TalkTalk signs up to offer BT-network 40Mbps fibre

TalkTalk signs up to offer BT-network 40Mbps fibre

Summary: The UK's largest internet provider has said it will become a wholesale customer of BT's up-to-40Mbps fibre-to-the-cabinet services, as Ofcom finalises the rules governing BT's fibre network

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TalkTalk announced on Wednesday that it is to offer its customers fibre-to-the-cabinet services at speeds of up to 40Mbps, after agreeing to become a wholesale customer of BT's fibre-access network.

The move came shortly before Ofcom formally established the rules governing BT's fibre project on Thursday. The terms, approved by the European Commission in June, mean that BT has to 'virtually unbundle' its burgeoning network so rivals can offer fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) access to their customers without having to roll out their own fibre networks. TalkTalk will now become the first significant ISP to do so.

Under the new rules, BT has to give rivals access to its underground ducts and overhead pole infrastructure so they can roll out their own fibre if they wish, Ofcom said. The telecoms giant will have to give details of the ducts and poles it is offering to its rivals by mid-January 2011.

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TalkTalk's plans were revealed in the Financial Times. Chief executive Charles Dunstone said his ISP — the UK's largest domestic internet provider — is working on a commercial launch for its up-to-40Mbps services. By comparison, BT's DSL network offers theoretical speeds of up to 24Mbps and Virgin Media has its own cable network, which goes up to 50Mbps.

However, TalkTalk declined to release further details about the timing or pricing of its future FTTC services.

When the Commission gave the green light to BT's virtual unbundled local access (VULA) product, it said this should be a "transitional measure" only and that BT will have to at some point allow its rivals to physically unbundle its fibre. This will give rivals greater pricing and strategic flexibility than they get with VULA, and bring regulations for fibre more closely in line with the UK's rules on copper-network local-loop unbundling (LLU). It will also require BT to deploy more fibre than it needs for itself.

However, Ofcom said on Thursday that it was too early to mandate physical unbundling. Its reasons for this are because there was no significant demand from ISPs for such access and because those ISPs will be able to deploy fibre more easily now that they can use BT's ducts and poles.

Topics: Broadband, Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • never be as good as the advert says
    anonymous
  • The full statement from OFCOM can be found here: (its not easy reading!)

    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/wla/statement

    Its hard reading because of all the acronyms and the use of the generic term 'BT', which is interesting, rather than BT in terms of its physical divisions, is this an subtle change in the Government stance to treat BT as a single company again?
    Not sure this is any easier to understand - but for me it helps if the general term 'BT' is clarified.

    'BT' being three parts: BTOpenreach (BTO) - maintains the last mile/local loop, a fault on your line - the BT man that turns up at your door works for BTOpenreach, check out his van.
    BTWholesale (BTW)- its what is says, provides wholesale products through regulatory provision set down by Ofcom (LLU,VULA etc-see later) to Retails ISPs; or CPs as Ofcom like to call them 'Communications providers'
    BTRetail (BTR), - BTW provision/products which are resold under there 'retail' division, these wholesale products such as IPStream - BTOpenworld, and FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet/OFCOM regulatory framework:VULA) resold as BTInfiinity. The same BTW IPStreams products are sold by Orange, O2, TalkTalk (Ofcom reg framework:LLU) and from today, TalkTalk will sell the BTW FTTC Product.

    BTOpenreach (BTO) will install the fibre on behalf of BTWholesale (BTW) to the cabinet - known as FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet). BTWholesale will decide which exchanges are commercially viable, with demand gauged from Retail ISPs (such as the current survey by BTRetail, for its BTInfinity Product .
    To register your interest for BTRetail's BTInfinity Product - register at racetoinfinity.bt.com, note this survey is not being run by BTWholesale this time. Its basis is one of a 'marketing exercise', 5 of approx 5000 exchanges will be upgraded to FTTC paid by BTRetail, provisioned by BTWholesale/(under Ofcom reglatory framework VULA) unlike the original registration scheme for ADSL which was run by BTWholesale ie. 'impartial'

    Continued...
    adamjarvis
  • Continued...

    BTW wholesale FTTC Broadband provision/products are sold out to the Retail ISPs (BTRetail - under brand BTInfiinty, and now talktalk - using Ofcom new reglatory framework known as VULA - Virtual Unbundled Local Access over NGA - Next Generation Access, ie. Fibre.

    Additionally, The retail ISPs who have LLU (Local Loop Unbundling-their own equipment in exchanges) can then connect their equipment to a different new fibre optic local loop, BTW's FTTC - as opposed to the old copper local loop to the cabinet, this then uses the existing copper local loop (as before) from the cabinet to the premises.

    In future under the provision of 'physical unbundling', the cost of installing FTTC, the actual fibre optic from the exchange to the cab by BTO to BTW, can be then transferred to say TalkTalk, and BTOpenreach will use 'redundancy provision' dark fibre optic installed alongside at the time, to allow BTWholesale to continue to provide products to the existing virtual ISP providers operating over BTW wholesale FTTC Products.

    Another option being the ISPs/Fibre Companies can instead from the start, install their own fibre either between the premises and the exchange FTTP using existing ducts, or fibre between the exchange and the cabinet - FTTC, with the final leg still being the existing copper local loop to the cabinet. The OFCOM regulatory framework known as partial local loop.

    'The telecoms giant will have to give details of the ducts and poles it is offering to its rivals by mid-January 2011' : Initially these are probably likely to be the exchange deemed commercial viable, the rest based on demand. Access to ducts (Ofcom regulatory frame PIA - Physical Infrastructure Access) its expected by Ofcom, to be provided by BT at actual cost. BT gets to set out its stall for these charges by January 2011, in draft form. The costs related to this will be interesting.
    adamjarvis2
  • Continued...

    Practical aspects are yet to be addressed i.e. what happens if capacity in any ducts is limited to prevent a rival laying a cable - does BTOpenreach will step in and provide bigger ducts to facilitate an even playing field or is competition physically limited by the physical ability to install via existing routes, that latter might mean - first come - first served, which could potential drive adoption.

    This could possibily act in the way Supermarkets use 'Land Banking' installing redundant 'dark fibre' cables, which act as blocks - prevent competitors.

    Lets hope it doesn't end up as a mountain of paperwork, having to jump through hoops to get anything implemented. An online ebay type 'facilitator' mechanism will be needed to make this work in reality, where information can be accessed, overlayed onto Google maps or equivalent, and new cabling documented, as by all ISPs as necessary.

    Well Interesting developments all the same - its the most radical we have seen from OFCOM so far.

    As a minimum, still want to see OFCOM take on the idea of Strategic towns designated, which are a set distance/time from 100% of the population, so people can have access to the speeds of Broadband the best London has to offer (and constantly updated ), allowing people access to fibre, where they live or near to where the live, without having to relocate because technology infrastructure is better and cheaper elsewhere.

    Rurally, it does seem to in theory give Communities the option to raise Financial Backing to dump BT all together, use existing duct and poles, install their own FTTP local loop network (which they then own - provided at cost by BTOpenreach. Then tender for the lowest provider, to provide the backhaul of fibre to their town, maybe on a yearly basis. And the nice thing is you can even keep your old copper BT phone line if you want to, in the meantime.

    Negatives: There is little information regarding the removal of phone line rental ie. the ability to have only FTTC/FTTP without a phone line provision, but there is slight mention of this regarding Partial local loop, where the ISP physically takes over everything except the final partial loop between the cabinet and the premises.

    Would be nice to see a 'broadband only product' option, with no phone line provision.
    adamjarvis