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Be Broadband delays fibre rollout again

In a second setback, the O2-owned ISP has warned customers that it will not be able to deliver FTTC services by the end of this year, despite having said it wanted to get them in place by late 2011
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Be Broadband will not be able to deliver a wide-scale rollout of fibre-based services before 2013, due to unforeseen delays to its schedule.

On Tuesday, the O2-owned ISP told existing and potential customers that it is "unlikely" that it will be able to deliver fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) services until next year but did not say exactly why the delay had occurred.

"We're afraid we're not making very good progress on fibre. There are lots of reasons for this, but the bottom line is we're unlikely to launch a service across the Be network in 2012," Be Broadband said in a blog post.

This is the second time that Be Broadband has been forced to tell its customers that its fibre plans had gone off track. In June, it launched a pre-registration programme to gauge customer interest, saying at the time it would like to launch a fibre service by the end of 2011. In September, however, it said the rollout had run into problems, nixing the chance of launching a service before the end of that year. That news came a month before the ISP announced it had begun revamping its core network in preparation for the switch to IPv6.

No traffic management

As part of its preparations, Be Broadband said it was "crunching the numbers on a variety of different routes" to allow it to fulfil its "vision" for its fibre service. This included making sure there was no traffic management on its fibre connection — something that could have contributed to the delays, given that Be Broadband uses BT's infrastructure.

"Our plans for fibre have to be something unlimited and unshaped too, otherwise it simply defeats the object of having greater speed," Chris Stening, head of Be Broadband, said in the June blog post. "It's great to be told you could get speeds up to some high level, but with traffic management it is unlikely you'll get it for long."

We're afraid we're not making very good progress on fibre.
– Be Broadband

In December, the ISP connected its first fibre trial customer in Barking, London, to test the system ahead of the rollout. Despite the new delay, the company said it is still hoping to offer fibre services to customers on a "limited basis" later in 2012.

"We're still looking into launching a service on a limited basis later this year, combining our unshaped, unlimited network with the higher speeds of fibre-to-the-cabinet. It's just taking much longer than we'd like," Be said on Tuesday.

Virgin Media and BT already offer FTTC services, and both are in the process of carrying out upgrades to increase the download and upload speeds offered by the packages.

However, alongside the upgrade Virgin Media has introduced connection 'throttling' on the majority of its 50Mbps and faster connections — a network feature rarely welcomed by users as it reduces the maximum download and upload speeds.

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