Broadband News

BT announce 16 user community ADSL trial

BT Wholesale has just released more information on the concept trial for a Community Broadband Project, this has previously been mentioned in our news as the 16 user DSLAM trial.

The trial is due to start this Autumn with various bodies participating as sponsors, they are - Highlands and Islands Enterprise; Gwynedd County Council; Denbighshire County Council, together with IT consultants The ITC (UK) Ltd; the East of England Development Agency; The New Forest Business Partnership; and Omagh District Council. Each sponsor will contribute £7000 which will cover the six month trial period for approximately 16 users on each exchange that is part of the trial.

The exchanges that will be involved in the trial are:
Scotland: Drumnadrochit, near Loch Ness and Muir of Ord, to the west of Inverness with Scotnet as the ISP.
Wales: Corwen in Denbighshire, Penrhyndeudraeth near Porthmadog, with business parks as the primary customers.
England: Burnham Market in Norfolk, Shottisham in Suffolk and Lyndhurst in Hampshire.
Northern Ireland: Beragh in Omagh

It must be stressed that BT are calling this a concept trial and they have not finalised any pricing or whether the product will be rolled out further. The future of this system all depends on the outcome of the trial. It would also be impossible to speculate what the final price for the product will be since any figures BT charge during the trial do not have to reflect the true cost, i.e. BT can run trials at a loss

Technically, the trial is trying out several new areas, the main one is that the exchange hardware will be able to use the existing BT internet backbone at the exchange, rather than requiring the expensive new link to the Multi Service Platform (MSP) network that is currently required. As with previous ADSL trials that BT have run they are again trying out hardware from different manufacturers.

Users on the trials and possibly the rolled out product (if it makes it that far) will not have the same choice of ISPs as under the existing ADSL ranges, at least that is what we are led to believe. This is due to the fact that the ISP must purchase the 16 ports on the DSLAM that is installed. This makes sense in keeping the backhaul simpler and therefore cheaper and perhaps offers a nice income generator to the smaller regional ISPs. Hopefully the trial will also look expansion capabilities, i.e. is it easy to expand to 32 users and upwards.

This move is very welcome and offers some hope to people in the smaller towns and villages around the United Kingdom. Lets hope the trial areas embrace the opportunity and make the most of it as their success will determine the future availability of affordable broadband in more sparsely populated areas of the UK.


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