back to article Ofcom should push for fibre – Ex BT CTO

Tomorrow UK comms watchdog Ofcom will announce its plans for strengthening Openreach’s independence from BT and creating a more competitive UK broadband market. That follows a damning report by MPs last week that warned if BT doesn't get its house in order and address its significant under-investment in Blighty's …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fibre tax

    How about removing the current tax on fibre, and replacing it with a tax on copper cables instead?

  2. HmmmYes

    Does he still have his General Jumbo wrist controller?

    If so, could he not fly his mini helicopters to the local switch, dragging a line of fibre.

    Then his mini-REME's could plug it all in.

    1. King Jack

      Thanks for refreshing General Jumbo.

  3. David Roberts
    WTF?

    Sell off Openreach?

    Making Openreach a separate company independent from BT is surely an invitation to global players to buy it and then saddle it with debt to get the maximum yield from it.

    This does not necessarily mean that there will be any incentive to undertake massive capital investment against uncertain future returns.

    The most successful financial strategy would be to milk the cash cow to death because of lack of competition from any other source due to the high cost of capital investment for new (copper, fibre, whatever) connections to premises.

    Of course, this may be an attractive strategy for any government focussed on pleasing global corporates.

    1. paulf
      Stop

      Re: Sell off Openreach?

      One thing worth noting is that

      "Full Structural separation" != "BT must sell off Openreach"

      At present Openreach is just another division of BT Group so the accounts it draws up can say pretty much whatever the management want them to. Structural separation would make Openreach, at first, a wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group with its own Board and P+L. BT group could remain the 100% shareholder of the new Openreach Ltd but as a separate company it would have to produce a proper set of accounts removing much of the obfuscation that currently exists. In theory this would make it easier to regulate as it would be clearer what revenues and direct costs they have and what profit they make from those.

      Having Openreach as a separate company would make it harder for 1. BT to hide how much profit it makes and 2. BT to use those profits to cross subsidise things like Premiership football rights.

      And to debunk one myth BT [Group] keep peddling, a separate Openreach Ltd could still benefit from the buying scale of the larger group as a subsidiary as it does now as a division.

  4. djstardust

    Why not wireless?

    My copper connection used to be 18mb, Since fibre has been introduced at our exchange it has gone down to 12.5mb (what a shock!)

    Coincidentally our street still has no fibre 2 years after being installed and being across the road from the exchange.

    Meanwhile I get 16gb per month with Vodafone and the speed is 38mb down and 22 up. If I need a fast connection for anything I just enable the modem on my phone and use that.

    Why are we investing in cable systems when mobile can offer just as good or in some cases a better connection?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not wireless?

      Contention, dear boy, contention.

      And I mean contention for the wireless, not the backhaul.

      You see what happens if 50 or more people try what you're doing via the same mast.

    2. streaky

      Re: Why not wireless?

      Why are we investing in cable systems when mobile can offer just as good or in some cases a better connection?

      Because it, y'know, can't.

      There's isn't a wireless system anywhere at any price that can push 40Gbit at the lowest latency possible. Because you're an outlier doesn't make physical connections the "wrong choice".

      What makes what BT is doing the wrong choice is they're not investing (enough) in the right tech at the right time and they're taking huge taxpayer funded windfalls for doing that.

    3. Peter Cochrane

      Re: Why not wireless?

      Because wireless cannot provide the density of access require or the bandwidth needed - and it has a far more important role in the IoT and mobility. If it were that easy or remotely feasible we would have done it! It is not even remotely/theoretically possible! BTW - the world leaders are moving up to 10Gbit/s on FTTH and the current standard is 1Gbit/s. Tou might like to visit my home page and look at some of the presentations, videos and published papers.

      www.cochrane.org.uk

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "plans to roll-out ultrafast speeds to 12 million homes"

    No - they mean "plans to fibre enable 12 million homes", by which they mean they are connected to fibre enabled cabinets or exchanges with no guarantee they will get any improvements in speed* (my upload speeds actually dropped at my last house).

    * But the tax-payer subsidy will be paid if the required percentage of users on the exchange upgrade.

  6. Jules 1

    The UK is falling far behind other countries. I was in France recently, most urban centres already have FTTH deployed with packages that are far better deals than anything available on the UK market (e.g Bouyges telecom "Miami" plan: 15 euro per month for 1 Gigabit fibre internet, HDTV feed and phone with unlimited calls to mobiles in France and unlimited calls to landlines *worldwide*)

    Blocks of flats can choose from a number of different infrastructure providers who compete to install the connection to the building, the installing company then gets a revenue from selling their own services or providing access to other ISPs (they're prevented by law from locking you in to their own services) The installation is free.

    Just goes to show what a bit of regulation can actually achieve and how prices are pushed down by the economies of scale inherent in a full national roll out.

  7. mrs doyle

    Spot on Peter!

    Time to lay some fibre, moral and optic, and stop listening to openreach snake oil salesmen who have convinced Joe public, and the politicians that they can deliver the future through obsolete copper. We need a regulator who has a basic grasp of physics who can see through the hype. We need to act now, before it is too late. Listen to Peter. He knows his onions. Laying fibre is not rocket science. B4RN have done it, and so can others. Support the altnets.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Spot on Peter!

      "Laying fibre is not rocket science."

      Neither is making good the damage from extending it into millions of homes which currently have underground copper connections. It just costs a lot of money.

  8. Mike Pellatt

    Don't stop, Peter

    Peter's been campaigning for this for decades.

    If his ideas had been listened to, rather than a plethora of masts disfiguring the urban and suburban landscape, we'd have picocells integrated with everyone's CPE. And truly superfast broadband too.

    But, The Market, innit.

    I'm also pleased to see him pointing out the bleeding obvious that asymmetric FTTP/H is a crap idea, too. Spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar. But, Protecting Leased Line Revenue, innit.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "If the UK is to participate in cloud computing, we cannot do it with asymmetric services. It's no good having 30mbps download and a 5mbps upload. You can’t upload all your material into the cloud."

    This assumes I want to participate in uploading all my material, whatever that means, into the cloud.

    It's as well to remember that if you do upload a lot of stuff into the cloud you're liable to find that some of it gets deleted because of excessive use of your unlimited storage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well Said Sir!

      I do not want to participate in cloud computing. My data is MY DATA. When it goes into the Cloud, who knows who's looking at it eh? There is no guarantee that it is safe and secure.

      Clouds are not permanent. They are only one letter away from CLODS which you will be when you data goes missing or is intercepted between you and the cloud and used for go knows what by governments, ad slingers ans uncle tom cobbley and all (that includes the scammers and identity thieves)

      you may call me a luddite but I'm just being careful. I know from bitter experience what it is like to have your identity stolen. sure this was back in the ancient times before the Internet but even so, it took ages to get my credit history and other things sorted out.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a shame he used the C-word.

      Because asymmetric connections are a Bad Idea whatever., Just because it was necessary to get decent download within the available spectrum on copper, doesn't mean it should be done on other technologies where it isn't necessary. Particularly as Passive PON seriously limits the flexibility of the external plant.

      Don't mention DOCSIS......

    3. Peter Cochrane

      Dr Syntax - CLOUD!!

      Image you were dumb enough to operate with a HA 20% of what you intended to store! Why an earth would you buy insufficient cloud storage capacity?? AND remember, cloud computing also means running apps on line. BUT there is much much more at stake!

  10. Commswonk

    Cui Bono?

    He says: "Here is an industry with a guaranteed market, a guaranteed growth. Where there is a screening need for bandwidth that is not being serviced.

    I assume that "screening need" is a typo, unless a new technical term has been defined while I wasn't paying attention.

    Here is a country that is deciding to leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour. And it is not even in the top 10 of countries installing fibre, or in top 10 for average speed in the world.

    "If we haven’t got the infrastructure we can’t compete.

    As a consumer of broadband my need for speed is in no way defined by the UK being in or out of the EU; I am not competing with anyone. Corporate Britain might well be competing, but am I to be forced to pay more for a broadband speed that I simply don't need so that corporate Britain (which will pass its costs on to consumers anyway) gets it?

    A blanket fibre roll - out makes no more sense than a complete refusal to roll out fibre,and IMHO FTTP in suburbia makes little sense, particularly so when there is (I understand) consumer resistance to paying for the higher speed of FFTC / VDSL over simple ADSL already.

    I really do wish the axe - grinders would specify on whose behalf they are claiming to speak rather than just rolling us all together as having identical requirements.

    1. Peter Cochrane

      Re: Cui Bono?

      You sir at the bottom of the user/demand stack - as a country we cannot compete internationally on the basis of you limited narrow needs! People are trying to run businesses, get trained and educated, delever healthcare and much more and the need Gbit/s speeds. It aint rocket science!

      1. Commswonk

        Re: Cui Bono?

        I don't doubt your assertion(s) for one moment*; my objections are to the people who try to tell me, (and, I suspect, the vast majority of other simple peons) that we need super duper speeds via FTTP when we don't. If corporate Britain needs it all well and good, but please don't dress it up as a widespread "consumer" requirement when it almost certainly isn't.

        If there is a cogent argument for FTTP for some users all well and good; let the effort be concentrated there and the associated costs be met there as well. The argument is actually weakened by trying to apply it to all users.

        * On reflection perhaps I do have doubts; will I be able to get an appointment to see my doctor more easily if he has Gb/s internet, or are difficulties in getting that appointment attributable to other factors? Has the local A & E been downgraded to an Urgent Care Centre because of a lack of Gb/s internet, or is it because they have been unable to recruit enough skilled personnel to keep it running? Please don't try to tell me that the recruiting difficulties are somehow internet speed related.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Cui Bono?

      Where there is a screening need for bandwidth that is not being serviced.

      Except that there isn't (assuming he means screaming). It's obvious from the relatively low take-up of top tier services that there is limited demand for speed. People want something better than 'crap speed' but that's all. Only a minority of people who could choose the higher than 80/20 service from BT choose to do so. In fact only a minority of potential FTTC subscribers (around 35% I believe now, probably bolstered by BDUK gaining traction) are even bothering to switch from ADSL.

      Only a small number of VM customers have chosen the top package. VM keep upgrading customers for free because they won't move themselves.

      There are arguments for going FTTP (or at least TPON) but roaring speed isn't currently one of them. The best one is future proofing but to be honest the huge costs of upgrading the UK network to FTTP and frankly the logistical difficulty of doing it mean that it's probably not practical. I published a link last year to a Thinkbroadband article that pointed out that it would take more telecoms engineers than currently exist and a couple of decades to complete such a project. If BT had actually gone that route then most of the population would only now be moving from analogue modem to FTTP.

      But..I have to admit that I'm not happy with BT's plans for G.FAST. When they were talking about installing them deeper into the network it seemed a sensible next step. But now they say they are only going to install them on existing cabinets. That seems like a bad idea to me.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Cui Bono?

        It's obvious from the relatively low take-up of top tier services that there is limited demand for speed. People want something better than 'crap speed' but that's all.

        Indeed. But ... there are economies in scale from having everyone on the same system. So while many users have no need of FTTP - going "all FTTP" would create economies of scale meaning that it would be cheaper for them to have that than copper. AIUI, BT have even gone so far as to run trials where they've converted entire villages to FTTP and removed all the copper. True, it would cost money and take time, leading on to ... Also, AIUI they claim that an all copper network would be cheaper to run as many of the faults that occur on the copper network just wouldn't happen (no corrosion in a properly made fused fibre splice !)

        I published a link last year to a Thinkbroadband article that pointed out that it would take more telecoms engineers than currently exist and a couple of decades to complete such a project. If BT had actually gone that route then most of the population would only now be moving from analogue modem to FTTP.

        And the same argument will still hold in a couple of decades ! I'f we'd been putting in FTTP as a matter of policy for all new developments*, then there'd be a lot of FTTP already in, economies of scale would have got the costs down (like they did for ADSL and are now doing for VDSL), and the task would be getting smaller rather than larger. Just think, if all new housing estates built over the last decade or two had FTTP as policy then that would be all those houses now already on FTTP and not part of the "too big to tackle" process of retrofitting it.

        * When I write developments, as well as new estates etc, I also include wherever BT/OR has had to extent it's network - eg where it's run out of copper and had to run new bulk distribution cables from the exchange to service rising demand for lines.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Cui Bono?

          And the same argument will still hold in a couple of decades ! I'f we'd been putting in FTTP as a matter of policy for all new developments*

          Agreed totally there..but only if done properly. All new developments in the last decade should have been fibre. A few of them were but only for voice services and ironically when ADSL came along they ended up getting copper overlay because ADSL is not compatible with fibre. Some more recent that did get a data service were exclusive (ie;no wholesale service so you have to go with the builder's ISP). Said ISPs were often poor quality and again people started asking for copper lines so they could take a service that way instead.

          There certainly are advantages to full FTTP but we have to be practical. It's a very expensive proposition. Talk Talk say it's costing about £500 per property passed in York. So if we ignore the higher costs of rolling it out to less urban environments that's £500 * 22 million which is £11b. Unfortunately roll-out costs rise the less urban you are, quite dramatically as well.

          What compounds the problem is that BT needs to get funding for such an endeavour but the cost and availability of funding depends on their assets. Trouble is if their biggest asset is the thing they want the funding to replace. If they talk up the benefits of FTTP they risk talking down the value of the collateral. The other issue is that their network is extremely good at what it was designed for (voice) and actually not too shabby at data.

          As I wrote in another post a while back: It's like that ancient Vax you keep at the back of the server room. It chugs along day after day doing all that is asked of it. You try getting your CFO to sign off on spending several thousand pounds replacing it :-/

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: Cui Bono?

            Talk Talk say it's costing about £500 per property passed in York.

            As I wrote above, part of that is because it's a niche, done in low volume, and it's being retrofitted. It's the same reason there are only "pockets" of cable TV - it's 'kin expensive retrofitting services around an already built environment.

            Done as new provision to new developments the cost would be "very substantially less". OK, that only helps new developments, but it also means the economy of scale starts kicking in and bringing down some of the retrofit costs.

            But if you do the costing on the basis of "we have to pull a 'kin big multipair cable out to 'Shoeboxville' anyway", then the cost of pulling a multifibre cable vs the cost of pulling a multipair copper cable is not that much different. The costs of putting the ducting into Shoeboxville* as the estate is being built is the same. Yes there'll be some incremental costs, but the equipment to terminate and manage all those analogue phones lines is not cheap - it's just amortised over long times. Before I moved, we'd had the same phone line in use for 30 years (and we weren't the first to be using that bit of copper) - so that bit of copper's been sat there earning rental for 40+ years. Apply that sort of timescale, and that £500/premises doesn't seem that expensive - as low as £1/month depending on how you do the calculation.

            But BT don't want that sort of calculation. It suits them to keep the scarcity and keep the costs high - because that's their cash cow.

            * Shoe boxes seems to be about all they build these days !

    3. Infernoz Bronze badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Cui Bono?

      BS, better quality and faster connections are critical for content, including growing web pages with busy AJAX and various spies, complete loading in a reasonable time with minimal retry delays, caused by dropped packets, caused by connection congestion and connection noise.

      Trying to send high frequency ADSL and now very high frequency VDSL for FTTC over unscreened (noisy) twisted-pair wires only designed for low frequency analogue audio were always a nasty hacks because of moisture, crosstalk from various other cables and wireless RFI! 80Mbps, not happening, 70Mbs, LOL, 50+Mbs, more like, with regular VDSL channel renegotiation. ADSL is much worse because there is a lot more telephone cable to go wrong and it is noticeable very slow and unreliable for current websites!

      Fibre for FTTP and FTTH does not suffer from moisture, LCR signal loss, crosstalk or RFI, and can reliably carry much higher data rates over much longer distances than any Copper cable, and may end up much cheaper including maintenance costs, it may even be easier to install, with far less maintenance, it is also not attractive to Copper thieves!

      A small site for a big corporation I work for (same new town) can have over 10 or more employees streaming corporate hosted training videos or doing remote access at the same time and other traffic, but the connection struggles, WTF!

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Cui Bono?

        BS, better quality and faster connections are critical for content, including growing web pages with busy AJAX and various spies, complete loading in a reasonable time with minimal retry delays, caused by dropped packets, caused by connection congestion and connection noise.

        You completely missed the important point of my post.

        You might think we need better speeds (and I might agree). But the people who pay for these services do not. The residential broadband market in the UK is based around price. However much you or I might think that's stupid (and I do but for different reason to you) it cannot be ignored.

        This gentleman is claiming there is high demand for high speed broadband and quite simply he's wrong. If you want universal high-speed FTTP you can't live in cloud-cuckoo land. You have to accept that there is currently a limited market for it. Like many things in real-life - sometimes the best solution just isn't something anyone wants.

        Oh and FTTP is not going to magically cure congestion and probably not packet loss for most people either. Both of those mostly occur in the ISP network or backhaul and have nothing to do with the final mile. In fact ramping up connection speeds would risk trigger more congestion in the same way that widening a feeder road often causes problems on the major highway it connects to.

        1. Commswonk

          Re: Cui Bono?

          @ Simon Hobson...

          there are economies in scale from having everyone on the same system. So while many users have no need of FTTP - going "all FTTP" would create economies of scale meaning that it would be cheaper for them to have that than copper

          I would be interested to know who the "them" in "cheaper for them" is. BT would achieve economies of scale to be sure, and the business users would probably get their fast broadband for less cost than they otherwise would, but for the poor residential customers the price would be more - probably a lot more - than it is now. Business users can pass on their operating costs to their customers so in many respects the actual cost to them is almost irrelevant; the residential customer is stuck; (s)he finishes up paying over the odds for a service that is faster than they actually need to provide business users with a cheaper service and provide economies of scale for BT. That does not sound like a particularly good deal.

          There is another problem in providing fibre only, which appears to be something that some are suggesting. With the system engineered as it is an AC supply failure does not knock out a domestic telephone system; a fibre only service would require the terminal equipment on subs premises to be battery backed to cover those admittedly rare occasions when the electrical supply falls over. I accept that with the near ubiquity of mobile phones this problem would probably have less impact that it would have historically, but I still think that some thought would have to be given to any difficulties that might arise as a result.

          1. Sir Cumferance

            Re: Cui Bono?

            Does not FTTC require an AC supply, so it's reliant on electricity supply at the home/office/etc.?

            1. druck Silver badge

              Re: Cui Bono?

              FTTC get's it supply from the copper going to the cabinet from the exchange. With FTTP there is no copper link from the exchange to the premises, so the home/office has to have battery backup, and someone needs check to maintain all those batteries.

  11. David Webb

    Copper

    The real reason that BT doesn't want everyone to go FTTP is line rental. With copper you have to pay line rental (currently £20 a month...ish), so if you never make a phone call you still need the copper and the line rental. Free money each month to BT.

    Switch everyone to FTTP and they can kill the landline and switch to a VOIP provider (I use vonage), unlimited calls, including mobiles and the US for £15 a month, that is less than the line rental BT charges. Line rental is BT's cash cow, it's a forced tax on t'interweb and BT will want to protect that revenue stream as much as possible (to pay for BT sports).

    This is why BT won't give everyone FTTP, they will prefer FTTC because... copper, copper = line rental.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Copper

      Line rental is actually levied to cover the maintenance of the physical connection, and it's eventual replacement when it eventually becomes uneconomic to repair. It has nothing to do with whether you've got a phone service running over it, nor whether it's copper or fibre. It's therefore not free money for BT, though it is vastly overpriced when you consider how many decades it is since some of this cabling was last refreshed.

      The real reason why BT don't want to give you FTTP is that they can gouge you for money on the copper that's already deployed, and in many places there is no actual competition (LLU providers aren't competition when they're still handing over the line rental money to BT). There just isn't any incentive for them to pay the costs of deploying fibre when they've already got you by the short and curlies.

      This is the unfortunate outcome of government selling off national infrastructure at below cost price - it created a monopoly that has shareholders to answer for, and emphatically does not have to act in the national interest. Whether that's a sensible price to pay for not having that infrastructure run by an inefficient and inept public authority instead will depend on your political viewpoint, but I think we can all agree that the situation we've ended up with could do with some improvement.

    2. Blergh

      Re: Copper

      I really don't understand your argument here. Line rental is line rental it really doesn't matter if it is fibre or copper it is still a line rental (or whatever name they could rebrand it as). Also the reason for having to take the landline is due to the Universal Service Obligation, which VOIP doesn't cover if there was a power cut.

      Personally I've been happy they have gone for FTTC first, because FTTP would have taken 48 years to dig all the trenches and I would currently have an estimated date of 2040 for an upgrade from 3Mb.

      1. Peter Cochrane

        Re: Copper

        WRONG ON ALL POINTS!

        GOTO: www.cochrane.or.uk

        Watch the videos, read the papers, look at the presenations

        1. Commswonk
          Unhappy

          Re: Copper

          GOTO: www.cochrane.or.uk

          Is blatant (self) advertising allowed on El Reg?

          Funny that both times I tried I finished up with a blank page. Perhaps that's what a "presenation" looks like.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Copper

          Watch the videos and buy the diamond rings or whatever other links take your fancy. Spam much.

      2. David Webb

        Re: Copper

        I really don't understand your argument here. Line rental is line rental it really doesn't matter if it is fibre or copper it is still a line rental

        When you have FTTP there is no copper between you and the exchange, you can therefore drop your phone line and go pure VOIP, that way there is no line rental to pay as you no longer have a phone line. When you have FTTC//ADSL you have copper between you and the cabinet/exchange, you therefore have to pay line rental even if you never use the telephone aspect as you have to have a phone line to get FTTC/ADSL.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Copper

          that way there is no line rental to pay as you no longer have a phone line.

          I'm not sure you understand what line rental is for.

          There will always be a charge associated with the cable whatever type of cable it happens to be. You can't just stick them in the ground or string them between poles and ignore them. Line rental is what ensures that your line can be repaired for a (sort of) reasonable amount of money and also what encourages (sort of) network upgrades.

          It's possible that it will eventually be rolled into the cost of your data service and the small part that pays for telephony broken out but the bulk will always have to be paid. And FYI ignore the line rental cost levied by your CP. The underlying charge made by Openreach has actually been falling in recent years. It's the likes of BT Retail, Talk Talk and the rest who keep increasing it.

        2. inmypjs Silver badge

          Re: Copper

          "drop your phone line and go pure VOIP, that way there is no line rental to pay as you no longer have a phone line"

          But you do have a fibre line and the current rental is £99 per month.

          Virgin charge £18 for 'telephone' line rental and almost £18 more for broadband if you don't have telephone. With cashback from quidco or topcashback for the first year it is cheaper to have the telephone than not.

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Copper

          When you have FTTP there is no copper between you and the exchange

          But there is still a physical cable...

          In fact even with mobile part of your subscription goes towards paying for the access network, ie. the wireless connnection between your handset and the exchange, so even mobile has "line rental"...

    3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Copper

      They charge line rental on the fibre in one way or another (depending on how it's installed)

      If it's a fibre-only install (generally a new build house), there's the obligatory FVA connection and rental.

      If it's a FTTP overlay (generally a BDUK deployment), they get it from the copper line which you aren't allowed to cancel.

  12. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    "The idea that we should be content with mediocre services is a very British point of view"

    No, it's a very Post Office point of view. It's the view which, 35 years on, still reigns at BT.

  13. inmypjs Silver badge

    "leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour"

    Seriously, FTTP and ultrafast broadband isn't going to make a shit of difference to the vast majority of people. A majority and I do mean majority of people don't actually know what their broadband connection speed is.

    I am pretty bloody 'techy' and could get 300Mb from Virgin but don't consider it nearly worth the price.

    I am currently pissed off with FTTC and considering Virgin and trying to decide if 100Mb is worth the extra over 50Mb.

    Ultrafast broadband is nice like a car that does 180mph is nice, apart from a few racing drivers no one really needs a car that does more than 70mph.

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: "leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour"

      Seriously, FTTP and ultrafast broadband isn't going to make a shit of difference to the vast majority of people.

      Well that is true to a point. But, the cost of something tends to follow supply - as in, if everyone is getting FTTP whether they need it or not, then costs fall due to economies of scale. Thus for those who do want FTTP, the costs are high because it's a "niche" product, with a different set of teams to install and maintain it, etc, etc.

      Had there been a policy set up "some time in the past" to make any network expansions done with fibre then instead of FTTP being an expensive niche product - it would be the default product and actually cheaper since IIRC I've read comments from BT that an all fibre network would be cheaper to run long term. And they have done trials converting entire villages to fibre only - "we have the technology" to do it, we don't have the commercial impetus to do it while they can sweat assets and charge a premium (aka fleece the customer) for what they consider to be premium services.

      I've seen all this before - when ISDN2 came along, other countries adopted it with gusto. BT crippled it (refused to support some features) and made it very expensive so it wouldn't eat into their cash-cow leased lines business. Then when ADSL came along, same thing as BT deliberately adopted it as slowly as they could get away with to avoid eating into their cash-cow leased lines business. Now, with ADSL, VDSL, and even FTTP, they impose asymmetric speeds (sensible for ADSL, less so for VDSL, and not at all a technical issue for FTTP) so as to make the service less useful for hosting stuff (I run my own server at home and better outbound speed would be quite nice) - again (partly), you've guessed it, to force people to higher priced offerings. Pretty well everything BT of old, and OpenRetch now, have done is strategically what's best for BT - if that also happens to be best for the country and for individuals than that's just coincidence. But that's the problem with allowing national economy affecting policies to be set by a commercial operator with their own bottom line as the primary driver.

      1. inmypjs Silver badge

        Re: "leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour"

        "and not at all a technical issue for FTTP) so as to make the service less useful for hosting stuff"

        True but more likely to make it less useful for 'hosting' bittorrent which is about the only thing most people use to consume large amounts of their 'unlimited' bandwidth 24/7. Virgin who are already very asymmetric (50/3, 100/6) restrict upload speeds even further with traffic management.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: "leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour"

        But, the cost of something tends to follow supply - as in, if everyone is getting FTTP whether they need it or not, then costs fall due to economies of scale. Thus for those who do want FTTP, the costs are high because it's a "niche" product, with a different set of teams to install and maintain it, etc, etc.

        Looking at Peter's website, it is obvious he is getting confused in his arguments. His nutshell summary of an FTTH project contains the following:

        "We designed and engineered a system for this telco that gave all customers a dark fibre feed and an initial 1Gbit/s symmetric service at affordable prices. It also returned a positive ROI immediately with substantial reductions in OPEX and CAPEX. This involved radical choices including the adoption on non-telco equipment practices and the closure of the PSTN."

        So the real tangible benefits would actually accrue to BT, in the reduced costs associated with the FTTH/P network and being able to shutdown the copper network. The question which I think Peter is failing to pose and provide reasonable answers to is, if every home had FTTH what could they do different?

        In answering this, Peter is getting carried away with the speed and specifically if you deploy 1Gbps infrastructure the costs could come right down so that providers could potentially offer 1Gbs services at prices not too dissimilar to today's FTTC sub-80Mbps services. Hence consumer choice becomes "any colour you like as long as it's black".

        As pointed out by others, the majority of households get by on sub-40Mbps FTTC. With such a massive over capacity in the access infrastructure, different pricing schemes become possible, including that favourite of many - bandwidth on demand.

    2. Infernoz Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: "leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour"

      People will give a shit when their 4K TV(s) can't play internet streamed video at full resolution and they start asking why not!

      The internet speeds in this country are an utter disgrace for home and business, and far behind some far Eastern countries, some Nordic countries and even some ex-soviet countries!

      What 100MB, I think you mean 80MB?

      On "80MB" FTTC, typically at best 70MB, but actually significantly lower (measured by router) VDSL speed because of noise and VDSL re-sync caused by the pathetic, mere telephone grade cable.

      FTTP and FTTH fibre could be significantly better than any Copper, both FTTC and I assume coaxial cable for the 300MB Virgin service, because it doesn't suffer from moisture, LCR electrical losses or interference because it carries light rather than electricity, and could be much faster, say 1GB or more!

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: "leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour"

        People will give a shit when their 4K TV(s) can't play internet streamed video at full resolution and they start asking why not!

        The internet speeds in this country are an utter disgrace for home and business...

        The trouble is that the Internet and it's protocols (including IPv6) aren't really designed for 1Gbps networking and bulk data streaming...

        Re: 4K streaming

        The bottom line is that for the next few years at least, 4K streaming will be near impossible to deliver at scale, even at 10-12Mbps, via the cloud with guaranteed QoS.

        [ http://blog.streamingmedia.com/2015/01/4k-streaming-bandwidth-problem.html ]

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: "leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour"

        People will give a shit when their 4K TV(s) can't play internet streamed video at full resolution and they start asking why not!

        You don't need superfast broadband to watch 4k. Compression isn't yet as good as it could be but still we're only talking about 20Mb/s. Even a good ADSL2 connection could support that. A reasonable FTTC connection would be enough for a family.

        Now the above does assume that the video is being compressed somewhat but that's inevitable. Trying to stream uncompressed video across the internet is probably always going to be impossible. And at present for most people totally unnecessary. We still have people can't tell the difference between SD and HD or don't care.

        If there's a killer application that absolutely needs more than 40Mb/s for a home user I've not heard of it yet.

        1. Vic

          Re: "leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour"

          We still have people can't tell the difference between SD and HD or don't care.

          That's down to the broadcasters. I've got DVDs (SD resolution, naturally) with more detail on-screen than (allegedly) HD broadcasts.

          The compression level on DTT - even on the more "mainstream" channels - is simply shocking.

          Vic.

  14. Roland6 Silver badge

    OFCOM should push for fibre

    Peter does point the finger at the right player here.

    It is for Ofcom and the government to demand that BT massively ramps up its deployment of FTTH and to address the competition issues that will give rise to.

    In fact, I suspect if Ofcom handled the competition issues about BT aggressively deploying FTTH, BT would of it's own accord drop G.Fast et al. But until then BT is obliged to deploy fibre in ways that don't give rise to competition complaints...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's gotta be said

    to all those saying "40 Mbps is all you need":

    "640KB will be all that's ever needed for applications"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's gotta be said

      To my sole downvoter, and anyone else who agrees with them, this from ElReg 2 months ago:

      Side note: No broadband with less than 100 Mbps of bandwidth could possibly cope with an 8K immersive transmission into the home.

      And this is the near future. We'll be needing 1Gbps in a decade at the most.

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