BT deny need for Fibre-To-The-Premises

Sean Williams, group strategy director at BT, told a House Of Lords Select Committee meeting on Tuesday that BT’s FTTC (Fibre-To-The-Cabinet) and other copper-based technologies have sufficient speed and capacity for the future. He went on to say:

“Once you put an 80Mbps FTTC service into the premises the broadband network is no longer the speed bottleneck. The home Wi-Fi or devices can’t cope with the speeds, or at the other end, the servers serving communications can’t deliver the speed.”

There are a number of problems with this controversial assertion. Firstly it assumes that everyone will be able to get top performance from an FTTC service, whereas in reality the copper/aluminium cable from the cabinet has to be quite short, in good condition, and not suffering from interference. Secondly it ignores the fact that current equipment attached to broadband connections is designed to work at the speed of those connections. If you are lucky enough to be able to order a faster service, you will be supplied with appropriate equipment. Thirdly it completely ignores those who really and urgently need the national FTTP coverage in the first place; the small and medium size businesses who need to connect their systems together, and those working from home. To help get this economy back on its feet through innovation, and to be internationally competitive, people working at different locations need to connect as if they were all in the same office. Why should we not be able to work efficiently from anywhere, when the technology exists, is cheap enough for a bunch of farmers to be able to fund it themselves, and is the preferred solution almost everywhere else in the world? Who are BT to tell us that we must make do with the crippled stop-gap solution known as FTTC for the foreseeable future? And then to suggest that even this will take them another decade to finish? Please do read more about this at BT: Not all of the UK needs full fibre broadband and any comments added below.

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5 Responses to BT deny need for Fibre-To-The-Premises

  1. David Nye says:

    P.S. Remember that the “up to 80Mbps” (which should be “up to 76Mbps” anyway) is only one direction. Sending anything the other way only goes “up to 19Mbps”, and both those speeds assume you pay for the “premium” service (e.g. £26 p.m. for residential) and have an excellent copper connection. Most businesses and home workers really need a connection which is just as fast both ways i.e. “symmetric”, which means FTTP. By the way, I develop and support core business systems for a number of SME’s from our home in Horsham Lane, and FTTC may not reach this far from cabinet 18. If it does, it might improve my download speed from under 2Mbps to around 4Mbps. Do BT really think this is good enough for the UK in 2012?

  2. Walter says:

    David, You could also mention that you have not included the mandatory line rental in the total cost, whereas independent providers are happy to offer an isolated D side line without the additional length noise complications using free VOIP internet telephony.

  3. Walter says:

    We now have details of two FTTC services in Cranleigh; the first installation near Notcutts went well and provided a capped downstream IP Profile of 38 Mbps and an upstream one of 2 Mbps over a distance to the FTTC of about 712 m. The second installation in Hitherwood with a FTTC cabinet distance of 439 m is one of the worst examples of BT’s incompetence over a trivial fault I have encountered, even though now there is a good downstream IP Profile of 73 Mbps and an upstream one of 20 Mbps on a premium service. This included two failed attempts by local Openreach staff to clear a “battery fault” ( i.e. usually a short circuit to another pair).

    The BT group’s performance is totally unacceptable and illustrates a dysfunctional organisation with an infrastructure significantly degraded by hasty (inadequate?) workmanship. Furthermore the BT Group escalated the problem to Bill Buckley, a “multi-skilled engineer”, to drive all the way from Devon to Surrey but then fail to provide him with the necessary data to commission the now urgent service that BT are attempting to complete.

    An installation which clearly demonstrated a line fault, even without a site visit, should at the very most have taken two days to complete. It took 6 weeks with 5 engineer appointments and many frustrating phone calls by the unfortunate client. It is high time that Government and DCMS asked questions as to how long BT can afford such delayed inefficient procedures that the public and industry are paying for.

    These happenings reinforce the evidence given by Peter Cochrane, BT’s former CTO to the House of Lords:-


    These events do not bode well for even the poor medium distance lines we have in Ewhurst, nor do they address the unreliable aluminium alloy cables buried directly in the ground. There is every reason to promote full Fibre-To-The-Premises at the earliest moment.

  4. Walter says:

    We must point out that FTTC failures are more likely to be noticed that the success stories but here is another report probably from the same PCP 11 in Cranleigh -

    BT are “working on it” and sending out the 4th engineer Friday 29 June ! So that was one on the 6th June another on the 18th (unannounced) and a third on the 20th. We are now told that we need new wiring from the box on the outside wall and they have to send a fault engineer instead of an installation engineer. Broadband speed is worse than it ever was under the old scheme and we have had to move the main phone upstairs because the base unit won’t work on the downstairs socket anymore!

    All in all a fantastic BT experience!

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