Broadband News

Matt Hancock - we need you to build a full fibre Britain

Speeches are always a difficult balancing act and the latest one from Matt Hancock MP who holds the position of Minister for Digital in the Government has been speaking at another conference, a year on from his original speeches that full fibre is the future delivered 12 months ago.

The full transcript is of course available on the DCMS website and carries the title 'Building a full fibre Britain'. Rather than copy/paste the full speech the closing remarks are perhaps most apt...

So there you have it.

I’ll end by saying this.

We all want people to stop badgering us about their broadband. And I want to ensure they don’t have to badger us ever again, whether they are up in space or down here on earth.

We have set these goals. We’ve hired some brilliant people to deliver them. We are clear-eyed in our ambition.

But we can’t do it without you.

We can get the ball rolling. We can set the framework.

But it is you, the businesses of Britain, who are going to deliver the connectivity people crave.

So take this moment. Rise to the challenge. And together we will give Britain what it needs to be fit for the future.

Matt Hancock MP talking at Broadband Stakeholder 2017 Conference

One new acronym emerged and that is CTTP which is Copper to the Premises which he uses to describe ADSL and VDSL2 services (and we presume DOCSIS with its metal coax counts as well) , we are not sure in which circles FTTC is better known as CTTP but there is not time to attend every conference to catch every new buzzword. The Minister is clear that CTTP is not fit for the future even though important today, though where G.fast fits into that is not clear, though if you do corner Openreach they will accept that G.fast is a useful way of deploying an ultrafast product very quickly and thus can fill in the gaps while much more FTTP is rolled out.

The 95% superfast coverage of the UK target for the end of 2017 and a confidence in reaching it is re-iterated and since the speech was written superfast coverage has continued to increase with the UK sitting at 94.10% today, or if you take the talking about Britain to heart (thus excluding Northern Ireland) the GB level of superfast coverage is at 94.4%.

The broadband Universal Service Obligation is covered including the offer from BT and its clear that the BT offer will only be accepted if BT can convince the Government that universal coverage at over 10 Mbps will result from the proposal and that is by 2020, though precision on whether that is by 1st January 2020 or 31st December 2020 is not given.

The progress in separation of Openreach to be its own boss away from BT is welcomed but the gun is clearly loaded and made ready if the pace of this is too slow and investment does not result in significant change and it would be Ofcom that would be directed to take further action if the Government is unhappy.

We will be bold and give some actual targets which the speech was lacking, the UK needs to cruise past the 6% of premises passed by full fibre by Christmas 2018 (i.e. increase from the 2.93% which is just shy of 1 million premises to over 2 million) and to continue to ramp this up in 2019 and 2020 so that a sustained build rate of 3 to 4 million premises a year can be delivered post 2020.

INCA which has numerous full fibre providers as members reckons its membership can reach a footprint of 18% of UK premises (i.e. around 5 million premises) in the next 26 months so passing the two million goal should be a walk in the park. If Virgin Media and Openreach also deliver to their plans we could see us talking about full fibre coverage at around 3 out of 10 in 2020 (assuming none of the providers overlap their footprints).

The work at our end of tracking the speeds of the services people are buying across the broad market and also what is actually available to order look set to remain important for the next few years as we track progress to see if everything is being delivered.

Comments

I hope this is the beginning of a genuine effort to get the UK`s broadband/telecomms infrastructure up to a world class standard and do it in a joined up way and not in piecemeal fashion as appears at the moment.

  • pipcoo
  • 17 days ago

Here we go again.
Whenever a percentage coverage is the target, the same low hanging fruit is picked.
The current fast connections just get faster, leaving the rest behind.

  • Thumper
  • 17 days ago

LOL, I actually quite like CTTP! It's a more realistic description and gets round the overly-positive marketing term FTTC. As the minister said, Copper to the Premises is clearly not fit for the future, and that's how it should always have been viewed. It's quite obvious given the description. Fibre to the Cabinet just sounds more future-proof and exciting doesn't it and lends itself to being marketed and sold as fibre broadband when it isn't.

  • csimon
  • 17 days ago

@Thumper. No its not. The build out of fibre and the backhaul capacity is going on and its an essential part of getting fibre to the rural areas.

  • Croft12
  • 17 days ago

@pipcoo: At the end of the day someone has to pay for it all. It's a roughly £25 Billion project to do fibre for all. Given these circumstances FTTC was the only real short term option. Perhaps FTTPoD will gain some track, or more market competition, but there is no quick fix.

  • JNeuhoff
  • 17 days ago

Croft12. Sorry, but there needs to be work AT THE SAME TIME (i.e. Now)to enable those who have no broadband to get a basic service. "The build out of fibre and backhaul..." is doing nothing for those who can't currently get 1Mbps. We remain to be convinced that when you've finished faffing with the high speed stuff you'll just decide the difficult stuff is too expensive and there will be too few left unconnected to do anything about it

  • 961a
  • 17 days ago

961a
Precisely.

  • Thumper
  • 17 days ago

@JNeuhoff £25 billion sounds a lot but when they are prepared to spend £50 billion to knock 10 mins. off a train journey it puts it into perspective. I think the UK will gain more from a full fibre network than HS2 but hey, why not do both ? It`s only money !

  • pipcoo
  • 17 days ago

This isn't a difficult concept. Rural speeds can't increase without the core building out. That build out inevitable gives greater speeds to people who already have better speeds first. You can't build from the edge backwards.

  • Croft12
  • 17 days ago

Croft12
Not if the money is spent moving premises already on FTTC to FTTP.
This is the easiest and therefor cheapest way to meet the target.

  • Thumper
  • 17 days ago

@Thumper
Last time there was a broadband rollout, people close to the exchange were the "low hanging fruit". This time, it is people close to the cabinet that are the low-hanging fruit.

The folk who were close to the exchange on EO lines fell into the 1st group, but not the 2nd.

The folk close to cabinets that were a long way from the exchange fell into the 2nd group, but not the 1st.

2 different results.

Next time? Who knows. If left to competition, then it is likely to be close to cabinet *and* in a dense grouping. If left to a coordinated plan, it is likely to be whole exchange areas.

  • WWWombat
  • 17 days ago

@961a
Try not to get confused between ongoing work for the sub-1Mbps folk, and an article talking about options for the next 20 years.

@Thumper2
The government allowed and encouraged Ofcom to focus on competition and cheap prices. It shouldn't be a surprise if this limits investment amounts, and focuses the spending into profitable areas.

If you want a change, you need to get Hancock to change the focus. Unfortunately, he seems more wedded to competition as a solution than Vazey did.

Don't write comments here. Send it to the MPs.

  • WWWombat
  • 17 days ago

Croft12. You do not appreciate the situation in many exchange areas in the Scottish Borders. One customer needs FTTP install involving 2 miles of cable to move from under 1Mbps to any greater broadband speed, be it 5Mbps or 50Mbps. That is expensive and, so far, no sign of any willingness to do it. Other customer, same exchange, can already get superfast broadband without any "core building out" That work has already been done

  • 961a
  • 17 days ago

WWWombat
That is exactly my point, I will not be surprised.

  • Thumper
  • 17 days ago

I think it is difficult for those ignored by the current project to have any confidence in future plans. It was obvious from the start that those on longer lines were never going to receive an upgrade, yet the powers that be would keep insisting coming soon. Undoubtedly the best served areas will receive the expansion of fttp first as in rural areas there is no competition for openreach's monopoly, and the more heavily populated areas make the figures look good enough for the politicians to crow about and pat themselves on their back.

  • brianhe
  • 17 days ago

@brianhe

And have you thought why it might be there's no competition in rural areas with a few exceptions (like Gigaclear in some places)?

  • TheEulerID
  • 17 days ago

Remember with the BDUK projects rural areas percentage wise are better served with full fibre than the urban areas.

If full fibre is special then its a reverse digital divide currently.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 17 days ago

Might apply to some BDUK areas, my county figure is 0.43%

  • brianhe
  • 17 days ago

https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/7821-how-is-the-rural-versus-urban-broadband-divide-looking

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 17 days ago

CTTP or FTTC? Maybe FTTC should be rebranded as "Fibre 'til the Copper"?

  • ian72
  • 14 days ago

"CTTP"

or
"Look how clever I am at coming up with a pejorative term that doesn't mention the word fibre."

If only Matt had the foresight to go back in time, and stop the FTTx term becoming widespread.
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=F9QVc-YfZk8C

  • WWWombat
  • 14 days ago

Have to say FTTC is a very descriptive term. The problem is when the advertising only discusses fibre and doesn't differentiate the terms and the public who largely have no idea what fibre is, where it stops or indeed why it is better for them - they just accept fibre must be the best because everyone says it is. Add the fact that most of the members of the public wouldn't know if they are running it 30Mb, 50Mb or 500Mb then most of these discussions are irrelevant to a large proportion of the country.

  • ian72
  • 14 days ago

FTTC isn't bad, although in traditional nomenclature, we actually have FTTN. The C (for curb) variant is for slightly shorter copper.

  • WWWombat
  • 13 days ago

I've been thinking a little about Matt's choice of words...

Tied with his known preference for competition as a solution, and his current targeting of the word "fibre", and (in his speech) his obvious preference for altnets, it is easy to see Matt is uninterested in a fibre rollout that includes Openreach.

Under this minister, all notion of "technology-neutral" has gone. There is no mention of speed targets, just a technology target. No justification

My conclusion is that "fibre" is being used as a wedge to force more competition on Openreach. Just that, no focus on actual needs of anyone.

  • WWWombat
  • 13 days ago

FTTC (Fibre To The Curb) would be a good idea with the opportunity to connect to the network with a cost just the same as gas main works. If your property isn't connected to the gas main you have to pay to have it connected.

Fibre To The Cabinet for most is acceptable for the moment and was/is a good solution for fast upgrading from ADSL. For the ones that are a distance from cabinet special help should be given.

  • nervous
  • 13 days ago

I wish! In the remaining 5% (I'm on the Isle of Mull) it just gets worse. We were due a wireless network delivering NGA (30Mb/s +) in 2016 funded by 'state-aid', but our contractor went bust, and BDUK just said 'Tough, go to the back of the queue'. We now await the Scottish Governemt 'Reaching 100%' (R100) scheme, which is likely to be FTTC again, and we'll be left out because it's CTTP and too far.

See httlp://gigaplusargyll.co.uk

  • ramasaig
  • 13 days ago

@ramasaig While its a small number, the FTTP presence is growing in the HIE region and some areas are indicated as getting FTTP, so to say the R100 is going to be FTTC alone is prejudging by a massive extent.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 13 days ago

50 years ago the GPO managed to install a copper cable to my house and provide me with a telephone. Half a century later and with undreamed of technological advances it now seems beyond the ability of government/providers to install a fibre to my house. How far backwards we have gone.

  • galacticz00
  • 13 days ago

@galacticz00
The problem ain't technological. It's all financial. Ofcom played their "cheap in the cities" joker, and forgot to leave any money in the system to cover the last few %.

In the 1930's, line rental varied depending on the distance. Should we go back to that model?

  • WWWombat
  • 12 days ago

@galacticz

The GPO managed to get a phone line to you as they had a workforce of a quarter of a million, around four times the current UK employee numbers. It could take years to get a line, and was likely a party line at that. National roll-out took decades, and it was paid for by what were, by current standards, eye-wateringly high phone charges. I recall when young phone locks were ubiquitous for that reason.

The GPO (and PO telecommunications) was also a monopoly that could basically charge what it liked and received all the revenue with no independent regulator.

  • TheEulerID
  • 12 days ago

I should make clear that I meant the GPO had a quarter of a million working solely on the phone business side, not the total number of employees. By the time of privatisation, the then Post Office Telecommunications has 260,000 employees.

  • TheEulerID
  • 12 days ago

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