Fibre to the home a reality?

There has been recent news by BT that they will be investing £1.5 billion in developing a fibre network to bring speeds of 50 Mb/s or 100 Mb/s to the home (FTTH). This apparently will enable up to ten million homes to be able to use the service by 2012.

Initially I understand that about 300 premises in and around Ebbsfleet will get literately a free service with a further 10,000 getting discounts to make the trial a success. Ebbsfleet and the Olympic village will be predominantly focused on fibre all the way to the premises whereas realistically only fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) will actually be possible nationwide.

So while fibre to the home is what they appear to be pushing, what actually BT is going to be doing is upgrading their backbone and pitching it as a ‘fibre’ product. Even though the lines coming into the homes and businesses will be copper and running a very fast version of DSL, VDSL which can achieve up to 100 Mb/s. This means all the issues of DSL will still remain such as copper quality and distance from the exchange but the promise of faster speeds will be there.

My question is that surely this is too little too late? I understand BT were working on a nationwide fibre network back in the Thatcher era and since then have been dabbling in lots of different technologies to keep the politicians happy. Ultimately they don’t want to upset the shareholders and while there is not that much competition why spend money on an upgrade that will just erode your existing revenue stream?

Doesn’t anyone remember all the previous ‘tests’ BT have carried out which have all got headlines in the search of a new technology? Broadband over Powerline and WiFi have all fallen by the wayside. Just upgrading the telephone network to IP (21CN) has overrun in both cost and time. Even now the technology BT is launching is out of date and already been available for years. At Fluidata for example we have been selling ADSL2+ for the past 14-months nationwide with 2.6 Mb/s upstream – BT is only offering 1.3 Mb/s!

Basically what I am trying to say is that once again it is smoke and mirrors and that instead of trying to catch up BT should invest £10 billion and just build the network our country needs. 1,000 Mb/s to the home is easily achievable and with fibre across the whole network then 300,000 Mb/s could be achieved – and that is with today’s technology!

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