Broadband News

More LR-VDSL as Openreach stretches its legs on long range tech

Openreach has announced another six locations where Long Reach VDSL is being tested with the potential at a future date for the technology to be more widely used and help more people get speeds above 10 Mbps, and bringing others from the 12 to 18 Mbps mark into the heady atmosphere of superfast services.

Long Reach VDSL is still experiencing an evolution, but the basics of higher power levels and a wider set of frequencies usually mean people on LR-VDSL enabled lines see a boost, the exact level of boost varies, and while the boost is often less on the shorter lines adding just 4 Mbps to a 7 Mbps line can make a massive difference in terms of what is possible for a home or business.

The new locations are:

  • Clachan on the Mull of Kintyre, cabinet 1 has two postcodes out at distances of 2.3 to 2.6km (e.g. PA29 6XW and PA29 6XN) that will be very keen to see what boost they get.
  • Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, cabinet, where 5 cabinets hit the superfast mark already but a further 4 postcodes with one at approx. 2.7km need help.
  • Kesh, Northern Ireland is a larger exchange compared to the others and cabinet 12 is similar with a superfast core and others at 2-3km.
  • Plaistow, West Sussex will see both cabs 1 & 2 take part, and worst distance is slightly lower at 1.6 to 2km
  • Pomery, Northern Ireland cabinet 3 that is already 10km from the exchange is in the trial.
  • Whitehouse on the Mull of Kintyre, cabinet 1 covers just 3 postcodes 1 currently superfast the other 2 in the 10 to 20 Mbps region

"Being able to test new technologies like this in a real-life setting is a crucial step before we can deploy them on a much wider scale.

I hope people in these three new trial locations will see real improvements in their broadband speed as they help us find an answer to the challenge of delivering faster, fibre broadband over longer lines.

I’m acutely aware of the frustration this causes for those at the end of these lines. We’re working hard to develop technology to help us fill the remaining gaps in the UK’s high-speed broadband jigsaw. Our trials in several rural communities in Argyll and the Hebrides could prove to be a significant part of the puzzle.

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director (referring to three Scottish locations)

Long Reach VDSL is one of the potential Universal Service Obligation technologies and if it has a smaller incremental cost and speed of deployment compared to the rolling out full fibre it may fulfill the desire to get coverage levels ever closer to 100% in a short timeframe. We don't believe Long Reach VDSL is the only answer but given it is unlikely that anyone is going to write a blank cheque to ensure all those lonely premises some 2km or more from a VDSL2 cabinet get access to full fibre then its a lot better than another decade of campaigning.

What Openreach and other broadband operators do in terms of deployment in the longer term e.g. 2025 onwards is of course a very different matter and even if a national full fibre roll-out started today it cannot start in all the places people want it to at the same time. 

Openreach has the information from its earlier trials in Isfield (East Sussex), North Tolsta and
Barvas on the Isle of Lewis
on what speed improvements are achievable, so wider trails will make it a little easier for us to start seeing a difference, but the sample size is still somewhat small.

What impact will this have on UK coverage figures if more widely deployed, well as things stand today we are tracking 'fibre' (as in VDSL2/FTTP/cable with any speed) coverage at 96% and once you factor in the performance of VDSL2 this drops to 92.9% at over 24 Mbps (or 92.3% at 30 Mbps or faster if you prefer a tougher target). This suggests that if and when the UK hits a 95% superfast coverage target fibre based coverage will be in the range 97 - 98% and thus suggesting 99% fibre based coverage for December 2020 is very likely (remember there are extensions underway that may push superfast to 96% to 97%), or put another way it is possible that the percentage needing USO intervention could around 1.25 to 1.75% or just 500,000 premises. The word 'just' though is not ideal as if you live or work at one of those locations you will be chomping at the bit for something better that does not have other issues like tight usage allowances or high latency.

Comments

I live 1.1 miles from Cabinet 1,on the outskirts of Dawlish. After many attempts of using fibre through various providers I have reverted to ADSL2+ .
If we had the publicly owned GPO rather than privately owned BT then we would 'probably' have an equal supply just as the electric,gas and water are all to the same standard,where available (for gas).
Ideology for profit before service is a failure.

  • michael-scott
  • 3 months ago

Your "blank cheque to ensure all those lonely premises some 2km or more from a VDSL2 cabinet get access to full fibre" is my "Funded Connecting Devon & Somerset Phase 2 BDUK".

Which is hardly a blank cheque and, tellingly, has helped seed private investment into the chosen provider.

  • mpellatt
  • 3 months ago

Modest speed improvements can make quite a difference. Occasionally our adslmax goes from 3.5 to 4Mbps, and it is noticeable. We are 4km from the fibre enabled cab, though an infill cab has just been installed at 3km. Told in 2011 we would be getting something better, and still waiting.

  • brianhe
  • 3 months ago

Morning MPellat was not aware that the Phase 2 was a push to 100% coverage with FTTP being used, aware of a number of Gigaclear contracts to push beyond BT contract to 95%.

It is possible in some contract areas 100% superfast may be reached, but as Exmoor and Dartmoor are outside the FTTP scope then cannot be 100% over CDS area.

The Gigaclear contracts add around 4%, which lines up with a 95% target too when I check figures too.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 3 months ago

michael-scott, are you having a giraffe? The house I'm sat in now has no gas (it's in a village), our other house which is on edge of another village only got mains electricity 10 years ago and we had to pay for extension of lines, it has no gas, the next house along which is just outside 30mph limit only has mains water, no other mains services unless they want to pay.

  • burble
  • 3 months ago

... I came here from RSS... is it supposed to just say "hello" in the rss feed for this item?

  • asjonesmcguire
  • 3 months ago

@michael-scott

That is the point. Gas and water (especially sewage) are not available everywhere, yet you expect broadband to be available universally, and at the same standards and the same price? It might surprise you to know that if you build a house, then you have to pay to get the electricity, water and gas connected, and if it's a long way from those services, you pay a great deal of money to do so.

It's also untrue not true that all electricity is equal - in some places high capacity three-phase for businesses can be difficult & expensive to get connected.

  • TheEulerID
  • 3 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
What type of service will be obtained at 2000 metres from the CAB will this be above the 10 meg--24 meg at a low cost thus cutting out the provision of fibre deeper into the Exchange Area.

  • Blackmamba
  • 3 months ago

@BM
Take a look at the graph in this old story:
https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/7176-long-reach-vdsl2-what-effect-would-it-have

Of the two LR-VDSL estimates, it seems that "VDSL2 Long Reach 1" is what BT can achieve today. The second variant needs updates to the standards.

  • WWWombat
  • 3 months ago

Hi Wombat.
As the upgrade is only across the Surrey Border. I will be able to see the results and the cable runs I did not work in that area but I do know the two locations of the Cabs which will give me the range thus the approx speeds at the Post Codes which are showing red on TBB maps. In Surrey there are a few Cabs that are standing idle and have been inserted in the cable runs may be are these going to be used for hitting the long lines and this will hit the 24 Meg speeds.

  • Blackmamba
  • 3 months ago


Perhaps 'two' commentators need clarification?
Where broadband,adsl and vdsl,is available they should be,from the same landlines,the same for the same price! It's called equality and fairness.It's the basis of our democracy.
I was born in a rural area in 1943 and live in a rural but populated area now. I have moved to achieve a balance of utilities and rural.
I do not 'imagine' one can ever have it all as I
am not a fool.
This is my fourth main dwelling that I have owned
and the self-effort has been enormous but worthwhile!
I am not a giraffe who is not aware,stop being personal and rude!

  • michael-scott
  • 3 months ago

heh the irony of Plaistow Sussex . This is one of the exchanges BT refused to even fit ADSL until the recent tax payers hand outs from BDUK came along.

Now they have fitted FTTC and FTTP to the area.

Prior to this over 97% of the properties used a super fast 40 Mbps+ wireless service (ours). I doubt these "long line" tests will sway those with 40Mbps+ from us to ~ 10 Mbps over a stretched VDSL solution though.

But hey when there is a competitor in the areas, BT sure will spend some money.. once they have been given a load first of course.

  • kijoma
  • 3 months ago

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