Expert Witness

Expert Witness

Adrian Sunderland
Griffin Internet’s CTO, Adrian Sunderland

You will have seen the various Virgin Media press and TV advertising promoting their ‘fibreoptic’ broadband. Virgin’s service is clearly aimed at consumers and is only available in those residential areas where the Virgin cable TV service is available. So, not particularly interesting to a channel focussed on profiting from business-to-business services.

That was the story of fibre-optic broadband in the UK up until June 2009; however in July 2009 BT Wholesale started trials of their Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) broadband with a number of ISPs including Griffin. The trials are currently taking place in Whitchurch near Cardiff and Muswell Hill in London. A further 69 exchanges will benefit from FTTC services by summer 2010.

Why does the fibre only go as far as the cabinet?

Well quite simply the cost of running fibre into every premise is exponentially more expensive than running fibre to the street cabinet. The cost of equipment to terminate fibre is also significantly more expensive than copper. The Virgin ‘fibre-optic’ broadband works on the same basis, with fibre to the street

cabinet and then copper all the way to the set-top box.

 

What’s the benefit of Fibre-Optic Broadband to the customer?

This service provides up to 40Mbit/s downstream bandwidth and up to 5Mbit/s upstream bandwidth. Similar to most existing broadband services, the actual bandwidth available will depend on distance between the green street cabinet and the customer premises. However, customers will always be nearer to their street cabinet than they will be to the telephone exchange itself.

The service will also provide end-to-end support, as long as the ISP supports it, for simple priority marking, so that you can ensure that if any point in the network should become congested then your high priority packets don’t get dropped. This capability has been offered by Griffin on the bit of the network we control for a couple of years, but this is one of the first broadband products where the carrier is also going to support QoS. This is really important for business customers as broadband is being used more and more to carry business-critical traffic.

 

Does the customer need any special equipment?

The service is based on VDSL2 (Very high speed DSL) technology rather than ADSL. This means that the customer’s existing modem or router won’t work. The service will be installed by an Openreach engineer on the customer’s existing telephone cabling. A new faceplate will be installed on the master socket together with a VDSL2 modem. This modem will present an Ethernet socket to the customer, into which an Ethernet router will need to be connected.
 

How much will this service cost?

The trial is completely free and it is too early to be specific about exact launch pricing. Indications are that installation costs will be around £75 and the monthly rental pricing will be similar to existing ADSL2+ services. Of course, if customers use their service to download twice as much data as they do normally then any usage pricing will double also.
 

Sounds great, what do I do next?

If you have customers in the Whitchurch or Muswell Hill area and you would like to take part in Griffin’s fibre optic broadband trial you need to sign up as a Griffin Partner and opt to take part in our trials. To find out which other ISPs are trialling FTTC contact BT Wholesale.