Broadband News

Full fibre or hybrid fibre a judicial review gained by CityFibre will decide

In a perfect world adverts would be talking about G.984, G.993.2, G.992.1 and DOCSIS 3.0 but after ASA rulings many years ago and more recently three of the four are simply allowed to be referred to under the collective name of 'fibre' and G.992.1 which is ADSL2+ gets called all many of names.

In an attempt to break the cycle of pragmatism or stupidity depending on your viewpoint CityFibre has at a hearing in the High Court won the right for a judicial review on the recent decision by the Advertising Standard Authority over the use of the word fibre in broadband advertising.

The High Court is seeing sense where the ASA failed to: this is the right decision for consumers and our economy. CityFibre challenged the ASA’s decision because consumers must not be misled into thinking they can get full-fibre benefits on a copper broadband network - they can’t: copper is dead.

It is now time to sort out these advertising rules once and for all, and for the Government and industry to get behind the nationwide broadband targets set by the Chancellor. Companies are investing billions because of the transformative connectivity full fibre brings; the Court has a one-off chance to step in and make a difference for consumers before the mis-selling of broadband becomes the next PPI-style scandal.

Greg Mesch, Founder and CEO at CityFibre

What the release does not tell is what CityFibre actually propose we assume something along the lines of the following would be acceptable:

  • Only services delivering glass fibre optic inside the premises will be allowed to use the word fibre
  • Services such as DOCSIS services, VDSL2 and G.fast can refer to their products as part, partial or hybrid fibre

France went around this loop and interestingly decided that Fibre to the Building i.e. what Hyperoptic deliver is not full fibre since it relies on media converters that are located outside each flat. The length of Ethernet cable used is such that Gigabit symmetric speeds are guaranteed, but if you make that exception why not an exception for DOCSIS 3.0 services that also can guarantee the connection speed?

For those reading this who are not aware of the benefits of full fibre they are:

  1. Fixed connection speed i.e. connection speed on day 1 will be what it is on day 400 of service since no dynamic line management
  2. No sync period i.e. other than authentication times for things like PPPoE sessions
  3. No loss of signal due to radio frequency interference spikes

What full fibre does not do is guarantee you throughput, it can do that but only if the provider builds the network with that totally in mind, hence why leased lines are so expensive i.e. reserving capacity for you on not just the local access network but regional and national networks costs money.

So is the use of fibre in broadband advertising the next PPI scandal? We say no and the reason why is simply, the public do not buy broadband based on buying the best available technology, i.e. people very readily compromise to save a pound or two so long as they can do the most common tasks such as stream video. A small percentage perhaps 2 to 5% will elect to spend more to get a FTTP solution over other 'fibre' services such as VDSL2 or DOCSIS 3.0 (this is assuming those services can deliver for example HD video streaming already), and this will very likely be supported by the pricing of the Vodafone Ultrafast services when they launch, i.e. it will not be priced to look like a Rolls Royce service.

Of course in a world dominated by marketing along with Google algorithms after years of the public typing cheapest fibre broadband into search engines a rule that would stop Plusnet and others using the word on their websites would be a marketing persons dream. Hence why the continued push for change from CityFibre i.e. this is not about being pedantically correct but about gaining an advantage compared to competitors.

Of course it is stupid when you see an advert showing what is clearly a pair of copper wires with light emerging and the word fibre in the voice over, or a piece of stylised coax cable with an obvious metal core and a strap line promising fast fibre optic broadband.

So we all wait on what the ASA response will be, they now have 35 days to get their case ready apparently.

A pragmatic compromise of getting VDSL2 and cable services to use phrases like partial fibre or hybrid fibre seems to be most likely outcome if changes do occur as a result of this review. Though this will cause problems for providers like Virgin Media who do have a growing full fibre footprint i.e. glass to the outside wall of a home and then a small converter to take a piece of coax the very last metre into the home and similar for BT who market their ultrafast services identically no matter whether G.fast or FTTP based.

Comments

Given almost nobody would have the fibre going all the way to their PC, banning a solution using Cat6a in the basement of a block of flats and capable of delivering 10Gbps from being called fibre because the media converter is outside the property would be stupid beyond belief IMHO. What happens in a GPON situation where the ONT is mounted on the outside of the house. Is that no longer capable of being called fibre because the media convertor is not inside the premise? What's the difference from a flat with the media convertor outside the flat?

  • jabuzzard
  • 6 months ago

@thinkbroadband It's true people still believe with FTTC when they see the word fibre advertised they believe it's… https://t.co/OoNCMmax3c

  • @whosyagamer
  • comment via twitter
  • 6 months ago

The Openreach GPON ONT is not designed for outdoor installation, purely indoors only.

  • baby_frogmella
  • 6 months ago

Duh, the Openreach ONT is not the only ONT in existence and Openreach are not the only FTTP provider in the U.K. It would be quite possible for an alternative supplier of FTTP to have externally mounted ONT's or even media converters and in theory not be classified as "full fibre" whatever that means. I have a couple of machines at work that are "full fibre" 10Gbps but that is super rare, and is mostly because they are wired into a data centre they are not actually located in. Everything else is copper.

  • jabuzzard
  • 6 months ago

Openreach FTTP or not, no full fibre operator is going waste money by mass producing outdoor ONTs considering they’re totally unnecessary. Otherwise why not have outdoor master sockets or outdoor routers?

  • baby_frogmella
  • 6 months ago

You probably need to inform Virgin Media of this. Their RFoG ONT is outside. The Verizon FIOS ONT can also be outside to mention two I've seen in person.

  • CarlThomas
  • 6 months ago

@ Carl
You can't plug any consumer router into the VM ONT, it converts fibre into co-axial.
I was talking about full fibre providers such as Openreach, Gigaclear, B4RN, CityFibre etc where you often have the freedom to plug your own router into ONT though Gigaclear use a combined ONT/router (still indoors). That wouldn't be very practical if your ONT was located outside. I can't speak for Verizon FTTP as they aren't in the UK.

  • baby_frogmella
  • 6 months ago

As Cityfibre/Vodafone are in the process of installing a fibre network to all the houses in Milton Keynes I wait with interest as to what they will call it. To my mind what my current provider provides via a BT Cabinet in the next street should be called FTTC. What I will get from Cityfibre/Vodafone is full fibre to an ONT inside the house with Copper from their ONT and should be called FTTH. If I lived in a block of flats and they distributed it to each flat via Copper it could be called FTTP. Actual location of the ONT inside/outside is irrelevant.

  • uncle024
  • 6 months ago

@uncle024

So if a VDSL2 cabinet or G.fast node is in the basement of some flats then calling it FTTP is OK?

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 6 months ago

@Andrew No, I think I should of made it clear when I said. "If I lived in a block of flats and they distributed it to each flat via Copper it could be called FTTP" I meant by Copper, 1Gb UTP or better Ethernet from the basement to the Flats. BUT it would obviously better to run fibre to each flat. Whatever its called the current names used do need clarifying. Only pure fibre to the home should be called Fibre basically because optical is distant independent.

  • uncle024
  • 6 months ago

I don't see any issue with calling it Fib if it gets as Fib to my home/block_of_flats or office bloc (even if from within that building it goes via copper to individual properties/offices/rooms.

  • Croft12
  • 6 months ago

And here in lies another issue, DOCSIS is distance independent due to the cabinets always been within a range that ensures that is the case.

So how should that be named since it is a non-distance dependant hybrid fibre service?

As I started article with the only pure way is to use the standardised product name e.g. G.993.2 and for people to understand what that means.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 6 months ago

surely thats conflating two things technology and speed. Id rather have a legal meaning for superfast/ultrafast or whatevr for the speed (by whatever tech) but keep fib to Fttp/fttb

  • Croft12
  • 6 months ago

I have virgin media "Fibre" broadband. They came to install it and it was a co-axial copper cable. I asked the guy where the fibre line was and he didn't even know where it started or ended! Ridiculous false advertising.

  • doowles
  • 6 months ago

@ uncle024.
You said, "optical is distant independent." I'm no expert, but I thought that optical fibre signals DO attenuate, just slower than signals on metal cables. So are you saying that a 50km line from a cabinet to a remote farm needs no signal boost? Otherwise, that would be no different from a 30m copper cable from a basement box to a 10th floor flat (no significant attenuation) or a 3m copper link from an outside wall box to the router.

  • davidinnotts
  • 6 months ago

@ doowles:
We've just had the new Virgin kit installed in our street, and I both watched the installation and talked with the engineers. The fibre is usually (and was for us) to the cabinet - ours is 5 premises and across a street away. The coax is superior to the usual BT link, but not enough to matter.

  • davidinnotts
  • 6 months ago

The engineer did mention that - at extra cost and if ordered while they had the street up - I could get FTTH. Presumably, it would cost even more later to run the fibre through their conduits, but it looked as though it would be a tricky install without digging up the pavement again: a 30mm pipe leads to the conduit from each wall box, and the drawstring would have negotiate it all to the underground junction box - unlikely.

  • davidinnotts
  • 6 months ago

Only way can see Virgin Media overlaying coax with fibre (remember it is identical products that they sell) is if you ordering a business based leased line that could not be delivered over the coax infrastructure.

The Virgin Media where its FTTP, is blown fibre, i.e. small tube installed and the lightweight fibre is blown to each premises down that small tube using compressed air.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 6 months ago

Outdoor ONT's they are already in mass production; Google is your friend :-) so that argument falls flat before getting out the door so to speak. As I said what's the difference between an outdoor ONT with a short run of a couple metres through the wall over Cat6a to a block of flats all fed with Cat6a with runs all under 90m? In my view FTTB is still FTTP, that the building is subdivided matters not, and yes technically VDSL2/g.FAST would count but I suspect it is going to be super rare in the UK as not to be bothered about.

  • jabuzzard
  • 6 months ago

While you do get attenuation on fibre you either get link or you don't. Well technically you might get link and then lots of TX/RX errors but leaving that aside if you need more distance you just swap in optics with more powerful lasers. So out the box LR optics do 10km, ranges of distances up to 120km for all speeds up to 100Gbps are off the shelf upgrades with higher speeds and longer distances costing more. So 1Gbps at 10km is like £5, shipping is more, doubling to £10 for 40km and 10% extra for BiDi. Where as 100Gbps at 40km is like £6000, but available by next Monday if you have the cash.

  • jabuzzard
  • 6 months ago

Well I hope that the judicial agrees that the word fibre by itself should not be used to describe FTTC services. DSL services are cheap but unfortunately they are often error prone leading to customers ending up with a worse service than they are expecting.

  • Michael_Chare
  • 6 months ago

i also agree unless fibre terminates at the house or in case of high rise buildings the basement it should not be called Fibre as it can't guarantee the speed on VDSL (or in virgin case sometimes unreliable packet delivery) soon as Openreach gets FTTP in my area m next 5 years i will leave virgin

even Virgin network not be called fiber unless the node terminates at the house

calling somthing fiber when its 100m-1 miles away over copper was destined to be a fail on ASA should have never allowed it as now we are starting to get Real fiber and companies have to explain your getting Actual FTTP

  • leexgx
  • 6 months ago

i think it will affect virgin more than anyone else as some places are getting FTTP node installed at the house unsure how virgin can market it

if virgin would resolve utilization issues within reasonable time instead of ignoring because its only happening between 3pm and 11pm (or waiting fore new version of DOCSIS comes out as what happened when it was on 2.0 to 3.0 after 1-2 years in my area, 1mb ADSL was more usable than virgin)

then DOCSIS 3.1 and higher can be considered fibre but they must resolve utlisazon issues soon as they can (the FTTN nodes do report utilization but they ignore)

  • leexgx
  • 6 months ago

The reason for the current ASA ruling is their bizarre way of working, they tend to allow advertising if the big players are in mutual agreement over it, or at least one or two of them are, e.g. when BT started removing shaping on their infinity products, suddenly the ASA decided they were going to clamp down on unlimited advertising, FUP's etc. They also apparently waited for VM to upgrade parts of their network before rolling out the average speed advertising changes. In other words they are too kosher with those whom they regulate. Lets hope this case wins and shows the ASA up.

  • chrysalis
  • 6 months ago

As I understand Judicial reviews, they won't be making any decision about what "fibre" means or who should use it, and when.

All a Judicial Review does is check that the public body (ASA in this case) followed the right process.

https://www.judiciary.uk/you-and-the-judiciary/judicial-review/

"It is not really concerned with the conclusions of that process and whether those were ‘right’, as long as the right procedures have been followed. The court will not substitute what it thinks is the ‘correct’ decision."
...

  • WWWombat
  • 6 months ago

"This may mean that the public body will be able to make the same decision again, so long as it does so in a lawful way.

If you want to argue that a decision was incorrect, judicial review may not be best for you. There are alternative remedies, such as appealing against the decision to a higher court."

  • WWWombat
  • 6 months ago

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