Potential new products from Openreach to help with digital divide
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.