How many connections is that?
Have I understood this correctly? Are BT proposing to dig up and replace the copper cable to every single property in the UK in the next eight years? That must be thousands every day even if they start now.
BT is considering moving its entire network to full fibre and will decommission its copper cables by 2027, according to reports. The company's Openreach division, which maintains phone cables, ducts, cabinets and exchanges, has already been consulting with industry on plans to switch from copper to fibre. In March, it opened …
Indeed, but they're not starting now. They're not even talking about starting. They're talking about planning and the need to finish before 2028.
Lots of talk about planning, fair competition, lots of heads nodding in agreement, and lots of knives being sharpened behind backs.
And if the government plans this like they planned Brexit, it won't be done this century.
>They're talking about planning and the need to finish before 2028.
Suspect they are setting the field for Ofcom, currently the government through Ofcom is mandating BT retain the existing POTS infrastructure. So for any reasonable date to be achievable Ofcom have to change their stance...
I wondered whether they were only talking about the copper cables to cabinets, leaving the last few hundred yards as copper?
Full FTTP for everyone isn't going to be cheap, and there would still be the question of what to do with premises that don't want/need broadband, just a standard analogue telephone line?
They're also planning on stopping offering analogue telephone lines. Everyone will have a data service to their home (whether that be FTTP, G.Fast, FTTC, or ADSL) and then people who have an old-fashioned phone will have a converter box to convert their old-fashioned phones into VOIP.
This saves BT money because it doesn't have to have all the head-end equipment for analog phone lines, and also simplifies things for them.
I'd love to hear from folks who have that sort of gear how well it works with real analogue phones. My voice will never be described in terms of dulcet tones, but I'd love to be able to keep a dial-up modem on line. Nothing fancy, just 300 baud full-duplex. My experiments with mobile phones seem to indicate this is not a solved problem. In particular, the "echo suppressor" control is apparently non-existent.
Won't somebody think of the Teletypes? :-)
VoIP done properly is FAR superior than POTS. If you've had crap calls, it's normally because they have used some crappy CODEC such as g.729, which is terrible at the best of times.
Fax over IP is ok when using t.38, but can be a buggerif it falls back if your carrier doesn't support it.
Modem over IP? Don't, just don't.
Oh the great part...it's down to your carrier...hopefully it will be a legal requirement to support g711a/u as a minimum.
I've used a PAP2 for years and more recently SPA112 and it's far superior to POTS. Especially compared to POTS on a long piece of corroded aluminium.
Just imagine the perfect analogue telephone line (inside a silent exchange), then turn off the voice 'compression' (low-pass filter, which limits POTS to 3KHz audio) and you can get an indication of the quality easily achieved on VoIP.
people who have an old-fashioned phone will have a converter box to convert their old-fashioned phones into VOIP
AIUI in trials they used an NTE that took in the fibre and presented a data port as ethernet, plus one or two POTS port with an integral converter. Done that way, the POTS ports can use a different VLAN and the whole thing can be properly managed - no contention between voice and data. People should not forget that there's no such thing as an analogue call these days - at the exchange, every call is converted to digital at 64kbps. ISDN moves this conversion to the customers' premises, and going full FTTP with on premises POTS adapter will do just the same.
Even if a customer wants nothing but a POTS line, they'll get a full fibre connection and the data side won't be used. "Some years" ago, BT did a trial in a couple of villages (removed all copper, installed FTTP), and stated with some confidence that this arrangement would be a lot cheaper to manage & maintain. In principle, for a POTS line all you'd see different would be a larger NTE with a mains power supply.
still be the question of what to do with premises that don't want/need broadband
And all the other services that use copper, like traffic lights, burglar alarms, etc.
France (Orange) has already stopped allowing people to order new POTS phone lines, and plans to end that service in stages, starting in 2023. Not necessarily by replacing the copper, though, just by moving everyone to VoIP over a broadband connection. It still might be copper-based ADSL.
Most new commercial alarm installations are mobile with IP fallback - we haven't installed a Redcare type line this decade. You get the same grades of signalling on mobile so there's no good reason to use PSTN.
Saves on the cost of paying the Redcare tax for a line used for absolutely nothing else as companies generally don't use analogue lines for calls and fax machines are very much a rarity now.
No, No, No, Yes. Don't be silly they won't remove anything they just won't connect any new copper as it will be all FTTP. If you want proof just take a drive out into the country, most poles now have fibre hanging from them.
Welcome to the brave new world. Lets connect everything up just before the next generation of wireless/mobile hits and makes all this redundant.
A few years ago my local exchange said it was going FTTC and I was delighted. There was an underground box in car park/gravel store that the engineers referred to as the cabinet and connected around a dozen or so local houses. A fibre was laid in the road and ran up to near where this 'cabinet' was. it was just like an above ground cabinet but lower. When the exchange went FTTC I went from 2.4Mb to 2 on a good day and discovered my cabinet was now at the exchange! The village where the exchange was everyone was on 17Mb anyway and I believe only one person 'upgraded' to 70Mb. The council worked with BT/Open Retch and we were promised wireless connections of 30Mb but for some reason the hardware (the fibre I'd seen going in the road) did not exist. Locally we've all gone 4G EE over the last 6 months or so. Today I was walking the dog down a country lane not far from where the fibre I saw going in to discover a new shiny green cabinet sitting on a concrete plinth! Someone I dont know on the council says they've paid a lot of money for this - despite the fact all the locals have got 18 month contracts and are probably not going to be able to convert over - though even if they did want to they'd probably move to the suppler who couldnt supply cos the fibre this cabinet is now connected to 'wasn't really there'.
Reports suggest spending £30 billion - that is the ball-park of what most experts believe the cost of delivering Fibre To The Premises nationwide would likely be.
According to reports in 2014 when the Government was first consulting on switching off the analogue network, and later in 2018 when BT/Opereach began consulting about withdrawing the Wholesale Line Rental (PSTN) products in favour of VoIP :
"Most of the telephone network is owned by BT, some 75 million miles of wire, worth between £2.5bn and £5bn according to a 2011 estimate by Investec bank"
There was disagreement by BT at the time over the original Investec estimate that the copper could be worth £50 billion so it isn't clear what the current value is but it looks like, if it can be extracted cheaply, it could fund part of the switch to a full fibre diet, err, network!
Let's not knock the target - if it transpires BT/Openreach does want to rapidly convert to a full-fibre network (finally) including rural areas - cheer them on, even if the reality is it cannot be delivered to an unrealistic timetable; once the ball is rolling it is going to gain momentum.
As someone on the end of 2km of (quality) copper with VDSL hovering around 10Mbs/0.9Mbps I for one welcome the fibre overlords!
Those of us who have thrie POTS/Broadband arriving at the premises overhead.
Those lines that birds love to perch on.
Those lines that get work hardened in the wind
No digging up of the path/driveway to each house but Fibre won't last very long unless the cable is well armoured.
I don't hold out any hope at all for BT (or whatever they are called this week) making this happen in time.
-- Most remote premises have overhead electricity supplies that fibre can be wound along with relative ease. --
That should remove one possible cause of confusion, by making sure the power to the phone goes off at the same time the signal is dropped, just like in the old days with a tree branch taking out POTS on Cu.
Water on the sheath of a fibre cable is an electrical conductor. Impurities in the sheath itself will also act as a conductor.
"ADSS fiber optic cable does undergo some degree of degradation caused either by armor rod corona at the towers or dry-band arcing."
There are no end of workplaces that string fibre aerially for everything from leased lines to building interconnects.
So long as it's properly supported and the correct cable, it's fine.
Hell, it's liable to a lot worse in some 30-year-old duct in the ground with roots, water, soil shifting, cars driving overhead, etc.
So, you don't want it swinging in the breeze but properly taut cable doesn't do that anyway. I don't know if you know, but you can take even the cheapest network fibre and bend it in a complete circle - that's kind of the point of it!
Imagine that wrapped in oil (yes, there is an oil component to lots of fibre cables), rubber (uh-oh), plastic sheaths (oo-er) and strong steel wire (now we're just being kinky) and that kind of movement or bending-past-limits just isn't possible anyway.
I had an offer from both BT and Virgin to string a leased line along ordinary telegraph poles. Leased lines are just fibre with a guaranteed uptime that costs them if it's not working. They wouldn't do that if it wasn't viable.
Maybe, as AIBailey suggested above, if they started tomorrow, they could get everyone on FTTC, only leaving last mile copper by 2027.
But Full copper replacement in 8 years? That's an unrealistic deadline, and that seems a way too low figure to do it that only makes sense if you lowball the delivery date.
While full fiber gigabit connections are definitely nice to have, I'd rather they focus on a universal 10/20 meg (Upstream AND Downstream) service, regardless of the technology: Across my clients, I have 2 central London, 6 provincial town, and 4 Exchange Line only business that are stuck on OK 8mb-12mb down, and abysmal 0.5mb up ADSLv1/v2 services: They are so hamstrung by the poor upload speeds, most have grit their teeth and paying hundreds every month for Leased Lines: Getting a "Works most of the time well enough" 40MB/20MB FTTC Service for 50 bucks a month would make a huge difference for them.
I got downvotes around here for suggesting a similar thing. I agree completely - whilst we'd all love 10Gb up and down on a nice shiny bit of glass, in the real world we'd just like *everyone* to get a *decent* connection.
It's all noble aiming for the stars and all that, but perfect is the enemy of done. And if the fibre gets to the cabinet in the first tranche, the second hop to the premises can always be done later without wasting all the digging (although it would cost in equipment).
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Almost every single home I've ever visited in the last 10 years has a cordless DECT handset except my Gran's house who insists on a 'land line' hard-wired phone.
Guess what else doesn't work in a power cut...? :-)
P.S - If you've ever seen an FTTP ONT, you'll see that there's a small battery backup attached and they have standard BT telephone ports on the bottom of said ONT to supply a dial tone if local power has failed.
Probably. I suspect that most people would just rely on a mobile phone if the landline went down, despite it being a little more difficult for the emergency services to locate you and the danger of the local cell becoming saturated if everyone's trying to call out at the same time.
Haven't tested it, but despite its light loading I suspect the very small UPS would hold the ADSL, DECT and a Raspberry Pi up for no more than 20 or 30 minutes (would probably be more efficient to plug those things directly into batteries than to use an inverter) and I have the thing installed because we have at least half a dozen power cuts each year which just gets flippin' annoying. Most are just a few seconds (though may be of the off-on-off-on variety) so small UPSes are sufficient. Once every year or two we get one that's much longer.
Fair play for covering yourself in these shitty short outages. We had a load of them last summer, and I eventually got round to replacing the batteries in the old UPS I have hanging about. All my server stuff is covered now. My RPis generally aren't (although I have a couple running on PoE).
I'm going to shift my wireless access point to PoE (to tidy up the cabling), so that'll be done, but I've idly considered shunting the Openreach VDSL modem over. It would probably make more sense to hook up the DECT base station that way instead. That way everything runs off the SmartUPS in the garage.
/me acknowledging that I'm not exactly at the centre of that same bell-curve either.
:-) We actually have three UPSes - one of them is quite large and was sized to cover the Xerox Phaser solid ink printer I had for many years, and which wasted gallons of ink every time there was even a tiny power blip, on a self-clean process.
We are only a couple of miles outside a large town, and a few hundred yards from a smaller town, but our entire - umm - hamlet? It's not really a village, is powered from a single pole-mounted transformer which is itself fed by about half a mile of overhead cable which originates from a substation near a large housing estate. When the transformer was replaced a few years ago things improved greatly, but we still get (as mentioned) quite a lot of cuts. Certainly more than I ever remember when living in the aforementioned large town a couple of miles away...
Actually not too bad. I spent some time measuring it with a power meter. When warming up and printing it topped out with peaks at something like 800W, but these were short duration (couple of seconds) and it spent most of the time well below that. When in "sleep" it idled below 50W IIRC, but again there were short-duration peaks of up to 600W.
I bought a "pure sine wave" UPS capable of 1600kVA IIRC - not near it now to check - and it seemed to cope very well. The printer spent most of its time in sleep anyway, so there was plenty of power to ride out all but the longest power cuts. I reckon that over the five years or so the thing was set up like this I probably saved the UPS's cost in ink that was no longer wasted.
I first met a Phaser - when the company was still Tektronix - at a previous place of employment. Those early models were beasts.
I loved the Phaser I had. Absolutely stunning text and graphics output, though photos were not as good as you might get from a modern laser, and slightly "tactile" to boot. Really classy when printing on card stock.
Start up from cold wasn't anywhere near 40 minutes (maybe 15 including the test print?) and shutdown to "parked for moving" took less. The convenience of being able to add another wax crayon at any time during a print and not having to wait until the toner had completely run out was great, and the waste products - a small recyclable cardboard box, a small recyclable plastic "yoghurt pot" and some food-grade wax in the waste tray every now and then - was a lot easier to handle than typical laser consumables.
Problem was that it had come to the point where it needed a new service kit and another batch of ink. I worked out that I could buy a decent new laser printer with an equivalent amount of toner installed in the "get you going" cartridges for considerably less than the cost of sorting out the Phaser.
I find that sort of thing thoroughly annoying, though the new printer takes about 15 seconds to wake up from sleep (the Phaser took about 5 mintues) and can churn out multiple pages about twice as fast - very convenient with children in secondary school who have a habit of leaving printing until the last minute. The new printer's not on the UPS - it doesn't seem to mind so much - which means the UPS now powers a lot of other kit.
"[...] and the danger of the local cell becoming saturated if everyone's trying to call out at the same time."
The power went off recently - affecting part of the town. Almost immediately the landline phone in the master socket started ringing. A recorded announcement told me the electricity supplier knew there was a problem and they were trying to locate it. Neighbours with mobiles said they had also received the message.
It made me wonder how large an area had to be affected before the phone networks were overloaded.
It made me wonder how large an area had to be affected before the phone networks were overloaded.
It depends on a lot of factors of course. Mobiles are possibly easiest to think about because there will be a finite number of "channels" available to each cell, so overloading depends on the technology in use (2G, 3G etc), the size of the cell (the physical area it covers) and the number of potential users within that cell. I believe that things are also adaptive, so as a cell becomes heavily loaded, each call (certainly for 2G networks) can drop down to a lower-rate codec which means more calls can be squeezed in. One of the technologies "breathes" (I think this is one used in the US and very few other places) so that as more and more phones enter a cell, the effective range of that cell reduces.
Landlines are a bit more difficult. Obviously in the old days, each one had a direct wire back to the exchange (still does, even if you have FTTC), but the exchange itself had a lesser number of "external lines". These external lines are now all IP I believe. In the old days for a system making multiple calls it probably depended on whether the calling system was local (at the exchange) or remote. These days, who knows? It would probably make sense to have a distributed system.
We have had such automated calls for the longer duration power cuts and for occasions where there's been a problem with the water ("please boil your water before use"). One winter we even had a gas cut*, and I think I remember an automated message then, too. Pretty certain we had a real-person message before the gas came back on, checking that we'd not left any taps open and warning that the boiler might make a loud noise. We even had engineers come knocking to double-check.
*Turned out that when gas was brought to the village it was because a factory down the road needed it. The big gas main came to the factory and the main pressure regulators for the domestic supplies were sited in a building on that site. When the factory closed and was demolished, this little hut was left but it was no longer heated. One winter we had temperatures of something like -15C for several hours (very rare in the south of the UK), and the regulators froze!
If you've ever seen an FTTP ONT, you'll see that there's a small battery backup attached and they have standard BT telephone ports on the bottom of said ONT to supply a dial tone if local power has failed.
And what powers the cabinet at the other end of the fibre? These local solutions only help for very local power outages.
So.... what do you think powers them now?
All you're doing is moving the power requirement from the street cab, to the people's houses at worst.
Sure... it'll inconvenience people. But in this day and age, I haven't had a 999 call go through my workplace (a school) switchboard in years, except for non-emergencies (e.g. line tests). People just do it on mobile nowadays.
So.... what do you think powers them now?
'Landline' phones are powered directly from the exchange and the exchange has batteries and Diesel generators. FTTC products 'inject' the VDSL signal onto the Copper at the street cabinet without breaking this link. The FTTC equipment itself has batteries in the cabinet which are - according to an engineer I button-holed a couple of years ago - hot swappable, but while this may be practical for a localised power outage affecting just a few cabinets I hardly think it's going to work for a large area.
So for the first few minutes (how long? I wonder if they'd manage the 4 hours an emergency luminaire must manage?) an IP producf will be fine. After that, depends on the batteries. Openreach are likely to maintain the ones in the cabinet, but batteries in your house?
The Australian government set up a new government entity to do just this. The incumbent Telcos, Telstra & Optus, had to "sell" their cable network to the National Broadband Network (NBN) Co. to fibre up. Its been a disaster.
Perfectly good POTS and ADSL turned off area by area, customers forced to higher cost lower performance internet packages from retailers forced to buy wholesale service, from NBN Co., at prices unreasonably structured causing retailers to not provide adequate thu-put capacity to their customers - so busy period slowdowns.. Phones delivered by VoIP requiring households to maintain battery support units. The original fibre to the home promise now includes a mixture of, lower performing, fibre to the basement/street satellite or direct radio.
Third party players banned from installing their own infrastructure to avoid competition to NBN Co.
Hideously over budget and behind time and many report under performing, unless you buy the top range packages and are one of the lucky ones with fibre to the home.
Plenty of info on line to research.
"And don’t the government have higher priorities to spaff money at?"
I've given up trying to figure out what this (or any) government regards as a priority. The best guess these days for individual politicians seems to be "the pet subject of whoever I talked to last". But the collective priority? F*ck knows.
Or, more likely, someone has just got confused. There was a meeting recently (Tuesday, I think) where openreach discussed the withdrawal of their WLR service. This is just the 'framework' under which openreach allow other CPs to 'resell' their PSTN network. The withdrawal of that has been known about for several years now.
But withdrawing WLR is not the same as switching off the copper. It just means that CPs will have to find some other way to carry their traffic from the exchange/DLSAM rather than paying openreach to do it.
It's possible that openreach have suddenly decided that they can go further quicker but it seems unlikely.
Why not let Virgin(Telewest) do it instead?
Because - you said it - "in my area".
When Cabletel came to Cardiff we made use of them at work as a second source for POTS and ISDN. They cabled up most of central Cardiff and even up the valley to Pontypridd, but all the bits in between including such well-to-do commuter towns as Caerphilly were ignored. NTL took over, then Virgin, and the network - installed in the mid 1990s - has hardly changed. They just don't seem interested in expanding.
If anyone has a link to a map of Virgin's cable network I'd be very interested...
Like Greenlaw where I am in the Scottish Borders. The cable comes from Edinburgh, goes in to our local telephone exchange to be amplified and then runs through the village and on towards Newcastle.
Despite running through the village, it's not actually available in the village though. In our case - it's literally a metre from the front of our property, but still - whatever company owns that cable nowadays - is not interested in actually providing access to it.
Virgin? Nope, that would involve spending money and doing something positive. From personal experience as well as talking to friends and work colleagues over the years, only two things seem to be consistent with Virgin: 1. Service availability and performance will be variable and throttling is a thing, 2. Prices will go up on a regular basis irrespective of whether you are within the contract period or not.
I would only ever consider using Virgin if there were absolutely no alternative.
Not a popular opinion, it would seem. My bugbear with Virgin in that they seem to think it's perfectly sensible to warn customers of "network maintenance" which will "require downtime", which will happen during a weekday, with a window of 8am to 6pm.
On a business contract.
If somebody can tell me what bloody use that is, I'm all ears. All of our customers who run Virgin, we've also added a second independent link via a different ISP on FTTC or channel-bonded ADSL. And it's saved them several times each.
There's me having just ordered FTTC to my new house. FTTP not being an option here.
I was in two minds whether to bother, since 4G has become a viable option for consumer-grade stuff. But having extras like fixed IP address will enable me to bring some stuff in-house from the cloud.
How long before ISPs start offering wire-free techie-grade service?
How long before ISPs start offering wire-free techie-grade service?
Never say never, but wireless networks face two serious problems. Signal attenuation due to walls, weather and distance from the mast. Local contention because everyone attached to a given mast has to share that mast's bandwidth.
5G is supposed to mitigate (somewhat) the contention issue but it's unproven technology. 4G apparently works quite well at the moment but I suspect it remains a niche product. If significant numbers of people move onto wireless we're probably going to need a lot more masts.
At present a wired connection remains the more reliable (if in some places slower) option. But ask again in ten years :)
Well the huge marketing & supply opportunity here for weetabix to supply the fiber that the Government health officer says we all need is not to be missed how about this slogan: "Multi-mode fiber - the nutty glass breakfast you've waited for" A couple of Ad's with children chomping through the shrapnel should go down well.
The last government sponsored programme to rollout out Superfast BB is still incomplete, should they not finish that first. It seems like another government funded BT project which will overrun and be redefined so that they can claim victory when its 95% done.
OK so lets see, if you have what in france is called degroupee, thats where your phone is connected via the internet, if you have no electricity, then you have no phone. Its a really good system...NOT for example not everywhere is covered by mobile phone, so house fire, electric goes do make sure you have plenty of fuel to keep fire going until fire brigade know, There is a disabled person in the house with breathing system and there is a power cut, never mind, they just die as you cannot call for an ambulance. There are many more cases. Until modems come with a battery back up as does the phone then you are in the merde. The authorities seem to think that mobile phones work everywhere, they do not! So do make sure that in the event of a power cut you still have a phone or that you have Mobile coverage or keep a few gallons of kerosene so that you can keep any fire going so you can send smoke signals!
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