Archive for the 'DSL' 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.

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BT DSL outage

I’m sure many of you were affected in one way or another by the recent DSL outage, caused by the North Paddington exchange. The latest is that from BT is that water got into the exchange, starting an electrical fire, which was put out by more water, causing a flood in the basement.

The above picture is an example of the severity of the situation. However I really must praise the sterling work of BT in not only working around the clock to rectify the issue, but also in notifying their customers using Social Media. Their twitter stream (@BTcare) was a hive of activity all day, and was backed up by their status blog depicting progress. In fact the above picture comes from their own Flickr stream. Info was then compounded upon by key clients, such as Gradwell (@gradwelltweets), who posted a list of exchanges that were affected (some 437!)

Although many of us in the industry view BT as a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to embracing change, they really are showing us all how best to adopt and embrace new media. And although they have been tripped up by their BTcare account more than once, these mishaps will inevitably help them create a more fulfilling user experience. The whole episode also helps to shoecase how Twitter, blogs and other social media devices, when used in the right way, can really enhance the way a business can communicate with it’s community. We can all learn a thing of two from BT.

This is NOT a party political broadcast

So we have heard the budget, and to be honest, there are few surprises for us telco’s. We all knew that this would be an ideal opportunity for Labour to posture somewhat prior to the election to gain votes. And that is exactly what they’ve done.

The one thing for me personally that has been interesting is both parties use of the advancement of broadband in their respective manifestos. The Tories have confidently stated that they will get 100Mbps lines to 90% of the population by 2017. Last year Labour confidently announced that their USC for #digitalbritain would be a paltry 2Mbps per household. This has been subsquently revised to providing ‘superfast’ broadband by 2020. However despite elaborate methods of financing this from each, there doesn’t seem to have been much thought as to how this would be delivered, and more importantly, who will deliver this.

Fibre is and has been the obvious method. Much noise has been made for both BT and Virgin Media to provide access to their ducts for other carriers use. However when the purported cost to deliver fibre to each and every premises is between £5bn and £30bn you can see the massive investment needed. Hence the government’s involvment. Many different technologies have been considered to deliver ‘next generation services’ today. Satellite, LTE, WiMAX and even BPL (that’s an acronym for Broadband over Powerlines) have been mooted as being able to service those much talked about not-spots, that are rightfully threatening the validity of the #digitalbritain manifesto.  The disappointing factor is that there seems to be little communication with telco’s to understand how best to deploy services that will help Britain move into a digital future.

In my view, there are 2 key issues that stop any government really moving forward with providing high speed universal access.

  1. Lack of communication with those in the trenches – I’m sure the likes of BT and Virgin Media have been consulted about their opinions on providing high speed access to all (or badgered to open up their ducts). However what the government hasn’t done is try to assist smaller providers who have worked in other more rural areas to try and deploy networks designed for tomorrow. An example of this can be found by the inequality in the tax rates paid out on fibre by the likes of BT and smaller providers, such as Vtesse. If there is at least parity, then this will spur people like Vtesse to create efficient models to provide high speed access in areas the not-spots.
  2. The government inherently doesn’t GET the internet – This is a massive statement to make. However on one hand the government is trying to deploy a set of foundations to provide universal access, whilst on the other, introducing the Digital Economy Bill to massively restrict our use of the internet. Ever so slightly hypocritical. The government seems hell bent on protecting the revenues of industries who also don’t get the internet, instead of helping them to adopt new business models to fully embrace the internet.

Once the government realise that providing universal access is less of a political game  whilst engaging with those who could spur innovation, then will we truly see a landscape conducive to providing nationwide high speed access to underpin a digitally thriving economy.

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.


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