Superfast broadband 'should be all fibre'

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Broadband expert warns UK roll-out of hybrid fibre optic - which relies on a copper wire phone line - makes superfast speeds difficult to maintain.

Fibre optic broadband should not be reliant on telephone wire, an expert has said.

Trefor Davies, founder of business broadband provider Timico UK, said a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) set up - where high-speed cable connects homes directly to a provider's network - would be much better than the UK's current roll-out of 'hybrid' fibre optic.

As part of a massive government investment - to ensure that Britain has the "best broadband in Europe" - BT Openreach engineers are installing fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology to bring superfast broadband to 90% of the UK by 2015.

Although, in theory, FTTC delivers broadband speeds of up to 80Mb, the critical 'last mile' - or the few hundred yards between a fibre optic street cabinet and a customer's home - uses old-fashioned copper wire that can drastically reduce speeds.

Davies, speaking from his own experience of slow fibre optic broadband, said the "only real answer" is for Britain to adopt the superior FTTP technology.

He added: "Whilst I am not saying that fibre is totally immune from the environmental problems that affect copper, it is far less so.

"Ubiquitous FTTP ain't going to happen any time soon - we all know that - but perhaps this blog will be used one day as an illustration of the issues that dogged that historical piece of communications antiquity, the copper telephone line."

Writing on his blog, Davies explained how corrosion on copper wires had dragged his home broadband speeds down to 6Mb from their usual level of around 50Mb.

It's worth pointing out that BT's faster FTTP service, which is currently only available in a few small areas of the UK, will eventually be installed across every FTTC location. However, at least initially, customers will be charged over £1,000 to upgrade.

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