Archive for the 'Wholesale platform' Category

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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Leased line services on copper?

Over at FD Wholesale, we’ve been doing some trials in our R&D department bonding Annex M tails together and we’ve been able to get throughput normally associated with leased lines. We’re roughly 1.5Km from our local exchange, and when bonding 2 lines, the total sync rate was 26.7Mbps down and 4Mbps up. When we bonded 4 lines, we obtained 56Mbps down and 8Mbps up.

The applications for this are wide ranging. Consider having a client who lives 5Km+ from their local exchange. 1 DSL would offer them little throughput to sustain a number of users. Aggregate 2 or 3 together and suddenly they can start to look at IP applications that may improve business processes such as SIP or Video conferencing. Another example may be where a client can’t gain wayleave agreement to obtain a fibre run. In this instance, they can have a bonded Annex M service offeirng up to 80Mbps down and 10Mbps up. Obviously these are headline speeds and are dependant on quality of copper and line length, but in all but the worst circumstances, a bonded Annex M service can start to become a compelling alternative to EFM or FTTC. Using the BE network, this is also available immediately, nationwide. No waiting for 2012 to have a coverage of c.300 exchanges.

Currently this is something that all our channel partners are utilising, as it gives them a cost effective alternative to a leased line. Based on the Cisco proprietory protocol, traditionally the stumbling point has been the high initial price point associated with the routers. However, we’ve been conducting some trials with a manufacturer called Virtual Access using their GW7000 boxes, and they’ve been very successful in terms of throughput and stability. However, even more compelling is the fact that they lower the initial price point of the solution to sub £500.

Personally I feel that bonding Annex M tails, at the core is a lot more resilinet solution than trying to aggregate them at the client end, using an external aggregator, as it means that there is little overhead, lower packet loss and less latency. In my opinion, the main thing to take away from this is that even though fibre will still have it’s uses, the applications for DSL are ever increasing. Whereby traditionally a leased line was the only method available to provide large amounts of throughput, the landscape is ever changing to incorporate DSL.

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.

BT Openreach reacts to Digital Britain report

Warning: this post contains a large number of acronyms!

Interesting news this morning about how Openreach is reacting to the recent Digital Britian report in providing universal 2Mb broadband services. Using a method called Broadband Enabling Technology, or BET for short (yet another new acronym), Openreach proposes to provide a stable broadband service at distances of up to 12Km from a client’s nearest exchange. For premises situated within a current ‘not spot’ (thank the BBC for that term!) this could prove a viable alternative to using a mobile network or satellite operator, as having a fixed line broadband service would prove a lot more consistent, and also would not be as susceptible to enviromental conditions.

At first glance, it seems that BT have taken the idea of SDH and applied it to longer distances. Looking at the way this is depoyed, it seems that BT Openreach is extending the reach of it’s SHDSL services past the previous 5Km barrier. Currently there is little technical information about how they will do this, bar stating that they have made some “modifications and the use of a repeater unit”. However, it’s interesting that they’re using what was previously thought to be an end of life product, superseeded by both EFM and Annex-M, to provide services to the out of reach.

Since the Digital Britain report, there has been a lot of talk about how to provide a nationwide service capable of providing a universal 2Mb for a number of applications such as BBC’s iPlayer, VOIP and VOD to name but a few. Many different access methods, such as HSPA, WiMax and even satellite links have been considered in rural areas not deemed capable of obtaining a traditional fixed line ADSL service. In their various guises, they have provided a large amount of competition to fixed line operators whose coverage does not extend to ‘not spot’ areas. However these efforts have been largely independant to each other, and despite the advancements in technology within the fixed line communications sector, there hasn’t been a lot of options for people out of reach of their exchange. HSPA has proved not consistent enough, with users depending on mobile network coverage. With recent news of the Orange and T-Mobile merger, this could be something that may improve moving forward. Satellite broadband still does not have a large enough market penetration rate to be considered as a viable nationwide alternative. And WiMax is often used in backhauling bandwidth to out of reach areas, as opposed to a last mile access method.

By BT bringing this product into it’s portfolio it will go someway into giving it’s wholesale partners options to provide their ‘out of reach’ client base with a solid service for extensive use. With speeds of 1Mbps both down and up on a single copper pair, this is a positive step by BT in the right direction.

However, this also raises a lot of questions. All the marketing info we’ve been fed with relating to 21CN has previously made us aware that providing ADSL2+ from all of their exchanges was something BT were looking at having in place by 2012. It will be interesting to find out whether (should initial trials be successful) this may impact the rollout of Bt’s 21CN network. Also it will be interesting to find out the costs to the end user for this, as if it is using SHDSL technology, I couldn’t imagine the price point being markedly different to that previously. BT Openreach have admitted as much by stating “If there is funding to help meet the additional costs involved in deploying the technology, BET could offer a reliable and cost-effective solution to assist the Government’s ambition of delivering a minimum 2Mb/s service to virtually all UK homes”. Also, apart from throwing more copper pairs into the mix, it’s not really a scaleable solution for future bandwidth use.

All in all, it’s nice to see BT finally providing something that seems born out of market pressure. As mentioned, trials are being conducted currently. It will be even more interesting to see whether this proves both a commercial and technically sound option moving forward.

Fluidata/Be Wholesale offering

It’s been an exciting couple of months at Fluidata. We’ve always known the potential of AnnexM as a direct replacement for legacy SDSL. We’ve gauged how popular it’s been within our own client base. And we’ve been successful in aggregating it with services from other carriers. However, my own feeling that there has always been potential to offer a true wholesale platform around AnnexM is now being realised. Over the last few months there has been a lot of discussions between ourselves, Be and O2 regarding the best way to make this viable. Sometimes these conversations have been prolonged, but it’s now a reality. And a unique one at that.

Because initially the Bethere network was deployed specifically for transferring data, they have always made the invesmtent to provide services that allow for high speeds and little contention. By provisioning NTL based 1Gb and 10Gb fibre backhaul at their majority of their DSLAM’s, they’ve limited the possibility of contention arising at these points. Also, backed by O2, they’ve been able to proactively monitor contention throughout their network. This has proved attractive to a consmer audience that regularly uses services such as online gaming and P2P. However, this also has had it’s advantages to businesses who also hold similar values.

Now other ISP’s and service providers can have access to the largest AnnexM ready network in the country. With an ethos of ‘ease of use’, the flexibility afforded allows for maximum control of each tail. From full port functionality to no capacity charges, this offering really does make it easy for partners to fully provision, maintain and support their circuits in a way rarely seen within the industry. By delivering the platform via L2TP, partners now have the ability to compliment their existing centrals with a progressive NGN offering.

For me personally, managing this offering will be a new challenge. After being on the receiving end of a few channel offerings, I have an insight into the levels of service a channel partner may expect. Hopefully this will translate itself into a channel experience beneficial to both ourselves and our partners. If the last few months were exciting, the next few will be even more so!


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