Posted: Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
BT’s latest move forward in the deployment of infrastructure to underpin high-speed connections is Fibre to the Premises on Demand (FTTPoD). Unlike BT’s current FTTP offering, where fibre is run along pylons directly to the house, FTTPoD uses existing FTTC infrastructure as much as possible. Fibre optic cable is laid up to cabinets that are FTTC enabled in order to reach speeds of up to 330 Mb/s down and 30 Mb/s up. A pilot has already been launched, with results to follow shortly.
If this services was easily accessible to the general public, FTTPoD could be a big step towards competing with the likes of Hong Kong and South Korea in terms of average speeds. However, the number of the general population that will be able to access this service may be limited. FTTPoD runs off BT’s existing FTTC cabinets, which are still out of reach of large sections of the country, and in many areas may never be rolled out. BT has generally targeted highly populated residential areas for this infrastructure, leaving business areas out of reach. FTTPoD also cannot be installed into multi-tenanted premises, which further shows that this is not designed as a business service.
From what information we currently have available, the on-demand product will have a high install cost, but without contention or uptime guarantees normally associated with EAD services. This will raise interesting questions on how this service will be marketed – will home users be prepared to pay hundreds for the install in order to get speeds that arguably are not required by the majority? Will small business owners jump at the chance to access speeds previously only available through leased lines or bonded FTTC. While the install costs may well fall in line with the work that needs to be carried out, FTTPoD is offering BT a chance to begin the replacement last-mile copper lines with cheaper, faster and easier to manage fibre optic cable. No doubt over the next few decades copper will be phased out and fibre will be the main choice for last-mile connectivity, so this is a chance for BT customers to foot the bill for them.
While the lack of contention guarantees and SLAs will put off businesses that are more reliant on their connectivity, this technology could be very appealing to prosumers and start ups. It will be interesting to see if BT’s restrictions will impede businesses putting this to use once it is roll out across the country.
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Posted: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
Last year we got involved in a project to bring high-speed broadband to a rural community in Hampshire as part of a number of trials to evaluate what technology could be used to serve a number of residents in a remote pocket of the country. Interestingly the villages of Little London and Smannell were a stone’s throw from a new housing development which was being served with a fibre to the premises (FTTP) product from Independent Fibre Networks Ltd making it a good location test with.
What was interesting with this project was the use of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) for Little London and a wireless solution for Smannell ensuring that all the houses and local businesses were served. The use of multiple technologies meant we were able to maximise the budget while ensuring nobody was left out. This along with our Service Exchange Platform meant that the solution also delivered choice to the residents so they had a number of ISPs to choose from to deliver internet their home.
While the final speeds still aren’t near FTTP they are faster than most urban areas and a huge increase over their previous ADSL service. This film was done as part of a look into broadband in the UK and was shown this month on BBC South.
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Posted: Friday, April 27th, 2012
With much fanfare we are pleased to announce the launch of our company magazine, PULSE. We have been busy over the past few months putting together some interesting and informative features on connectivity in the UK and the impact on business. This edition includes a special report on Rural Broadband and connecting the final third, a practical guide to IPv6, preparing the internet for the Olympics and, of course, Superfast Broadband.
All customers should be receiving copies in the coming days; we are going against the grain and sending these out via snail mail rather than using our marvellous network. We still believe reading a printed magazine is easier and as every other part of our business is automated it is nice to use Royal Mail once in a while.
We will look forward to receiving your feedback so we can ensure the next edition, due later in the year, is impeccable. Obviously if you haven’t been a recipient and would like a copy please don’t hesitate to contact us with your address and we would be delighted to put one in the post.
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Posted: Monday, April 23rd, 2012
Olympic Countdown 95 days to go
Resilience and capacity planning are at the heart of our core network design. Preparing for the 2012 Olympics has been a relatively straightforward process for us because the network has been inherently built to cope with huge volumes of traffic and failure scenarios. In many ways 2012 is a simple extension of the good practises we already employ to serve our customers in a resilient and uncontended fashion.
All DSL services are always mapped from suppliers into at least two independent nodes on our core network. Key anciliary services, RADIUS, DNS and SMTP, are similarly spread across separate geographical locations, and all datacentres connect back to two others via diverse dark fibres.
In the event of a black-out at one of our datacentres all DSL based services would automatically fail-over to one of several other sites and carry on working.
Our customers typically also have demand for high bandwidth as well as uptime, so capacity is carefully engineered with low thresholds set to trigger upgrades. On our DSL platforms routers are kept at no more than 30% usage during peak hours, with average across the network typically 15-20%. This ensures that traffic re-routed during a failure can be absorbed at other sites with ease.
Ethernet, colocation and leased line customers connect and route directly via our MPLS core network backbone, and typically place a higher demand on the network. This core is also the fabric which connects together our datacentres, so we use multiple 10 Gb/s wavelengths on our own WDM equipment to provide extremely scalable bandwidth. In preparation for the Olympics we are operating with peak backbone usage typically between 5 & 10% and have plumbed in an additional 40 Gb/s of Internet transit routing capacity – enough to comfortably serve huge customer demands whilst being able to also cushion large DoS attacks.
And because demand for network bandwidth is increasing at an exponential rate, no sooner than the Olympics are over work will begin on a £2.4M upgrade of our network, designed to deliver a fabric for the most demanding applications for several years to come.
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Posted: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
IPTV first trailed in 1994, but despite the proliferation of broadband across the UK in the ensuing years, its market penetration has been minimal up till now.
That’s not to say that home users aren’t using the internet for TV, on-demand streaming services such as iPlayer and SkyGo are testament to the fact they are. However, these services are what you might describe as hybrid IPTV, given they combine IP with traditional broadcast services. ‘True’ IPTV offers far greater benefits than what most of us experience currently; users have more choice of channels, significantly higher capacity for TV and video sources, as well as increased scope for customised features and levels of interaction (eg. Smart TV) . IPTV can also equate to a more efficient use of resources, through what we might term ‘network convergence’ i.e where business and consumers are able to use one unified connection for data, voice, tv etc.
One of the reasons why IPTV hasn’t fulfilled its potential is bandwidth, or rather – lack of it. However between Q3 in 2010 and Q3 2011 Europe witnessed a growth of approximately 68% in VDSL and FFTH services – opening doors for IPTV to make its way into our living rooms.
Another significant development has been IPV6 and its capacity to support multicasting more effectively. Multicast will allow network providers to disseminate information for IPTV more efficiently and at a cheaper cost – which should translate to a better customer experience and increased adoption.
What is important to consider from a technical and industry perspective, is the support and maintenance requirements, which will need to be of a high standard in order for the service to run smoothly. While TV might not be a business critical application, broadband bug bears like contention, outages could have grave dilemma’s, say if your service was to freeze during a dramatic scene in a East Enders Christmas special, or a tie breaker during a Wimbledon final.
So will the next few years see IPTV takeover traditional broadcast formats? As long as service providers can offer more robust, consistent broadband connections I can’t see why not – multicast should help ISP’s minimise long term costs, and there is already strong consumer demand for unified services in the home. Personally a ‘Smart’ IP controlled TV – with access to all channels from multiple devices, and the capacity to record and store as I like , anywhere , anytime – would be a welcome addition to my household.
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Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2012
We’ve just announced the largest publicly available 1Gb/s Fibre to the home infrastructure in the UK, a joint initiative between Fluidata and Independent Fibre Networks Limited (IFNL), which is part of the Inexus Group of Companies. IFNL’s infrastructure connects into Fluidata’s wholly-owned national network, which means that we can deliver superfast broadband via a choice of more than 40 ISPs to more than 50,000 newly built commercial and residential properties, in 20 sites in the UK.
This means that ISPs can access Fluidata’s next generation network for a low one-off cost – mitigating the high costs associated with tunnelling into hard-to-reach areas. As a result, IFNL’s customers have a broad choice of ISPs, which helps keep costs down and encourage the development of new services. This offers businesses and residents in those areas the largest choice of ISPs on any FTTH deployment in the UK today and is the first time that up to 1Gb/s has been made available on such a large scale to residential homes.
We know that the UK is lagging in FTTH provision, from recent statistics published by the FTTH Council. According to Chair, Chris Holden, the UK had only 4,500 homes directly fibred in June 2011, but Ireland had 9,700 connected to fibre and Iceland 13,900. Lithuania had 343,400 and Italy 357,000, both exceeding Germany’s 123,300 and Spain’s 101,130.
So the Fluidata/IFNL project represents the first major tranche of FTTH connections andshould give the market some much needed confidence. It’s a big step forward and shows FTTH is a viable and sensible option for the long-term. It also shows that fibre can be commercially deployed on scale without government hand-outs, which compliments the work we are doing in rural communities.
IFNL provides, open access, high speed FTTH connectivity to property developers looking to install future-proof technology for homes and businesses. Among the benefits of fibre is the reduced carbon impact of telecommunications infrastructure for developers and greatly improved bandwidth, compared to copper infrastructures. This is proving very attractive to developers as they look to meet the sustainable codes for new builds while also looking to improve the desirability of their developments for potential residents.
As each new development comes online it will be seamlessly integrated into Fluidata’s existing platform, enabling any ISPs connected to the platform to market and sell their services straight away. Speeds start from 50 Mb/s going up to a current maximum of 1Gb/s per property. Without the need to dig fibre into the premises, installation can be dramatically reduced to a few days for customers luckily enough to find themselves in one of the new developments.
We spoke to Andrew Robinson from IFNL, who told us: “We have been deploying FTTH technology to new housing developments since 2008, we have 20 sites connected or in build and additional sites being won on a regular basis. As part of the Inexus Group of companies, IFNL is focused on providing the very best services to our connected businesses and homes. We believe that our FTTH solution is ‘state-of-the-art’, the benefits of fibre stop where the fibre stops, which unlike most of our competition is in the home or business. We’re excited to be working with Fluidata as this will help to increase retail competition on our network and ensure our customers have great choice and receive best value as well as superfast speeds.”
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