broadband End User

The (Hidden) FTTC Wall

Local exchange FTTC-enabled, cabinet within easy view, power and fibre laid down… welcomes Broadband Week contributor Tim Bray, Technical Director for ProVu Communications.

Here is a small tale about my own company’s experience with FTTC.

ProVu logo

The ProVu Communications offices are in Milnsbridge, which is just outside Huddersfield. As we are heavy broadband users, we were really happy to discover that our local exchange was being enabled for FTTC. A new cabinet appeared directly across the road from our front door. Some BT men came, dug up the road right outside our front door, and laid power and fibre to the new box.

Here is the view from our front door, with the FTTC box across the road. Note the fresh line of the roadworks coming across the road to us.

We eagerly checked on the DSL checker, but our phone numbers never activated. Then we started to dig around, checking the phone numbers of our neighbours.  It seems our phone lines are exchange-only lines, and thus there is no cabinet…and no FTTC. Although just across the road, all the houses and commercial properties have FTTC.

Here is a picture that offers…well, the whole picture. The houses beyond the road junction and past the No Entry signs can all get FTTC. Our office? The red front door on the right.

The problem is that this information isn’t public, and there are no public maps of which lines connect to which cabinets.   If we were a business moving premises, for instance, there is no way we could be sure about getting FTTC in our new location without first ordering a phone line and checking the number.

FTTC can make a massive difference to a business, with availability potentially meaning the difference between using a hosted email provider or installing a server onsite. Or between deploying a hosted phone system versus having to buy an onsite PBX. Or between having workers who can work at home via VPN or requiring that all work be performed from the office at all times.

The moral of the story? Don’t get excited just because your exchange is FTTC-enabled and there is a cabinet nearby. Wait first to see if the BT checker displays “Available”.

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