BT fixed-line broadband solution a step in the right direction but serious issues remain - Mick Bates AM

September 15, 2009 12:15 PM

BT has today announced a pilot of a new fixed-line solution for delivering broadband to some homes that are currently too far away from the local exchange to support broadband. Montgomeryshire AM Mick Bates has welcomed the pilot which will see improvements to the Llanfyllin exchange, but insists that more action is needed to address whole communities of Montgomeryshire which still remain without a broadband connection. Llanfyllin is one of only 10 sites selected for testing Broadband Enabling Technology (BET), a new fixed-line solution for delivering broadband over much longer distances. BET is capable of delivering a stable broadband service over lines up to 12km away from the exchange - more than double the current 5km limit for broadband. Commenting, local AM Mick Bates stated: "I welcome this pilot which I hope will provide broadband to those customers who are currently unable to receive it, due to long telephone lines where they are situated too far away from the exchange. The new fixed-line technology can boost broadband signals up to 12km, so it offers great potential for delivering a reliable broadband service to those in hard to reach areas. "However, improving the Llanfyllin connection will not tackle the serious issues which remain in Montgomeryshire. Whole communities such as Staylittle, the Dyfi Valley and Dolanog have little or no internet connection and won't be reached by this particular trial. Businesses and residents are suffering as a result, with individuals left isolated and unable to access online services and businesses unable to compete in local, national and global markets. "There is much work still to be done to address the broadband not-spots in Montgomeryshire. This BT pilot is definitely a step in the right direction and if it works I hope that it can be rolled out to more and more communities across Wales. In the meantime it is important that we continue to investigate alternative solutions which may help to address the current broadband gap between rural and urban areas." Notes: Pilot locations: Exchange name County Region/Nation Twyford Berkshire South east england Badsey Worcestershire West midlands LLANFYLLIN Powys wales LEYLANDLeyland Lancashire NORTH WEST ENGLAND PONTELAND Northumberland North east england WIGTON Cumbria North west england HORSHAM Horsham West Sussex SOUTH EAST ENGLANDuthSouthand Wymondham Norfolk East of england *Inverness Culloden scotland *Dingwall scotland Q. What is BET? A. BET - Broadband Enabling Technology - has been developed by Openreach to provide a solution for addressing a proportion of those homes that cannot receive a broadband service due to "long line" issues. It has been designed on a reliable "business class" DSL technology platform called SHDSL, to provide 1Mb/s or 2Mb/s broadband services over lines much longer than has previously been possible for exchange based ADSL. By using the SHDSL platform and adding some modifications and the use of a remote unit, ADSL broadband can be transmitted over very long copper pairs, to provide customers in "not-spot" or "slow-spot" areas with a reliable, stable broadband service. Q. Can it go faster than 1Mb/s? A. BET can deliver a 2Mb/s service but to do this it is necessary to use two copper pairs, each delivering 1Mb/s. The BET equipment has been designed to support either 1 or 2Mb/s downstream and up to 1 Mb/s upstream. Q. What are the benefits of BET over satellite or mobile broadband solutions? A. Wireless based broadband services such as mobile and satellite deliver a defined data rate into a specific area. Any customer using broadband in that area will have to share the available capacity with all other users and will suffer further degradation in broadband speeds as a result of environmental factors. As a result the actual speed of these links is often substantially less than the claimed "peak" speed. With BET and other fixed broadband lines, each individual user receives dedicated capacity, resulting in a faster and more consistent broadband speed. BET is also not affected by weather, atmospheric conditions or other environmental effects that cause problems with wireless and satellite services. Q. How much will BET cost end-customers? A. During the pilot, Openreach will be offering the BET equipment to its communications provider customers free of charge. However, 'end customers' (i.e. homes and businesses) will need to pay their chosen communications provider to receive a broadband service, as with a standard broadband arrangement. It is entirely up to communications providers to set the retail pricing.

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