Openreach announces 'FTTP(1) on demand' pilot locations
Openreach today revealed a list of eight locations where it will pilot the delivery of 'FTTP on Demand'. This service, which Openreach intends to make commercially available from Spring 2013, will enable customers to order an ultra-fast 330Mbps broadband connection directly to their home or business in an area served by Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)(2) technology. Previously, in order to receive 330Mbps speeds, customers had to be located in an FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) enabled area.
The pilot will be held in two phases so that Openreach has sufficient time to explore and resolve the challenges in deploying the service with its Communications Provider (CP) customers.
Phase one, which is intended to test the planning and construction process, will run from July 2012 to early 2013 and allow participating CPs to place orders for a 330Mbps downstream, and either 20 or 30Mbps upstream service in parts of High Wycombe, Bristol South as well as in St Agnes, Cornwall where the service was first trialled. Edinburgh's Waverley exchange will be added to the pilot in September 2012.
Phase two, which will run from March to May 2013, will test new automated order processes, and focus on the 330Mbps downstream, 30Mbps upstream product. In addition to the first four areas, this phase will see the pilot extended to parts of Watford, Cardiff, Basingstoke, and Manchester Central.
Mike Galvin, Openreach's MD Network Investment said: "FTTP on Demand has great potential and so we are proceeding with these pilots. Whilst we believe FTTC will be our mass market consumer product for some time yet, FTTP may be of interest to small and medium sized businesses and so we want to make it accessible throughout our fibre footprint. This development can potentially help SMEs to compete both at home and abroad as well as maintain and create jobs across the UK."
Openreach is currently making fibre broadband available to homes and businesses across the UK. It has passed ten million premises with the technology to date and is due to pass approximately two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014.
The business is primarily deploying Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology. This currently delivers downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps with upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps and could deliver even faster speeds in the future.
Openreach has also deployed Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology in 15 exchange areas to date. Outside those 15 areas, it is also exploring the option of deploying the service to multi dwelling units such as apartment blocks where the fibre can support multiple connections.
The pilots intend to make ultra-fast 330Mbps FTTP available 'on demand' in FTTC areas for the first time. CPs will be able to order the service where there is interest and then assist Openreach with the cost of deployment. It will then be up to the CP to decide whether to absorb that likely one-off charge, recover it through higher monthly prices or pass it on in full to their customer.
The pilots will enable Openreach to gain an in-depth understanding of the costs of deploying FTTP on Demand. Any installation fee is highly likely to be distance dependent given the nature of the necessary work.
(1) Fibre to the Premises, a broadband service where the fibre runs all the way from the exchange to the premises.
(2) Fibre to the Cabinet, a broadband service where fibre runs from the exchange to a roadside 'green cabinet' closer to the end-users' premises.