Beginner’s Guide to Broadband
Broadband is a service that enables a customer to connect to the internet over a shared fixed infrastructure in the ground. It is an asymmetrical service, meaning that the download speed is greater than the upload speed. At the customer’s premises, a modem or wireless router solution provides local network features such as Wi-Fi and acts as the gateway for the customer’s devices to access the internet.
There are many varieties of Broadband available, using either copper or fibre. Speeds of broadband services that consist of copper cabling are governed by the length and quality of the copper line.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
ADSL is an advancement of historical dial-up services, delivered over telephone lines, with a copper line running from the exchange to the customer’s premises. With download speeds of up to 17Mbps and upload speeds of up to 1Mbps, it is ideal for users who want low bandwidth consumption at a relatively low cost.
When considering ADSL broadband, you need to bear in mind the longevity of the product. Openreach will be switching off the PSTN and ISDN in 2025, meaning connectivity solutions carried over phone lines, such as ADSL, will only be available where fibre Broadband is unavailable after September 2023. While the PSTN withdrawal forces changes, it is not the only factor that concerns the lifespan of ADSL; a driving factor for this is the change in how users from single office to large business are using bandwidth and online applications, for example, SD-WAN and Cloud based applications require higher speeds and stability, hence fibre broadband products are best suited.
Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)
FTTC is a Superfast Fibre Broadband product that uses a combination of copper and fibre-optic cables to deliver connectivity. The fibre line runs from the exchange to the green roadside cabinet and a copper line runs from the cabinet to the premises. The speed of the service is governed by the length and quality of the copper line, however FTTC is generally a much faster, more reliable solution than ADSL with download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. A cost-effective solution, it is ideal for small businesses that utilise Cloud-based applications.
An Ultrafast Fibre Broadband solution, G.Fast is a faster form of FTTC, delivered using fibre to the cabinet and a short copper line to the premises. With G.Fast, customers can receive speeds up to four times faster than FTTC (up to 330Mbps download and 50Mbps upload) while using the same infrastructure.
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)
FTTP provides a full fibre connection from the exchange to the customer’s premises, making it the fibre broadband option with the highest speeds on the market; up to 330Mpbs download and 50Mbps upload. A fast and stable solution, FTTP is much more reliable than other broadband products as speed does not deteriorate depending on distance.
FTTP is the ideal underlying technology as it provides the high speeds and stability required for critical applications and supports over the top services, such as VoIP (Voice over IP) and cloud applications. This allows businesses of all sizes to transition to an all IP solution which is reliable along with cost-saving benefits.
To deliver FTTP, the UK infrastructure requires an upgrade, which is currently being rolled out. This involves physical installation of fibre cabling to the individual premises across towns and cities. For this reason, FTTP availability may be limited, to find out if FTTP is available in your area, visit the Openreach website.
The Future of Broadband
The 2025 PSTN and ISDN switch off is going to mark a huge change in the industry as traditional broadband connections, using telephone lines, will no longer be supported. Openreach has already started investing in infrastructure for this digital future and is introducing new products, including FTTP and new Single Order solutions, to replace the legacy technology. These Single Order products are SOTAP, SOGEA and SOG.Fast.
Single Order Transitional Access Product (SOTAP) ETA September 2021
SOTAP, also known as SOADSL, will be used where Openreach fibre is unavailable. It will deliver a copper path between end customer’s premises and the exchange, providing ADSL broadband for over the top business application like IP Voice.
Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SOGEA) ETA January 2020
SOGEA offers similar connectivity to GEA-FTTC and uses the same technology, VDSL. It will be available in the same geographic areas as FTTC and provides broadband without the need for an underlying voice access product, offering speeds up to 80Mb.
Single Order G.Fast (SOG.Fast) ETA May 2020
SOG.Fast allows us to deliver Ultrafast speeds over existing copper lines, through a single order variant. G.Fast is currently available to 2.1m premises and SOG.Fast will have the same presence.
As an industry we are now waiting for these Single Order (SO) solutions to replace existing broadband over WLR so that we can plan for the future. DWS is currently taking part in Openreach consultations to help shape and guide the transition to SO products and ensure Channel partners are able to migrate smoothly. Where possible, businesses should be choosing Fibre products now, particularly FTTP and the Single Order products as they become available, so that they don’t need to migrate as we get closer to the deadline. These products also provide a more stable service, enabling businesses to transition to VoIP in preparation for the withdrawal of traditional voice technology, PSTN.