Tag: BT Openreach

A local community and a council in the UK deliver FTTP to Cotwaldon


BT Openreach engineer setting up for real Internet in rural Staffordshire press picture courtesy of BT Regional Press Office

BT Openreach engineer setting up for real Internet in rural Staffordshire

Community, council and BT to deliver FTTP to Cotwalton | ThinkBroadband

Public Funding Props Up BT Community Fibre FTTP Broadband Upgrade | ISP Review

From the horse’s mouth

BT Openreach (BT Regional Press Office)

Press Release

My Comments

A typical UK postcode would covers a small neighbourhood represented by a street or something similar but it would typically cover a rural hamlet or small village.

What has just happened lately is that Cotwaldon, a small hamlet in Staffordshire which is represented by one postcode, was to benefit from improved next-generation broadband Internet thanks to a public-private partnership involving that community. This hamlet was able to only benefit from a very slow broadband Internet connection due to it being an ADSL service provided using a long telephone line which I suspect could be decrepit due to it being poorly maintained.

But what has happened lately was for a community partnership to allow households and businesses in that location to benefit from fibre-to-the-premises next-generation broadband. This was facilitated in a public-private manner through the BT Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships which also worked alongside the Superfast Staffordshire next-generation broadband effort funded by the Staffordshire County Council and the UK Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme.

There will be similar activities taking place around some of rural UK as part of the BT Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships as part of “opening up” their FTTP effort to be launched next year. This is with their vision of publicly-funded local broadband-rollout efforts engaging with them to facilitate the rollout of next-generation real broadband Internet in to rural communities.

The BT Openreach press release highlighted some usage scenarios where this technology was relevant to Cotwaldon and its peer communities. One of these affected small business which effectively drives these rural communities – a builder who wanted to use the Internet to communicate with their customers and partners. But there were use cases that affected personal lifestyles such as downloading or streaming AV content reliably, or using online storage services as a data backup facility especially with high-resolution photos.

It is anther effort that brings real broadband to rural communities who are likely to be treated as second-class citizens by the telecommunications industry.

New ISP players working against established players to provide competitive Internet service


Gigaclear and Hyperoptic Highlight Problems with UK Broadband and BT | ISPReview.co.uk

My Comments

Aylesbury Vale countryside picture courtesy of Adam Bell (FlyingDodo)

Questions are now raised regarding independent operators providing real broadband to the countryside

The article I read in ISPReview has highlighted some problems that affect the existence of competitive next-generation broadband Internet service in the UK. These same problems can also affect other countries like those in the North American, South East Asian and Australasian areas to varying degrees.

It is based on interviews with Matthew Hare from Gigaclear, Dana Tobak from Hyperoptic and Scott Coats from the Wireless Infrastructure Group, all whom are running up against an incumbent telecommunications company who effectively owns the infrastructure in most of the country and is effectively given a fair bit of blessing from a national or regional government. This can be through state aid as part of a broadband-improvement scheme or through a legal “right of way” that proscribes competitors from operating in the area of concern. In the case of the UK, it is Openreach who is a BT spin-off that manages the telecommunications infrastructure in that country and they have been dominating the state-assisted “Broadband Delivery UK” projects that provide next-generation broadband to most of rural UK.

Apartment block

.. and apartment blocks in big cities

Issues that were raised were:

  • The dominance of a particular entity when it comes to delivering infrastructure for next-generation broadband in the UK
  • The costs associated with deploying new infrastructure
  • Business-hostile local-government property rates that affect the provision of service infrastructure by a private company, especially fibre-optic cable used for next-generation telecommunications
  • The difficulty of gaining access to the “pits, poles and pipes” infrastructure that BT Openreach owns or has exclusive access to; and
  • Whether BT and Openreach be fully and legally separated such as to make Openreach an entity controlled by the national government or local governments; or have it as a separate company.

Gigaclear are providing a 5Gbps fibre-to-the-premises service in to rural areas and commmuter towns in East Anglia and some of the Home Counties while Hyperoptic are providing a 1Gbps fibre-to-the-premises service to large multi-dwelling units in most of the UK’s main cities.

Gigaclear has effectively invested GBP£1000 / property and has found that the operating costs for pure-fibre setups are less than the costs for fibre-copper because there is no need to run electricity down the line and it is a modern robust technology. But they have paid many times the projected cost for some deployments like in Kent due to shodddy workmanship.

Matthew Hare from Gigaclear was highlighting BT swallowing up most of the BDUK contracts but he has picked up a few smaller Phase 2 contracts like projects in Gloucestershire, Essex and Berkshire. He had noticed a few of the local authorities being helpful about these rollouts like in Kent where Kent county council de-scoped (provided exclusive access) for Gigaclear projects compared to Rutlant where the Rutland county council and BT overbuilt Gigaclear with FTTC service.

This comes to the big question about whether an overbuild by one or more competing operators permit real infrastructure-level service competition. Some countries, most notably France have found that an overbuild by a competing infrastructure provider can achieve this level of competition.

Dana Tobak from Hyperoptic highlighted that fibre-copper technology like fibre-to-the-cabinet is a short-lived asset. She also highlighted the issue of access to the “pits, poles and pipes” owned by Openreach being a burdensome process for competing operators. This ranged from costs to onerous procedures and restrictions sucn as not being able to provide business broadband services.

There was also the issue of business-level property rates and taxes levied on the infrastructure where the workflow associated with these costs was onerous thanks to the Valuations Office Agency. This made it difficult for an operator to factor in the property rates due on the infrastructure when they are costing a rollout. To the same extent, the property taxes levied by a local government could be seen as a bargaining chip especially where the local government is behind the rollout in order to see effective increase in their local land value and tax base.

The question associated with an independent Openreach managing the infrastructure was whether this would breed real service competition. An issue that was highlighted was that Openreach could focus on the premium pure-fibre-based service and make life hard for small-time operators like regional-focused operators or startups who want ot serve the British market. But Matthew Hare reckons that it is better for the UK, especially rural areas to see Openreach as an independent operator.

Here, ISPReview have raised the issue of competitive next-generation broadband provision with independent “own-infrastructure” operators and covered some of the main hurdles facing these operators. This includes proper management of costs including infrastructure-based property taxes and rates; the creation of sustainable competition including build-over rights; incumbent operators’ behaviour including preferential treatment by governments; and access to the same  “pits, pipes and poles” by competing operators.

TPG poised to be Australia’s Hyperoptic


TPG to offer fibre-to-the-basement Internet to these kind of apartment blocks

TPG to offer fibre-to-the-basement Internet to these kind of apartment blocks

TPG Is Still Building Its Own Competitor To The NBN | Gizmodo Australia

My Comments

As some of you may know from a few previous posts, Hyperoptic is an Internet service provider who runs their own fibre-optic infrastructure and services apartment and office buildings and similar developments in an increasing number of UK cities with next-generation broadband. They are standing as viable competition against BT Openreach who are effectively owned by British Telecom and offering increased value by deploying FTTP installations in to these buildings whereas the Openreach setup will be based around fibre-copper setups, either FTTC (fibre to the street cabinet) or FTTB (fibre to the basement) setups with VDSL2 to the customer’s premises.

As well, they even offered customers the option to sign up for this service “by the month” rather than a 12-month or longer contract. This was pitched at people who are on short-term work placements or are living “month-by-month” and may not rent the same apartment for a year or more.

In Australia, iiNet recently started to offer a competitive fibre-to-the-building Internet service for apartment blocks and similar developments to answer the National Broadband Network efforts concerning next-generation broadband and this effort has continued since TPG took over iiNet. Like Hyperoptic’s effort in the UK market, this is based on fibre-optic infrastructure that they own rather than the National Broadband Network who are working in a similar manner to BT’s Openreach, thus allowing them to charge cheaper prices for their Internet service and offer better value.

They are different from Hyperoptic because they implement fibre-to-the-building technology where there is copper cabling between the basement and the customer’s apartment, office or shop. But TPG could be in a position to offer fibre-to-the-premises for these users if they so wished to.

A question that will be raised in conjunction with these competitive deployments is whether NBN and competing next-generation-broadband infrastructure can coexist with each other in the same neigbbourhood or building; including whether a retail operator can sell their service on one or more different infrastructures . This could open up infrastructure-level competition for Australian users who live or run businesses in these developments. Similarly, it could be about lighting up “Gigaclear-style” fibre-optic rollouts to rural, regional and peri-urban areas using infrastructure not under the control of NBN.

On-demand FTTP broadband–could this be a real advantage?


thinkbroadband :: Will FTTP on-demand be available from 18th March?

My Comments

Openreach, who are facilitating the next-generation broadband service in most of the UK, are offering a fibre-to-the-premises Internet service as a user-selected extra-cost option alongside the standard fibre-to-the-cabinet with VDSL2 copper link. Initially the price for the fibre-to-the-premises service was to be £1500 but they were to revise the price table with a baseline £500 connection fee and service charge that depended on the “charge band” you were in.

The service was being thought of as being suitable for small business, but extra commentary described it as being relevant for those of use who are working from home, which I would see as a growing trend.

Various comments that were put on this article related the service as being a “value-added improvement” for your home with one person relating it to having piped natural gas to your home rather than the heating-oil or propane-gas held in a tank or cylinders at your home.  Here, we were thinking of reliability and bandwidth issues that come about with the copper link especially if this link was with older or derelict wiring.

Of course there were doubts raised on subsequent property owners wanting the FTTP service due to it being being of higher cost.

I see this article and its comments as being of importance for people in Australia as the Liberal Party consider the National Broadband Network with the fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure as a waste of money and they would rather that existing areas use fibre-copper infrastructure technologies.

If they are so hell-bent on the idea of fibre-to-the-premises being a waste of money for National Broadband Network and want us to buy the fibre-copper idea, why can’t they offer the fibre-to-the-premises technology as an option that has the connection fee only paid at the initial installation? Similarly, there are those of us who do work from home or run a business from home and we would consider to have as much bandwidth especially if we use it for remote data storage or video conferencing.

Therefore the option of providing fibre-to-the-premises broadband at an upgrade price affordable for most small businesses and home-based workers / entrepreneurs while there is a fibre-copper infrastructure for a next-generation broadband service is very important. Similarly, multi-unit developments must support fibre-to-the-building so that each occupant has the proper full bandwidth available to them.

Broadband improvement in a small rural part of Scotland


thinkbroadband :: Better broadband for one small part of Scotland

Broadband Boost For Glen-Tanar Area | Donside Piper & Herald

My Comments

This story isn’t about a fibre-optic rollout that covers a small town or village with next-generation broadband service. It is, instead about bringing a country area in Scotland up to the current expectations of fast and reliable Internet service.

In the Glen-Tanar area of Scotland, BT Openreach improved the ADSL copper infrastructure using “regeneration” technology to improve the bandwidth available to the residents. This is effectively installing repeaters on the telephone lines so that, rather than getting a very low bandwidth ADSL signal, the rural customer gets at their ADSL modem-router the full 2Mbps signal that an ADSL user in the city would get. No doubt these would be considered “link speeds” with bandwidth reduced due to the overheads required by PPPoA compressing and encoding.  A similar project took place at Ballogie which neighboured this area.

What was know was that the older connection wasn’t just slow, it was unreliable with many of the signal dropouts and modems regularly “retrying” the connections. The new hardware was also about achieving the current 2015 universal service obligation for broadband in the UK.

Of course, other issues like the quality of the copper infrastructure need to be assessed. Here, in these rural areas, there is often ageing connectors due to poor maintenance and the wiring may have started to perform less to expectations. These need to be rectified in order to assure good-quality Internet service.

These kind of broadband-improvement developments that occur in the rural areas, whether through bringing the copper infrastructure “up to scratch” or laying down next-generation optical-fibre or fixed-wireless infrastructure for “next-generation” bandwidth allow people who live or work in these areas to have the expectations of real broadband.

FTTP–Britain is offering it as an option in some fibre-copper areas


FTTP on Demand for those who want it  | ThinkBroadband

My Comments

Some next-generation broadband services that are in existence use a fibre-copper setup like FTTC where there is a fibre-optic run to a street-side box and a short copper-cable run from the street-side box to the customer’s premises. In a multi-tenant building setup like a block of flats or a shopping centre, there may be a “fibre-to-the-building” setup where there is the copper-cable run within the development but a fibre-optic run to the development itself.

This method is being pushed as a cost-effective solution for providing next-generation broadband and has been intensified as part of the National Broadband Network debate by Tony Abbott and the Liberal-National-Party Coalition.

But BT Openreach are providing the fibre-to-the-premises technology as an extra-cost option on top of their fibre-to-the-cabinet setups in the UK. Typically the cost for providing this option would be significant and may be paid out over time.The kind of people who may initially purchase it would be larger businesses or “tech-head” computer enthusiasts who want as much bandwidth as they can.

On the other hand, most typical home and small-business users would use the fibre-to-the-cabinet setups. It is also worth noting that if a significant number of users covering a particular area choose this option, installation costs may be reduced when it comes to providing fibre-to-the-premises Internet service due to existing infrastructure.

An issue that is also forgotten about when considering “FTTP as an option” is the concept of an upgrade path. This is where a customer existing at the same premises who had a fibre-copper setup may decide to go “all-fibre” for the faster bandwidth; or a subsequent customer may move in to the same premises and go “all-fibre”. This could be supported through the use of same physical infrastructure (trenches / poles) for fibre / copper setups and a costing plan for upgrades.

The article talked of public money being used to finance next-generation broadband infrastructure and where private money should cover the cost. They were raising issues of whether public money should fund the link from the “digital hub” to the customer or whether private money should do this, and there may be a reluctance for private money to be used to provide FTTP or similar options for areas not considered profitable like rural areas or areas subjected to “redlining” based on the then-current community makeup.

The “FTTP as an option” could be seen as a compromise to please the “no-public-money” advocates when it comes to providing next-generation broadband. On the other hand, a properly thought-out universal-service obligation setup with a minimum bandwidth and a public-private funding pool could assist with making technologies like FTTP become affordable for most users. It should also support the ability to prevent “redlining” of areas when it comes to providing the next-generation broadband service.

Telstra split ‘won’t fix monopoly’ according to rivals


Telstra split ‘won’t fix monopoly’ as rivals fear reform will fail | The Australian

My comments

A lively competitive market

When I think of a competitive broadband infrastructure, it needs to be lively and competitive with many different wholesale and retail Internet service providers. Here, I would rather see the competition occur more on value than on who offers the cheapest service.

What can happen if the competitive market focuses on who offers the cheapest service is that companies can cut corners to achieve this goal. This can lead to situations that are consumer-hostile like poor customer service, rigidly-enforced terms of service that don’t allow scope for human variation and budget-tier services that don’t offer what customers need.

The proposed Telstra split

This proposed wholesale-retail breakup of Telstra could sound very much like what is happening with British Telecom in the UK. At the moment, BT are running a retail arm as well as a wholesale-infrastructure arm called Openreach.

In the case of the Telstra split, the infrastructure would be managed by a monopoly which is the National Broadband Network while there is a “wholesale” group and a “retail” group. There will be issues like preferential tariff sheets for the Telstra service as well as something yet undiscussed.

Telstra as the baseline telecommunications provider

This is the provision of the baseline telephone and Internet service. It encompasses the maintenance of public payphones; the definition and provision of the standard telephone line; the provision of the national emergency telephone services, as well as communications needs for the social sector. It can also include covering for communications through natural and other disasters. At the moment, Telstra’s discretionary mobile and Internet services prop up their role as this baseline telephony provider.

What I would also like to see is an improvement in how the baseline telecommunications service is provided and funded for. This could involve the use of tenders to determine the provision of parts of the baseline telecommunication service as well as the creation and management of universal-service funds that subsidise the provision of these services. This avoids the need for a service provider to jack up the price of discretionary services to cover the costs associated with the baseline services.

Wireline infrastructure competition

One driver for real competition is the ability to supply competing wireline infrastructure. This typically comes in the form of sub-loop unbundling where an ADSL service can be provided through the use of equipment installed between the customer’s door and the exchange and the customer’s line connected to that equipment. In an FTTH fibre-optic setup, this would be in the form of extra fibre-optic lines controlled by competing interests run to the customer’s door; a practice that is taking place in France.

For that matter, it may be worth examining what is going on in the UK and France where there was incumbent “PTT” telephone carriers but have now become lively competitive Internet-service markets. This includes how the tariff charts yielded “best-value” plans for retail telecommunications service as well as enabling factors for this level of competition. such as telecommunications legislation and regulations. It would also cover access to established physical telecommunications infrastructure in public areas like poles and pits; as well as creation and use of new infrastructure.


What I would like to see is that our telecommunications ministers and departments talk with their peers in both those countries ie OFCOM in the UK and ARCEP in France so they can know what was achieved for competitive telecommunications.

BT Openreach to trial fibre-only exchanges in the UK


thinkbroadband :: Fibre Only Exchange trial candidate locations released

BT to trial fibre-only rural broadband exchange | uSwitch.com Broadband News

My comments

This is a very interesting direction that will come about as the next-generation broadband Internet service evolves.

At the moment, a typical next-generation broadband service will be based around central-office exchanges that serve and support copper and fibre-optic infrastructure for all communications. This allows for integration with copper-technology services such as PSTN voice / ADSL data.

The newer fibre-only exchanges will operate on fibre-optic infrastructure only with Fibre Ethernet backhaul and FTTH / FTTP fibre-optic service to the customers. The primary advantage of this setup would be to achieve higher throughput for the data that the high-bandwidth technology would provide.

The BT Openreach trial is primarily focused on new exchanges rather than converting existing exchanges to fibre-only operation. It is to assess how much it would cost to switch to fibre-only operation for existing exchanges or go “all-out” fibre-only for new or replacement exchanges. Such a trial could also be used for “infill” exchanges in dense urban areas or to satisfy new developments in potential “Silicon-Valley” areas around universities.

A good question about these exchanges is whether a “fibre-only” exchange could work with a part-fibre part-copper setup like a VDSL2-based fibre-to-the-cabinet or fibre-to-the-building setup.

UHF-band “white-space” tests for wireless broadband successful in UK


BT: Tests using white space for rural broadband are ‘very encouraging’ – FierceWireless:Europe

My Comments

There have been a few tests taking place in various countries to use bandwidth vacated by TV stations when they gone digital for use as the wireless last-mile in broadband service delivery. This application of the “white space” will be used primarily to deliver real high-speed broadband in to households and small businesses in rural and remote communities.

The BT Openreach tests that occurred recently and were cited in this article were performed on the UHF TV band and were covering the Isle Of Bute in Scotland. This exploited the ability for this band to be received on indoor antennas (aerials) like the typical “rabbit’s ears” used on portable TVs, as well as outdoor aerials.

A good question that may be worth raising with a UHF-based “white space” setup may be whether such setups may cause digital-TV reception problems for stations broadcasting on that band. This is more so in areas where the UHF band is being used as a “repeater” / “translator” broadcast band to fill in reception black spots in a TV broadcaster’s market area. In a rural area, there will be these transmitters being used for each TV broadcaster that is to be received in the area alongside any “white-space” Internet-delivery setup.

Other questions worth asking include whether such a setup will use “fibre-to-the-transmitter” or other high-speed wired backbones, what kind of bandwidth is available to the customer and whether it will be a “shared bandwidth” setup like DOCSIS cable-modem setups or a “dedicated bandwidth” setup like what Ethernet and DSL setups can provide.