UK's first open access fibre network showcased

Written by Antony Leather

September 28, 2009 // 10:11 a.m.

Tags: #02 #adsl #bournemouth #broadband #cable #fibre-optic #internet #sky #virgin #wireless

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.
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