Today BT launched Fibre to the Cabinet broadband (FTTC). The trials as reported in trefor.net were conducted during the later half of 2009. By the completion of the trial phase BT had finished 1,750 installations over three exchanges: Glasgow Half Way, Muswell Hill and Whitchurch, with a fairly high success rate considering this was a trial. Well done to Lee Martin and the team at BT Wholesale for their work here.
The overall results, we hear, are a ringing endorsement of the technology. The average speed seen is around 25Mbps with the range being between 17Mbps and 39Mbps. Our trialists ran at around the average.
BT is now launching four flavours – two consumer and two business, the latter having the faster 10Mbps uplink. Timico will also be launching the product though we are waiting until there is a little more coverage.
Post trial there are 32 exchanges (2,000 cabinets) enabled in Q1. By May there should be 103 exchanges and a further 63 planned for adding by September. In terms of premises passed there will be 500k by the spring, 1.5 million by the summer and 4 million by the end of 2010.
There are a number of other developments coming down the jungle path of the connectivity world ADSL2+ Annex M is about to start trialing at BT Wholesale. Annexe M offers the opportunity to trade some downstream speed in exchange for more upstream. We don’t yet have pricing or an indication of the speed improvements though this is not going to be dramatic – a few hundred kbps.
This product does overlap with FTTC but should, when released, be immediately available in all ADSL2+ enabled exchanges. The ADSL2+ rollout will cover 55% of homes by March 2010, and 75% by March 2011. The lag between ADSL2+ and FTTC means there will be quite some time before FTTC is a viable mass alternative.
You might ask what difference does a few hundred kbps make but if a business is looking to use SIP trunks this might mean the difference between making VoIP viable or not.
The one other development being discussed is true QoS over the 21CN network. BT has however been talking about this for a year and a half and whilst Q3 is mooted as a possible launch date don’t hold your breath.
By the way all this came out of the BT Wholesale ISP Forum that is periodically held at the Post Office Tower in London. A great venue and a great chance for the industry to discuss all things internetty.