What is Broadband?
Broadband is a service that provides an internet connection to a customer via a shared fixed infrastructure in the ground. As it is an asymmetrical service, the download speed is greater than the upload speed. At a customer’s premises, local network features such as WiFi are provided by a modem or wireless router solution, which also acts a gateway for internet access for the customers devices.
There are several varieties of broadband available to customers, using either copper lines or fibre. Broadband services that use copper lines will have speeds that are determined by the length and quality of the cabling.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
ADSL is delivered to a customer via telephone lines, then with a copper line running from the local exchange to the premises. It is an advancement of historical dial-up services. It is best suited for users who want low bandwidth consumption at relatively low cost, as download speeds reach up to 17Mbps and upload speeds reach up to 1Mbps.
If you are considering ADSL broadband, then you will need to keep in mind the longevity of the product, as Openreach will be switching off the PSTN and ISDN in 2025. This means that connectivity solutions carried over phone lines (like ADSL), will only be available in locations where fibre broadband is unavailable after September 2023. This change is not the only factor affecting ADSL lifespan though, a major factor is the change in how small offices to large businesses are using bandwidth and online applications; as an example, cloud-based applications require higher speeds/stability, so a fibre connection is more ideal than ADSL.
Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC)
This is a Superfast Fibre Broadband product which uses a copper/fibre-optic cable combination to deliver connectivity. A fibre line is run from an exchange to a green roadside cabinet, and from there a copper line runs from the cabinet to the premises. FTTC is generally a much faster and more reliable service than ADSL, with download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. However, as it still uses a copper line, the speed of the service is determined by the length and quality of the line. FTTC is a cost-effective solution and is ideal for small businesses that use Cloud-based applications.
An Ultrafast Broadband solution, G.Fast is a faster form of FTTC and is delivered in the same way, via fibre to the cabinet, then a copper line to the premises. Speeds can reach up to four times faster than FTTC, with downloads up to 330Mbps, and uploads up to 50Mbps, all while still using the same infrastructure.
Fibre To The Premises (FTTP)
As the name suggests, FTTP provides a full fibre connection all the way from the exchange to the customer premises, which makes it the fibre broadband option with the highest speeds on the market (up to 330Mbps download, and up to 50Mbps upload). FTTP is much more reliable than other broadband services, as speed does not deteriorate based on distance, this makes FTTP a fast and stable solution for customers.
FTTP is an ideal underlying technology, as it provides critical applications with the high speeds and stability they require, along with supporting over the top services, such as VOIP and Cloud applications. This allows businesses of any size to transition to an all IP solution that is reliable and provides cost-saving benefits.
The UK infrastructure is currently being upgraded so that it can support FTTP, with upgrades being rolled out gradually around the UK. The upgrade process involves the physical installation of fibre cabling to individual premises across towns and cities. Because of this, FTTP availability may be limited, and to find out if it is available in your area, find out via the Openreach website.
The Future of Broadband
The PSTN and IDSN switch off scheduled for 2025 will mark a huge change for the industry as traditional broadband connections through telephone lines will no longer be supported. Openreach is already starting to invest in infrastructure for the future change, and they are also introducing new products to replace the legacy technology, like FTTP and Single Order Solutions.
These Single Order products are SOTAP, SOGEA, and SOG.Fast
Single Order Transitional Access Product (SOTAP) – ETA September 2021
Also known as SOADSL, SOTAP will be used in places where Openreach fibre is unavailable. It will deliver a copper path between end customer premises and the exchange, providing ADSL broadband for over the top business applications like IP voice.
Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SOGEA) – ETA January 2020
Offering similar connectivity to GEA-FTTC and using the same technology (VDSL), SOGEA will be available in the same geographic areas as FTTC. It will also provide broadband without the need for underlying voice access products, offering speeds up to 80Mb.
Single Order G.Fast (SOG.Fast) – ETA May 2020
SOG.FAST allows for Ultrafast speeds to be delivered over existing copper lines through a single order variant. Currently G.Fast is available to 2.1m premises, and SOG.Fast will have the same presence.