Not All Fibre Services Are The Same

Over ten years ago, Openreach started to upgrade its infrastructure by the addition of fibre from the exchange to the green cabinets in the street. This is called fibre-to-the-cabinet or just FTTC for short ...

This gave us an increase from 24Mbps over normal phone lines to between 40 and 80 Mbps, depending on the quality and distance of the onward copper cable from the cabinet to the premises.

"Openreach is the part of BT PLC that owns and operates the network!"

It has had the arduous job of upgrading the entirety of UK PLCs infrastructure from the legacy copper networks to rolling out full fibre, which is from the exchange to the door and is know as Fibre-to-the-Premises, or just FTTP.

Also, Openreach's main rival, Virgin Media, in delivering Broadband services as an infrastructure provider, has also had its market share challenged thanks to the emergence of an array of alternative networks (AltNets for short). One of the biggest, which has now passed the two million premises mark with its own fibre optic cable network is City Fibre.

The UK's network is old and is made up of a maze of copper cables, both overhead and underground, so it has taken over twenty years to push the networks into swapping out the legacy infrastructure for a technology that has, in fact, been around since the 1970s!

Fibre technology was developed as a way of transmitting vast amounts of voice calls as data transmissions were still in their infancy and in 1982, the world's longest fibre cable was deployed and brought into service between London and Birmingham.

Fast forward to today's modern thirst for online content and the ever-increasing business requirements both Google and Microsoft have their own vast private fibre optic networks to link up data centres and, using old terminology, back out to the outside world of the 'information super highway', aka The Internet.

"Due to this vast demand, we are now seeing end-to-end gigabit connectivity!"

As with all terms and conditions of supply and cost, there are standard residential packages and also business grade pricing, with the appropriate Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for when things go wrong. You cannot demand an eight-hour fix when you want to pay as little as possible and then say you run your business from home. If you pay for a business service, you will get a business-level SLA.

There are also technical differences between a gigabit service to an industrial unit and a gigabit service to a small office or your home premises. You can pay anything from £95 to £499 and it's not about SLAs. Partly. this is all to do with a technology called GPON and now XPON. Basically, it's about how many premises are connected to (in simple terms) a 'junction box' in the ground, which is then connected to the main network fibre.

Larger businesses with have their own direct fibre connection, so inherently pay a higher rental with 24/7/365 monitoring and network fix times to ensure that maximum up-time is always achieved and they have the guaranteed bandwidth and top speeds at all times. On the newer FTTP gigabit services for homes and businesses, at a much lower price point, you will see that the network may only 'guarantee' half of the advertised speeds and will be dependent on network conditions.

So, the technology that runs along the fibre in the ground (or overhead) solely depends on what is connected at either end and has different properties with different outcomes.

So, not all fibre services are the same.

If you feel inspired to find out more then do call me on 07555 807700 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.