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Everyone seems to be talking about fibre at the moment – the industry news is full of it. What with BT announcing expanded fibre coverage and numerous providers announcing new fibre based services and participation in BT’s latest fibre trials, it seems to be one of the industry’s current hot topics. So, just what is going on and what is all the fuss about?

Elsa Chen, General Manager

Elsa Chen, General Manager

Towards the end of last year BT ran trials of FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) which provided speeds of up to 40Mbps by utilising fibre optic links to street level cabinets and delivering connectivity via VDSL2 technology between the cabinet and the premises. The trials ran until late December and proved successful. Entanet itself was involved. Since then a number of providers including BT Retail have announced the availability of their FTTC based services with prices ranging from £19.99/month up to £179/month for various packages and options.

But why stop at 40Mbps? BT recently announced its latest round of FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) trials which are expected to provide speeds of up to 100Mbps by delivering a fibre based connection right to the premises. Once again Entanet has been significantly involved from an early stage, starting off with the Kesgrave trials way back in 2008 where we experienced customers reaching speeds of 98Mbps.

But a fibre based network is expensive to implement and currently only available in limited areas. Originally, BT’s fibre network was expected to cover 40% of UK users. However they have recently announced that this will now be expanded to cover 66%. Good news for the market!

Do we really need 100Mbps broadband?

Well that’s a good question and one we have asked via our opinion poll. Please let us know what you think.

According to another recent poll on ISPReview.co.uk (ISPReview.co.uk: Half of UK Consumers Would Pay Extra for 100Mbps Superfast Broadband) almost a quarter of respondents stated they required 50Mbps+ to meet their ‘real world’ broadband speed requirements and over half would pay extra for 100Mbps even if they could get a reliable 10Mbps connection today. The results of this survey suggest market demand is most definitely there for faster, fibre based connectivity services.

So what about the 2Mbps USC?

Well once again this highlights the fundamental issues with the 2Mbps USC which aims to provide 100% of the UK with a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps by 2012 by utilising copper and fibre based networks, mobile and satellite technologies. Since its conception, several parties including Entanet have continually argued that 2Mbps is not enough, especially as the MPs are supposedly striving to make Britain a world leader in the provision of broadband services. Who are they trying to kid…that’ll never happen with a USC of only 2Mbps.

As we have stated in the past, whilst we applaud the government for addressing the digital divide issue, imposing a USC of just 2Mbps will not solve the problem. Instead we will simply be forced to play a continuous game of catch up. Whilst new bandwidth hungry services and applications continue to increase in popularity (e.g. SaaS, IPTV etc) the faster, more robust connectivity services that are demanded to support these services will continue to be rolled out to the most densely populated areas first. The UK’s ‘not-spots’ will be left continuously trying to keep up. When they eventually receive their 2Mbps connection by 2012 the rest of the UK will have already been upgraded to ADSL2+ at least, providing speeds of up to 24Mbps (by tammy). To make a real difference and truly position the UK as a ‘World leader’ in the provision of Internet services, the USC should be set much higher, encouraging further network expansion and innovation.

What does all of this mean for Entanet resellers?

Well once again Entanet is adopting a pioneering approach, embracing the new technologies and being actively involved in numerous trials from the earliest stages. This means once we are completely happy with the quality of the services and their supporting systems we will be amongst the first to launch the new services, enabling our wholesale and resale partners to cater for the new market demand. Watch this space!

Have your say!

What do you think about the forthcoming fibre based services? Would you be interested in an up to 100Mbps connection? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below or by voting in our poll.

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Further Information

UPDATED: 12pm 11th June 2010

As promised here are the results of our own reader poll. We asked visitors to this site “BT’s fibre-based broadband will cover 66% of UK users and offer speeds up to 40-100Mbps. Is this good news to you?”. Over half of our respondents (57.1%) said “Definitely, where do I sign up?”, whilst a further 38.1% stated “Maybe, depending on price” indicating a clear potential demand for the new up to 100Mbps fibre based services. Only 1 respondent stated that they had no requirements for the increased speeds.

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