Following the broadband money

VM hikes UK broadband average

with 29 comments

Virgin Media was responsible for more than half the rise in the UK’s average broadband speed, Ofcom told Br0kenTeleph0n3 today.

Ofcom senior telecommunications analyst Nick Collins said VM has been doubling the speeds of its customers, and this was mainly responsible for the national average broadband speed rising one-third from 9.oMbps to 12.0Mbps in the six months to December 2012.

Collins said the national average reflected a combination of headline speeds and market share. He said these data were confidential as they contained competitively sensitive information. He confirmed that Ofcom looks at these figures in assessing the national average, but does not publish them.

VM’s acceleration programme will end towards the middle of the year, Collins said. At that point growth in the national average is likely to depend mainly on the take-up rate of BT’s Infinity fibre to the cabinet product, which will dilute VM’s influence on the figure.

In February US cable TV firm Liberty Global agreed to buy VM for around $23.3bn. The deal will create a multinational broadband company that covers 45 million homes and serves 25 million customers. Around 80% of its estimated $17bn sales will come from the UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

VM’s skills in mobile telephony and B2B networking were cited as key to the future growth of the group. VM CEO Neil Berkett, who will leave the company, said  the combined company will be able to grow faster  and more profitably by capitalising on the “exciting opportunities” that the digital revolution presents in the UK and across Europe.


Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2013/03/14 at 21:18

29 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. It begs the question that how many would still be on market 1 exchanges but for virgin and competition in the cities? Shame there is no competition in the villages. Shame the only two players aren’t interested in the people who manage the countryside. But thank goodness for Virgin, and hope Liberty Global finishes the job and helps everyone not just the cities. Take up will always be better in a village where everyone is desperate than in a street which already has a connection.


    2013/03/14 at 22:56

  2. Many villages have exchanges with ADSL2+ and are not Market 1 so there is competition at that level. Is there any indication that Virgin will increase their coverage into low density areas where many have Sky TV and the BDUK activity will be happening?

    What interest do you expect, if you mean FTTP, then how do the sums work out for a supplier?


    2013/03/15 at 08:30


    “Take up will always be better in a village where everyone is desperate than in a street which already has a connection.”

    what absolute codswallop!

    Take up will be as good as how many people want to buy the product and more importantly can afford the product whether its in a city, a village or on the moon.

    BT’s footprint is now the biggest for superfast and the footprint is bigger than Virgin’s AND is STILL growing!

    BT is putting the money in to roll out working with local government bringing superfast broadband to more people than any other organisation into villages, cities, towns, schools and businesses – and is actually delivering it rather the talking shop and moan fest so well demonstrated in this forum.

    Ofcom also note that BT are offering a more consistent experience rather than Virgin’s network which by their own admission will reduce your speed by up to 75%.


    2013/03/15 at 13:21

    • Its not codswallop neil, we have proof. Out of the last row of houses we deployed, 42 out of 45 took a connection, and 39 took the full service. the others are waiting until the contracts they got stitched up to with BT et al have finished. What is utter codswallop is BT saying ‘homes passed’ and their awful take up, and that is simply because they are only deploying in areas that already have connectivity and probably have Virgin too. Weasel words like superfast footprints mean nothing if you don’t have the proof, and those on long line lengths will remain part of your ‘statistics’ but will never have superfast anything. The ‘footprint’ will continue to grow unless someone exposes the fact that simply being connected to a cabinet or exchange that is enabled does not mean you get the speeds promised. We have had a decade of your ‘up to’ already. We don’t forget that easily.

      As for ‘villages’ that have access to ADSL2+ they must be big enough to justify an exchange. Our villages don’t have exchanges or cabinets. Also please remember Peter that ‘competition’ on an exchange only means ISPs using one supplier. Exchanges/cabinets are still a monopoly for BT wholesale/openreach. Virgin won’t supply open access either. Rural areas are stuck with a single monopoly. At least urbans have a choice of two.


      2013/03/15 at 13:55

      • Neil – you say “Ofcom also note that BT are offering a more consistent experience rather than Virgin’s network which by their own admission will reduce your speed by up to 75%.”

        I’m not sure what you mean. Is “they ” Ofcom? How can Ofcom say a Virgin’s connection “will reduce your speed by 75%”, when VM is also responsible for more than half the hike in the average national broadband speed?

        Also, reduce it 75% from what? Nominal headline speed?

        Would you agree that it is high time that the Advertising Standards Authority insisted that ISPs deliver what subscribers pay for?


        2013/03/15 at 15:19

      • It’s all about numbers, and obviously small villages don’t have exchanges but look at the national picture.

        Why is this choice of supplier (of the last mile) any different to gas or electricity? It’s very difficult to justify building a second infrastructure across all of the UK apart from where the sums work out, like for a business connection where fibre has been installed for 20 years or more.

        Again, infrastructure is often a monopoly eg, National Grid. Is the issue with some people a) there is a monopoly, or b) that monopoly is BT.

        So what’s the situation in Northern Ireland and Cornwall where the rural areas are being covered? Is nearly everybody happy?


        2013/03/15 at 15:27

      • Please explain ‘Would you agree that it is high time that the Advertising Standards Authority insisted that ISPs deliver what subscribers pay for?’ With a DSL product.


        2013/03/15 at 15:28

      • Repeat! Please explain ‘Would you agree that it is high time that the Advertising Standards Authority insisted that ISPs deliver what subscribers pay for?’ With a DSL product.

        Do you mean that should be pricing based on connection speed and/or throughtput?


        2013/03/18 at 10:50

    • Neil – Why install FTTC cabinets 300m from an exchange, what will the take up be?


      2013/03/15 at 15:32

      • Somerset – there is a third option: that BT is the monopoly 😉


        2013/03/15 at 15:48

    • From Walter Willcox, Ewhurst:
      BT declined to provide any new services to Ewhurst, Surrey on 1st March 2010 in writing
      but they later submited a non-compliant bid for our RDPE Grant application to SEEDA.
      Our Grant was awarded in December 2010 using the Vtesse Networks compliant bid. BT
      then delayed their announcement that they would, after all, enable our Cranleigh
      Exchange in March, thus making SEEDA withdraw our grant. It seems BT did not offer a
      like-for-like implementation to SEEDA. Strong objections were made to our MP, local
      government, BDUK, Ofcom, DEFRA and SEEDA. Service provision was delayed from late
      Spring 2011 to October 2012 but two of the new cabinets have already run out of installed
      capacity, despite repeated reminders that larger capacities were essential. Instead of
      Vtesse Networks working hard to eliminate problems, in order to survive commercially they
      have withdrawn from this market. We now have BT’s monopoly hiding as much as they
      can and obfuscating instead of improving substandard services.
      BT seemingly wonʼt maintain, let alone replace with fibre, the PSTN at a sufficient standard
      for VDSL services. Laws of physics inhibit copper / aluminium alloy line lengths of over 1
      km, even if perfect, from providing adequate VDSL services now and in the future.
      The BT FTTC installations beggar belief without a future-proofed dual redundant fibre
      backbone. Seemingly BT have lost technical control to their accountants and are
      hopelessly over-loaded. Cabinet 6 canʼt provide any VDSL services to around 50 houses
      as the line quality is too poor on longer lines. Other outliers are so bad that VDSL services
      below 10 Mbps are accepted as they are still better than sub 1 Mbps ADSL ones. A few
      others remain without any service at all.
      BT employ restrictive practices by locking down the modems to hide performance
      problems. Their domestic installation subcontractors donʼt have the necessary test
      equipment to check the line and in some cases donʼt install the modem properly. In
      Ewhurst we know of at least 4 services so badly installed that the performance was
      seriously degraded and a fifth that still has a reduced bit-loading due to a bridge tap. The 4
      services were artificially capped and weren’t released after house wiring rectification.
      Persistent chasing to get Openreach engineers to site to verify the better performance
      eventually removed the caps but two required TWO BT Openreach visits to do so.
      Meanwhile Surrey County Council are subsidising BT to deliver similar restricted solutions
      throughout their “Not spots”, seemingly without sufficient technical oversight. This cycle
      must be repeated when eventually the whole of the UK is provided with fibre to every
      International expert Peter Cochrane, BTʼs former CTO, has explained this situation to the
      House of Lords Select Committee but his advice seems countered by a response from the
      House of Commons.


      2013/03/16 at 09:01

      • Internet access of any type is an upto service – always has been and always will be. Anyone who says otherwise is talking rubbish – like Chris above.

        Sorry but it is you that is deceiving you own users – lets prove it:

        What fibre type are you laying?
        What is the switch type at the head end?
        What is the presentation speed to your users?
        How many users do you have?
        The switch at the head end has how much bandwidth to the Internet?
        Which AS is this network in?
        Which AS does your network purchase Internet bandwidth from?
        Where does it connect to get this bandwidth?

        Once we get these answers we can do some maths and see !


        2013/03/16 at 16:59

      • All the info is in our business plan Neil.

        I will turn the tables, you provide that information for us here now, what are you supplying to your cabinets? how many of your homes passed bother with your service? what is the presentation speed to your users? reports are that its down to 5meg with some ISPs using your cabs.

        Our users are reporting over 700 Mbps download with over 500 Mbps upload on ancient old pcs. we can get 900+ on a new clean laptop. And that was with over a hundred users on the same little router in the village hall. Many were streaming, tvs showing hd, laptops, phones etc all pulling it down but it didn’t slow down.
        the head end here is 10 gig, well actually 10gig at both ends of our network. what are you putting into your cabs?
        Ours goes straight to peering at media city, we don’t have to go through any BT bottlenecks like your network does. I am not a technical person, but I can try to answer if you are too lazy to read the plan. Each customer gets two fibres straight into their homes, wdpm or something like that. so that each gets a gig it means.
        Whether any of us can use a gig yet is debatable, but that is what they can get. Its a futureproof solution, whereas anyone getting on a cab now might think its fast, but we thought 1 meg was fast after dial up, more wants more, and cabs are a dead end.
        Anyone on a real fibre network can easily get terabits when the time comes, its only a case of changing the lights. Anyone on copper is basically stuffed.


        2013/03/16 at 17:15

  4. Stuck for words neil? Or do you only work in the week? We just put some more customers on our network this weekend, is a speedtest done in the first few minutes the connection went live, on an old applemac in a 16th century cottage. 977Mbps. That is 2000 times faster than her BT broadband. She is on an exchange with no cabinets so she had no hope of any of the ‘superfast’ but she isn’t bothered, she now has hyperfast. The upload is a bit slow at only 1000 times faster than BT, but its a great ping. I don’t think speedtest servers can cope with gigabit symmetrical. Not that many would need to. At least we know we can cope with the future needs of our customers. Fibre is futureproof and phone lines aren’t. It is That Simple.


    2013/03/17 at 20:58

  5. @neilmcrae:
    >Internet access of any type is an upto service – always has been and always
    >will be. Anyone who says otherwise is talking rubbish – like Chris above.

    This confuses the local loop speed with the end-to-end performance experienced by an Internet user.

    The local loop speed of DSL is an “up to” service, simply based on line length. Directly cabled fibre isn’t an “up to” service, the speed is fixed for the service area and is not dependent on line length. Shared fibre systems like BT’s favoured GPON have bandwidth splitting so the more users connect, the less bandwidth there is available.

    The Internet experience clearly varies depending on how busy the Internet is.

    I’m not involved in B4RN but to help the discussion I can answer your questions from publicly available information…

    >Sorry but it is you that is deceiving you own users – lets prove it:
    >What fibre type are you laying?

    This is documented in the business plan – G.652d

    >What is the switch type at the head end?

    Netgear GSM7328FS

    >What is the presentation speed to your users?

    1Gbps symmetric

    >How many users do you have?

    I can’t find the current number is but I believe the eventual target is 2,500 homes.

    >The switch at the head end has how much bandwidth to the Internet?

    10Gbps now according to Chris’ reply

    >Which AS is this network in?


    >Which AS does your network purchase Internet bandwidth from?

    According to their RIPE record this is Vtesse – AS50173

    >Where does it connect to get this bandwidth?

    Telecity Manchester

    >Once we get these answers we can do some maths and see !

    Hope this helps. Can you give us bandwidth, configuration and take-up figures for a typical BT FTTx exchange?


    Robert Robinson

    2013/03/17 at 23:54

  6. I can help Niel overcome some of his reticence by observing that a standard ECI 128 or ECI 256 cabinet is constructed to accommodate just 4 fibres. As these cabinets are usually only cabled for 100 or 200 services respectively it follows (at a very simplistic level) that just one fibre strand is designed to serve 50 services. In the short term, with the poor state of the PSTN twisted pairs, it seems unlikely that there will be any major contention. However it would be interesting to know why BT are taking precautions by artificially capping any under-performing service, even after a sub-standard installation by BT’s subcontractors has been repaired. If the end user is aware, that cap is only removed after a BT site visit is completed. Given that BT have locked their modems down, many end users are not sufficiently privileged to obtain that data.

    Those that are unaware might just be convinced by the current marketing campaign against Virgin Media.

    Merrow Drover

    2013/03/18 at 08:11

  7. Yes I have a life! 🙂

    Chris – so you have 10G to the Internet and more than 10 customers who have a 1G service. So you are in fact an up to 1G service. Thank you for providing us with that detail! B4RN is an up to 1G service.
    Chris “Our service is an up to service” Condor. hmm how do I spell hypocrite? 😉

    To cover the “futureproof” what ever that means! – the cabinets Openreach are deploying would be needed for a fibre roll out also and in the next 6 months anyone connected to a cabinet will be able to order fibre on demand. So >12M homes plus will be able to get FTTP from Openreach via their CP. We have also seen trials of G.FAST which allows up to 1G (same as your fibre service which you admitted above Chris!) over the copper line.

    Everyone thinks that fibre is the future of telecommunications – seems unlikely given that we see a physical evolution every 40-50 years, technologies such as carbon nanotubes are highlighting that fibre isn’t the only future, copper itself has a couple of iterations of speed also in my view.

    In saying that I think the initiatives like B4RN are great and I hope its a success. BT also has a large fibre only trial at Deddington.

    Merrow – You’d have to explain what you mean by artificially capping?

    We have a huge amount of innovation in a technology called DLM that measures the speed, noise and reliability of the line and adjusts the performance to ensure that customers receive the best service. For a few days after an install DLM works to get the most stable connection, based on interference, signal etc. Wiring is important I agree and sometimes its not perfect, but as you see from the recent rat problems the B4RN guys had everyone has issues in this space. DLM is a technology used in DSL networks for years. Its no secret.

    How many fibres really is irrelevant with DWDM and single fibre TX/RX you can drive 100G – we have this running on our core network today – plus have a look at a technology called WDM.

    Ian – with regards to ASA – I’m not a lawyer but I’d imagine ASA must have a tough time understanding technology as you can see from above, Chris, who by her own admission admits is not technical has just proven that B4RN’s service is an up to service also.

    Personally speaking, I strongly think that people should get what they believe they are buying many CPs have a period where if you don’t get what you expected you can cancel.

    And on Virgin; they themselves state that they will slow your connection down by up to 75% in their terms and conditions.



    2013/03/18 at 10:24

    • We already have DWDM Neil. thought you understood that, but as I am not technical I probably didn’t explain it right. All our customers have a gig. I think you do understand but you’re trying to confuse readers of this blog who like me aren’t always technical. We don’t use gpon like you do. We are not upto.
      Maybe I shouldn’t try to answer your jibes as it may just confuse the job even more when you try to baffle people with your vital vision.


      2013/03/18 at 12:27

      • Rob,
        You points are somewhat questionable – Of course its an up to service even if I get a 10M sync it would be pointless if there is only 6M of bandwidth behind it – who in there right mind would buy a service that only promised 1G to the first hop? If you offer a 1G service then I better get my 1G – or I’ll be on the phone! So can you promise me that at all times I will get 1G to all the websites that I want to get too? The answer is no. Therefore its an up to service. Ring the bell.

        Lets take this further so its ok for someone to have a 1G pipe if the bandwidth is contended? What product are you selling? Is it a 1G service or is it a contended service? These are rhetorical questions btw!

        The answer is that to provide an uncontended 1G service to the core of the Internet would be economically challenging and would require you to have a level of interconnect that in todays Internet doesn’t exist.

        So thanks for the re-confirmation that B4RN is an up to service also. In fact – Chris has provided the evidence also in that speed test shows that you don’t actually get 1G – so it is in fact an up to service, even more so on the upstream based on that evidence! I actually don’t have any issues with an up to or contended service

        On cabinet specifics these are well publicised – I don’t work in openreach and I don’t have any access to utilisation information. We use a system called kanban to manage capacity.

        Chris – its ok for you to aim jibes at others ! As we see from your attitude on “up to” which you by your own admission clearly don’t understand! you demonstrate well your own hypocrisy.



        2013/03/18 at 14:54

  8. @neilmcrae:
    >Of course its an up to service even if I get a 10M sync it would be pointless
    >if there is only 6M of bandwidth behind it – who in there right mind would
    >buy a service that only promised 1G to the first hop? If you offer a 1G
    >service then I better get my 1G – or I’ll be on the phone!

    B4RN is a localism project – there is plenty of bandwidth on the local network. With 1Gbps connection, you can get 1Gbps to other users on the same switch for sure. If you have multiple local connections (farm shop, office, yard, etc.) now you can run your CCTV over the B4RN Internet without having your packets travel to London and back across congested links. You can set up a local “cloud” service (backup people’s PCs perhaps, or video standards conversion or…) and local people can access this at gigabit speed.

    You don’t have to run all the Internet through BT Tower or wherever you think the “core” of the Internet is.

    1Gbps end-user connections are so much faster than most Internet servers can cope with that there are few that can deliver to this speed, but it’s OK to be ready for the future. This might be alien to you at BT who only sell “just enough” service, in order that next year you can sell a “bit more” with an upgrade the following year, and so on. Great for BT profits, not great for the victims (the public)

    Your twisted use of “up to” to refer to end-to-end speeds across the Internet is disingenuous. It is well accepted that the “connection speed” refers to the bit of dedicated link that you get to the local exchange, cabinet or headend. Since BT doesn’t even guarantee the speed on this “last mile”, I can see why you would want to hide behind the idea that “all the Internet is contended so it doesn’t matter what your local connection speed is”


    Robert Robinson

    2013/03/18 at 15:45

  9. Dear Neil. sweety, “Hypocrisy is the state of promoting or trying to enforce standards, attitudes, lifestyles, virtues, beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually hold.”

    I only speak about what I believe in and have seen for myself. I don’t think you understand what a hypocrite is. you know full well that there are very few places where you can get a gig speedtest to work, you must also know that some sites are hosted on slow servers and no matter what the bandwidth you have they can load slowly, you must know even iplayer only dishes it out at 50meg, and the speedtest was done on sunday when a new customer simply plugged her old pc into our cpe and it just worked. No weeks of special testing and settling down. no high speed fancy souped up computer to get a test. Just another ordinary customer.

    Considering I am not technical it is sounding like you aren’t either? We peer, we go straight to the internet. We also buy a gigabit from Vtesse for any traffic that isn’t peered. But most is.

    UPTO is supposed to mean the speed your line can deliver, it has nothing to do with the speed of the sites it is connecting to. Some will be fast, some will be slow. There is no way most of bt lines can sync at the advertised speed. Our gigabit could if we had a fancy computer at the customer end of it, but most bt lines couldn’t unless they were right next to cabs or exchanges, and even then it would depend on the ISPs and traffic management etc.

    If you want to stand up for people’s rights then stand up for the millions promised ‘upto’ 8 meg on rural exchanges who only get half a meg or dial up no matter which site they go to. The same lady who got 977 megabits per second was getting 0.7 megabits from her BT line and 0.38 upload. She did another test to an Amsterdam server and got a much higher upload from that one. Nobody can really test a gig yet. And a gig isn’t the purpose of the network really, the purpose is to get a decent connection that grows as the internet grows, not to spend money on something that will only work for a short time and cost as much to provide. It was as cheap to put a gig in as a few meg, its the building of it that costs the money. We are happy it is delivering what it says even if we haven’t all got the computers to use it or need it all for a bit. Once people realise its there they will find more uses for it. They have been used to carting water from a well so a fat pipe will seem very strange at first.


    2013/03/18 at 15:45

  10. oh – I think my weasel words detector has gone off! 😉

    Let me just check that. It’s not ok if the up to speed is the line speed, but if the up to speed is 10G but you have 500k out of the back of it thats ok!??????? No – I Don’t Think So.

    Thats like buying a car that can go up to 100MPH, but then finding it only goes to 50MPH. Ah but the the engine can go to 100MPH just the gearbox is limited to 50MPH. As Ian mentioned the ASA, and I’m no lawyer but I seriously doubt they would find that acceptable! So now that we know that your service is an up to service also perhaps we can move on.

    Chris – even you own eyes shows your speedtest that the service is up to 1G. If it was 1G you’d see 1G, you don’t (but btw if you google you will find speed tests that are above 1G).

    The core of the Internet in the UK is mostly in London at a place called the London Internet Exchange ( of which I am an non-executive director, we have last year added an exchange in Manchester which is growing nicely also, and just for clarity there is nothing in the design of B4RN or its suppliers that I take any issue with, I merely used the above as an example for demonstrating the nature of the Internet.

    With your point of argument about the costs, the costs will end up being the same only that your users are paying for something that they aren’t getting or don’t yet need (and having read the plan its not cheap!) – to be honest when FTTPoD arrives I’ll be ordering it the same day but I don’t need it either!

    In order to be able to deliver 1G to all your end users you will need to spend a lot of money in the core of the network. Cloud services in the way you describe sound interesting and I look forward to them, but the idea of a data centre in my next door neighbours outhouse isn’t entirely appealing. I agree though distribution is better than centralisation.

    Chris – I have no doubt that there are many users who want and deserve a faster speed and nobody is working harder than BT to bring that to them, projects like B4RN are great and whilst I might be coming across as negative I am not – I do take offence when people state their views as fact when in reality they merely describe a situation that demonstrates the limits of what is possible. People have to want to pay for it, and community schemes like B4RN demonstrate the costs well. If people want to give their time thats great but it isn’t scaleable and not every location has the skills or the know how.

    nobody is perfect not even the mighty BT but the fantasy world where every alt net is better simply isn’t true and I can speak from fact having been a founding member of the first internet company back in 1992 bringing the internet to this country at an affordable price in the UK and having worked for 6 different network providers.



    2013/03/18 at 17:14

    • Really Neil, you do twist stuff to suit yourself. 977 Mbps is almost a gig and on an old computer with all its clutter is pretty amazing. Can anyone in your street get that? and a good 2ms ping too, which is important. If we got a posh one sorted and found a happy server we could no doubt show you a gig test but it isn’t important at this moment in time. Save your weasel word detector for the poor folk stuck on their superfast which in many cases with the cheaper ISPs will only deliver 5 Mbps if they’re lucky. Even BT will let folk sign on knowing full well they’ll only get 15 Mbps.

      Our plan is not expensive either, you get your gig and you pay £30. you don’t have to pay landline rental, and you don’t have to move on to a higher tarif if you use it a lot. In a lot of cases it works out cheaper, as we are all market 1 exchanges and so have no choice of cheap isp, usually its around £12 -16.99, plus landline, plus call charges. These people are used to paying top whack for sub meg speeds so ours is a bargain to them, hence 90% take up in one street we’ve just connected.

      I take your point that it may not be replicable everywhere, but it is scaleable and it isn’t rocket science and if I can lay fibre, blow fibre and splice fibre and I am just a farming granny then I am sure there are plenty of men of grit who can do it far better.

      You wouldn’t order FOD if you lived 12 km from the exchange, or you’d have to sell your house to pay for it. We aren’t talking urban here, we’re talking rural.

      Data centres will come.
      I wasn’t talking cloud. A lot of our customers haven’t seen a cloud yet. Most of them couldn’t even load a facebook page until they got B4RN.

      We have the equipment already deployed to deliver a gig to every customer.
      We could supply a customer with 10 gig at the moment. but nobody has asked for it yet. 😉


      2013/03/18 at 17:34

  11. @neilmcrae:
    >Thats like buying a car that can go up to 100MPH, but then
    >finding it only goes to 50MPH. Ah but the the engine can go
    >to 100MPH just the gearbox is limited to 50MPH.

    I don’t like stretching analogies but…

    It’s like buying a car that can go 100MPH but the Internet (the public roads) is limited to 50MPH due to congestion. On an uncongested race track like the B4RN network you can get the 100MPH thrill in that very car!

    The real “cloud service next door” in the short term will be when the CDN’s populate the B4RN headend with their caches, then there will be an abundance of content for B4RN subscribers to exercise their connections.

    I don’t think we will agree about “up to” since it is clear we’re using it to define different characteristics of the network – mine is for the access circuit, the bit you can measure using science, whereas yours is simply an mark that it is an Internet connection and the number is conjured by your marketing department, which tells the subscriber nothing about the connection technology they are buying.

    I’m not trying to be facetious – I do believe BT products are designed around a planned “up to” speed offering which is marketing driven. It’s why they initially launched ADSL at 512k, then opened it up to 1M and 2M, then – years later – to “up to” 8M – all without a hardware upgrade to the DSLAM. Same with FTTC, initially offered at 40M and subsequently 80M, again with no technical difference – purely a marketing led decision.

    The problem is that using “up to” speed as an end-to-end measure is what you were accusing Chris of – false promises. Since BT has no control whatsoever on the performance of most web sites, how can it possibly offer “up to” promises about Internet performance? How can you say “up to 80Mbps” to a web server connected at 10Mbps? Where does this “up to” speed get you, exactly?

    It only makes sense to promise on the bits you do control, the access network, which is exactly what B4RN is doing, delivering actual 1G fixed speed connections.


    Robert Robinson

    2013/03/18 at 17:51

    • Rob,
      You make valid points but at the end of the day in my mind they are all the same but as an engineer I perhaps have a more scientific viewpoint.

      What CDN’s are coming to your headend? Do you know what a content provider pays a CDN these days, its a hugely commoditised marketplace now. Do you know what the infrastructure costs to build a CDN node ?

      I doubt any CDN’s are coming to your headend in the near future. They might meet you in Manchester but then you are limited to their shared infrastructure.

      As for the speed to marketing – thats not really the case at all. Up to 8M is a limit of ADSL – and it was provided by technology enablements such as DLM and interleave and adaptive technology. 2M and below was limited by the price of home hubs as I recall.

      ADSL2/2+ was new hardware that brought that limit to up to 24M.

      40M versus 80M was a technology change allowing Openreach to use a much wider spectrum (i.e. frequency) again driven by technology improvements.

      All of the above have absolutely nothing to do with marketing.

      Cable has similar challenges, it works in slots called channels, you can have as many channels as you want, but your need hefty processing power to use a lot of them, so the price is linked to the available cost of cheap processing power for the home hub boxes.

      Again nothing to do with marketing, to use your own argument against you – why has B4RN only gone to 1G on your service when you could do 10G? is it marketing? I can buy 10G fibre transponders today, in fact I have a bunch of them in my data centre room at home… 😉 (rhetorical question).



      2013/03/18 at 18:14

  12. Chris, when I worked at COLT I had 2.5G to my home almost 7 years ago. I had 10M to my home in 1994. Anyone can get 1G anywhere if they phone up and want to pay for it.

    Glad that you see what I mean – almost a gig isn’t a gig – its up to a gig 😉

    BT may offer different services but it does this with the customer knowing about it.

    I think you’ll find the costs are yet to be fully understood. Laying fibre is field is easy (I know I’ve done it for thousands of kilometres) laying it across streets, bridges, on poles, under tunnels it is much much harder and a lot more expensive. Not every location has network engineers that can do the IP/Internet part. And whilst they may want to volunteer time now – will they always want to? Hopefully.


    2013/03/18 at 18:00

    • We’re not doing urban, we’re doing the easy bits in fields Neil, the ones that telcos ignore. And yes, many are volunteering now and as each area is reached new volunteers come on board. As customers are connected and the network generates income these people will be paid in real money instead of shares. Its all in the business plan. And if more of these networks were supported to build true next generation access it would be far better than using public money to patch up an old phone network. If BT want to patch it up and make income for another few years then fine, that’s their job. But stopping altnets getting funding to stop competition is something government should be ashamed of doing, and its just what has happened. And in answer to your other comment, we light our customers at a gig because it makes sense not to buy 100meg lights at the same price, and we don’t bother paying extra for 10gig lights when 1 gig is a good price at the moment and we can soon upgrade to 10 gig when we need to and the price is right. At least our network is upgradeable. Copper is so yesterday.


      2013/06/22 at 16:07

  13. [Just to remind you I’m not connected to B4RN in any way.]

    I believe B4RN did originally intend to offer wholesale access to the passive infrastructure. BT could rent individual fiber links to subscriber homes, install the BT standard GPON equipment in the B4RN headend and their own backhaul to the BT backbone.

    It would be interesting to see how the takeup of BT’s branded service compared with B4RN’s native service.

    I guess BT would have a problem with B4RN’s SLA for maintenance of the local loop but it would be an interesting experiment in openness and cooperation in rural not-spots.


    Robert Robinson

    2013/03/18 at 19:28

  14. […] leave aside the facts that most of the speed increase is due to Virgin Media upgrading its customers to 30Mbps and more, and that BT has only 1.3 million Infinity customers from more than 15 million ‘homes […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: