back to article We won't CU later: New Ofcom broadband proposals mull killing off old copper network

Ofcom today published new proposals that aim to see fibre-to-the-premises broadband become more ubiquitous, particularly for users in rural areas and finally kill off the old copper network. The Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review 2021-26 (FTMR) contains a four point plan, which focuses on bolstering competition and …

  1. Caff

    reliability

    Does fibre require less maintenance over the long term? Less risk of theft, damage from elements or lightning strikes etc..?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: reliability

      Yes..although the reduced risk of theft assumes that the scrotes currently doing it have the intelligence to realise that the resale value of fibre is almost zero and not worth digging up.

      Fibre might me more vulnerable to accidental digging up, however, since I don't think there's any way to detect it when its buried (someone correct me if I'm wrong there). So Mr Bob the Big Builder with his JCB might be more of a problem than he is with copper.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: reliability

        I've seen someone pulling at a cable out of a hole they've just dug in the pavement. They'd just come close to severing it with their JCB bucket. Turns out it's a cable going to the street cabinet so quite important. Hanging from the bucket teeth was the long label placed above the cable saying that there's Fibre cable below.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: reliability

        Armoured cable should be detected from its metal sheath.

        1. Jaybus

          Re: reliability

          The direct burial cable being used these days for FTTC is armored, as it can be buried by vibratory plow, no trenching is needed, and it is protected from rocks and rodents. There is a corrugated metal jacket inside of a polyethylene outer jacket, so basically like the direct burial copper cable except it has fiber inside rather than copper.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: reliability

            So, worth digging up for illicit scrap metal, or not?

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: reliability

              No, it's steel, which is almost worthless in the quantities found in cables.

    2. Keith Oborn

      Re: reliability

      Yes, in general perhaps.

      However, where the local loop is on poles (as it is in our country lane) there may be a problem. Energis found out many years ago that slinging fibre between tall poles (national grid) was a tad unreliable, as the fibre didn't like swaying in the breeze. It is more fragile than copper.

      This may have been resolved by now--.

      1. Darren Forster

        Re: reliability

        We're in a rural area, we're not on any copper cable at all despite the only option BT offer round here is 3mbps on copper cable. Instead we've switched to Airband internet which comes via WiFi from Clee Hill. It's very good and much more faster than copper at about 50mbps, it's also given us an alternative now for TV to Sky as where we live because of Clee Hill being in the way we can only get the Ludlow freeview mast which has extremely reduced channels and so up to now Sky has been the only viable option for TV.

        If there is an issue using fibre on poles then how about the following suggestions -

        1 - instead of using fibre on poles what about making every so many poles a wi-fi mast and send the signal via wi-fi from pole to pole - if one wi-fi mast on Clee Hill, about 5 miles from us, can supply 50mbps broadband for our entire area then how come BT aren't using wifi as an option in areas where they're struggling instead of any type of cable.

        2 - still use copper cable but make it entirely digital - transfer all existing phone lines still using copper cable onto a VOIP system, and then use the entire audio bandwidth of the copper cable to send data down. At the moment what happens is the copper cable is split into two - those ADSL filters you have plugged into your socket are basically high pass audio filters - they take the high frequencies that are data and send them to the router, where as low frequencies which are audio go to the telephone - but what if you just got rid of the telephone audio all together and used the entire frequency range from low to high to send data down the line - I know it would probably take some kind of new router to be developed but think of this - if say the exchange needed to send 50mb of data down a line could it split it up into say 10mb sizes and then split the entire audio spectrum range up that the copper cable can carry into 5 - so if the audio range the cable can carry is 0-60Mhz send one 10mb of data down 0-10mhz whilst simultaneously sending another 10mbs down 10-20mhz, 20-30mhz, 30-40mhz, and 40-50mhz and keeping 50-60mhz free for upload (don't know what the audio range is of a phone line so that's only an example) and that way the router receives 5 bits of a 50mb file all together - even on a 3mbps line that would speed things up to 15mbps.

        3. Replace the copper cable with ethernet cable and boosters on each pole - it's not fibre and I know ethernet can only go up to 100m before needing to be boosted (15m on Cat 7 1Gbps) - but surely each pole isn't more than 15m apart. But ethernet can still do up to 1 Gigabit per second - which is far faster than 3mbps off copper cable.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: reliability

          Required audio analogue bandwidth is about 3-4kHz. Min VOIP min bandwidth recommendation is about 90kbps so moving all voice to VOIP would use up to 25x the bandwidth that the analogue system requires.

          Max data rates for ADSL/ADSL2+ are 8/25Mbps, but these reduce as distance from the cabinet reduces, especially ADSL2.

          1. Chloe Cresswell

            Re: reliability

            to be technically correct, given how adsl/adsl2 is deployed here, that would be the distance from the exchange. VDSL is the only normally fitted in the cabinet (and therefore that would be correct for it - distance from the cabinet).

      2. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: reliability

        KC started to deploy using a semi-rigid tube with the fibre blown down it. By the time I needed an openreach fibre installed on a site (last year), it was fitted as a self supporting fibre - basically a steel wire or 2, with the fibre part of the make up. I think this was a single wire, which I believe is a wire with a groove in it - the fibre goes into the groove before the outer layers are applied. It's only going about 30 metres from the pole to the building's 2nd floor, but so far the wind hasn't caused any issues.

  2. nematoad Silver badge
    Headmaster

    No,no, thrice times no!

    "Openreach came in for some flack..."

    Argghh!. It's flak not flack. That's a derogatory name for PR mouthpieces.

    Please get it right.

    I did give an explanation of why it's called flak a few months ago but I'm reluctant to repeat myself any more than I already have.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: No,no, thrice times no!

      Good for you. Give them some flack

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No,no, thrice times no!

      Not this one again? Both the Oxford and Cambridge English dictionaries list "flack" as an acceptable alternate spelling of "flak".

      And it's "three times", not "thrice times" - "thrice" already means "three times".

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: No,no, thrice times no!

        "thrice" already means "three times"

        Woe, Woe and Thrice Woe. Titter ye not.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge
        WTF?

        Re: No,no, thrice times no!

        Dunno why.

        FLugzeugAbwehrKanone. Where's the "C" supposed to come from?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No,no, thrice times no!

          >FLugzeugAbwehrKanone. Where's the "C" supposed to come from?

          It comes from Gene Flack - flack is a form of PR, combining spam and spin in current parlance - nowt to do with AAA.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No,no, thrice times no!

          It comes from it being an anglicised word for anti-aircraft fire. It's still flack if it comes from Iran.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No,no, thrice times no!

      Nobody cares.

      If that's all you've got to complained about, get over yourself.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No,no, thrice times no!

      that's a useful titbit, thank you.

  3. dak

    Spare a copper?

    I seem to remember that at one time BT's market value was less than the melt-down value of its copper network.

    If they do pull the cables out of the ground they'll need to be careful how they release the metal on to the market so as to keep the price stable.

    An incidental benefit will be that the fibres will take up much less space than the equivalent copper cables so duct capacity will be increased at no cost at all.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Spare a copper?

      "An incidental benefit will be that the fibres will take up much less space than the equivalent copper cables so duct capacity will be increased at no cost at all."

      Hmmmm - in my estate the copper is laid in the soft, so in order to install fibre they will have to dig the streets up to install ducts and pits. Then they'll have to dig them up again to fix all the damage they do to the copper while installing the ducts. Only when they've blown the fibre and all the users have transitioned will they be able to dig the streets up again to remove the copper.

      I bet that most housing estates more than 40 years old are in the same state. 7Mbps is fine for my needs and I'll hold on to copper for as long as I can because it works and once Openreach start messing with it I expect it not to work. It will also put off the day that I have to dig the floor up to route power to the phone.

      1. dak

        Re: Spare a copper?

        I've been thinking about the mechanics of switching from copper to fibre.

        Myself, I'd lay in a temporary fibre loop from the exchange to the cabinet, remove the copper, blow the permanent fibre into the now-empty duct then remove the temporary link.

        Or radio or microwave for the temporary link?

        I don't know, I'm a manufacturing engineer and know little about telecoms - does anyone else have an idea how they'll do it?

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Spare a copper?

          @dak - the point I was making is that a lot of the copper is not in a duct. It's just in the ground. In my estate they dug a trench in 1963 laid the partly armoured copper cable into it, made the connections to properties, then filled the trench with soil. Not a duct to be seen. Like I said, any areas where the infrastructure is more than about 40 years old will probably be the same.

          The first thing they're going to have to do round my way is install ducts and pits for the fibre.

          1. dak

            Re: Spare a copper?

            Ah, OK I didn't realise that. Cheapskates!

            1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

              Re: Spare a copper?

              I wouldn't call them cheapskates. It's survived 47 years after being dug up numerous times for new water pipes, cable TV, drains and re-surfacing. I get 7Mbps down a piece of wire intended to deliver 3khz speech and even when one of the twisted pair breaks I still get 2Mbps. I'd be happy to keep it. If there's any criticism that could be levelled it's that the Post Office over-designed the system!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Spare a copper?

                They're laying fibre like that too. Trench alongside the road, fibre in, pack the soil down.

                1. Evil_Goblin

                  Re: Spare a copper?

                  Interesting, in my area its overheads connecting the cabinets, and ducts and pots in the pavement (sidewalk) from cabinets to premises

              2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                Re: Spare a copper?

                Could some sort of robot mole get the copper out and the fibre in - possibly inside the existing armouring, if confirmed present? But that would be more mouse sized… I'm told that mice can get in through extraordinarily small holes. The ones I occasionally trap (dead) in the attic (why there? do birds of prey drop them?) look a bit big for that, though. I have not tried squeezing them to see what happens, I think it would be unpleasant. Even with the thick rubber gloves on (tip).

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Spare a copper?

        The new fibre routers have an RJ11 socket on the back. No new power source required, almost as if they've seen this coming.

        I have noted though that since getting fibre I still have a copper phone line (at least as far as the cabinet) which as an odd bonus means I've removed all of the ADSL filters I had and my house alarm no longer needs a bodge to get it wired in (6 months after living in the house I discovered the line hooked in a semi dead virgin line... One yank later and it turned out that removing those wirew set the alarm off in 20 minute intervals much the annoyance of the neighbours and jury rigging was duly applied and now removed).

        1. Martin-73

          Re: Spare a copper?

          The main problem I see is that the backup batteries will be remotely located (cabinets or boxes on poles), unless it's entirely passive back to the exchange?

          The fact that phonelines still work when the power is OFF is vital, for many reasons.

          Round here (southampton so not a rural blackspot) it's not unusual for the mobile signal to disappear when the power fails, because backup batteries/generators for cellular towers are either not a thing, or not maintained. So your ability to call 105 for the power co is dependent on .... a landline

        2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Spare a copper?

          @Sgt: so the fibre router gets power from the line? Or does it need plugging in to the mains? My phone doesn't need plugging in to the mains and it works when there's a power cut.

          1. Martin-73

            Re: Spare a copper?

            Indeed I just posted a bit of a rambly comment elsethread to the same effect. I (and most commentards) am quite capable of supplying my own battery backup solution, or UPS, or similar. Granny who's still got a hard wired 706 dating from the 60s, who uses the phone to keep in touch with her distant grandchildren... notsomuch. It's them I worry about.

            Also what of low income families or people who simply choose to have a credit meter... when the juice goes off.. so does their ability to dial 999 from the landline.

            I am not comfortable with this brave new world.

            I think the whole bundling of phones and internet (here in rightpondia) or cabletv with internet (in leftpondia) is a bit of an anachronism and needs to go.

            Phones are phones, cabletv is cabletv, and internet is internet.

            1. jonathan keith Silver badge

              Re: Spare a copper?

              Openreach are currently in the process of transferring everyone onto 'X over IP' before then switch off the national PSTN network in 2025. Not a dodgeable bullet this time.

              Hence my enormous headache at work, trying to plan a managed migration to IP of telephony for our several dozen elderly residents, and more significantly our properties' fire alarm and emergency warden call systems, involving backup power supply to cope with long-duration mains outages, and 4G failover in case someone puts a backhoe through our precious fibre. Still, I'm learning a lot at least.

            2. Claverhouse Silver badge

              Re: Spare a copper?

              Also what of low income families or people who simply choose to have a credit meter... when the juice goes off.. so does their ability to dial 999 from the landline.

              Having a pay-as-you-go meter [ Ecotricity: the rates are the same for direct debit or pay-as-you-go ] I would point out that without electricity you are not going to use a computer anyway, and that most people, even the poorest, now use cell-phones --- which can dial 999 calls even without credit. With Talkmobile I am paying £5 a month for unlimited calls, which actually cheaper than 20 years ago, not that I use it much.

              I long for the day when the landlines are ripped out.

              1. Martin-73

                Re: Spare a copper?

                see my comment elsewhere in the thread. Cellular devices do not always work with a wide area power outage. Backup batteries at the cell sites are not maintained or not existent.. Landlines are absolutely VITAL for many people.

                The one advantage of this 'your responsibility' cr@p is that openreach are no longer quite so precious when I go hunting thru their network for the fault. I have a cabinet key and use it...

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Spare a copper?

                  "Backup batteries at the cell sites are not maintained or not existent.."

                  If Ofcom aren't making this part of the operational requirement, then someone should be asking questions about why not

              2. Richard Jones 1
                FAIL

                Re: Spare a copper?

                @ Cleaverhouse, while the mobile works outside my house, if I get a call on the hopeless thing, the first thing I have to say is please call the landline.

                On the second (landline call) call, the callers says, 'Oh that is much better' and the calls continues.

                Sadly, radio is not reliable, it will fail during a problem, e.g. a doctor call. We have been there, done that, got the tee shirt.

          2. Chloe Cresswell

            Re: Spare a copper?

            The OTN needs power, and can also have a battery unit connected to it (which takes AA's I believe) which is the user's job to keep an eye on and replace.

            The router and phone then connect to one of the sockets on the OTN.

    2. NiceCuppaTea
      Trollface

      Re: Spare a copper?

      When Borris promised more coppers I didnt think he meant digging them up!

  4. Commswonk

    A Pedant comments...

    Ofcom today published new proposals that aim to see fibre-to-the-premises broadband become more ubiquitous...

    "Ubiquitous" means "present everywhere". Something is either ubiquitous or it isn't.

    More ubiquitous is a logical nonsense.

    I feel better for getting that off my chest...

    1. monty75
      Joke

      Re: A Pedant comments...

      I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with this almost unique brand of pedantry

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Pedant comments...

      Logical sense? These are those companies offering "wireless internet" and "unlimited broadband" which are neither. (It's wired internet with a wifi hub, and limited broadband but to a limit we hope no one notices)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT had already told me they were getting rid of their main copper products and transferring everyone over by 2025.

    Details were very thin on the ground.

    1. Martin-73

      Probably an idea that came down from corporate, and the actual engineers and technicians (if any are left at BT) are now looking for new jobs, knowing it can never be delivered.

      RIP to what was ONCE an innovator in the world of telecomms.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RIP to what was ONCE an innovator in the world of telecomms.

        Yeah, it really went downhill once I left.

        I wonder... ;)

    2. NeilPost Silver badge

      Turning off legacy PSTN for VOIP.

      Not ditching the Local Loop copper. Who said that ?!

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/04/19/bt_pushes_ahead_with_plans_to_switch_off_traditional_telephone_network/

      The only lunatic proposing ubiquitous FTTP is BoJo with his 100% of the UK Fibre, no if’s, no but’s by 2025.

  6. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Emergency calls

    As was described in detail on the reg when this came up before there is one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring - emergency calls.

    The traditional phone network continues operating for a long time after a mains failure - the batteries (and possibly backup generator) can keep the exchange and basic phones operational for over 24 hours (basic phones are powered by the exchange over the copper wires). The adapter that allows ordinary phones to be used with FTTP runs on mains electricity and has a 1 hour battery backup. If the mains fails during the night then there is no way to call for help when the customer wakes up in the morning. If Ofcom's answer is use mobile phones - in many parts of the UK there is still no mobile service. The adapter also uses about £10 worth of electricity per year which is an additional cost for the customer.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

      The laws of physics prevent power from being sent through fiber optic cables. So what you're really complaining about is the fact that mobile phone coverage is not 100%. One way to improve coverage is to bring fiber to places that don't already have it, I would think.

      1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

        Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

        If the operators were required to provide cover to 100% of the UK then it might be reasonable to remove the copper network. At the moment there is still a significant number of people in rural areas with no mobile coverage who are dependent on ordinary phones.

      2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

        @Pascal - given that there's a pedantic thread running through this topic - optical fibre cables wouldn't work if they couldn't transmit power.

        1. Lozian

          Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

          Forget pedantic, lets talk facts. Optical fibres don't transmit power!! They transmit (and receive) light and only light. This light can not be used to "power" any device connected at the other end. Hence why each end of a fibre needs to be provided with power in some way.

          1. Ogi
            Boffin

            Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

            Well, if we want to get really into the facts, Optical fibres transmit energy (power), in the form of EM radiation that our eyes can detect (light).

            That radiation has energy. Just like Tesla (the inventor, not the company abusing his name) demonstrated when transmitting power wirelessly via radiowaves. This is the same way the old crystal radios worked (they got their energy from the radio signal itself, they had no batteries)

            In theory, if you pump enough energy down the fibre cable, you could power things on the other end (using a converter, akin to a solar panel tuned to the light frequency emitted). I doubt it would be anywhere near as efficient as just plain copper over long distances, but in theory it could be possible to power a phone (or trickle charge the phones emergency batteries) with energy received from the fibre.

            I would imagine that such a design would need a continuous carrier wave (that can be used for power), which is somehow modulated to transmit data. Alternatively use two wavelengths of light. One for power, one for signal, and split/combine them at the transceivers. Either way, you would also need very high quality fibre, which does not absorb much energy. I don't know what fibre they are using for FTTP, but probably the cheapest they can get, which might even be plastic rather than glass inside. That would probably not suffice if you try to shunt the equivalent of 25W of light energy down it, it would probably heat and deform somewhere.

            1. Jaybus

              Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

              "Well, if we want to get really into the facts, Optical fibres transmit energy (power), in the form of EM radiation that our eyes can detect (light)."

              That's interesting. Only infrared wavelengths are used in the US, as the shorter the wavelength, the higher the absorption, and hence higher the signal attenuation.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

              "In theory, if you pump enough energy down the fibre cable, you could power things on the other end"

              Right now even 80km fibre transmitters only put out about 10-20mW and those are regarded as dangerous as all hell. Most shorthaul optics is around 1mW and it can still put holes in your retina if you're not care, thanks to the small spot size.

              If you want to put out enough light to power things at the other end the power density required would probably MELT the fibre.

              So in theory, you could do it, in practice you're getting toward the arena of weapons-grade lasers.

          2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

            You fool! Information is power! :-)

      3. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

        Err the problem is that when the power fails, the mobile phone mast will also fail. I have a solid 4G signal where I live, but when we had a power outage last month, my signal also died due to the phone mast being on the same circuit and hence dead.

        1. Nial

          Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

          "Err the problem is that when the power fails, the mobile phone mast will also fail. I have a solid 4G signal where I live, but when we had a power outage last month, my signal also died due to the phone mast being on the same circuit and hence dead."

          Perhaps this will trigger a revival in ham radio!

      4. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

        You could maybe put a pair of metal wires in the fibre bundle that carry power?

      5. Norman Nescio

        Re: one major problem that Ofcom is deliberately ignoring

        The laws of physics prevent power from being sent through fiber optic cables.

        Really?

        There other considerations which might prevent the general use of power transmission through optical fibre, but the laws of physics are perfectly happy with the idea.

        If you turn up the wick too much, it gets a bit dicey:

        The Fibre Fuse (The accompanying music is not to everybody's taste)

        Fiber fuse ignition and propagation

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Emergency calls

      @Duncan: I think that BT has discontinued the backup battery in new installations.

      1. Martin-73

        Re: Emergency calls

        It seems to me then that they're not meeting their universal service obligation. Not that Ofcom, the toothless wonder, would do anything

        1. Martin-73

          Re: Emergency calls

          Not sure why the downvote... maybe I am misinterpreting the USO... but I thought they had to provide a PHONE line to anyone who needed one (and could afford same). That to me is a 50v exchange line, backed with at least 48hrs of reserve capacity.

          The crusade against copper is foolhardy, imo. Copper has a long history of actually working.

          Idea that just occurred to me:copper from a central exchange battery, to the cabinet , then distributed to the pole... Carrying ONLY the 50v DC... which then is fed to each customer's premises... to power the router/fttp box/VoIP ata/combo wotsit thing.

          Much less stringent maintenance than actually carrying any data on the copper... and if a pair goes really bad, you can simply use a neighbouring pair and tee in?

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Emergency calls

            "That to me is a 50v exchange line, backed with at least 48hrs of reserve capacity."

            I've lived in areas where phone battery was two #6 dry cells powering the microphone. They had a lifespan of 20 years or so. Central battery was mostly invented so that telcos didn't have to send out battery techs to do swapouts on a rolling basis, but helped a lot with decadic (pulse) signalling later on.

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Emergency calls

      A modern mobile phone can make calls over the wi fi router... oh. ;-)

      Power banks for mobile stuff is all over the place, though. I expect you could have as much UPS as you want, that way. Or, if you have an electric vehicle, it can be a really big battery for your home stuff, too.

  7. adam payne

    Perhaps the most ambitious element of the review is the proposal to retire the copper network – though there was no set end date in the review for this.

    I'm sure BT isn't going to be happy about this they like their copper slush fund.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got my new FTTP connection yesterday

    Vodafone have been digging holes all over Aberdeen for months - new 500 meg link now on - lovely.

    1. MadAsHell

      Re: Got my new FTTP connection yesterday

      And you propose to do *what* with this much bandwidth? Run your own website? And when the power fails or the link fails what then? That co-lo starts to look quite smart.

      It's just like the speedo on my wife's car - 220kph max. Useless.

      1. Cuddles Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Got my new FTTP connection yesterday

        "And you propose to do *what* with this much bandwidth?"

        Porn, obviously.

        More seriously, why do so many people constantly complain about high bandwidths as if the only possible reason for wanting high download speeds is if you're going to be using all of it at all times? Is it really that difficult to understand that people might sometimes want to download large files (games are routinely >50GB these days, for example), and are willing to pay to have access to decent bandwidth at all times so they are able to do so in a matter of seconds rather than hours?

        As for cars, there are two important points. Firstly, there are plenty of places where it is entirely legal to drive at those speeds, so obviously it's not useless. Secondly, it's generally the power output (and torque) that is more important - you can use the acceleration at any time, but if you have the power to accelerate quicker, it's almost impossible for that not to come along with a high top speed. Top speed might make a nice marketing point, but the engineering behind it has very real benefits to normal drivers. So you are correct that it is similar to good broadband - some people consider having access to high peak performance worth paying for even if you won't actually use that peak most of the time.

        Unless you were complaining that your speedo displays a higher maximum speed than the car is capable of achieving, in which case I don't see how it's relevant to broadband speeds which actually can be used. In any case, speedos always display a higher maximum speed than cars can achieve because they're designed to have common speeds at the most easily viewed location - you're not expected to drive over 100mph very often, but if your speedo goes up to 120 or so then 50-70 is right around the top of the display. In summary, whatever it is you're complaining about, you're wrong.

    2. Martin-73

      Re: Got my new FTTP connection yesterday

      We down here in the sarf have a new network called 'toob' (apparently entirely optical, mix of digging their own rights of way and borrowing openreach ducts/pole routes). Looks promising but.. not convinced as yet

  9. just another employee

    Cancelled my BT account

    I live in the country (i.e. >100M to the nearest fibre point).

    I have no alternative providers available other than BT (Openreach)

    I am therefore a captive audience (or 'sucker' as BT probably classify me as).

    My broadband, on a good day, was 1.4Mbps. And frequently all the way down to 0.4Mbs.

    BT did not offer to reduce my monthly bill below £29.

    BT wanted £25,000 to connect me to the world (that's the 110M final leg to the nearest fibre).

    I told them to stick it. Cancelled my contract. I now have no landline. I never had 'Broadband' (Ofcom consider you need >10Mbs to partake of the digital economy). BT didn't care.

    2027 seems an awful long way away. But something has to change for us country folk.!

    1. MadAsHell

      Re: Cancelled my BT account

      Sadly it won't with the tiny minds at Ofcom and the National Infrastructure crew in charge. We've wasted nearly £1BN on rural broadband so far with almost nothing to show for it.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Cancelled my BT account

        " We've wasted nearly £1BN on rural broadband so far with almost nothing to show for it."

        New Zealand showed how it can be done. Make ANY further money contingent on the lines and the services being entirely cleaved from each other - separate ownership, stocks, boards and directors.

        Having BT own the infrastructure just perpetuates the abuse in ways that New Zealand's Ministry of Commerce enumerated in a lengthy manner before rejecting Telecom New Zealand's attempts to sell the "BT model" there.

    2. Martin-73

      Re: Cancelled my BT account

      I am guessing your exchange doesn't offer much in the way of alternative presence? If it did, A&A would be a good bet, they cost a bit more than yer average, but they LOVE flaky lines like that. If the line's not a stable speed, they will go after openreach like a guard dog

    3. Tachisme

      Re: Cancelled my BT account

      Of course BT didn’t offer to reduce your bill: you would have been exponentially more expensive to support than any other customer. Your decision to relinquish a landline will allow BT to save money maintaining that line. Previously, you were heavily subsidised by urban customers.

      BT told government and Ofcom years ago that it could roll out fibre everywhere, it just needed a ‘fair bet’ in terms of regulations allowing it to recover its costs. The current rules aren’t fit for purpose: Openreach installs fibre and then is both (a) obliged to allow competitors to use it; and (b) it capped at the rates it can charge. There’s simply no business case to it.

      This may be annoying, but it’s the commercial reality!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cancelled my BT account

      You can either get Satellite broadband which is surprisingly cheap (£27.50 per month + £100 installation) but the speeds / latency / AUP may be undesirable. A better option would be to look into Mobile broadband for £22-£30 per month, it will depend on where you place the modem (a high gain antenna may be required)

    5. Jaybus

      Re: Cancelled my BT account

      "But something has to change for us country folk.!"

      It is a huge problem here in the US where it is exacerbated by the longer distances involved. There is a Honda plant around 3 km away from me, so fiber running along the highway that my road intersects. As luck would have it, a few people had already succeeded in getting cable along our road to within around 1 km from my 300 m drive. I got a quote from the cable company (Spectrum) of $86,000. So I contacted AT&T and got a quote for fiber Ethernet of only $11,000.

      Around a year later, my neighbor across the road mentioned that she had gotten cable service. Amazed, I contacted Spectrum again and informed them that a neighbor directly across from me had service. I was told that some government program allowed up to such and such distance for free and I need only pay the rest. I'm still scratching my head as to how it went from $86,000 to $800 in a one year span, but gladly paid the quoted $800 and now have 400 Mbps service.

      So hang in there. It appears we country folk are at least starting to be considered by the powers that be.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Cancelled my BT account

        "But something has to change for us country folk.!"

        It's about to.

        Monopoly telcos worldwide are cacking themselves at the realisation that Elon's Skynet system will impose a HARD upper limit on what they can get away with charging (or filtering) and it's interesting to see the funding trails for some of the "astronomy action groups" that trace back to the usual astroturfing organisations.

        Heaven forbid that a midwest USA monopolist telco that's been greasing the palms of the PUC for the last 30 years suddenly be exposed to actual REAL competition, Not long after they've managed to drive everyone else out of business.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "It proposes to allow OpenReach to tack on these costs before a single road is dug up"

    Tack them onto what? I have a nasty feeling that those of us who live in rural areas with perfectly good FTTC services are going to get stiffed in order to subsidise FTTP for other customers whilst having an unwanted and disruptive "upgrade" forced on ourselves.

  11. MadAsHell

    There's no benefit in the cost-benefit analysis to retire the entire copper network. The cost to every household that still has some form of POTS will be astronomical - for what? Another telephone that doesn't work when the wind doesn't blow (i.e. our crappy electricity generation which all ultimately depends on the sun) fails?

    This is the usual central-minds 'let's have one single solution for every problem' approach. There are several problems that need to be fixed and a one-size-fits all won't work - but that won't stop them.

    Rural broadband provision won't be helped by this, it won't provide more space in ducts and poles, it won't provide cheaper bandwidth and it won't work when the 'leccy fails. Apart from that it will all be wonderful, 'cos it's new technology, 'innit?

    You only have to look at the huge costs of the Irish Rural Broadband project - which as the name suggests is only intended to cover non-urban areas - to see just how much money is required to lay this much fibre and actually make it work. No-one knows how expensive it will be to maintain, but damage to rural cables will be frequent as culverts and gulleys are cleared to prevent flooding.

    It's the high-tech hangup all over again.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "There's no benefit in the cost-benefit analysis to retire the entire copper network."

      Large chunks of the UK copper network are quite literally waterlogged. The older direct-buried installations were only intended to last 30-50 years and they're well past their replace-by dates. The very older installed cables (many with lead sheathing) have paper insulation, which loses its effectiveness when it gets wet and are supposed to be pressurised, but the reality is that the pressure doesn't always keep the water out if there are breaks and there's not enough monitoring when things go bad (BT prefer to ignore the issue unless lots of people in one area all start talking to each other and compare fault notes)

      The fact that they're working at all is a small miracle in a lot of cases.

      And then there's the issue that a lot of the "newer" (1970s era) cables are actually ALUMINIUM - not copper - which was a disaster from start to finish - when these get water in them they fail even faster and they're so brittle they can microcrack simply from traffic vibration.

      Of course, being BT and having the dead hand of BT manglement on the handbrake at Openreach, sorting this clusterfuck out is simply a recipe for another clusterfuck.

      New Zealand proved that the problem with Openreach isn't "Openreach", it's what head office were forcing them to do or not do - and once that dead hand was removed from the brakes New Zealand's Openreach was out of the gate and off dealing with things _properly_ faster than a greyhound after a rabbit.

      In other words: If you want your lines sorted out, you MUST NOT allow any company providing dialtone to control them. The lines company and the lines themselves have to be 100% separated in order to be truely open to all comers. As long as Openreach is beholden to BT, there will continue to be economy-damaging anticompetitve behaviour going on, either overtly or covertly (via means such as forcing expensive BT-provided interconnects using THE SAME equipment that competitors use for 10% of the charge)

  12. JohnMurray

    Seriously?

    I have a broadband-over-copper installation.

    The exchange is 100 metres away (although the broadband sites say it is 800 metres away).

    The download speed is 19mbps, upload 800kbps with a ping of 8ms.

    It costs me £19/month.

    Fibre to give me the minimum 38mbps will cost me a minimum of £27/month.

    I have no need to change.

    Not going to either.

    1. Martin-73

      800kbps would be slow for the friends I share files to.

      I see we have different usage profiles. That is fine, but there IS a need for a larger bandwidth for many users. (I upvoted you by the way because what you say is not false)

  13. anthonyhegedus

    Gigabit? not using BT's inferior equipment at the exchanges which only goes to 330Mbps. OK, it's more than most people need, but we need to prepare for a future when we do need it. It seems that everything we do is a compromise. ADSL doesn't give enough bandwidth when you're far from the exchange, FTTC VDSL is just a way of keeping copper there and fudging fast broadband over it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A day late

    and a dollar short...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does that include copper that's made of

    Aluminium?

    ;)

    1. Martin-73

      Re: Does that include copper that's made of

      we don't mention the 70s round here

  16. upnorth

    And what do offcom consider fibre?

    I recently downgraded from fttc to adsl. The drop in speed? It went from 17meg to 16meg. The price dropped from £20 plus to £10, the difference I invested in Three unlimited 4g contract which gets around 60meg. Fibre needs to mean fibre to the House, not some copper fibre hybrid, which in my case means 20 metres of fibre and 2000metres of copper

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And what do offcom consider fibre?

      adsl here give me just over 1mbit down / 256k up, fttc takes that to around 17mbit down 1.1mbit up.

      Fibre has just been laid around here (as in straight under my driveway & to a BT pole on the boundary of my property) but is not currently available, so it will be interesting to see what is offered.

      for me the biggest difference will be in upstream rates rather than downstream since it would actually make a huge difference, currently if I wanted to back-up 64GB of data (go-pro video file if you're wondering) it will saturate my connection for over 6 days, a boost to 20mbit upstream would take that down to a manageable 8 hours (aka run it overnight).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here in Spain....

    I actually have fibre and it's a good connection, I'm also about 3 miles from the nearest shop, so you can do this in rural areas after all.

  18. Screwed
    Pint

    Having very, very recently transferred to FTTP, we were disappointed the phone didn't work. (Don't actually use it but nice to have for emegencies and spam calls.)

    Called BT, who got OpenReach out, who sent an engineer. A really nice chap who is trained in copper only. Seems although everything written implied we were going to get our phone service from the Optical Network Terminator on FTTP, we have actually been left on copper. And someone broke a copper connection when installing the fibre.

    Hence BT will have to maintain both copper and fibre...

    (Small advantage for us, actually. Phone on FTTP would not work during a power cut as BT don't supply any form of battery backup.)

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