How big a problem are capacity delays on Openreach VDSL2 cabinets?
One of the most annoying aspects of the Openreach VDSL2 roll-outs are when people finally spot that VDSL2 is available to order and they are happy with the price and speeds and then get told by a provider that it is not available due to the cabinet being at capacity. This is because when VDSL2 is deployed a projection is made on the expected uptake and capacity is installed to handle that, and as demand increases the extra capacity, be it in more line cards, extra copper link cables, extra line cards in side pod or a whole new fibre cabinet are added. Alas these upgrades vary greatly in the time they take and thus cabinets can be left sitting with a 'waiting list' of orders for a few weeks or months or in thankfully rare cases much longer.
A word of caution on ordering VDSL2, cabinet capacity issues affect all providers equally, so if one provider says there is no capacity available and another claims they can deliver what you will often find is the order fails, or they migrate you to their ADSL2+ service awaiting more VDSL2 capacity. There is an oddity in the way migrations are handled too, in that for some migrations there needs to be a spare port available even when you have VDSL2 on that line.
This flexing in terms of the number of cabinets available where a service can be ordered has often raised the concern of some campaigners, such that it means the coverage figures are nonsense since at any one time the actual coverage where you can order is less.
There need be no doubt anymore, we have analysed those cabinets which are known to be waiting for more capacity to be installed. In the past we have periodically checked and have found the number of cabinets affected ranged from 1,500 to 2,500 out of the installed base of 79,000 VDSL2 cabinet areas, this is the first time we've calculated the impact on the coverage figures, and will periodically revisit this to ensure that Openreach is not allowing a long backlog of capacity upgrades to build up.
|Coverage of Superfast Broadband and the impact of cabinets which are at a capacity limit|
|Standard Coverage Figures||Change Due to Capacity Limits|
|Region||% 'fibre' coverage|
Over 30 Mbps
|% Openreach Superfast|
Over 30 Mbps
|'fibre' coverage||Over 30 Mbps||Openreach
Over 30 Mbps
|East of England||94.5||90.5||88.5||-4.2||-3.9||-3.9|
|Yorkshire and Humber||91.9||88.9||87.0||-2.3||-2.2||-2.1|
For BDUK areas the capacity upgrades are funded by Openreach, thus in terms of value for money the BDUK projects got a better deal than if they had insisted on installing 100% capacity from day one, as it seems likely Openreach would have insisted on greater levels of gap funding.
We have encountered the odd rare case where someone is waiting for a new fibre twin to be installed but planning permission and/or wayleaves are holding things up, so while a small number may be waiting for a long time as far we know there is no cabinet where Openreach has flatly refused to install extra capacity. So if you have been trying to order VDSL2 and cabinet has been at capacity for more than two years constantly do get in touch.