How BT can give 99% of UK homes >30Mbps broadband, real cheap
Market consultancy Analysys Masons (AM) has done some theoretical thumbsucking and concluded that by doubling the network frequency (planned for 2012) and applying novel VDSL acceleration technologies such as vectoring, bonding and phantom lines, BT will be able, theoretically mind, to provide a 30Mbps broadband service over existing copper lines to 99% of homes in the UK.
Bloody marvellous, what!
AM was at pains to say that these technologies are in use or planned in the United States (AT&T’s U-verse), in Netherlands (KPN) and even Pakistan (PTCL), because they allow incumbent telcos to compete on sheer speed using their existing copper access networks against fibre and cable companies, and in some cases beat them for coverage.
Of course, there are caveats (see here for attenuation issues). Fibre to the cabinet, the most expensive part, has to be pretty well ubiquitous. The line length from the cabinet to the premises must be under two kilometres. The copper in the lines should be good quality. The homes should have at least two pairs of wires that could be bonded. The telephone pole to the cluster of homes it serves should be not be multiplexing services ie 12 homes each with two pair cables should have a 48-wire cable on the pole.
AM says it’s a secret how many homes have just a single copper pair. Br0kenTeleph0n3 understands that many, if not most, premises actually have four pairs, something AM doesn’t dispute hotly. And 99% of homes are within two kilometres of a street cabinet, it says.
Slam dunk, game over, right?
Well, no. There’s a problem with quantifying demand, which goes to the commercial or business case.
OK, so what’s the cost of just building it and hoping they will come? Remember this is only for the one-third of the country that BT says it requires taxpayers’ money to make it worthwhile. AM reckons the extra costs represents about 15% of monthly revenues from those subscribers.
So would BDUK’s £830m cover it?
AM’s answer to that is not clear and explicit. That’s because I asked if that money was applied mostly to put in fibre to the cabinets rather than upgrade the “last mile”, might it not contravene European Union rules on state aid?
Apparently this was getting into an area where conflicts of interest might apply, and the interview ended. Abrup…