Broadband News

Government needs you to explain how more full fibre can be encouraged

The speech the Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture gave at Broadband World Forum in late 2016 was seen as representative of a sea change in how the UK Government saw broadband, and now it might be possible that rather than being purely a speech to make the troops happy there might be the start of further changes.

DCMS has started a Call For Evidence that runs until the end of January 2017 which is looking at Extending Full Fibre Networks. The evidence should therefore help the Government to determine what to do with the £1 billion of funding announced in the Autumn Statement that is to boost UK Digital Infrastructure (i.e. full fibre and 5G).

"In order to move to the next level of ubiquitous high speeds and reliability it is clear that, whilst there a number of interim technologies giving connectivity at ever faster speeds, full fibre is the future. The market will be in the vanguard of delivering full fibre, but there is an important role for Government to support this, by ensuring the right incentives are in place and barriers to investment are removed.

I am therefore delighted that in his Autumn Statement 2016, the Chancellor announced the government’s proposal for funding targeted at supporting market rollout of full fibre and 5G. This will bring faster and more reliable broadband for homes and businesses across the UK, and boost the next generation of mobile connectivity. It will be delivered in partnership with local areas, prioritising funding for new full fibre business connections.

This Call for Evidence sets out a number of approaches we can take to stimulate the market to extend full fibre networks in areas across the UK, including full fibre business vouchers, public sector data aggregation and supply side approaches. I hope you will engage with this Call for Evidence."

Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture

As with previous consultations questions are used to help guide the responses with the three questions being:

  • What local approaches have been taken to date or are planned - either in the UK or internationally - to stimulate the market delivery of full fibre networks, in both urban and rural areas, and what results have they achieved? Where appropriate please provide evidence and any other additional information.
  • What evidence is there to demonstrate the effectiveness and potential of approaches A to F above (*), specifically in the context of stimulating the rollout of local full fibre networks in urban and rural areas?
  • What is the most effective and efficient delivery model Government can use to stimulate future delivery of full fibre networks across the UK in both urban and rural areas, building on and integrating approaches that have been taken to date?

The approaches A to F are: Public sector demand aggregation, Voucher schemes for private sector demand aggregation, Making public sector assets available, Access to location data on infrastructure assets, Directly funding fibre routes in uneconomic areas and Potential pilots.

The elephant in the room is exactly what will happen to the BT Group and Openreach, as this could result in a massive change in how Openreach behaves e.g. with much larger amounts of investment they might embark on a fifteen year plan to get full fibre to 95% of the UK, or alternatively they might be starved of investment and sweat existing assets with a slow period of decline as competing operators make increased use of Openreach ducting and eventually just become a duct and pole operator with no active hardware or local loop cabling. This is important as even with the increasing competition today, Openreach somehow is still the largest fibre to the premises operator in the UK in terms of premises passed.

It is easy to look abroad and celebrate the much higher levels of full fibre that a number of countries now have, but drawing conclusions about the business benefits are more complex as in many cases the full fibre replaced the first generation ADSL based services, this makes it harder to tell if the business benefits are due to the pure fibre nature or just anything that is better than existing services.

There is no doubt that full fibre is the future and even in BT Group this gets acknowledged, the difference is the way we get there i.e. via various incremental steps or the slower build it once but should not need touching for a century approach.

One area that needs addressing already with pure fibre is the wholesale market, Sky and TalkTalk still do not sell GEA-FTTP even in areas where Cornwall where the density is high and with Gigaclear expanding rapidly in rural areas a wider choice of retailers becomes more critical. For the average consumer the provider choice matters less, other than the inability to chase the best price offers, but in the SME and business sector there can problems due to long contracts and the way email/websites/e-shops are often all tied into the existing broadband connection deal.

Comments

No mention in the document of the FTTP already installed by BT.

  • Somerset
  • 8 months ago

Still no real strategy to get 10Mbps to the 5% that currently get less than 2Mbps

That, surely, needs COMPLETING before we worry about FTTP to 95%

I have FTTC that gives me 40Mbps. Does anyone imagine I will pay more for FTTP?

  • 961a
  • 8 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
In Surrey with the 11 areas one with 27% coverage by FTTP and west Surrey at 1% today's results on TBB is this down to demand or cherry picking. I feel the take up demand on the FTTC will determine if G/Fast or complete overlaying of fibre this is in the hands of the ISP,s to stimulate the market with the help of the MPs and local councillors.

  • Blackmamba
  • 8 months ago

That makes very little sense.

Take up of FTTC is irrelevant to BT's decisions as to whether to go with G.fast or FTTP. They are pretty clear that they are going to deploy G.fast from cabinets up until 2020, with the exceptions being new builds and some commercial areas.

Surrey has a fair amount of FTTP in some places thanks to taxpayers, nothing to do with demand or cherry picking.

  • CarlThomas
  • 8 months ago

@961a - its 2011 all over again - forget about the have nots. In fact you can go back further than that - I was told be a senior civil servant in 2006 that they considered broadband was "job done"

  • gerarda
  • 8 months ago

@Somerset - Not really enough of it to be significant.
@gerarda - BT could install fibre to your anus and you'd still complain.

  • CarlThomas
  • 8 months ago

Coffee. Meet keyboard.

  • WWWombat
  • 8 months ago

@961a
Actually only 0.78% of premises currently can get less than 2Mbps, not 5%. This % should continue to reduce as the existing BDUK contracts are completed, although I'm sure it will still be > 0%.

Whether it makes sense to wait until 100% of premises are covered before doing anything else is debatable given the cost to connect some will be enormous. I'm sure that satellite will have to play a role for some.

  • New_Londoner
  • 8 months ago

Hi Carl.
I have always been happy for SCC to spend my taxing paying contribution to customers that are willing to upgrade to a better service (FTTC or fibre). The problem is that there is a High % that do not want it but will still complain of slow service but will not change. As the Post Code Window services TBB change e.g. GFast and fibre the complaints will drop in the coming year in Surrey as the OMR money is spent. (99.7%. At 15 Meg) Target.

  • Blackmamba
  • 8 months ago

@BM - do you ever read what you type?

'As the Post Code Window services TBB change '

  • Somerset
  • 8 months ago

New Londoner

Rural Scotland, Wales, North Northumberland

Often up to 10% get below 2Mbps

Too easy to shrug and say move on

  • 961a
  • 8 months ago

No need for 'up to' a hard example is
https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/west-devon,E07000047
which is worst local authority area.

Out of the 432 council/region areas there is 16 with worse than 5%

NOTE This is premises not people.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

OFCOM need to ensure that any FTTP service has good competition to ensure that it will have a good take up.Just providing FTTP will not make people move from ADSL unless the price is cheap.

And that means the regulator must force ISPs of a certain size (say 250k subscribers and above) to provide services across FTTP at competitive prices.

Will never happen though. OFCOM will only regulate Openreach prices not the consumer prices.

  • gsmlnx
  • 8 months ago

@gsmlnx personally I think prices are already too low to provide the service that people want. People want to pay nothing and get perfect service - that doesn't work. We should be paying enough that it gives profit for investment - otherwise we will never get the network that the public say they want.

  • ian72
  • 8 months ago

cont - and if people don't see the value in paying extra for faster speeds then clearly the complaints that broadband isn't fast enough are rubbish.

  • ian72
  • 8 months ago

@961a you are short sighted. The next generation are going to want fast internet. I'm 33 and I have FTTC and would pay extra to get FTTP. It's going to take probably 10 years or something to install FTTP if we get the ball rolling properly next year. We should go full out FTTP, it's a fantastic technology and it will help out our Children.

  • steve14
  • 8 months ago

@ian: The problem is, it is those with "fast" connections who should pay a bit more to fund access to those who have virtually nothing. But of course they don't want to do that as their situation is already good. Only price matters.

Providing FTTP to those with fast VDSL and noticing that not that many take it up, is not a good comparison. FTTP take up has been much higher in not-spots or slow-spots, but most FTTP investment goes to areas with already good connectivity.

  • hvis42
  • 8 months ago

@961a
Do you honestly believe that stopping a bunch of politicians from contemplating a strategy (for 10-15 year's time) is going to have any impact on the engineering staff putting stuff out in the real world today?

You do understand it is possible to be working on multiple strategies at the same time?

  • WWWombat
  • 8 months ago

@gsmlnx

"the regulator must force ISPs of a certain size (say 250k subscribers and above) to provide services across FTTP at competitive prices."

Really? Just what legal powers do you think a regulator has to interfere in a competitive market in such a way? So SPs are to be forced, in effect, to subsidise FTTP to be competivw with FTTC or ADSL pricing?

It's an unworkable notion.

  • TheEulerID
  • 8 months ago

@steve14

You may well be prepared to pay a bit more for the future benefit. However, it's very clear from packages that people actually buy that the considerable majority are not prepared to pay for a lot more speed than they actually need. The take-up of premium high speed services from cable and FTTP operators (let alone those sticking to ADSL) doesn't point to the the sort of numbers required to finance this.

  • TheEulerID
  • 8 months ago

Gsminx Really

there are circa 540 service providers in the uk of which circa 400+ only sell ADSL and around 50 that sell FTTC there are about 5/6 that sell FTTP
-- (those that moaned the most on fix Britain campaign do not Sell FTTP -- thed prefer LLU copper as it cost money for them to sell FTTC

  • fastman
  • 8 months ago

should be circa 150 not 50

  • fastman
  • 8 months ago

Hi Somerset
If you take the information from (TBB post Code window) of the services/ products that are showing which is updated regularly giving the min and max speeds this is open to all in the UK even MP,s and councillors. This information is more important than the BT checker to the ISP,s (500) because it is not biased and should improve competition and demand.

  • Blackmamba
  • 8 months ago

@hvis42 - there are a number of areas that have FTTP that don't get other good options (my brother has the option of under 2Mb/s or FTTP) - why should someone that can only get reasonable speeds under FTTP pay more than someone who can get the same speeds on FTTC? And, given he has the choice of up to 300Mb/s he chooses to only have the lowest FTTP package because it is all he needs - most "normal" punters don't want to pay more for speeds above that sort of level.

  • ian72
  • 8 months ago

To translate what @Blackmamba is trying to say (I think)...

The info on https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local provides a very good idea of the ever changing UK broadband landscape at both council and constituency level.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

On speed take-up of FTTP, there was an interesting Hyperoptic CEO comment on 75% of customers on a 100 Mbps or faster tier (and tallies with our speed test data).

But before its used as an example why ultrafast is needed, we need to consider the gap between a 20/1 service (entry level) and the 100/100 service, willing to bet if they launched a 50/50 service it would sell very well at a price between the current 20 and 100 products.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

@Andrew
It would be interesting to know the % of Hyperoptic customers on a 100Mbps or slower package - I doubt many take the gigabit option.

  • New_Londoner
  • 8 months ago

Non offer prices for Hyperoptic seem to be £25 for 20Mb, £38 for 100Mb and £63 for 1Gb. £13 from 20Mb to 100Mb is good value for most. I'm willing to bet there aren't many people paying the extra £25 per month for 1Gb. Maybe Andrew has some sense of it from the speedtest results?

  • ian72
  • 8 months ago

15 to 20% on the Gigabit product, with the standard 2.4GHz wireless on the CPE being why I can only give a rough estimate.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

Hi Andrews Staff.
Thanks for the translation just hope more people understand what I am saying because there are many councillors and MPs are lost or just looking after their own status. The post code GPS yardage position is the key to the problem and the costings and the direction BT/ Openreach will take in the coming months.

  • Blackmamba
  • 8 months ago

Some people get crap internet, some people have no mains gas, or even mains sewerage.

If you want the luxuries of such things, move, don't demand everyone else subsidises it for you.

FTTC rollout is going well. We should not be aiming for 100%, as it gets silly. If we can get to 95% 30mbit+, which we are not far from, that's not bad at all and satellite/leased lines can cover the rest if they don't want to move.

We're over 90% superfast now, so it's time to look at the next step (e.g. FTTP.

  • rtho782
  • 8 months ago

@BM - 'The post code GPS yardage position'

What is that? Surely meterage.

  • Somerset
  • 8 months ago

@Carl Thomas - I certainly would complain - that is far to reminiscent of the treatment we have had over the the last 13 years.

  • gerarda
  • 8 months ago

@Carl Thomas - >300,000 BT FTTP. 2,000,000 by 2020.

  • Somerset
  • 8 months ago

I asked Andrew for some facts to show what demand there actually is today.

"On FTTP there is 2% on 300 Mbps tier
14% on something above the 76 Mbps service but below 200 Mbps
Another 16% on up to 76 Mbps
Then gets harder to discern but rest are split between the up to 52 and up 38 Mbps service.

This is a national picture for GEA-FTTP."

So ~30% will pay for more than 52Mb
and 16% will pay for more than 76Mb
and ~2% will pay for more than 200Mb.

  • jumpmum
  • 8 months ago

Contd.
So on that basis I feel "Directly funding fibre routes in uneconomic areas" would be most appropriate for areas that cannot get above 10Mb (the USO). On the basis that this would benefit the vast % of people in those areas, whereas in areas that already have up to 52Mb only 30% would benefit.

  • jumpmum
  • 8 months ago

I would suggest that the best places to start the install of FTTP is those areas that cannot get FTTC or reasonable ADSL / VDSL connection - the greatest overall economic benefit will be obtained that way, high density urban areas will get it soon enough whereas low density rural areas which are desperate for even a basic service will have to wait for a very long time if any other approach is taken.

  • timrivett
  • 8 months ago

Hi Somerset.
Openreach is responsible for the last mile which is 1760 yards. When the old copper was provided to a DP from a CAB the resistance on pair 1 was measured in resistance (ohms) and the cable prints showed yards. I now refer you to the mars climate orbiter metric maths mistake. My simple D/base is using English .1--.9 of a mile to the post code GPS position from the CAB. This information was very sensitive to BT commercial.

  • Blackmamba
  • 8 months ago

@fastman @eulerid @the rest
I did say that low price competition won't happen. But that consumers wont pay more for the service.

Any national FTTP would need to be a state sponsored plan to work as currently the ROI is insufficient to encourage any party to try. All we see is limited FTTP by BT Group and a few small operators packing a few areas with no competition.

We could think of it in the same way as the roads, public infrastructure.

  • gsmlnx
  • 8 months ago

@BM - 'last mile' is a colloquial phrase relating to the final connection to the home, not related to yards!

  • Somerset
  • 8 months ago

I have FTTC available ( I live in a small village) but the cabinet appears to be about 7km away close to the exchange, as if I upgrade from standard coper (giving about 7Mb/0.3Mb) to FTTC I will get a slower speed (max 6Mb) according to the estimators.

I expect that we will not get any improvement any time soon as we already have FTTC!

  • happyhacker
  • 8 months ago

@HappyHacker if you are getting 7 Mbps from ADSL2+ at 7km of line length that is pretty amazing, and a FTTC estimate of 6 Mbps is amazing too.

Suspect you are not 7km away from the exchange/cabinet in reality.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

@happyhacker - what @andrew is saying is correct, and you need to verify which cabinet number you are connected to via the BT DSL Checker.

I have 2 lines in my house and have had so for the 10 years I've been living here.

I am approx 2 miles from the cabinet, and the cabinet is approx 2.5 miles from the exchange.

I converted 1 line to FTTC 2 years ago and get 10/1. The other line is still ADSL and gets approx 1.5/0.5, which is the speed the other line was also getting when it was still ADSL.

  • cmckeown
  • 8 months ago

@ cmckeown
This is why it is so much pot luck
Two lines going to our premises which is 1.2 miles from cab and 3(approx) from exchange.
FTTC presently 2.5/0.9
ADSL 2/0.5

I was lucky enough to get the FTTC package on a deal with Origin which was at a better price than I could get for ADSL or FTTC with the encumbent providers (market A exchange) otherwise I would have stuck with ADSL because the price differential does not merit the extra(coughs) improvement.
So 10Mbps is a dream oh and to an earlier poster no we get no mains gas or sewage either ;).

  • Necroscope445
  • 7 months ago

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