BE Broadband Confirms FTTC Fibre Service Delay

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BE Broadband has informed its customers that its fibre service plans have been delayed until next year

BE Broadband has delayed its its fibre service plans in the UK until next year, without explaining the reasons for the delay.

The ISP informed its customers of the bad news via a short blog posting.

Unshaped Network

“We’re afraid we’re not making very good progress on fibre,” said the posting. “There are lots of reasons for this, but the bottom line is we’re unlikely to launch a service across the BE network in 2012.”

“Many of you told us you were prepared to wait for a fibre service from BE, so we’re sorry to bring you this news and for keeping you waiting,” it added. “We’re still looking into launching a service on a limited basis later this year, combining our unshaped, unlimited network with the higher speeds of fibre-to-the-cabinet. It’s just taking much longer than we’d like.”

The ISP promised to update its customers when it knows more.

BE Broadband is owned by mobile operator O2, which is in turn owned by Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica. The ISP is seeking to make a name for itself by aiming to provide its customers with an unlimited broadband connection that is unshaped by any traffic management practices that many ISPs currently employ.

“Providing a Fibre service for BE customers is one of my top priorities,” said MD, Chris Stening in a April 2011 blog posting. “What I don’t want to do is offer something which is a ‘me too’ service or offers an experience where the service runs slow at certain times or is heavily shaped or capped.”

BE was actually founded back in 2004 and began offering its ISP service in 2005. In 2006 it was sold to O2.

O2 has a mid range presence in the UK broadband market with approximately 610,000 customers, and BE does not break out its customer numbers from that amount. BE’s network reach in the UK is dependent on LLU (local loop unbundling), and currently the LLU network covers 70 percent of the UK.

Mark Nichols, head of marketing for BE told TechWeekEurope that the ISP is currently running a FTTC trial out of the Barking LLU exchange based on the BT OpenReach GEA FTTC product.

“While the service is proving to be a great success with the triallists (BE members who volunteered), there is still much to learn as our objective is to replicate the BE attributes of no traffic management or data limits, and minimal levels of contention,” said Nichols.

Controversial Throttling

BE’s open attitude to these issues is encouraging, given that data limits, traffic shaping, contention ratios, and other network management practices used by ISPs is starting to become a controversial issue, as the UK’s ageing telecoms network increasingly struggles to cope with the rising flood of rich data.

Virgin Media for example earlier this month found itself defending its policy on throttling broadband connections, claiming its traffic management would actually give hardcore internet consumers a better deal than before.

In March last year, the country’s major Internet service providers signed a voluntary code of practice, compelling them to provide clearer information to consumers about their traffic management policies.

Under that code, ISPs have to provide easily comparable information about how they slow down users’ connections during peak times, and what impact this will have for each broadband service they offer.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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