back to article Community Fibre to splash £400m on FTTP connections as it races to cover a million London properties by 2023

London-based ISP Community Fibre has said it will invest £400m to extend its 10Gbps FTTP connections to more premises in the English capital, aiming to reach one million households and businesses by 2023. The funds come from private equity firm Warburg Pincus and DTCP, an investment management group that specialises in tech …

  1. Oh Matron! Silver badge

    Competition?

    I live in an area served by Community Fibre (Putney) and the estate has already been "fibre'd up". Every flat has a fibre strand outside ready to get installed. Why Openreach couldn't have done this...

    Anyway, if prices stay the same, it's going to be difficult for anyone to compete with them: 150mbs is £25, and 1Gbps is £49

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Competition?

      Competition is an issue because each fibre provider will stick to it's own area as "demand" won't be there in the area served by one of the other 2 fibre networks. Once you as a customer have that fibre you are largely trapped to that ISP as you will never want to downgrade to a ubiquitous landline based connection.

      A lock in even exists with BT. If you are with BT so have an Openreach provided FTTP connection, you would expect to be able to swap to any of the other common ISP's, however when you try (as I did recently) you discover they don't support FTTP. The only exception is Zen which pitches its price only slightly below BT.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Competition?

        A lock in even exists with BT. If you are with BT so have an Openreach provided FTTP connection, you would expect to be able to swap to any of the other common ISP's, however when you try (as I did recently) you discover they don't support FTTP. The only exception is Zen which pitches its price only slightly below BT.

        It was ever thus. Part of the challenge is the many faces of BT. So you may have Openreach FTTP, but the service would be via BT Retail or Business, who'd buy their connections from Openreach based on FTTP (GEA) per SIN 506. Then BT Wholesale takes that and turns it into FTTP (WBC) per SIN 509-

        https://www.bt.com/about/sinet/sins/downloads

        Which lists the many sins of BT. So for competing ISPs, they'd need to build their service from those BT products, and depending on whether they're an Openreach or Wholesale customer, have different processes and core/edge costs. If ISPs have already built out xDSL infrastructure for LLU, ie have their kit in BT's exchanges, and have space/power, then they might be able to use GEA. Otherwise it's usually WBC where Wholesale offers a bundled service to your PoP.

        Which basically means it's tricky to compete on price or differentiation for basic FTTP. Especially as BT really really didn't want to offer a dark fibre LLU service, so control that by offering Ethernet. And it's not like the good'ol days of LES where you could just take BT's box off and end up with a fibre.

        But such is politics and regulatory shenanigans. And also one of the problems with FTTP competition. So if it's a BT service, you might be able to migrate to another ISP that's using BT infrastructure. If the service is from a provider like Community Fibre, you generally can't because they may not have any wholesale service competing ISPs can buy.

        That can sometimes be a problem with flats. So an alt-net does a deal with a developer for an MDU solution that can be punted to their tenants as FTTP. MDU's are simpler because you've got a captive market so can fibre up flats cheaply as it's inside plant, so civils costs are less. Then feed those fibres into a switch in a common area & fibre that back to your PoP. If residents are lucky, that might be via PON (Passive Optical Network) and a WDM filter pack muxing individual flats onto wavelengths, but that has distance limitations. So tenants may be stuck with the switch version, which means they're a VLAN on a contended backhaul connection. I've seen a few where tenants were sold 'up to 1Gbps' but the switch connection to the PoP as only 1Gbps.

        But that's all part of the joy of designing retail networks. Article should also probably mention City Fibre as an alt-net as they've been active around the UK digging up pavements. And the digging part can also be a problem, especially around cities like London where councils get fed up with roadworks and can put an X year stop on construction. And then of course there's taxes.. So the rateable value of dark or lit fibre that has to be paid regardless of whether you're generating income from that fibre. Unless you're BT or Virgin, who got a sweetheart deal to pay less rates.

        1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Competition?

          "Which lists the many sins of BT"

          Let's see: greed, sloth, envy, pride?

          1. NeilPost Bronze badge

            Re: Competition?

            Same are attributed to Vodafone (City Fibre, C & W), Virgin Media, Sky, Talk Talk and the CellCo’s in Vodafone (again), O2, 3 and EE (BT again).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Competition?

          "all part of the joy of designing retail networks."

          BTw/Openretch have skills in retail network design? Why weren't we told?

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Competition?

            BTw/Openretch have skills in retail network design? Why weren't we told?

            It's a trade secret. BT's usually quite.. cunning. So industry (ie everyone but BT) says we want access to fibre/ducts. Politicians say 'Broadband for all!'. Ofcom pencils in some meeting dates.

            So the skill then comes from regulatory gamesmanship. BT (the Borg version) doesn't want to bleed customers, so creates a service offering that benefits it's business units, pacifies Ofcom, but includes a few hurdles so it keeps a lock on a good chunk of the market.

            It's all part of the fun. I've worked for highly regulated incumbents and the regulatory environment makes life interesting. Can be somewhat challenging to develop service offerings that serve the 'market', and keep external & internal customers happy.

    2. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: Competition?

      Hyperoptic have an entry level product at £22. Over the years they have upgraded it from 20/1 to 30/1 to 50/5 at no cost to existing and new customers.

    3. iDavid

      Re: Competition?

      There are still many roads in Putney with a <10Mbps EO line. Let's hope Community Fibre's ambitions will help those residential streets to catch up.

  2. hoola Bronze badge

    Is it really worth it?

    Maybe I am missing something but it really does not matter how fast the connection is at the point of entry into the property, at some point in the connection path there is going to be contention as there is simply not the capacity to give GB speed to everyone. As previous posts elude to, once there is a single connection to a property then there is not any incentive for competing companies to do anything as the investment is just too great. You don't have competing gas, water or electricity all installing their own infrastructure because it is just too expensive (and wasteful). Why should communications be the same? The reality it that once fibre is in an area there is unlikely to be any competition.

    I am also puzzled as to what people do with all the theoretical speed or bandwidth. There is only so much that streaming will use and even with increasing resolutions, there are equally issues in both storing and serving that at the source. To a certain extent at the higher rates, Internet speed appears to be a bit of a willy-waving exercise in mine is better than yours. I am on FTTC with the router connecting at 70Mb and even with 3 other people constantly stream, gaming or whatever I never have any issues with my work connection.

    Just what do you do with 10Gb and what exactly is the point?

    1. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: Is it really worth it?

      The path from a laptop with perhaps crummy WiFi in your house to websites, Netflix, Apple Music is a tortuous one.

      I still have friends that blame their ISP for their ‘shitty Internet’ whereas they have WiFi contention problems, old 11g WiFi, a shit VDSL hub (hello Vodafone !) or a laptop running loads of crap.. and that’s before they get any connectivity out of their building.

    2. DevOpsTimothyC

      Re: Is it really worth it?

      While I agree with your point of "at some point in the connection path there is going to be contention" I trust alot of these companies ALOT more in resolving those issues than BT pointing at other parts of BT when there are issues.

      Now if we could only require them to resell connectivity to each other, so as an end user could buy connectivity through Hyperoptic even if Community Fibre had the infrastructure

      1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

        Re: Is it really worth it?

        That's an idea, we should have a regulatory body for this, some kind of Office with people working on Communications. We could call it OffiCo.

  3. b_armitage

    Do Hyperoptic put fibre in the ground these days

    They keep on getting mentioned as competitors to the incumbent networks but all they used to do was buy Openreach tails and wire up MDUs. Has that changed?

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