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BT broadband 100Mbps long range FTTC trials confirmed for London and Essex – UPDATED

BT has confirmed that trials of a service that could provide 100Mbps top download speeds on FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) lines will take place in Barnet, north London and Braintree, Essex this summer. 

The trials will involve the introduction of vectoring technology, which drastically reduces the amounts of noise and interference on the copper section of the line. FTTC has a fibre-optic connection going all the way to your nearest street cabinet, with the final connection, the so-called ‘last mile’, made up of copper.

Speeds become slower the further away you are from the street cabinet depending on the distance of the copper last mile. If you’re within spitting distance of a connected street cabinet your should get download speeds approaching 80Mbps. If you’re more than 1.6 kilometers (1 miles) away from a street cabinet, then you won’t be able to get speeds above 10Mbps, similar to what you’d likely get on an ADSL line. 

BT broadband 200Mbps FTTC trials confirmed for London and Essex
BT’s FTTC is only good if you live close by – vectoring could increase its effective radius

As well as boosting the headline download speeds, BT’s vectoring technology could increase the effective radius of its FTTC product. ISPReview, which broke news of the announcement, estimates that download speeds of up to 100Mbps could be possible at up to 500 meters away from connected street cabinets and speeds of up to 50Mbps viable at 900 meters.

Details are sadly thin on the ground right now, but a BT spokesperson told us to expect more details over the next few weeks:

“Openreach is planning to test the capabilities of vectoring as part of a trial involving its CP customers during Summer 2013. We will provide industry with more details on the trial over the coming weeks.‪

It’s far too early to say whether we will be deploying vectoring in our network as any decision will be dependent upon the outcome of the trial.‪ However, we believe vectoring has the potential to be a cornerstone technology of FTTC deployment in the future.

Customer feedback and the latest figures from Ofcom suggest that our fibre products are performing very well and, as you would expect, we’re continually evaluating emerging technologies aimed at further enhancing performance.”‪

So while BT hasn’t committed to anything concrete with this statement, it’s very much looking like vectoring will factor in BT’s future rollout plans. The fact that it could see FTTC broadband being pushed into areas where BT previously wouldn’t have considered. This makes us more confident that the 90 per cent by 2015 target will be hit.

Hopefully this also means that those in the hard to reach 10 per cent might get something more than just 2Mbps bonded DSL or satellite broadband.


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