General Discussion
  >> Fibre Broadband


Register (or login) on our website and you will not see this ad.


Pages in this thread: 1 | 2 | 3 | (show all)   Print Thread
Standard User Provster
(member) Thu 23-Oct-14 17:46:56
Print Post

What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[link to this post]
 
I have been having the same recurring thought for quite a while now.

In the early 2000s, BT spent a lot of time upgrading exchanges to support ADSL. They then upgraded them to support ADSL2+ over a number of years, and recently built many thousands of new cabinets to support FTTC. What would the UK be like today if BT had instead gone straight for installing FTTP to everyone right from the early 2000s? They could have completely upgraded the whole infrastructure in one go. They could have taken an exchange, removed all existing copper/aluminium cabling and installed fresh new fibre down the empty ducts to everyone. Landline phones could run over the same fibre. Sure, it would have been inconvenient to a local area cutting everyone off while they upgraded everyone, but totally worth it. The initial cost would have been huge of course, but 14 years later, surely the benefits would be being felt.

1. BT would have had almost zero maintenance costs on the areas upgraded, instead of the high costs of copper maintenance. Fibre is not affected by electrical interference, water ingress, crosstalk or anything like that. Once installed, the network would need virtually no maintenance. Surely the money saved from maintenance costs dealing with thousands of faults with aged cables would have been beneficial, and then could be used for upgrading other areas? This effect would accelerate the more areas were upgraded - IE, engineers from that area could begin upgrading the next.

2. The costs of taking an old exchange, upgrading it to ADSL, then upgrading it ADSL2+, then installing cabinets for FTTC, then maybe FTTDP and ultimately FTTP would be much higher than stripping everything out and installing FTTP from the beginning.

Once the country was upgraded, we could have had symmetric gigabit everywhere by now and the country would be all the better for it. I have no idea how long it would take to upgrade the whole country to FTTP, but if we had started in 2000, I bet we would be 85% of the way there after 14 years. Unfortunately, we are in a sad state of affairs where BT seems to do what is best for themselves rather than what's best for the future of the country's infrastructure.

What I'm suggesting is probably only possible in a perfect world, I know. BT doesn't have limitless money and may have gone bankrupt doing this. But if BT hadn't been privatized, maybe the UK's broadband infrastructure could have been so much better?

I am one of the lucky ones with my current connection, but I know plenty of people who get very slow and extremely unreliable service on their lines.

ZeN Fibre Unlimited 2
80000/20000 sync - 150m from cabinet
Speed Test
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Thu 23-Oct-14 18:29:39
Print Post

Re: What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[re: Provster] [link to this post]
 
Breaking the voice network and not allowing 999 calls for a period of some weeks or months in an area would be politically impossible. Temporary phone boxes on the corner of every street?

Remember back in 2000 people were not so tied to their mobiles.

27 million homes plus around 5 million business premises, achievable if done over say a 10 or 15 year period, imagine being in the that final third of the UK with NO broadband waiting for the teams to descend on an area.

While fibre has lower maintenance costs, the issues of broken lines due to trees/wind/accidents will still occur, and the maintenance of backup batteries to meet the USO for phone to work during a power cut would be fun and good Lithium cells for this were more expensive back then.

Opposition to the change from those who did not see the utility of broadband in 2000 may have caused a big delay.

The real question is why did no-one else for almost ten years not steal a march and start a fair sized roll-out of their own.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User kitcat
(committed) Thu 23-Oct-14 20:42:38
Print Post

Re: What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[re: Provster] [link to this post]
 
Provster

Back then I was involved in looking at FTTP deployment, my recommedation would have been to install it in new sites where the cost of putting fibre in would have been not much higher than copper ( At the time). Large scale deployment / replacement was impractical.

For BT there were several problems,
The back-up battery issue was one as they were much larger than now, people talked about 8 hour back-up. ( With Mobiles everywhere OFCOM now say 1 hour is sufficient).
The Technology was at a state that mandated single supplier ( No virtualisation) as it was designed for the American market.
The Voice service would not meet the PSTN service specification that OFCOM were insisting on and there were not a lot of potential suppliers out there.
The USO was written in such a way the BT would have had to provide copper if someone requested it. I was told OFCOM (OFTEL at the time) indicated it would not consider giving BT a monopoly in each fibred area by default
The equipment densities per box were also low and would have required a significant space / cooling for large deployments.

To reach the existing customers with the growing demand for a greater than 64Kb access to the internet BT had to invest in ADSL and therefore a niche technology was not used.

The technology has improved dramatically in all ways since then ( Think of your mobile phone or computer development).

I still think it was a shame there was not the will within BT and the vision in the regulator to build new sites with fibre and take the pain on the monopoly. As technology moved on the 2nd/3rd generation would have enabled VULA if the suppliers had been driven that way.

You have to remember that BT had fibred large new developments to the Kerb back in the 1990s for voice only, called TPON, but had to copper these as they too couldn't be unbundled. These would have been perfect to FTTP as only the last feed was required. (TPON street equip handled up to 32 lines per 'pillar' enough for a suburban close).

It wasn't the privatisation that prevented it, it was the requirement to have competition using the BT copper infrastructure so that competitors could make a profit without investing the massive amounts of capital that caused the Cable companies to go bankrupt serveral times. This competion has led to extremely low consumer prices but an extremely low investment profile due to the risk of also going bankrupt ( for all industry players).

This still prevents large scale FTTP rollout due to the lack of a sensible return on investment and the need to keep the copper for LLU. A 11-15 year return on FTTC leads to NO net asset value (see BT accounts) so an investor would have to be mad to agree anything longer/more expensive. Only the cash flow to pay dividends keeps the Banks from the door. ( Any return is better than 0.5%)


Register (or login) on our website and you will not see this ad.

Standard User Provster
(member) Fri 24-Oct-14 14:01:45
Print Post

Re: What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
A good answer, breaking the voice network in the early 2000s would have been disruptive. I had a mobile phone back then, but very few other people did. The final third would be without broadband at all as you say and that would be [censored]. 56k dialup couldn't load anything these days.

I didn't even think of the battery backups.

I suppose if Gigaclear had started in 2000, it might have been different!

ZeN Fibre Unlimited 2
80000/20000 sync - 150m from cabinet
Speed Test
Standard User Provster
(member) Fri 24-Oct-14 14:04:21
Print Post

Re: What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Also, I believe Fibre is more expensive to repair when it gets cut. I think you need specialist splicing tools and it becomes difficult to identify the correct fibres. Any idea how many times more expensive it might be if a Gas company cut through a fairly major fibre link?

ZeN Fibre Unlimited 2
80000/20000 sync - 150m from cabinet
Speed Test
Standard User adslmax
(knowledge is power) Fri 24-Oct-14 14:22:40
Print Post

Re: What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[re: Provster] [link to this post]
 
Or thieves cut fibre
Standard User Zarjaz
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Fri 24-Oct-14 14:51:18
Print Post

Re: What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[re: Provster] [link to this post]
 
They don't just splice it back together if it gets broken, a new fibre will be blown in node to node, and splices made either end.

Standard User Stevenage_Neil
(committed) Fri 24-Oct-14 14:51:35
Print Post

Re: What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[re: adslmax] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by adslmax:
Or thieves cut fibre


What's the scrap market price for fibre these days?

What's a thief going to do? Set up business selling Christmas ornaments?

Edited by Stevenage_Neil (Fri 24-Oct-14 14:53:58)

Standard User Zarjaz
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Fri 24-Oct-14 14:55:57
Print Post

Re: What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[re: Stevenage_Neil] [link to this post]
 
The sad truth is that the average pikeys* who cut cables to steal don't know the difference until they have cut them.









*Sorry, 'honest law abiding travelling folk'.

Standard User chris6273
(committed) Fri 24-Oct-14 16:57:01
Print Post

Re: What if BT had done things differently since 2000?


[re: Provster] [link to this post]
 
Our bills would be much higher I bet - The equipment back then for battery backup would have been much more expensive than now. The costs for rolling out the infrastructure would be astronomical which could only be footed by bills.

Also there would be some quite considerable maintenance costs still - Fibre wouldn't need to be maintained nearly as much but where there are problems it isn't just a job of recrimping a cable, sometimes you have to re-splice it completely which requires a special kit. Then again they would probably have quite a few of those from the roll-out.

One things for sure - There would be a much larger variation in products from ISPs until the roll-out was complete!

I think a more interesting question would be what if fibre optic was rolled out across the country in the 80s tongue.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
A.K.A: Chrisszzyy

Telewest (2004-2006): 256Kbps -> 512Kbps
University of Portsmouth's Horrible Network (2013 - 2014) - Supposedly 100/100Mbps
BT (2006 - Present): 8128/448 -> 22494/1211 -> 79987/20000Kbps (BT Infinity 2 on Huawei Cab)
Pages in this thread: 1 | 2 | 3 | (show all)   Print Thread

Jump to