Archive for the 'ADSL2+' Category

Another one bites the dust

…and no this isn’t about Eyjafjallajokull, but more about the demise of another LLU operator, in Orange.

It was reported last week by the Times that Orange have outsourced their infrastructure to BT Wholesale, in a similar deal to that penned by KCOM last year. The article referenced a Bruno Duarte, VP of strategy, who stated that “We are not satisfied with where we stand with broadband, as our customer base is declining and our performance is poor. But we need to remain in fixed-line broadband so decided to fundamentally change what we are doing,”

Personally I think that it’s a shame that this happened. Some may say it was inevitable, due to the operator haemoraging customers, and when presented with the figures, it’s hard to disagree. However I hark back to the time when Freeserve were one of the first ADSL2+ suppliers, with both a good product and nationwide reach, and from these beginnings, it’s a shame that they’ve ended this way. It’s a strange cycle, whereby an LLU network feels the need to outsource maintenance of their infrastrucutre back to BT, especially after the deregulation of the industry in the early noughties. I guess it’s a sign of how competitive the broadband industry has become. No doubt one of the drivers was to provide much needed funds for their impending merger with T-Mobile.

As a mobile operator with their own network. Orange could be seen as being quite unique in their market, especially with the landscape shifting towards providing converged IP solutions. Although the force of this won’t be felt for some time, it’s clear to see that many newer customers at market 3 exchanges will be presented with an IPStream connect tail as opposed to Orange LLU. And although for BT this can be seen as a major coup, for Orange I feel that as a cost cutting exercise, they may have made a decision they will come to regret in the future.

BE vs BT

Not wanting to turn this blog into a long sales pitch. However I recently came across a video showing the performance of a BT line against a BE line. Although it’s not a like for like test (the BE line being an Annex M and the BT line being an ADSL Max), it still shows the level of throttling that occurs within BT’s core network at peak times.

BE launch 40Mb bonded DSL

With the New Year fast becoming a distant memory, there have already been some interesting developments in the broadband landscape. From my position, BE launching bonded DSL from the exchange is one of the more interesting propositions, as it further pushes the limits of copper above and beyond it’s current uses.  Current headline speeds will be up to 40Mb down and up to 5Mb up. However although similar in delivery to EFM, this will be available immediately across BE’s network of c.1250 exchanges. Currently this is in final trials, meaning commercial details and compatible CPE are still to be set in stone. However it is planned that these trials will last for up to 2 months, before they start to roll this out through all channels, including wholesale.

Of course this has many appliances, and sits neatly in the sphere between legacy SDSL connectivity and fibre leased lines. Currently many of our wholesale partners are multi-linking DSL tails and this can be seen as a direct replacment for this. Bonded DSL will also negate the need to force sessions onto a single LNS, enabling partners to efficiently operate a resilient multi-LNS environment. Combined with Seamless Rate Adaptation, Bonded DSL can now be seen to offer a true alternative to an ISDN30.

The main downside to this is that it will not be available in rural areas, thus not offering any help to users in traditional ‘not spots’ and not wholly aiding the ability to obtain the USC/O of 2Mbps stipulated by Digital Britain. Saying that, one possible application could be in instances where an end user is far away from their local exchange. Whereby with one DSL, they may only obtain a sync rate of 2Mb, they now have the possibility to double this in favourable conditions. It will be interesting to see how other carriers react to this news.

A look back on 2009

This is an article that I have written for print publication. Any feedback would be appreciated.

2009 has been a strange year for carriers providing last mile DSL access. Back in January in the midst of the recession there were worrying times being forecast for carriers as they struggled to get to grips with the financial downturn. With networks struggling to plug widening deficits, previously planned network expansion was put to one side, as capital was shunted to other areas seen as more important to stopping the rot.

At the turn of the year, there were 4 main wholesale DSL carriers: BT Wholesale, Cable and Wireless, the Carphone Warehouse Group and Tiscali. Due to the recession, BT Wholesale were stalling with the roll out of 21CN, Cable and Wireless were just re-entering the channel after a strategic exit only a few years back, Tiscali were involved in a very public tug-of-war between Sky, Vodafone and the Carphone Warehouse Group whilst the latter themselves had only just entered the wholesale market via their wholly owned subsidiary Opal Telecom. As the year progressed and we started to move towards a brighter financial climate, the industry took a marked turn for the better. Many people debate about the exact period when we started to look more optimistically at the future. However I believe that when Brown put the ball in the court of the Telco’s by stating that the infrastructure behind Digital Britain would spur growth in the economy, there was a paradigm shift, as the masses adopted what we had already realised; that telecommunications was a fundamental component to the kick-start of the British economy.

Throughout the course of the year, the broadband landscape has changed considerably. The main difference being the acquisition of Tiscali into the Carphone Warehouse group and their subsequent ambitious plans for 2010. Whether they will demonstrate the traditional pains of large scale acquisition traditionally felt by other large carriers such as Tiscali and C&W is yet to be seen. BT Wholesale has also started to gain traction with 21CN and in particular their WMBC offering. Cable and Wireless can also pat themselves on the back as having a fairly successful year, as they managed to win the Tesco contract, whilst deploying their much heralded MSP platform. However one of the big changes to the market has been the introduction of BE into the wholesale arena.

BE have always had a very compelling consumer offering; being the first to market with Annex M ADSL2+, whilst having one of the largest coverage areas of the tier 1 DSL networks. With a topology designed to underpin high bandwidth usage, they were setup from the onset to provide ADSL2+ to their subscribers. BE have entered in a very timely fashion. One of the key topics of the year has been the increased financial burden of bandwidth costs on service providers due to applications such as iPlayer and Pirate Bay. This has led to in depth debates including key industry and government personnel about how best to manage the use of bandwidth intensive applications. Solutions such as bandwidth caps, application charges and even application restrictions were mooted. Due to their mesh dark fibre-based VPLS core, BE can legitimately claim to provide solutions future-scaled to support the continued rise in bandwidth by end users. Also with a commercial model that alleviates central based usage charges, they’ve provided a low cost-of-entry into the ADSL2+ market for channel partners.

As we move into 2010, the wholesale broadband market is much changed from that of 12months prior. Both Carphone Warehouse and 21CN have ambitious growth targets planned for 2010. The latter introducing wholesale Ethernet-in-the-first-mile and fibre-to-the-cabinet trials. Many people have stated that the window of opportunity for new wholesale partners is fast closing due to this. However in my position, the consolidation in the industry has reached a natural plateau, with all the main DSL carriers now proving to be more mature in systems interface, product portfolio and commercial model used. Even BE as the new player can be seen to have an edge in some aspects of their proposition. By using ISAMs (Intelligent Service Access Managers) at the exchange with the capability of terminating Ethernet and seamlessly training the DSL to work at its optimum performance (known as seamless rate adaption) they have made the step to solidify their position as a force in the market both now and for the future. By also providing unparalleled visibility and control of their ISAMs to all service providers, they have allowed tecchies to fault find, diagnose and alleviate traditional 3rd line issues, which in turn has led to a vast reduction in the number of support tickets raised with them.

Even though this has been in the market for roughly 6months, already the features are proving compelling, even as compliment to a 21CN novation plan. With products such as bonded DSL and symmetrical DSL soon to be available from the port, they’ve positioned themselves as a prominent player in the next generation access sphere. Add into the mix backhaul capacity capable of supporting their lofty ambitions and the capital of their more illustrious parents, it’s no wonder BE are proving to be more than just an interesting alternative in the wholesale broadband market.

The grubby world of exhibitions

It seems like we have entered the grubby season of the exhibition. I say grubby as some of the exhibitions I’ve been to previously have consisted of nothing more than a myriad of stands of vendors who don’t understand what you do, trying to sell you something that you inevitably don’t really need.

With the recent ‘Margin in Voice and Data expo’, there seemed to be a distinct change in direction towards a more focused show. I personally saw it as a good time for event organisers to re-evaluate their expos. However with the economy showing signs of picking up, there has been a return to the scene of the big all encompassing show stopping exhibition. Last week I went to the IP expo. Usually filled with big stands with big companies with even bigger egos. However this year was different. I only went for a morning on the first day, but what I found was an exhibition with a clear theme; Virtualisation. Previously where there were 4 expos centered around different aspects of cloud computing. This had now been amalgamated into one big show. Personally it was interesting to have a chat with different network operators, followed by walking across the room to discuss compatibility issues with specific vendors and system application developers. I found this a lot more worthwhile and was able to get a good level of understanding as to how different vendors/suppliers plan to incorporate a cloud based service into their product portfolios.

I then recently went to the ‘Convergence Summit South‘ run by Miles Publishing. This is specific to the channel within the telecomms industry and by their own admission has been their most successful summit for a while. As exhibitions go, it was exactly as expected. However the shining light of the expo was the seminars. Personally there was a great debate early on between Tim Hubbard of BT Wholesale, Neil McArthur of Talk Talk and Steve Gallagher of Cable and Wireless about what constitutes a ‘Next Generation Network’, and how their respective organisations are striving to compete. In my view, the term NGN is extremely mis-leading and one used purely for marketing spin. To see these industry heavyweights vying with each other about their own USP’s, whilst surveying the potential future landscape of the telecomms market was exciting, as little more than 5 years ago, BT would not have had to defend against such strong competition. The expo also saw an interesting feature, whereby hosted VOIP providers were given 20 minutes to setup from scratch their hosted platform in front of a packed audience. The one that I saw was successful and proved the ease of use and speed of the platform.

In all, expo’s can provide a valuable insight into your chosen market. Going back to the convergence summit, it was interesting to see how many big mobile carriers were present, as they tried to embrace the shift to FMC by traditional voice and data integrators. It’s a shame that the example set by the ‘Margin in Voice and Data’ expo earlier in the year was not followed, and I’m sure that as we emerge from the recession, various exhibitions will only continue to get bigger and probably more brash.

Adding value with broadband

Thought I’d include an article that I’ve recently written for the channel. It’s quite easy to read, but any feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks

Broadband has come a long way since it’s inception. For businesses back in the day, it was seen as a key marketing and communication tool as companies paid through the roof to have a static website with 5 pages. Email was revolutionary, and was quickly seen as the main way to communicate with clients, with their permission or without.

Now with the advent of converged or unified systems, it’s not surprising to have a company use their broadband for phone calls, data, video and even an alarm system. The advance of broadband has been the key driver in so many industries, each with their own confusing terms and acronyms. FMC, UC, SIP, Telepresence, VOIP, IPCCTV. The list goes on, but the common factor is IP – Internet Protocol. All the aforementioned use the internet.

On it’s own, its a cost effective method to transfer data, and because of it’s universal acceptance, is widespread across a number of mechanisms. Packaged with an IP application, broadband becomes fundamental for the efficient use of the respective device. For the channel, it provides a number of opportunities for vendors, distributors and system integrators alike to provide a necessary value add to their portfolio, and this is further pushed by the rise of alternative networks to use. This in itself has promoted competition and innovation in product development, and the channel has inevitably benefited from the options available. Now technologies such as Annex-M can help a reseller by going to market with an ISDN alternative, whilst also aggregating two or more to attack the leased line market.

At the top end of the channel, mobile operators have got into bed with Telco’s to have a network of their own. Large system integrators are courting network operators for a primary service. And at enterprise level, the wrath of mergers and acquisitions have left some in the enviable position of being a one stop shop for your every need, budget permitting. At the lower end, traditional resellers and SI’s have forged relationships with mobile and network operators to get the best out of both worlds. This is where the value has been added, as now an integrator has a platform to showcase their primary offering.

Lets look at one industry where this is rife, voice. Hosted voice providers who have been brave in embracing SIP have realised from a very early age that the quality of broadband is key to their offering. Therefore they have been vocal in their search for network operators who have an offering that can allow for a high quality and a high volume of calls.

Enter DSL. In it’s various guises, it’s been able to offer a low cost platform to end users wanting access to the benefits of a hosted voice offering, as now the high upfront costs of an ISDN 30 can be waived for a similar DSL service. In this instance integrators have been quick to partner with network operators to offer their services as part of a package, adding to their bottom line by boosting their margins and increasing that customer ‘stickiness’ we all strive for.

The same is now happening in a number of industries. Integrators in the fast developing video sphere are reaching out to networks with a reputation for performance. Digital signage architects are holding hands with networks with good national coverage. And for the end user, this is compelling as they have one port of call for the majority of their IP requirements.

It’s an easy story to tell. To borrow a much used analogy, selling a road is pointless without drooling over the performance of the vehicle that’s on it. And to translate this to the internet, it’s hard to get excited about fibre to the home for example, without thinking about all it’s possible uses.

All these present the opportunity for more convergence, more applications, but over one central pipe, which is where the value is provided, as if you provide the central pipe, there is always the possibility to provide other services based on that. An old director of mine used to term this “The Whirlwind model”, where you provide something small, but essential, and then provide additional services required by that initial item. However you define it, the benefits of this are unparalled for all parts of the channel, as with the technological advances being made in the numerous access methods used to provide broadband, the channel now has a chance to offer a key value add to their IP applications.

BT and O2 join up

Interesting news in the channel recently about how O2 have signed up with BT Wholesale to provide both fixed line data, broadband and consultancy services. On the surface this seems like a good opportunity for O2 to take a giant step into providing their client base with a converged solution based around their primary mobile offering. However one has to wonder why a comapny who has invested at the least £200 million on it’s own network would then make a further investment in providing a similar service based on another network.

The concept is sound. O2 have a massive mobile subscriber base, consisting of both consumers and businesses of all sizes. With their centre of excellences, they have one of the best support networks around for resellers of their products, to underpin their business offering. By offering their clients a unified solution consisting of business broadband seems like a sure fit. However, for one reason or another, this has never happened.

The acquisition of the Bethere network has enabled O2 to be a major player in the comms market. However so far, the market that has benefitted the most has been the residential market. This does not mean that the network cannot be used for businesses, just that so far, there have been few able to use it in this way. However with the advent of the wholesale channel, the network is now being used by business ISP’s as a primary offering to their client base, and is proving extremely successful in providing high bandwidth low latency services. As more exposure is given to this channel, it will be interesting to see how this is viewed by the powers that be in O2.

There’s nothing to say that a Be/O2 offering can’t co-exist with a BT service, as inevitably in the areas where Be don’t have an exchange unbundled, a rebadged BT service will be used. However, for my 2 pence, although BT Wholesale have persuaded O2 to sign a 5 year contract, I firmly believe that O2 will fully realise what an asset they have with the Be network, before we get anywhere near to the expiry date of their new contract with BT.


My tweet stream

Pages

June 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Blog Stats

  • 4,355 hits