It was hard to believe, so I checked with BT’s press office, and yes, BT’s group director of strategy, policy and portfolio Liv Garfield had been quoted correctly: “There’s no point in going back and investing, just because it’s something called P instead of C.”
So now we know: everyone who gets a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) service can absolutely forget about a fibre to the premises (FTTP) link. Well done, PCPro.
But wait, BT’s press office says that 25% of homes will have FTTP under the present £2.5bn plan to give two-thirds of homes FTTC access.
So is BT saying that the two-thirds of premises will receive FTTC (ie a maximum of 40Mbps download speed), but they will never get a direct fibre connection, except for 25%. Is that 25% of the total UK premises or of the two-thirds of premises in the present plan?.
Refering to my (t)rusty old HP 12C, if there are 27 million premises in the UK, a quarter of two-thirds is just 4.46 million. Interesting to know how BT will determine which 4.5 million are deserving of FTTP.
In the same statement Garfield said most FTTC homes get 33-38Mbps. But on 24 November BT Wholesale issued the following statement to internet service providers: “We are pleased to announce that BT Wholesale Broadband Connect (WBC) is now supporting line speeds as low as 5Mbit/s on Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) services.The minimum speed supported on FTTC was previously 15Mbit/s. In order to increase the footprint served by Fibre to the Cabinet the limit has been reviewed and lowered, down to 5Mbit/s.”
I know the government is asking everyone to do more with less, but really. Is this the superfast broadband Ian Livingston promised to deliver? Is this what UK plc needs to compete with other countries?
And what should consumers expect to pay for a 5Mbps fibre connection? And will that be “up to” or guaranteed, or contended or symmetrical?
One can hardly blame customers for being confused, frustrated and increasingly sceptical of BT and its fibre promises.
BT has clarified the position as follows:
“With regards to FTTP, it’s 25 per cent of BT’s total roll out to two thirds of UK homes by 2015.
“With regards to your comments about the 5Mbit/s FTTC service, I’m afraid there has been lots of confusion around this as a result of pieces that have cropped up on the broadband forums.
“The assumption is that BT is simply slowing down its FTTC service. The company is not slowing down its FTTC service – we are simply adding an additional option to the service to satisfy demand from communications providers and their end customers. Also, we have never said that it is in order to increase the FTTC footprint – another media outlet has simply assumed this and passed this off as BT’s comments when we have never made such a statement. We simply adding another variant to the FTTC service in response to customer demand.
“As you know, BT’s FTTC service (available on a wholesale basis to UK ISPs via Openreach and BT Wholesale) offers speeds of up to 40Mbit/s. As the connection from the FTTC cabinet on the street to the customer’s home is copper wire then the speed a customer receives is dependent on how far away their home is from that green cabinet.
“Previously, end customers buying the service were guaranteed that the speed of their service wouldn’t fall below 15Mbit/s at any given time. We call this “the minimum assured speed”. It also meant that customers whose line couldn’t support a minimum speed of 15Mbit/s were unable to order FTTC over BT’s network via their service provider.
“In order to satisfy demand for the service from these specific customers, we are simply adding another option to the FTTC service which has a lower minimum assured speed. So, for example, a customer who can receive say, 2Mbit/s today over copper, but whose line can support say a 10Mbit/s service using FTTC, can now order fibre broadband over BT’s network. “Previously these customers weren’t able to order the service because of the 15Mbit/s threshold. So this is clearly good news for customer.
“So to be clear – there are now two variants of the FTTC service. One with a minimum assured speed of 5Mbit/s and one with a minimum assured speed of 15Mbit/s.
“Communications Providers will decide which option to offer their end customers, depending on the capabilities of the end customer’s line.
“Here is BT’s statement:
‘In response to customer demand, BT has decided to add a variant to its Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service which has a minimum assured downstream speed of 5Mb/s. This is in addition to the mainstream version of the service which has a minimum assured downstream speed of 15Mb/s. This means that consumers and businesses that have previously been unable to order fibre broadband over BT’s network because their line was unable to support the minimum speed of 15Mb/s will now able to do so via their ISP. While these customer’s lines will be unable to support the super-fast speeds of up to 40Mb/s offered by BT’s FTTC service, the option of a lower minimum assured speed for FTTC means that some customers may see an improvement in their broadband speeds compared with the current speed they receive over the copper network.'”