Broadband in Hook

Broadband is about to leap forward in Hook. Additional green telephone cabinets have been appearing around the village as Openreach have been installing Fibre To The Cabinet equipment. This new technology could give you much faster download speeds of upto 80Mb and it also changes the way that the dreaded “upto” calculation is done. First a little history. First Generation Broadband 2Mb ADSL In 2002 the first generation of ADSL equipment was installed in the BT telephone exchange in Hook allowing us to upgrade from dial-up modem speeds to upto 2Mb broadband, with the “upto” depending on the quality and length of the copper cable between your house and the telephone exchange. 8Mb ADSL Max In 2006 BT upgraded their equipment to bring us ADSL Max that upped the theoretical maximum to 8Mb. Like the previous ADSL offering, ADSL Max was supplied by a BT Group company called Openreach who aren’t an Internet Service Provider (ISP) themselves. Openreach own the equipment in the exchanges and the copper cables in the ground are forced by OFCOM to offer their service to any ISP for a set standard, published price. This means that Openreach cannot give BT Retail a discount; they have to charge BT Retail the same as they charge any other ISP like Tiscali, AOL or PlusNet. 24Mb ADSL2+ Openreach are forced by OFCOM to rent the copper cables running between the exchange and your house for a set standard price to any ISP. If an ISP thinks they will make a profit they can choose to put their own equipment in any exchange along with their own Internet pipe and connect it directly to the copper telephone cable going to your house. This is known as Local Loop Unbundling or LLU. Hook Exchange is small and therefore ISPs aren’t rushing to install their own equipment as they would prefer to put their kit in the bigger, more profitable exchanges. In comparison, Basingstoke exchange services 10 times more houses and the setup costs are the same as they would be for Hook. ISPs have the opportunity to install the later ADSL 2+ equipment that ups the maximum speed to 24Mb. In 2010 TalkTalk were the first ISP to install their own kit into Hook Exchange, quickly followed by Sky’s Easynet service. What does this mean? By moving to TalkTalk or Sky you can upgrade to an upto 24Mb service and if you’re a Sky customer you also qualify for the “free” broadband offering that they advertise for their Sky TV customers. Read the small print though! I live just under a kilometre from the exchange and since 2002 I’ve gone from 1.8Mb ADSL through 6Mb ADSL Max and I’m now on 16Mb ADSL2+ with TalkTalk. 16Mb means I can happily watch iPlayer on the HD setting or easily download Sky’s on-demand movies. What about the new green cabinets? The green cabinets are bringing fibre powered broadband closer to your house. According to Openreach’s Superfast website, Hook was meant to get the new Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) service at the end of December 2012. This has been delayed and the current ready for service date is the end of March 2013. Once the service has been turned on your current provider may be able to provide an upgrade for an extra £10 to £15 per month but I’d recommend you take the time to research your best offer. Martin Lewis’s has an article on cheap broadband that may help you and you don’t have to buy BT Infinity to get the new broadband! Also consider moving to an upto 24Mb service with TalkTalk or Sky as they are a lot cheaper than FTTC broadband and fast enough for most people. Changing to FTTC broadband will involve a visit from an engineer to change the master telephone socket for a newer type and you will need to change your broadband router too. I said the “upto” has changed… Today the speed you see at home depends on the length and quality of the copper cable between you and the exchange. With the new Fibre To The Cabinet service it now depends how close to the nearest green cabinet you live. This is because the equipment now lives in the cabinet instead of the exchange, connected back to the exchange over a zero loss fibre optic cable. This will make a huge difference for people living on the outskirts of the Village. The future Openreach recently upped their maximum FTTC speeds from 40Mb to 80Mb and they’ve announced that it should be possible to squeeze this up to 100Mb in the future. ISPs are charging different prices for the upto 40Mb and upto 80Mb as they will expect someone paying for 80Mb to be a higher user. If you think you need 80Mb, buy an upto 40Mb service first and see what you’re getting. If it’s less than 40Mb then paying more won’t get you anything more. The next level up is to install Fibre To The Premise which brings the fibre optic cable all the way into your house instead of stopping at the nearest cabinet. This is expensive as it involves digging up roads, pavements and gardens. To keep this cost down, some companies are looking at bringing the fibre cable in through your sewer pipes! Next generation mobile phone networks are going to be able to provide wireless services at 500Mb or even 1,000Mb but these services are still on the drawing board. Watch out for the next generation mobile phone spectrum auctions over the coming months. Wot no Virgin Media?! You can get Virgin Media’s ADSL product in Hook but you’re simply buying re-badged Openreach services. Virgin Media’s cable broadband network isn’t available in Hook as there’s no Virgin Media cable in the ground. The geography and demographics of the Village wasn’t lucrative enough in the late 90’s when the cable companies of the time were digging up the roads and pavement and in the current economic climate it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing this decision change. I don’t have any connection to any part of BT or any ISP. Garan References


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