|Griffin Internet’s CTO, Adrian Sunderland|
This month Griffin Internet’s CTO, Adrian Sunderland, writes about developments in Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) Broadband.
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.