This post is a summary of the report produced by Barry Collins for PCPro.
Once upon a time, BT promised to deliver fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) to 25% of the country, with the rest catered for by the slower fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which uses copper wiring to deliver the final stretch of the connection.
Recently, however BT was forced to admit that only 0.7% of the UK can get a full end-to-end fibre (FTTP) broadband service from the company. That means it passes just 144,000 premises, although the actual uptake is “much lower”.
This poses the question whether BT’s fibre roll out (supported by hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money) is sufficiently future-proof, with copper wire likely to become the bottleneck when the company seeks to boost broadband speeds in the years to come. FTTP, on the other hand, provides almost limitless potential for future speed increases.
There’s already a huge discrepancy between FTTP download speeds, which top out at 330Mbits/sec on BT’s network, and FTTC, which has a maximum speed of 80Mbits/sec. FTTC speeds also drop off the further the customer is from their local cabinet.
This revelation came about when BT responded to a complaint made by two members of the public who claimed that describing the copper-based FTTP connections as “fibre-optic broadband” was misleading.
BT argued that:
“The enormous increase in the availability of FTTC broadband since 2008 meant that customers were far more likely than they had previously been to understand exactly what FTTC was and were consequently less likely to be misled by the use of the terms ‘fibre optic'”.
The Advertising Standards Authority sided with BT, ruling that:
“Consumers who might be interested in ‘fibre optic’ broadband of one sort or another would primarily be concerned with the improved speed and performance which could be delivered in comparison to an ADSL connection, and the cost at which that service could be obtained, rather than being concerned with obtaining the most technologically advanced fibre optic product available at any cost”.