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UK's first open access fibre network showcased

UK's first open access fibre network showcased

Super fast fibre network to offer traffic free speeds up to 100Mbps with open access for service providers

Lucky residents in Bournemouth on the UKs south coast will be amongst the first people to have the option of a super fast fibre optic network offering up to 100Mbps uploads and downloads in 2010 with networks in other parts of the country planned too.

Broadband speeds haven't really improved much in the last five years for most of the UK. Those of us lucky enough to live close to an exchange may see close to 20Mbits on ADSL while Virgin has recently rolled out its expensive 50Mbit service although this still only has a comparatively slow 1.5Mbps upload speed.

Fibrecity, part of the i3 group and recently showcased the service as well as it's interactive portal in Bournemouth where the first of the UKs connections have been made available. Once connected to the network, customers will be shown a portal where various services such as broadband, telephony, television, video on demand, security or other next generation services will be offered.

The difference here is that the technology will already be in place so all companies offering these products have to do is to get on board and they'll appear on the portal. Rather than being restricted to say Virgin or Sky's offerings, Fibrecity claim customers will be able to pick and choose the services they want.

i3 Group’s CEO, Elfed Thomas said: "The Fibrecity portal is a fully interactive way to access next generation services from service providers all over the world. When a home is connected to the Fibrecity network, the resident will be given a set top box and router that they can then just plug and play. What they will see on their TV or computer screen is a menu of the services available to them in their area from a variety of service providers."

Mr Thomas continued: "Our vision is to offer people living in Fibrecities real choice without being restricted to one provider. People will have options and will be able to buy services tailored to their individual needs.

"Our view has always been to offer a true open access model; we have engaged with the market and our customers and are confident that this unique approach will deliver the very best fibre to the home experience throughout the world."

Fibrecity also claim one of the main benefits of fibre optic networks over current broadband is that it doesn't suffer from slow speeds at peak times or drastically slower speeds due to distance from exchanges and the like. Fibre optic cables are installed in waste water networks and then all the way to your front door in an end to end setup which eliminates traffic meaning in theory your speed shouldn't fluctuate. With the UK's current broadband speeds well below that of countries like Sweden and Japan, fibre optics installed in waste water pipes could be the answer.

This could possibly mean an end to traffic shaping and stroppy emails from your ISP after downloading that 500MB game demo when you get home from work or school too. More importantly bandwidth hungry traffic like high definition content streaming should at last be totally stutter free. There's no word on cost yet though.

What price would you be willing to pay for such a service? Would what you use the internet for see any benefit from a 100Mbps synchronous connection? What services would you like to have available that your current ISP doesn't provide? Let us know in the forums.

37 Comments

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The Infamous Mr D 28th September 2009, 10:26 Quote
I'd definitely pay for such a service. As internet speeds go, 90% of the UK is still in the dark ages. Fibre optics is certainly the answer.
proxess 28th September 2009, 10:39 Quote
Curious how Portugal is ahead of the UK on the matter. We've had public Fibre for around a year or two. We have VoIP, IPTV and Internet on Fibre for around 55€. Just a week ago an Internet and Phone package was released here also for just 35€.
Rkiver 28th September 2009, 10:44 Quote
We've had fiber in Ireland for almost 4 years now, and the basic package is around the €35 a month with a 2meg line, IPTV and voip also. Come on UK, catch up now.
Bauul 28th September 2009, 10:52 Quote
As cool as that would be, I doubt my aging laptop could even cope with 100Mbps!
reflux 28th September 2009, 11:21 Quote
This is the way to go; none of that Virgin Media rubbish (not fibre optic broadband, despite what they say). Bring it to Leeds chaps!
AshT 28th September 2009, 11:24 Quote
A conservative MP grumbled the other week because Labour put forward a plan to tax people £6 a year to help speed up the roll out of faster broadband.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8270772.stm

That's why we are a backward country chasing the tails of everyone else. Still, at least the tory MP made himself a name eh.
Spiny 28th September 2009, 11:26 Quote
I think I used to pay something like £50 a month for ISDN...
Cupboard 28th September 2009, 11:54 Quote
Just need to get a sewer at home now!
Still, nice if you can get it and are on mains sewage but it will still be leaving a lot of the countryside out.
Jack_Pepsi 28th September 2009, 12:09 Quote
It saddens me the current state of broadband in the UK - I'm so incredibly jealous of people that can get anything over 2Mbit. BT recently crippled my connection speed to 256Kbps - which is beyond a freaking joke. I read recently that they are trialing BET (Broadband enabling technology) in my county, which I doubt I'll be a part of - when emailing Openreach to find out what part of my county would be lucky enough to receive the 2Mbit they're going to be trialing they told me they couldn't give me that information and that I should speak to my ISP - what will Sky know?

This should have happened YEARS ago!
Phil Rhodes 28th September 2009, 12:28 Quote
Using the current ratio between what I'm paying for and what I'm getting, if they promise 100mbit, we should get maybe 25.

I should theoretically be on an 8 megabit link right now but back down here on Earth I only ever see 2 - and I'm not even a mile and a half from the exchange. God knows what it's like out in the sticks. When I complained about this they told me I should upgrade my router to one supporting a more recent ADSL revision, for christ's sake...
Cobalt 28th September 2009, 12:34 Quote
Oooh so close. I live just down the coast in Southampton, hopefully it'll come here soon. Not that I have much to complain about at the moment. My ISP is Be and depending on the time of day I get between 2Mbit and 16Mbit.
Jack_Pepsi 28th September 2009, 12:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
God knows what it's like out in the sticks.

If God's up there I'd expect God to be pissed off like I am. 256Kbps, 25freaking6Kbps!
Dave Lister 28th September 2009, 13:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiny
I think I used to pay something like £50 a month for ISDN...

lol i remember they had that in an internet cafe i used to work in and if i remember correctly the fastest isdn option was only twice the speed of regular dial up ! that was only about 10 years ago i think ! thank smeg for progress and moors law.
kylew 28th September 2009, 14:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Using the current ratio between what I'm paying for and what I'm getting, if they promise 100mbit, we should get maybe 25.

I should theoretically be on an 8 megabit link right now but back down here on Earth I only ever see 2 - and I'm not even a mile and a half from the exchange. God knows what it's like out in the sticks. When I complained about this they told me I should upgrade my router to one supporting a more recent ADSL revision, for christ's sake...

Did you read the article?

You're using ADSL as the basis for how Fibre optic broadband will behave.

The article said "straight to the home connections" that means 100Mb.
Darth_yoda 28th September 2009, 14:37 Quote
I actually live in Bournemouth and hopfully we are getting the fibre cable fitted in the next two weeks or so. The best thing about this is that to get the fibre installed costs nothing to the home owner and when installed are under no obligation to actually use the fibre service if the costs are too high.
Darth_yoda 28th September 2009, 14:43 Quote
@Keylew... yea you are right they are saying that this is completely different to the normal FTTC (Fibre to the cabinet) the fibre line goes directly to the home rather than having any sort of slowdown due to copper wires from home to the exchange.
Cupboard 28th September 2009, 15:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack_Pepsi
If God's up there I'd expect God to be pissed off like I am. 256Kbps, 25freaking6Kbps!

We've had 512K for a few years now, but according to anyone you phone up the maximum our line can support is 256K, and I know people further away with more than that so you may find they are lying.
The router thinks we should be able to get more like 1.8Mbps...
Jack_Pepsi 28th September 2009, 15:12 Quote
See, I used to get a nice stable 1Mbit (after having 512Kbps for a few years before) with just an odd ping of 100+ still, I was happy with it being stable. BT, without informing me, decide it's not stable and I'll be very lucky if my connection can handle anything higher than 256 so, I'm lucky if I connect at over 200Kbps.

This is why I really hope I'm included in this BET programme BT are trialing. Really freaking hope so, there really isn't any excuse for such a lack in preparing for fibre. Why not get the fibre down when they dig the freaking roads up for new waterpipes?

>.<
Psytek 28th September 2009, 15:31 Quote
I'd pay 50 quid a month, maybe upto 80 if the service is unlimited and you actually get 100 up and down.
Jack_Pepsi 28th September 2009, 15:41 Quote
I'm with you on that - I'd happy pay £50 a month for 100up 100down.
ccsleeds 28th September 2009, 16:10 Quote
Chaps.

You are not going to get 100Mb/s un-contended and un-limited for anything like the kind of figures you are suggesting. The Absolute cheapest IP transit provider here in the UK (who most would not use as their transit is quite honestly shocking) is pricing at £2.90 per Mb/s at present in 10Gb/s commit levels. Therefore un-contended and un-limited that 100Mb/s through your door starts around £300 per month, assuming the sub-lease cost of the fibre and the cost of getting IP transit to an interconnect point is nothing.

Of course you could contend it at 20:1 and then it could potentially cost £15 per user for rubbish transit or closer to £30 per month for anything decent, but its then not un-limited obviously.

Pete
Jack_Pepsi 28th September 2009, 16:37 Quote
We can dream can't we?
Darth_yoda 28th September 2009, 16:48 Quote
Well when I e-mailed the fibrecity chaps they said that because the fibre would be laid by the sewer this would DRAMATICALLY reduce the overall cost to the consumer because very little digging would occur. But saying that I have asked fibrecity and i3 networks on a cost guideline and fibrecity shrugged the question off and i3/H20 networks hasn't e-mailed back yet.
ccsleeds 28th September 2009, 17:13 Quote
Well true, and assuming the cost of getting transit to their fibre isn't too high and renting the fibre to premises is sensible, it wouldn't be beyond sensible realms of probability to deliver perhaps 10 or 20:1 contention services - at the end of the day that still allows the potential download of 3 or 1.5Tb per month per end user for a raw IP transit cost of perhaps £30-40pm plus interconnect and tail circuit costs - all in it should be sub £100pm with these levels of contention.
Phil Rhodes 28th September 2009, 17:31 Quote
Quote:

The article said "straight to the home connections" that means 100Mb.

Can I have that in writing?
ccsleeds 28th September 2009, 17:47 Quote
Indeed the articles does state connections at 100Mb/s. However it also reads
Quote:

The difference here is that the technology will already be in place so all companies offering these products have to do is to get on board and they'll appear on the portal. Rather than being restricted to say Virgin or Sky's offerings, Fibrecity claim customers will be able to pick and choose the services they want.

This implies the service is a last mile access medium only and requires the buy-in of ISPs, content providers etc etc to actually deliver services to the premises. Which means you are returning to the commercial model of the data providers in the case of internet access.

The figures I provided are real-world, realistic current ones for current market and I would suggest be a base model for those trying to put realistic service delivery costs around the service. No-one can possibly deliver a truly un-contended 100Mb/s leased line to the door for 50-100 - lord that isn't possible in blooming Telehouse on a private cable to IP Transit.
Mephi 28th September 2009, 17:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Using the current ratio between what I'm paying for and what I'm getting, if they promise 100mbit, we should get maybe 25.

I should theoretically be on an 8 megabit link right now but back down here on Earth I only ever see 2 - and I'm not even a mile and a half from the exchange. God knows what it's like out in the sticks. When I complained about this they told me I should upgrade my router to one supporting a more recent ADSL revision, for christ's sake...

If you're paying for an 8Mb link then you should be getting an 8Mb link.

However if you're paying for an up to 8Mb link then you are, in fact, getting what you're paying for.
B3CK 28th September 2009, 18:33 Quote
Here in the states, cable is offering 10mb down, 1mb up, for $55 a month. Unlimited data. My Uncle works for a company that sells copper, fiber, and backbone network equipment to the major ISP's. When he was in Austin, TX, US, they were testing fiber to the home, in select neighborhoods, and at one point were offering 100mb to customers with unlimited data access. However, they were having problems of kids starting to run huge data through PTP torrents, and had to alter their plans to provide 'fair use' to the neighborhood. As each house was capable of 100mb, the cabinet was limited to being shared by everyone there. Eventually they evened out the lines to 50mb to customers for default offerings, and could upgrade back to 100mb for double the price.

Now what happens when you have to 'snake' your sewage lines? Is the plumber responsible for tearing up the fiber line?
Zeus-Nolan 28th September 2009, 18:44 Quote
I was left in the dark by them after 15 calls and filling out two forms for the service so i'm not bothered i get 1.9mb/s with sky anyway so i'm not too unhappy and sky didn't bat an eye when i did 1.5tb in a few weeks i'm sure they will
delriogw 28th September 2009, 20:37 Quote
i have to admit i'm quite torn on this.

on one hand it's great that these kind of steps are being taken, on the other, there's so many people outside the big cities that live with stupidly poor internet that i'd rather there was investment to improve the nation wide network.
Hypno 28th September 2009, 20:55 Quote
I'm pretty lucky, I live 200 meters straight line from my exchange but still don't feel I get full 8Mb speeds.
RichCreedy 28th September 2009, 21:00 Quote
the problem the uk has, is the fact we have the oldest telephone network in the world, other countries didn't have the infrastructure we have, so were able to put newer equipment in at a lower cost, than having to replace everything we have here.
erratum1 28th September 2009, 21:59 Quote
I'm in the sticks 2mb round here, can't wait for it to at least go up to 6mb. jeez, the uk is so behind compared with other countries, were like living in caves compared to others.
ZERO <ibis> 28th September 2009, 22:02 Quote
This is good news now only 200 years before I can get it in the states!
leexgx 29th September 2009, 00:37 Quote
dono why virgin have not jumped on BT (ofcom) for advertiseing 20mb BB on an ADSL line that technically they cant provide basically only 5-10% of the UK can get it(need to be within 0.5-1 KM of the local exchange thats Wire length not from you to the exchange line of sight). on avg its 4mb from the customers i have seen some are on 7mb but never seen any faster then that
pepepedraza11 3rd December 2009, 19:09 Quote
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patm 17th March 2011, 07:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2009/09/28/uk-s-first-open-access-fibre-network/1

The UK's first open access fibre optic network has been showcased promissing upload and download speeds of up to 100Mbps

I'm involved in building open access fibre networks in Germany for local communities. Open access is a relatively new concept in Germany and the regulations for such compliance is not as advance as it is in the UK. Regarding symmetrical users bandwidths... There is no current need for symmetrical upstream bandwidths as a typical residential customer will never use this. Analysis of typical upstream traffic patterns shows that customers at best will use 25% of the downstream capacity for uploads; this however is not true for business customers which have proven needs for symmetrical services.

Regarding traffic shaping, the network operator still has great control in this area and can implement it on the fibre access line as well as in the backbone of their network. They need to increase their internal network capacities and have links to locally offered services in order for the end user / customer to see an improvement in their quality of service. Upgrading the customer access network alone will not improve service quality.
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