ISPs Plunge Knife into Broadband Enabling Technology (BET) #digitalbritain #finalthirdfirst

A Digital Britain session at today’s BT ISP Forum at the BT Tower saw a vocal opposition to Broadband Enabling Technology (BET) as a prospective technology to meet the Government promise of a 2Mbps Universal Service Commitment by 2012.  Bit of a mouthful that.

Firm pricing is not yet available, but we are potentially looking at an installation cost of £850 for a single line with 1Mbps capability, £1,050 for two lines with up to 2Mbps.  Moreover, although the minimum demand per exchange has not yet been firmed up, it is likely to be 15 subscribers.

There was absolutely zero interest in this product from the 60 or so (guess) ISPs in the room. It is seen as too expensive, to the point where it is not dissimilar in price, if you need 15 users in an exchange to sign up, to the installation cost of running fibre into the area.

BT is also looking at Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC)  trials this year with a view to offering sub 15Mbps connections to long line areas (ie mostly rural).

The mood of the room was that rolling out an old fashioned copper-based technology such as BET was a waste of time, and that we should be looking at fibre-based infrastructure, or in certain areas exploring microwave back haul links.  There was also a feeling that BT should be taking the lead with a standardised rural network infrastructure so that they could easily be managed by multiple retail ISPs.

There was also the feeling that whilst the BT response was that “nobody sees it being an economic prospect” to lay fibre into remote areas there should be a mechanism in place for communities to understand the costs of doing so – they might be able to raise cash themselves then to fund the difficult bits.

This is a long and complicated subject but Andy Dent, who led the discussion for BT, went away with a very strong signal from the ISP community that BET didn’t cut it.

As a footnote, the anticipated production availability date for BET  is November 2010.  Doesn’t give UK plc much time to sign up the millions of customers currently unable to get 2Mbps by 2012 as promised by the (most recent) Government.  I’m sure that those across the digtial divide would happily wait a few extra months to get a fibre based rollout planned if it was proposed as an alternative to BET.

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  1. cyberdoyle

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahha alus said BET worra bad bet. Thank goodness the ISPs are saying the same or the copper cabal would have throttled us for another few decades. Great post, nice to hear this good news tref.

  2. Ted King

    Re : Communities Banding Together
    ===========================
    GO RUTLAND !
    http://www.rutlandtelecom.co.uk/lyddington/

  3. Paul Nash

    Excellent post. Finally starting to move away from the hysteria and making a well crafted business case. The BET product was never going to be a realistic option and the very fact that they are looking at FTTC and long line lengths proves the case.

    There is a lot of work to be done in clarifying the process by which rural communities take hold of their own broadband future but, it will happen and well considered posts like this one will only drive the development of that process.

    1. Trefor Davies tref

      Thanks for the kind words Paul

  4. CommanderZendo

    Indeed Trefor a very good summary of the proceedings indeed.
    What got me was the blinkered view from product line. Is this attitude of “it’s just too costly to dig and put glass in” a real issue or simply they don’t have the foresight to make anything outside their comfort zone happen.

    There’s alternatives as was highlighted and these should be exploited rather than this incessant push of copper based technology.

    And I wish someone would just work out what is driving the need first then start planning infrastructure so we aren’t all running around trying to get a minimum 2mb for all then finding in 12 months time or sooner we have to start again as it’s simply not good enough.

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