Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Who can't get broadband?

ISP review just did an article on BT scrapping dialup. One of the concerns is that there are people relying on dialup as they cannot get broadband.

There is a quote on that article: "the CLA estimates that 15-20% of people who live in rural areas do not have access to fixed line broadband". I am not sure who the CLA are, or how they define a "rural area". I find the stat of 15-20% not being able to get broadband to be implausible, so I am curious to find out more.

It does depend how you define "rural area": e.g. defining it as "anywhere so remote that you can't get broadband" would mean 100% of such people can't get broadband. So that 15-20% stat is somewhat meaningless without more information.

We have customers who are really in the middle of nowhere on lines over 10km long that get broadband. I have not been able to find if there are any exchanges without even 20CN, or what lines exist that are over 10km long, but can there really be that many?

If you know someone that cannot get broadband, let me know, and we'll see what we can do. Bear in mind, that article is about dial-up being withdrawn. If someone can get even 250kb/s with 16ms of interleaving, that is probably 10 times faster than any dialup they could get.

Fibre to the field?
Update: Apparently there are 86 exchanges, almost all in Scotland, too remote/small to even get 20CN. No idea on number of people served, but I suspect hundreds at most per exchange. Other stats suggest over 80% of people in rural areas can get 2Mb/s. No data yet on how many can get just 160Kb/s which would exceed dialup massively.

26 comments:

  1. 95% of the houses in my village can't get ADSL. I only get it thanks to the efforts of one OpenReach engineer who checks every joint when he has to.

    Most folks have TooWay Satellite but that sucks *REALLY* bad ATM with less than a meg or no conectivity at all.

    CLA = Country Landowners Association IIRC

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    1. Thanks simon. Have we tried any of them recently - modems are always improving. I know we have people on lines 10km, and you are /only/ 7.5km :-)

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    2. Ah, OK, looks like we do have some people in your village. It is worth us talking to them about trying to fix their profile to improve reliability.

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  2. Some of those remote exchanges in Hebrides exchanges are covered by a community wireless scheme instead of ADSL, I suspect many other exchanges are in similar position (community WiFi, smal scale sub loop unbundling etc)

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  3. My father lives 3 miles from the largest town in North Devon and until FTTC was installed very recently could not get ADSL on his line.

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  4. My parents, in a valley a mile outside Cropton in Yorkshire, can't get ADSL, and as a result they're using a (necessarily high-latency) satellite connection with terms of service prohibiting virtually everything and CGNAT up the wazoo -- to make a bad situation worse it has just started doing MITM attacks on SSL connections and RSTing anything doing an HTTPS CONNECT, so not even SSH-over-proxytunnel works any more: I'll have to try to encode SSH connections in base64ed fake web pages or something.

    BT repeatedly said "you can get broadband!" and snet them a router -- and then found out that they were DACSed and the exchange was full and demanded that my parents pay the complete cost of upgrading it and running a new line along the existing bundle through the forest before they could get ADSL. They were strangely unwilling to pay a £250,000 ADSL connection fee.

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    1. MITMing SSL connections seems pretty legally dubious to me - would they be liable if someone sniffed your bank login credentials?

      Also, is there no kind of universal access requirement on BT to provide ADSL for a fixed cost, in the same way they have to do for POTS?

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    2. No - technically, they aren't even obliged to provide POTS service in extreme circumstances (where it would require more than 100 man-hours of work to provide).

      Having said that, they aren't usually so reluctant to add new pairs when needed; if they've managed to fill up the whole of the existing wiring (and indeed slightly over-fill it, through adding DACS), I'd normally expect them to be willing to pull new copper. The rental on all those busy pairs should cover the costs long-term - and even if they get away with not installing a new pair *this time*, sooner or later they'll have to (swapping out a damaged pair, someone else wanting another line, new house built...)

      Ofcom's take is interesting - http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/oftel/consumer/advice/faqs/btfaq5.htm - BT are required to provide lines capable of "functional Internet access" when requested, including "reasonable steps" to remove DACS when asked. Generally, if BT say something like "the exchange is full" or "there are no pairs spare", Ofcom's reply is supposed to be "so when are you going to fix it?": they need to have a plan in place to fix whatever the problem is, since they aren't providing the service they should until then. BT's handling seems to depend on which bit of BT you ask: some will quote insane prices, others will just arrange for it to be done.

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  5. But 160Kb/s isn't enough to be broadband, it's just narrowband. (-;

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    1. On the contrary. ADSL uses a broadband modulation, even at 160Kbps. Hell, your 33k6 dialup modem uses a broadband modulation too. Ethernet, on the other hand, is baseband.

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    2. Indeed, and fibre to the home is usually a single colour of light. A coherent single frequency is as narrow band as you can get.

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    3. Modulating that single frequency with data also broadens the spectrum of light in the beam, but the carrier is pretty damn narrow.

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  6. Rural house movers have a particular problem ... email AA sales all the info they need ahead of time except the phone number (cos we don't have it yet) and hope they keep it on file pending my phone call when I do know the number. Fat chance. ZU138P refers.

    Response? "Best thing to do is wait until the line at your new property is
    active, then go to our website, www.aa.net.uk, click on Broadband,
    then click on Regrade/Move on the left hand side and follow the on
    line instructions."

    Erm, I won't have broadband when the line is connected (and also no mobile signal - this is DEEPLY rural), my nearest public broadband is 15 miles away and I'm not sure I could find a modem after all these years. We don't all live within 25 yards of someone else and people don't seem to have any concept what that really means.

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  7. My parents can't get broadband. In fact, they can't really even get dial-up - it would disconnect every 5 minutes or so (if you could connect to start with), making it totally unusable. They're in central Suffolk, about 4 miles or so from the nearest town. They're now on satellite, about 2-3Mbps bandwidth, but latency of 700ms, which is hard to work with to say the least! They tried at least twice to get ADSL, once with an engineer, who basically said, 'forget it'. Nighbours are all either satellite or wireless to community projects. Internet via mobile won't work reliably either, which was tried for a while, and was abysmally slow.

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    1. That is surprising - do you gave a postcode I can check. Happy to try.

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  8. I've sent you an e-mail with postcode + line number. They're stuck on satellite contract for now, but if I remember when it expires then I'd like to try A&A again. Doubt ADSL, even if it connected, would get anything like the ~3Mbps they currently have though. The phone lines around there are ancient. Would love to be proven wrong, of course (as would all their neighbours, I'm sure!)

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  9. iirc, just about the whole of the Western Isles can't get DSL, the exception being the large and bustling town of Stornoway.

    Much nearer to me, on the shores of Loch Shuthairne (anglicized as 'Loch Hourn') on The Mainland, the village of Arnisdale has come to rely on an RF link across the sea back out to Skye which was put together by a group of enthusiasts.

    The Small Isles have no DSL from BT afaik, and a micro ISP has got together a group of rf links to the mainland to serv these communities ( http://hebnet.co.uk/page15.html ). It seems they know who AA are too - see http://www.tegola.org.uk/2013/01/03/rerouting.html - dropped on this accidentally.

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    1. http://www.connectedcommunities.co.uk/project/ is what they use in much of the western isles. About 5 years ago there was a push from scottish government to get broadband to pretty much everyone in Scotland

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  10. The list is an interesting one. In fact, there are a handful of other BT exchanges (four in Sussex, and one in the Docklands) which have no ADSL service, and one in Cambridgeshire which has two LLU operators (including Pipex) but nothing from BT.

    Samknows lists only 20 in Scotland which lack ADSL entirely, all in the Western Isles. The other gaps seem to be "Exchange Activate" - one serving just 20 premises, but still listed as having ADSL. It may be out of date, of course, some of the percentages make me suspicious.

    One thing you don't get with ADSL, of course, is the mobility; with a modem, you could get online anywhere that had a working phoneline. Not much use with mobile data being almost as widespread (at least at EDGE speeds, which still beat dialup), but useful in previous years. (Even now, my grandfather has almost no mobile reception, and no use for broadband for himself; if he hadn't accepted TalkTalk's free broadband offer, visits to him would still leave me incommunicado today.)

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  11. We're looking at buying a house in a new development called Kings Reach near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. The line in the show home has a sync speed of 256Kbps at 5KM from the exchange - not great! Your sales guys were pretty helpful, saying I could potentially bond up to 4 lines, but that does get understandably expensive for a domestic install. I'm currently looking at setting up some kind of hybrid DSL/Satellite system where latency sensitive stuff (DNS, SSH, etc) would come in over the DSL line, but bandwidth intensive stuff (iPlayer, etc) would go via Satellite. I think this could work with some nasty NAT magic, but not ideal. The problem is likely to grow - housing development plans are in excess of 2000 homes! :-(

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  12. I live in an older part of Biggleswade where FTTC was installed. It does seem crazy that new build doesn't get FTTP/C from scratch but hopefully BT will do the necessary before long.

    What's the latest on roll-out of FTTP on demand? Supposedly that's supposed to be coming to all FTTC enabled lines.

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    1. Isn't FTTP on demand horrendously expensive to have installed?

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  13. Just seen this link. Crazy, sounds like we need new building regulations that prevent developers building properties without FTTC as a minimum. http://www.kingsreachcommunity.co.uk/?page_id=57/widespread-broadband-issues-for-kings-reach

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  14. Isfield, Plaistow and Sutton are three Sussex exchanges with no ADSL.

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