Openreach in technical trial to test micro-filters with FTTC service
In the early days of broadband, all installs were carried out by BT engineers visiting the premises to install and test the service. BT Wholesale then introduced 'self-installs' which allowed users to install their own broadband connection using a micro-filter and their own router, or one supplied by their ISP.
As part of a gradual move towards supporting a self-install FTTC product, Openreach is to run a microfilter technical trial. Currently a FTTC install involves the engineer fitting an interstitial plate to the master socket, that provides a filtered socket for the VDSL2 service (a NTE5 master socket is provided if one is not present). Engineers can run a data extension from this socket for up to 30 metres to allow the modem to be located in a more convenient location.
The microfilters in the trial will be the BT MF50 model, which has been been used for the ADSL and ADSL2+ services for many years. During the trial an engineer will still attend to deliver and test the Openreach VDSL2 modem. Assuming micro-filters provide a reasonable service, then specifications can be finalised and we may see trials of self-installs taking place in the not too distant future with broadband providers supplying their own integrated VDSL2 modem/router.
The trial is on a relatively small scale, looking at 300 triallists by 30th May located in the Glasgow and North West England regions. The limits will make it easier to assess what effect the use of filters has on both the triallists and other users connections in the area.
Due to its use of higher frequencies, VDSL2 is known to be more prone to radio frequency (RF) interference picked up by extension wiring in a property. Hence Openreach usually elect to filter at the entry point to a property. The trial will help to provide data on this outside the laboratory. With VDSL2, every metre of cable can have a dramatic effect, and with many households having extensions that do not use twisted pairs these effects can be even worse.