Residents of Broughton in Cambridgeshire have become among the first UK consumers to get access to broadband speeds comparable to those in South Korea, the world's fastest broadband nation.
Vtesse Broadband, the broadband arm of Vtesse Networks, is supplying Broughton with non-shared fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections using its own telephone poles. Prices are £25/month for 10Mbps and £55/month for 100Mbps, but the links are capable of speeds up to 1Gbps, the speed being rolled out in parts of South Korea.
Underground ducts connect the new Vtesse broadband exchange - a set-up popularly called a Digital Village Pump (DVP) - in Broughton to the Vtesse national multi-gigabit fibre-optic network. Individual homes are connected to the DVP with overhead and underground fibres.
Vtesse is installing new poles in Broughton even though there are suitable poles owned by BT and the local electricity distribution company. Vtesse said the current Ofcom-mediated talks about pole and duct sharing were unlikely to produce a "workable outcome" for many months.
Vtesse CEO Aidan Paul said it chose Broughton because the town is close to one of Vtesse's arterial fibre-optic routes. This made it relatively cheap to take fibre to the village.
"Our community fibre distribution model uses telephone poles to carry dedicated fibres from our local broadband exchange directly to each home," Paul said.
Every connected home has a dedicated fibre, he said. "With the unlimited capacity that fibre offers we are able to offer our Broughton customers services that range from an entry level 10Mbps through to a world beating symmetric 1Gbps. We think that the combination of fibre overhead pole delivery to consumer premises and gigabit speeds is a UK first," he said.
Broughton resident Nick Moulton said, "For years we have treated our use of the internet as a necessary evil, often waiting minutes on dial-up for simple page updates that may or may not complete. Streaming services or anything requiring large downloads were effectively unavailable to us. With the new service, everything becomes pretty much instantaneous, letting us focus on the content rather than the frustration that our old service delivered."
The Broughton installation is a sequel to an earlier Vtesse village hook-up in Birch Green. Both villages faced long distances from local exchanges, but whereas Vtesse used BT ducts and copper cables from its DVP in Birch Green, in Broughton it has provided its own physical distribution infrastructure. This has allowed it to increase its top speed service from a theoretical 40Mbps download to 1Gbps for uploads and downloads.
BT is to test a 1Gbps broadband service in Kesgrave, Suffolk early this year.