Broadband News

How full fibre is deployed in Bucharest much faster than UK

On a trip to Bucharest for a short break I was surprised to see so many apartment buildings and telecoms poles with masses of fibre strung up on them. What follows is some pictures taken while walking around the centre of Bucharest and some fibre running alongside the road between Henri Coandă International Airport and the city centre.

Bucharest FTTP deployment
Image taken from Express bus of fibre running beside road near Henri Coandă International Airport
Bucharest FTTP deployment
Lamppost with fibre bundles on it
Bucharest FTTP deployment
Likely fibre splitter with broken weather proof outer.
Bucharest FTTP deployment
Standard pole with multiple fibre runs on it
Bucharest FTTP deployment
Side of apartment building with fibre deployed to flats. In a number of places apartments appear to have all the fibre external even to the upper floors.

I think it is safe to say if any of these pictures were in the UK that these installations would only have lasted as long as it took for the council to insist that the installation was removed. So when people complain that full fibre roll-outs are slow and expensive in the UK it is worth remembering when comparing the pace and cost to other countries that what we find acceptable in terms of deployment can be very different to other countries.

What the pictures don't really show is that in some places there is broken fibre hanging down onto the pavement and in one location what was possibly an active fibre strand near to some Government buildings was open to the elements.

There is overhead fibre in the UK and while we know that during the build phase some telephone poles can have a coil of fibre hanging on them once the install has been built this is tidied up and for the few feet from ground level up guards to stop animal damage are fitted, and for fibre runs through trees there is down an additional protective sleeve to make the cable resistant to rubbing.

Comments

Very similar to what I see in Bulgaria. My parents live in a remote village in the mountains with FTTP delivered point-to-point along shared poles through a hole into a bedroom where a cheap media converter converts it to 100Mbps Ethernet. It is far from reliable, with uptime measured in hours. Every time they reported an outage the provider blames them for ‘moving the media converter’.

Previously they have WiMax and it worked great; it was faster and more reliable. I’ve recommended they go back to it.

  • DougM
  • 11 months ago

Grief. Fibre on poles delivered tidily in the UK causes complaints; remarks about it being indicative of a third world country come to mind, let alone work like this.

Contention is really heavy on these services too - ignoring the physical presentation they would fail our performance advertising requirements in a big way.

  • CarlThomas
  • 11 months ago

@thinkbroadband Similar (but messier) to what I saw in Granada - all HFC or FTTP run up buildings externally and th… https://t.co/JlSUkP8y7V

  • @mynnoj
  • comment via twitter
  • 11 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers. The same situations also in Barbados ( ex cable and wireless) Spain ( Vodafone) I would rather seen Bt / Openreach be in control of Uk,s communications and let the market determine the outcome with no government subsidies.

  • Blackmamba
  • 11 months ago

Vodafone were private deployment in competition with the incumbent, Telefonica, Mr Mamba.

No idea what your second sentence has to do with your first one given most of the FTTP action in the UK is now due to the market.

  • CarlThomas
  • 11 months ago

Yeah, you found 3 buildings cabled in 2001 and concluded that all are the same.
Actually, 85% of fiber deployments are underground, the cables you see hanging on some buildings in Bucharest are very old fibre (circa 2006-2007 before regulations) and even older CaTV. All the fibre deployed in the last 10 years is underground.

Some facts:
- Romania has FTTB since 2006, 1Gbps got available in 2007, now it costs 8 GBP with no installation fee
- by 2017, 94% of internet access at home was through FTTB or FTTH
- for the last 13 years, Romania had top positions worldwide for average speeds

  • cgeorgescu
  • 11 months ago

I found a lot more than 3 buildings but did not take photos of everyone, maybe next time will take more pictures of the various buildings between airport and city centre.

On the £8/m this is balanced by an average salary of around €570 versus £1865/m in the UK.

Still shows how a country got the fibre deployed much faster than has happened in the UK.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 11 months ago

I've never understood why BT cant just replace the current copper with fiber lines? Surely they already have all the ducts and poles ready to go? Am I missing something?

  • doowles
  • 11 months ago

I think I am right in saying that the ducts currently used by BT are not necessarily capable of having fibre blown through them. Many have corners that are too sharp, and (probably) most are overfull already of copper cables.

  • mollcons
  • 11 months ago

Replacing copper with fibre means as you build network you are also connecting people and removing the copper. This is complex as people have many different services, hence the Salisbury trial where they are building FTTP and plan to do a bulk shift from copper to FTTP.

While they have the ducts and poles in place, it is about the time it takes to install all the new fibre, join it all together, test and commission it.

On the state of ducts, the bends should be within specification for fibre, and they can use a mixture of blown or connectorised fibre cables of different sizes.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 11 months ago

I suspect a key challenge is the need to install the fibre whilst leaving the copper in situ until everything is commissioned. There may not be space in duct for both services, equally poles might not all be able to carry the weight of both.

And of course some customers will be reluctant to change over and/or some services may be difficult to migrate to fibre. For example, I believe that there are some pretty ancient analogue interfaces on utility gear (electricity / water etc) that would be difficult to port to fibre. Ditto some alarm circuits etc.

  • New_Londoner
  • 11 months ago

dowles

BT have to keep the copper to allow LLU operators to carry on. OFCOM has only (just) given permission for the trial in Salisbury to remove the copper for the first time.
Five years ago BT ran a small 100% FTTP trial in the Midlands but has to pick an exchange without LLU so that they didn't remove any functionality or unfairly compete with any LLU operator.

Regulation to enhance competition often hamstrings BT from doing anything quickly or efficiently.

  • jumpmum
  • 11 months ago

Bucharest is a city, which you are comparing to a country - the UK. Not entirely valid. I don't think we want loads of fibres overhead cluttering up our streetscapes.

Also, we already have one city with very good full fibre coverage, i.e. Hull.

  • andrum992
  • 11 months ago

Hi Jumpmum.
If they are not able to remove the copper on an Exchange that has LLU can they remove the E side on the FTTC when working using the new upgrade or can it just be disconnected at the Cab ?

  • Blackmamba
  • 11 months ago

I just find it strange, I live in a suburb with a green box a the end of the street which presumably already has fiber. All down the street there is copper under the pavement to outside my house where there is a BT pole that suppliers 20 houses. To me it seems very easy to just connect the fiber using the same run as the copper.

  • doowles
  • 11 months ago

That is exactly what they do normally, but when you have a network passing many millions of homes, there is a decision to be made over who gets it first and how fast you can build it.

To give it some scale, to serve 20 homes, probably two 12 port manifolds and with 30 million plus in the UK, thats 3 million manifolds to install.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 11 months ago

Thanks Andrew, this is an interesting article. Reference your kind offer above to take further photos on future trips - please do. It would be great to have a single article packed full of hundreds of photos, showing the reality of overseas fibre deployments. The level of commercial and technical ignorance in the UK, combined with the sense of entitlement, is staggering. Pictures highlight the complexity of fibre deployment more than any prose can even attempt to.

  • IncognitoUK
  • 11 months ago

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