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Stephen Barclay, Head of Sales

Stephen Barclay, Head of Sales

Just when you think you’ve got to grips with all the latest connectivity technologies, their features and how to confidently sell them, another one emerges!

With the launch of GEA (Generic Ethernet Access) you could be forgiven for being confused as to where broadband connectivity ends and Ethernet based connectivity begins. So, in this two part article we thought a little clarification of the key differentiators may be useful.

The Connectivity Scale

Standard copper based broadband
Standard broadband uses copper to deliver traffic across the Entanet (and BT or LLU provider’s) networks. Our copper based broadband services are available as fixed rate ADSL (512Kbps, 1Mbps or 2Mbps), rate adaptive ADSL providing speeds of up to 8Mbps and, where available, rate adaptive ADSL2+ providing speeds of up to 24Mbps.

Whilst broadband services are widely available and sufficient for many business customers’ requirements, they don’t provide any service guarantees or SLAs and the service is contended (i.e. the speed and performance of the connection can be affected by other customers sharing the same cabinet and/or exchange). Where the reliability and resilience of the customer’s connectivity is business critical, broadband may not always be sufficient to meet these needs.

Fibre broadband (aka superfast broadband)
Whilst similar to standard copper based broadband, fibre broadband utilises the new BT fibre infrastructure to deliver faster speeds and arguably greater reliability. Two main variants of fibre broadband are currently available; FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and FTTP (Fibre to the Premises).

FTTC uses the existing copper infrastructure to deliver the upstream and downstream traffic between the customer’s premises and the street cabinet. From the cabinet through to the exchange and back to the provider’s core network it then uses fibre which means the customers can benefit from speeds of up to 80Mbps. FTTC is usually available in an up to 40Mbps variant too..

On the other hand FTTP provides speeds of up to 330Mbps (with other speed variants also available) by using fibre from the customers’ premises right through to the providers’ core network. However, availability of FTTP is more restricted than FTTC. Openreach is investing £2.5billion to bring fibre broadband (FTTC/P) to two thirds of UK premises by the end of Spring 2014.

As with copper based broadband, fibre broadband is a contended service and provides no service guarantees or SLAs. However, the increased speeds available are attractive to many customers.

Broadband customers (both copper and fibre based) also have the options to add Enhanced Care and/or Elevated Best Efforts to their service for increased service protection but this is at an additional monthly cost.

With such a diversity of increasingly fast and reliable broadband options, surely businesses don’t need a wider choice? Next week we’ll look at the key characteristics and advantages of Ethernet based services.

Click to download your free copy of ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Connectivity’

Have your say!
Have you had demand for a service that sits between broadband and Ethernet? Have your customers requested a more cost effective Ethernet solution and do you think GEA will fit this market? Share your experiences with us by leaving us a comment below.

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One Response to “The connectivity scale part one: Where does broadband end and Ethernet begin?”

  1. Bear in mind the capablity of wireless in comparison with fixed technologies. The recent EU and BDUK guidelines are clear with regard to the role of fixed wireless in addressing superfast broadband market failure. LTE delivers very similar speeds and latency to FTTC whilst microwave Ethernet is directly comparable with fibre leased-lines services.

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