm.
Posted by TheEulerID 8 months ago

I suspect you have very little experience of major projects. It's simply good practice to trial new systems, methods and rollouts. Planning can get you so far, but it still needs testing in the field. It happens in medicine, social welfare systems, retailing, finance systems and any number of other situations.
Posted by chilting 8 months ago
Ok, I accept that, but lets hope they just get on with it! Dynamic they are not!
Posted by jumpmum 8 months ago
You would be one of many scathing if the systems did not prove able to sustain a scaled rollout.
They will be testing order journeys for successful, failed orders and the throughput so engineers do not have to wait for system responses when on-site. Fault reporting and incident management and all the linkages between them. All very non-trivial and can take several development cycles to complete all the bug fixing.

All have to work with their interfaces with ISPs.

With OFCOM driving to improve provision and fault responses OR can't afford too many bugs when they move to live.
Posted by jumpmum 8 months ago
The FTTP trial is a new business Gb product so may involve 10Gb PON so will also need all the systems testing including new interface specs with ISPs including SLAs automated tracking.
Posted by TheEulerID 8 months ago

My background is in very large IT systems, and I. An say one thing with certainty and that is thereis always huge pressure from the top to deliver function very quickly, for obvious reasons, and it is a constant battle to build in the time for proper testing, commissioning and processes. I've seen far too many near disasters caused when this is neglected. I don't think people understand the enormously complex web of systems which lie behind things like this.
Posted by WWWombat 8 months ago
Good point - in some senses BT are dynamic (eg in Research), in others they are not (eg live service)

I guess that's another reason for trials of gradually increasing size: The initial trials can be very flexible and dynamic. However, as features get tied down, and the trials grow in scale, the dynamism reduces. Until, in live service, there is little dynamism left.
Posted by CarlThomas 8 months ago
@WWWombat Fair point. Openreach are basically forbidden from being 'dynamic' by equivalence.
Posted by Kebabselector 8 months ago
It would be nice if they decided to look at a more cost effective ways of upgrading uneconomical cabinets rather than chasing the speed crown.
Posted by gerarda 8 months ago
@kebabselector - I agree but it is clear from all their that they have given up on doing anything the last 1-2% of their network
Posted by JNeuhoff 8 months ago
First of all, BT is to be commended for finally trialling these G.Fast and FTTP systems.

Just a reminder of how important it is to get things right (hence the trials) if take a look at it's history:
In 2009, BT announced Openreach would connect 2.5 million British homes to ultra-fast FTTP by 2012 and 25% of the UK. However, by the end of September 2015 only 250,000 homes were connected (see
Posted by JNeuhoff 8 months ago
Having said that, FTTP is already in use by BT (Infinity Options 3 or 4) in some areas. So what exactly else (other than faster or cheaper deployment methods) are the FTTP trials for?
Posted by lee111s 8 months ago

There are always ways to do things better/cheaper/faster/more efficiently. Any business which thinks otherwise will fall behind. The only way to find out is to trial.

I believe the FTTP trials will focus on connectorisation, which is basically a different way of connecting the fibres, as opposed to the timely splicing method which is currently used.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 8 months ago
Using less blown fibre i.e. like we blogged about when visiting sites in Huntingdon.

Also 1 Gbps GPON is different in terms of hardware/CPE so testing in conjunction with providers and assessing whether there is a demand and what what price SME will pay rather than picking figure out of the air.
Posted by TheEulerID 8 months ago
I also suspect there's a limited amount of equipment on the market now. It is, after all, a very new technology not so long out of full ratification and there will be dozens of telcos after this stuff. It takes time to ramp up production, and I suspect tests will be using pre-production hardware & firmware. It would be interesting to know of other international trials of
Posted by jumpmum 8 months ago
When the trials started there was only g,fast equipmnent from BT Labs. If you remember they had to drive the standards so they could put it in the network. I believe the first end user kit was produced to a BT spec by Huawei as there was NO off the shelf kit available.
Posted by _Mike_B_ 8 months ago
The trials are as already mentioned to trial the ordering process, iPhone apps for the engineers and also the test systems. They'll need to develop the test systems for G.Fast and I imagine that's very time consuming with a lot of fine tuning involved.
Posted by jabuzzard 8 months ago
@Kebabselector - G.Fast is a way to provide cost effective upgrades to uneconomical cabinets, in addition to chasing faster speeds. It is also a cost effective way to deal with those who live too far away from their cabinet to get a decent speed as well as those on exchange only lines. In theory it also brings full FTTP a step closer.
Posted by chilting 8 months ago
It is very encouraging to see so many people defending Openreach. It does seem that their plans for the future are sound and that they will eventually give us G.Fast and maybe FTTP one day.
I don't think that so many people would have jumped to the defence of Rail Track if I had critised
Posted by JNeuhoff 8 months ago
@Kebabselector: According to wikipedia:

" is a digital subscriber line (DSL) standard for local loops shorter than 500 m, with performance targets between 150 Mbit/s and 1 Gbit/s, depending on loop length. High speeds are only achieved over very short loops."

So how then exactly does it provide cost effective upgrades to uneconomical cabinets or EO lines?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 8 months ago
Because you extend the fibre closer to the premises thus shortening the copper loop length, if the cost of the power and node and labour would be more expensive than doing straight FTTP then some areas may get native FTTP.

Who gets what is usually down to a cold hard financial calculation.
Posted by JNeuhoff 8 months ago
@andrew: My post should have directed to @jabuzzard. Anyway, thanks for your explanations.

Question: Is a more cost effective way than VDSL to provide upgrades to uneconomical cabinets?
Posted by WWWombat 8 months ago
Looking back at the original FTTC trials, for comparison...

A technical trial in early 2009 in Foxhall.

Followed by a pilot for 30,000 in Muswell Hill and Whitchurch, in summer 2009.

Comments in the news articles back then aren't much different...

I like the predictions that 50% of lines could achieve 20Mbps. OK, that was using profile 8c, but thankfully we're getting close to 90% capable of 25Mbps now.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 8 months ago
@JNeuhoff The economics vary a lot but given 8 to 16 line nodes are available then the scope to deal with small areas without having to cross roads to do the final fibre drops that FTTH need then it might be a game changer. Same is possible with VDSL2 nodes of course.

Its another tool in the armoury and yes will delay FTTH for some people, but if it delivers 200 to 300 Mbps in real world that will satisfy TV demands for many years.
Posted by ahockings 8 months ago
I know, instead of making existing fast connections faster, why not rollout some FTTRn to businesses like me who are struggling to even run the God damn business because I STILL have 1.7 meg!!!!
I mean, HELLO?????
Frankly I'd pay 50 quid a month for 20 meg.
HELLO? HELLO? Is there anyone there??
The kids come round and no one can do anything at all!!!
It's simply bonkers. How do you run a minecraft server, a Youtube stream, Netflix and browsing off 1.7Mbps?
Can someone tell me how I do that? Nope, thought not.
the future is coming faster than you think.
Lot of poo going to hit big fan soon.

Posted by lee111s 8 months ago
Get a leased line if you re running a business and a connection is that important.

I assume as you're running it from home you have a business packag?
Posted by GMAN99 8 months ago
ahockings I read you would pay up to £50 for a business connection and then gave up :)
Posted by GMAN99 8 months ago
Good to see JNeuhoff falsely praising openreach it makes a nice change to see this instead of his alter ego gnewton, I doubt it will last
Posted by GMAN99 8 months ago
They must be serious about running such a large trial. With it being so large let's hope they get all the data they need so they can start rolling out proper
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop 8 months ago
@ ahockings
Get a leased line, get satellite, get bonded DSL. Rent an office somewhere with good connection. If it's a business shouldn't you have planned for this stuff if it's so important for your business to be online?
Posted by JNeuhoff 8 months ago
@ahockings: Leased lines, satellite or bonded DSL won't be an option for many rural businesses. Not every business is able to move from a rural area to a town. You have to be realistic here, there are solutions, but they may not be what you have suggested for @ahockings.
Posted by JNeuhoff 8 months ago
@FibreFred - GMAN99: Your derogative post here reminds me as to why I quit ISPReview, especially when I remember all the bickering among posters like you, MikeW, GNewton and others.
Posted by CarlThomas 8 months ago
Can we pack in the leased line stuff?

It's not an appropriate solution for all businesses and it's perfectly legitimate for SMEs to bemoan the lack of business broadband.

No-one here has any idea what the guy's business is, don't be so quick to judge.
Posted by ahockings 8 months ago
Self employed IT guy.
Yeah, leased line really not what I want or can afford.
Nor can I move.
I live just 3.5 miles from a major Town that's fibred. Hell, my cab is fibred but I'm 5.5Km from it. BT commercial cab so no hope of finding out when they are likely to sort it.
Don't see what the joke is about 50 quid. My local village (different cab right in the village), everyone is getting either 40 or 80 meg for £15/£20 so why did you stop reading?
I'm not asking for an uncontended line. Just one that is fast most of the time.
Posted by ahockings 8 months ago
My point is, they are doing all this G.Fast stuff before getting EVERYONE on a fast-ish line to start with.
It’s Arse about face.
When you are struggling with 1.7 meg it is really really really annoying that they are making fast connections faster. Can no one see my point?
Posted by ahockings 8 months ago
In response to GMAN99 specifically, I'm a business but a small one. Very small. But that's doesn't mean I should suffer does it?
I work hard and pay my taxes. I can't move for various reasons. I don't live in a particularly remote area. 7 minutes from the A38 between Plymouth and Exeter, 7KM from Totnes, the central hub of South Devon.
I have a bunch of customers in my local village now on 80 meg for 20 quid.
I'm prepared to pay 50 quid for 20 meg. Am I being unreasonable?
I mean I'd consider 100 quid for 10meg if I thought I was going to get it, that's how bad things are here.
Posted by chilting 8 months ago
My connection is not much better than yours, I use bonding to get a semi-decent speed. Our situation is that we are unlikely to get an improvement to our fixed line connection. We are looking at Fixed Wireless to give us the potential of up to 180Mbps both ways if needed. Also 4G would give us a decent but expensive connection. Maybe for the final 5% fixed line is not the best option.
Posted by TheEulerID 8 months ago

This is the logical consequence of pursuing a competition-driven model (which is Ofcom's regulatory model). Network builders invest where they can get a return. OR will invest in in lower cost areas with higher customer densities and to counter VM competition.

The best hope in your area is the proposals for a USO or, possibly, some BDUK extensions. Are you in an intervention area?
Posted by TheEulerID 8 months ago
nb. just because your cabinet has been commercially enabled doesn't mean it's automatically not in an intervention area. Other solutions, like FTTP (or wireless) can be used for areas not serviced at 24mbps or higher speeds.
Posted by WWWombat 8 months ago
It doesn't matter if your cab was originally upgraded commercially, lines too long to benefit should still qualify to be part of a BDUK intervention area.

Of course, Devon hasn't gone far enough in their project to need to target those long lines yet. The SEP project might get there... but it doesn't look like that will be BT's responsibility.

Is there anyone in the village who could install a line for you, then run a PtP wireless feed? Or perhaps you'll be covered by Airband's coverage of Dartmoor.
Posted by WWWombat 8 months ago
As for the concept of stopping ultrafast deployment until superfast is 100% deployed, I wonder why you don't ask the same question of Virgin? Or Sky? Or TT? All of them are even less interested in supplying you.

In the end, BT need to remain competitive with the progress their competitors are making at the same time as trying to supply the unprofitable.

Ofcom turned this country into a divided one. It means BT have to work in two modes for either side of the competitive divide.
Posted by chilting 7 months ago
It is BDUK and not BT who have so far left the final 5% high and dry.
The politicians have been very successful at shifting the blame to BT, but ultimately it is BDUK with Government money who must find solutions for the final 5%.
The politicians have as usual been less than honest and created diversions - notice their fervour at splitting off Openreach.
Posted by fastman 7 months ago
Posted by Kebabselector 2 days ago
- they are exactly as you say so they needed to be funded by something / some one (community) there are options
Posted by fastman 7 months ago
ahockings which cab & village and there fore someone might be able to give some options for you
Posted by ian72 7 months ago
@ahockings What you really need is for BT to come up with some sort of solution that allows them to move the distribution node closer to you so your line is no longer 5.5km long. The odd thing is that is a technology with the potential to do just that and yet you want them to stop developing it?
Posted by chilting 7 months ago
The only way that will come to rural areas is if BDUK pay BT to install it.
Posted by lee111s 7 months ago
@chilting - what evidence do you have to back up this claim?
Posted by Kebabselector 7 months ago
@fastman Approx 200 premises on a smaller cabinet, mainly older people with lower incomes - it's not going to get community funding unless someone wins the lottery. Virgin is a option, but I had enough of their lies and bad service - lack of competition means VM can do what they please for our area. I'll probably end up getting a 2nd Openreach installed line, so at least I'll be able to split my usage between devices.
Posted by leexgx 7 months ago
recommend moving questions to the forum removes all the fuss of getting FTTP to the house it self (as they likey bring it to a pole near you and last 50meters to a 500m (or mile not really looked into it) can be done over copper cable (they dont have to come to your house and have it delayed by upto 2 years)
Posted by leexgx 7 months ago
the issue with FTTP is each house needs lots of new work to get fiber to the house or near it and a engineer call out to the house and you have to be in

with the engineer only has to goto the pole to loop you into the box ( equipment is sent via normal post all the customer has to do is plug it in)

FTTP is preferable thought but time scale to get it is long, seems 6-24 months (seems only feasible for new builds or over 10 year upgrade)
Posted by chilting 7 months ago
No evidence. But if I was a BT shareholder I would be very annoyed if they invested in something that was going to take many years to give a return. The limited range of means that you need a high density of consumers in an area to make it viable. It may however be an option in a small village or hamlet with current BDUK funding if the houses are close together.
Posted by lee111s 7 months ago
There's nothing about G.Fast that is linked to BDUK funding.
Posted by chilting 7 months ago
That's a shame, I guess that we will have to wait for the next big push when rural customers start complaining that FTTC isn't fast enough, but it will probably cost considerably more than FTTC to get the same coverage. Maybe in 5-10 years time, after BT have completed the urban rollout of
Posted by leexgx 7 months ago seems more profitable then FTTP (in the shorter term) as man hours is a lot more with fiber to get it installed (but very long term FTTP should have very little maintenance as it does not normally degrade)

as they only have to work per pole or per street man hole cover on, FTTP requires a call out to each house to install the fiber drop cable or underground fiber work to the house (virgin or cable&wireless or ntl know-how profitable that is) costs go so much higher once you have to enter the premise and do work
Posted by fastman 7 months ago
Posted by Kebabselector about 23 hours ago
@fastman Approx 200 premises on a smaller cabinet, mainly older people with lower incomes - it's not going to get community funding unless someone wins the lottery. -- so how much is the cab and have the village looked at what can be done
Posted by WWWombat 7 months ago
G.Fast has, so far, been targeted at nodes with 4, 8 or 16 ports.

It certainly needs reasonable population density for it to be viable, but it doesn't need that density to continue over a large area. A small street of UK-sized homes is enough.

BT want it to cover a larger range, which means the chipset manufacturers are having to consider nodes with more ports. Maybe 48-96.
Posted by Kebabselector 7 months ago
@Fastman We were quoted 17k +VAT (for Cab50) Also we are not a village, its a suburb of Birmingham (Yardley - CMSTE Cabs 49&50)
Posted by lee111s 7 months ago
If you can lobby 100 people to chip in, you're only looking at around £200 each. Well worth it.
Posted by MCM999 7 months ago
@Kebabselector. We're a cluster of 75 EO lines, London SW9 with current speeds in the bottom 0.4% for Lambeth. We've clubbed together and BT have now installed an all-in-one cab. Just waiting for the fibre to be connected and we should hopefully soon be moving out of the bottom 0.4%.
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