Broadband News

Details released on BT Wholesale high speed trials

News on the trials BT Wholesale have for 2005 is much anticipated. BT Wholesale has now released details of the trial that will look at running ADSL services between 2Mbps and 8Mbps starting in April 2005.

Initially the technical trial will involve up to 2,000 business and residential lines, located on around 21 exchanges in the Strathclyde and Greater London areas of the UK. A cross-section of urban and rural lines will be selected. With speeds of service running at the maximum reliably possible on the lines between 2Mbps and 8Mbps. The lines will be selected by co-operation between the service providers and BT Wholesale, so at this time do not rush to jump onto a trial, wait for service providers to reveal if they are going to take part. The trial will include both BT IPStream and BT DataStream wholesale services.

"Trials in different geographies are essential to ensure we fully understand how higher speed broadband service might be best deployed in the autumn. The early trials, with lines selected in conjunction with our service provider customers, are key to monitoring performance at maximum speeds on individual lines and seeing how the network management tools we are deploying can help deliver the best speeds possible.

“The trials will help shape future products which deliver additional flexibility and control to service providers so they can shape consumer and business offerings with higher speed and increased functionality to meet the needs of their top end customers. The ADSL “max” services will mean people will be able to run more bandwidth hungry applications, including video, gaming and music downloads at the same time as well as email and surfing the web."

Bruce Stanford, BT Wholesale products director

The running of the ADSL line at its maximum possible speed is not the complete story, we are set to see other options like the ISP being able to control the speed of the service received, for example by slowing the connection down to 2Mbps at peak times, and letting it run at 8Mbps in off-peak periods.

It should be noted that while this trial will involve only around 21 exchanges, this is just the initial phase. More exchanges will be added in later phases of the trial, with the aim of an eventual product launch in the autumn.

Three new wholesale products are set to emerge from the trial, all will have downstream speeds between 2Mbps and 8Mbps. The Max notation meaning that it will run at the maximum possible speed for that specific phone line. It should be noted that the speeds during the trials may not precisely match these definitions. It is also worth noting that with the variations in downstream speed, it would be very complex to arrive at a Standard pricing charge for these services, so BT Wholesale is only making the Max services available on IPStream CBC and UBC pricing plans and BT Datastream products.


Upstream Speeds

BT IPStream Home Max 64kbps to 448kbps
BT IPStream Office Max 64kbps to 832kbps
BT DataStream Max 64kbps to 832kbps

Much rumour and discussion has happened in the past few weeks on Max DSL and what it will involve. We can confirm that a device with the working title of RAMBO is likely to appear, this unit will be used to monitor lines and allow BT Wholesale to understand the maximum reliable line speed possible on a specific line, so that this can be set and therefore a reliable service delivered. One problem with the ADSL standard is that if running at the edge of reliability you may see the line re-sync which can mean a loss of signal for 20 seconds - newer standards like ADSL2+ handle this transition better.

The single biggest question we have seen on our forums, is what speed service will my line support. The trial and Max DSL products will be a 'best efforts' service, which are dependent on specific line conditions. This is why the RAMBO box will be used, so that BT can monitor a line, and if it is resyncing too often then a maximum sync speed below the current level can be set, if conditions improve the system should also allow the line to connect at higher stable speed.

The other trial that people want news on is the ADSL2+ trial which will see speeds of up to 18Mbps. This trial will initially be an internal trial involving just BT employees.


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