Posts Tagged 'FTTC'

To Infinity and beyond?

Fibre to the Cabinet

Well the trials have finished and amid all the fanfare, BT have officially launched their brand new FTTC service, providing up to 40Mbps down and up to 10Mbps up. Named BT Infinity (surely ironic) this promises to be quite a compelling offering for both domestic and business users hoping to adopt applications that require a large amount of bandwidth to be transferred across the last mile.

Now I’ll be honest in saying that I’m not the biggest fan of BT. However they deserve praise in being fairly quick to market with this. BT retail pricing seems competitive against the main competiton (being Virgin Media’s 50Mb service) whilst although geographic penetration is very limited, there are already over 100 enabled for the service, with quite a few exchanges planned for roll out. However saying that, there are still a few things that deeply concern me about the service.

Firstly it’s key to remember that essentially Infinity is a VDSL based service, meaning that BT will rely on their copper infrastructure from their local cabinets. This means that end user sync rates are still determined by the same factors that determine DSL. However even more important to note are their roll out plans for cabinets attached to exchanges, as even thought BT say they’re to enable a certain exchange for FTTC, it does not mean that they will enable all cabinets associated to that exchange. There are already stories of certain exchanges enabled where only half of the cabinets will be able to provide the service. Not good

Secondly it will be interesting to see how the underlying bandwidth is managed. It’s a well known fact that 21CN has been having some well documented congestion issues, and there is little doubt that Infinity will not help if BT can’t sort out the current issues that the’re already having. Infinity can only have a larger drain than the current access methods used. BT have gone some way to negate this being an issue, by deploying the same usage policies applied with thier ADSL2+ sericves. For the consumer, this has the added threat of reaching your limit faster than previously, due to having the ability to download a lot more.

Thirdly as expected, this will have very little impact on those in the not-spot areas around the country, as BT only plan to enable current market 3 exchanges. Therefore it won’t make major inroads into the USC set within the Digital Britain report. Further woe for those in rural areas.

However from my perspective, the main thing to take away from this is the fact that we are starting the process in moving away from copper in the last mile to fibre. This move will be painful for most, as we discuss the most viable ways to deploy it whilst making the end user propositions cost effective. However as it is used more and more within certain political party manifesto’s, it is sure to become a bigger plane for debate within various wide ranging communities. Hopefully this will mean more wide ranging action.

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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.


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