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Standard User gah789
(learned) Wed 26-Feb-14 18:36:09
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Exchange Activate backhaul


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I have a question prompted by some comments about congestion on another thread as well as the allocation of the new tranche of BDUK money for 'rural' areas.

Does anyone know what the standard backhaul provision was/is for Exchange Activate exchanges which have never been upgraded to ADSL Max - practically all of them in Scotland? As someone connected to such an exchange, we believed that it did not have fibre so that the backhaul was over multiple copper lines, in effect equivalent to EFM, However, very recently OR has been installing a fibre 10-100 Mbps leased line to a local business (partly funded by Scottish Enterprise) which implies that there may be fibre available, even if BTW does not think that it is worth paying the rental for the link from the exchange to the nearest aggregation point.

With about 50 users and a maximum speed of 512 kbps (but typically about 400 kpbs), BTW might get away with as little as 2 Mbps of backhaul capacity and 10 Mbps would be generous.

This is where BDUK comes in. The state of our copper lines is pretty bad and, of course, all of them are Exchange Only. Finally, most properties are more than 1 km from the exchange or any potential cabinet site. So FTTC or FTTP won't help many. On the other hand, a fixed wireless system for local distribution is feasible but only if there is sufficient backhaul capacity at a reasonable cost (much less than standard leased line rentals).

My broader point is that a change in perspective is required for really rural areas - the last 1% or so. For us, copper-based distribution is never going to work - nor probably B4RN fibre everywhere. So, progress depends upon adopting some form of wireless distribution whether 3G/4G (in 2020+), satellite or fixed wireless.The latter is cheap and can be fast provided that there is adequate backhaul capacity. What BDUK, councils, etc should be doing is to ensure that every community can lease a 100 Mbps symmetric fibre at a cost of, say, £2,000 per year with a link at or near to their exchange. With that guarantee it is feasible for community groups to do the rest. Even £100 million spread over 1,000 exchanges (there are only 60 odd Exchange Activate exchanges) is £100,000 per exchange - more than sufficient to cover the costs of ensuring access to fibre at every exchange.
Standard User Ribble
(experienced) Wed 26-Feb-14 18:43:33
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Re: Exchange Activate backhaul


[re: gah789] [link to this post]
 
Exchange activate used 2Mbit/s backhaul using existing copper or possible radio links.
Fibre maybe in the area, but whether it goes anywhere useful or even via the local exchange is another question,
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Wed 26-Feb-14 18:48:03
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Re: Exchange Activate backhaul


[re: gah789] [link to this post]
 
Fibre link of £2,000 per at 100 Mbps at commercial rates in London where competition keeps pricing down is in the £1800 per month ball park, i.e. 100 Mbps of guaranteed bandwidth is not cheap (oh and the £3000 or so to install it)

Given the Government stance that projects are only gap funding for capital investment (build costs) rather than an ongoing subsidy, I doubt you can get 100 Mbps at the price you think.

Dropping link speed to 10 Mbps with burst to 50 Mbps (i.e. what a good many offices might have) drops pricing to around £750 a month. It is how you solve the on-going costs issue, so that once built the operator can run it for a decade or two.

On wireless backhaul, talk to the HIE area, where they seem to be going for the subsea fibre approach now after the problems with masts and wind over the years.

Andrew Ferguson, andrew@thinkbroadband.com
www.thinkbroadband.com - formerly known as ADSLguide.org.uk
The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.


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Standard User gah789
(learned) Wed 26-Feb-14 20:18:21
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Re: Exchange Activate backhaul


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Most of the discussion of gap-funding simply misses the point. I deal with the economics and regulation of infrastructure including telecoms for a living, so the picture is as follows.

Any operator incurs a large initial investment to provide a line or a network plus regular operating & maintenance (O&M) charges which may be of the order of 1-2% of the infrastructure cost. To earn a return on their investment, the present value of any set-up payment plus the annual difference between charges and O&M costs over the life of the asset must be greater than their initial investment. Present values allow for the time value of money. A company like BT uses a discount rate of 11-12% in trading off future payments vs current payments.

Hence, OR can be paid for almost everything up-front with low annual charges or it can earn its return from charges (less O&M costs) over 10-15 years. My figures are entirely consistent with spending £100K per exchange at the outset and then charging sufficient to cover ongoing O&M costs average over a large number of exchanges.

Of course, that is not the way leased lines work. Your figures seem high from what I know about high bandwidth connections in Edinburgh, but a substantial portion of the leased line rental goes to recovery of the investment cost.

In addition, I was referring to the equivalent of OR's EAD rental charges for pure backhaul excluding all of the add-on costs (equipment, peering, transit, etc) included in your £25K per year. Given the current charge control for OR's leased lines the cost of an EAD 100 circuit will be about £1,700 per year excl VAT by 2016. You can play around with resilience, local access, extended reach, etc (which are basically add-on features) but £2,000 per year will more than cover the O&M costs for symmetric service.
Standard User gah789
(learned) Wed 26-Feb-14 20:35:04
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Re: Exchange Activate backhaul


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
About wireless backhaul in the HIE area as I work with people who run these links. There is a technical issue which makes high bandwidth wireless difficult over water due to reflections from the sea or loch surface (multiple Fresnel zones) unless your masts are well above sea level. The technology is improving rapidly: one firm sells a product that can achieve 500 Mbps symmetric over 50 km using unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum but you need line of sight plus a minimum clearance of 30-40m for the Fresnel zone.

The reason why the HIE project is going for fibre links is largely because that is what BT do, but there is a rapidly growing network of small community systems linked by wireless. It works fine if the geography is ok and is much quicker to deploy. It is all much harder if the geography is unfavourable or where there are trees everywhere.
Standard User kitcat
(committed) Wed 26-Feb-14 21:40:58
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Re: Exchange Activate backhaul


[re: gah789] [link to this post]
 
Gah

As I remember it exchange activate could have had an 8Mbit Backhaul. The equipment was technically able to handle a 34Mb but I think any this size would have been replaced with a full size DSLAM.

It is likely that if OR have installed fibre to a local business it would route via the local exchange, unless the business was between the exchange and the next exchange in a chain whence the fibre may not go all the way.

You may find that If the fibre is now present the old equipment is upgraded either to ADSL max or to WBC as it is a long way passed it's best.

ADSL max could give you 4Mb at a lot of premises, WBC will beat this for all those within 1.5Km. In theory BDUK funds could be used to do this as it may be better for most than running FTTC. The choice will be up to the Highlands and Islands scheme.

You could always contact them and point out the potential of the new fibre!
Standard User gah789
(learned) Wed 26-Feb-14 23:11:37
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Re: Exchange Activate backhaul


[re: kitcat] [link to this post]
 
I don't think it makes financial sense for BTW to install a full DSLAM of their own choice. They would have to pay additional line rental for backhaul and recover the cost of the DSLAM over 5-8 years. Even if the DSLAM only costs £10K installed, that is over £2K per year or £40 per broadband connection plus, say, £2K extra for backhaul. They get very little additional revenue since they charge the same for EA service as for ADSL service.

In fact, the surrounding exchanges were upgraded to ADSL in 2006-08 but our exchange was one of a very small number that was not upgraded. They did double the number of EA ports (I think to 64) and they may have switched from 2 Mbps to 8 Mbps backhaul. The EA equipment is pretty unreliable, so they have to replace cards every so often. Hence, I agree that BTW might want to get rid of it but I suspect that they want to be paid to do it.

We are in the South of Scotland rather than the HIE area and even by Scottish rural standards the exchange is small. Neither BT (BTW or OR) nor the Scottish Government has shown the slightest interest in an ADSL upgrade, even though we have discussed plans for the leased line. The problem is that this is only eligible for the USC component of the Step Change (local name for BDUK) program, which means 2016 or later.

I would not be surprised to learn that there is fibre running along the road past the exchange, which is why a connection can be made for the new leased line, while the exchange itself uses copper rather than fibre.
Standard User carrobesit
(learned) Tue 05-Aug-14 10:01:52
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Re: Exchange Activate backhaul


[re: gah789] [link to this post]
 
With regards to upgrading the EA kit in Scottish Exchanges - this is out of the hands of BTW and OR. This kit is wholly owned by the Scottish Government and they have no desire to upgrade this kit outside of the BDUK projects.

As I understand it (now that the Digital Highlands project is gaining momentum), there are plans to replace all of the EA kit in the HIE area with proper DSLAMs, but don't quote me on that as it may have changed by now.

In terms of the Fibre availability, even if you can rent the fibre for £2k/month (which I would be skeptical of for that speed in that zone), you still have to take into account the installation costs. We recently got a quote from OR to bring fibre for a leased line to a customer of ours on an EA exchange. The quote covered bringing the fibre 2.4Km and was for just shy of £100k. Once you start looking at the exchanges that are covered by microwave link and are nowhere near fibre, your £100 million starts to look quite inadequate for getting fibre to each EA exchange.

Rob.
Standard User gah789
(regular) Tue 05-Aug-14 11:46:40
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Re: Exchange Activate backhaul


[re: carrobesit] [link to this post]
 
I was trying to make a rather different point. We agree that the current Digital Scotland approach of relying upon BTOR to upgrade the copper network will involve absurd costs to serve the most rural communities in Scotland and elsewhere. Even if money is not a constraint, it won't work because too many properties are more than 1.5 km from their cabinet or exchange and the line quality is often very poor.

At the moment the only alternatives for local fast or superfast broadband are satellite or fixed wireless. Satellite has serious capacity and cost constraints. Fixed wireless distribution is not too difficult but getting access to sufficient and reasonably priced backhaul is a nightmare. If the goal is to provide fast broadband to everyone (not just 95-98% of the population) that is the issue which ought to have priority.

The current structure of costs for BT leased lines in rural areas is simply mad - and I am familiar with situations similar to the one that you describe. If it was possible to order what I suggested - a 100 Mbps symmetric line at £2K per year connected at the exchange - all of the cases I know of could be served by a high performance wireless link costing (usually much) less than £5K and negligible operating costs. Then, users would have a choice - BT leased line @ > £15-20K per year for capital and rental costs or an alternative @ < £4K per year but with marginally lower reliability.

Of course, the problem is a little more complicated. There is a whole penumbra of IT service providers who get away with charging outrageous prices for basic transmission and operating services because the base prices set by BT are far too high and the service providers take on the hassle of dealing with BT's bureaucracy and incompetence.

The second option would entirely change the market for fast broadband services in rural areas. There are many businesses that can afford all or a share of a line costing ~£300 per month but not one costing ~£1500 per month. Naturally they would prefer to pay £40 per month but no-one living in a remote rural area seriously expects that. From a policy perspective the choice ought to be straightforward but the vested interests congregated around current arrangements for leased lines and protecting the copper network are very strong.
Standard User nehaali
(newbie) Tue 26-Aug-14 12:38:05
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Re: Exchange Activate backhaul


[re: gah789] [link to this post]
 
very nice post

neha
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