Ofcom: 50MBit broadband in every home "possible" using only copper wires

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logo_ofcom.gifOfcom, the telecoms regulator, has come out and said that it reckons nearly every home in the UK could hypothetically have 50MBit/s broadband in the future using copper wire, negating the need to put a fibre-optic line into every single home.

This sounds great – the only caveat is though that it sounds like it needs a hell of a lot of work to become a reality. Apparently it based this assertion on an “idealised situation” where all of the right kit is in place and everything works as planned. So it’s a bit like saying that in the future we’ll all be wearing silver and driving flying cars – probable, but requiring massive technological changes in every part of the industry.

I guess the one thing Ofcom does have that my ridiculous analogy doesn’t is a technology with which to achieve the goal. At the moment 18% of homes are within 2km of an exchange and are theoretically capable of achieving 50MBit broadband (because being nearer means the signal is less degraded, so there will be less packet loss, therefore faster internet), but Ofcom think it has found a way to speed up the other 82% of homes that are further away. It reckons that by moving the upstream modems found in exchanges to the individual street cabinets, found on most roads, then faster speeds can be achieved.

This sounds pretty difficult, or at least expensive, to me as there are many more street cabinets than there are exchanges, so I guess we’ll have to keep dreaming for a few more years. At least they’re thinking about it now.

(via Tech Radar)

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James O’Malley

5 comments

  • Ofcom are getting to big for their boots, why use copper? That is so backward AND more expensive than using optical because of their proposed method of moving a modem into every street cabinate which is rediculous. I don’t understand why ofcom are stopping any company that is willing to use optical cables for a faster internet service. It’s ludacris and we are falling behind because of it. The east have 100meg broadband, why can’t we?

    • It’s certainly disappointing that there seems to be less future-proofing. For a tedious comparison, when Joseph Bazalgette built London’s sewers in the 19th century he future-proofed it to the point where the capacity was enough until today. It’s a shame they can’t fibre up every home in anticipation to everyone watching IPTV in the future.

  • We’re supposed to be getting 50Mb speeds from Virgin Media shortly (October?), and BT are planning to roll out high-speed lines capable of 50-100Mb – so we should all be quicker soon anyway!

  • James may be a journalist! Apparently however he has little understanding on how the broadband modems work.

    there is not One modem per exchange as he assumes but one per 10 to 28 connections. The average street box has around 50 to 500 connections, using the modems in the street boxes is the EASIEST thing to do and would give the best service.

    BT internal policy however does not like this as it feel (wrongly) that it loses some direct control over the modems.

    This HAS been possible since 1999! with a technology comparable to office network hubs in everyday uses.

    From Someone who works within a engineering consultancy working with Telecoms and Engineering Industries.

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