Villagers in Plaistow to put new broadband boosting technology through its paces

Households in the West Sussex village of Plaistow have been selected to take part in the first commercial pilot of a new technology to increase the speed of fibre broadband over very long phone lines. Around 19 premises in the small rural village will join a pilot scheme to test out the technology – known as Long Reach VDSL, by infrastructure provider Openreach. The pilot builds on the success of trials which began around the country last summer, with Plaistow becoming the first of six new locations* that have been picked to help Openreach understand how the technology can improve broadband speeds for more homes and businesses across the country.

Being subject to the laws of physics, broadband speeds tend to slow down over long distances, so Openreach is constantly working to find a solution to that challenge. Long Reach VDSL operates at higher power levels and makes use of a wider range of frequencies to increase broadband speeds and the distance over which they can be delivered. Openreach has migrated all eligible Plaistow lines to the new technology and, if it proves successful, they will remain in operation at the higher speed for the foreseeable future.

Early results have been positive with most households seeing a significant increase in their fibre broadband speeds. Kim Mears, Openreach MD for infrastructure delivery, said: “Long Reach VDSL can potentially improve speeds for thousands of homes and businesses across West Sussex and the rest of the UK – particularly those connected by long lines. “Getting faster speeds to rural communities is one of our biggest priorities.

We believe we can get fibre-based solutions to almost 99 per cent of homes by then end of 2020, including the use of Long Reach VDSL and our current plans would see most homes in the final five per cent of the UK receive speeds well in excess of 10Mbps. “This technology is a great piece of British engineering, but it is not something Openreach can just implement alone, so we’re delighted to be working with a number of our service provider customers on these pilots to make sure it works with their home routers and TV boxes.” Stacey King, BT’s regional partnership director for the South East, said: “Being able to test new technology like this in a real-life setting is a crucial step before being able to deploy it on a much wider scale.

“I hope people in Plaistow will see real improvements in their broadband speed as they help us find an answer to the challenge of delivering faster, fibre broadband over longer lines. “I’m acutely aware of the frustration this causes for those at the end of these lines. We’re working hard to develop technology to help us fill the remaining gaps in the UK’s high-speed broadband jigsaw.Plaistow could prove to be a significant part of the puzzle.”

Openreach is standing ready to support the UK government’s ambition that all premises in the country can order a service that delivers a minimum of 10Mbps, regardless of where they are. The picturesque village of Plaistow was chosen due to its remote location, and the fact that two existing fibre street cabinets which serve the village support a cluster of long lines where download speeds are currently less than 10Mbps. Openreach will apply the new engineering solution to any broadband lines in Plaistow that they believe will benefit.

*The other Long Reach VDSL pilot locations are:

  • Clachan, Mull of Kintyre, Scotland
  • Eriskay Outer Hebrides, Scotland
  • Whitehouse Mull of Kintyre, Scotland
  • Kesh, Northern Ireland
  • Pomeroy, Northern Ireland

About Openreach Openreach is the UK’s leading digital infrastructure provider. Its 32,000 employees are responsible for building and maintaining millions of miles of fibre and copper cables that connect every home and business in the UK to local telephone exchanges.

Openreach operates and maintains this network to deliver a range of wholesale services for more than 580 retail providers, who in-turn provide telephony, broadband, TV and data services to more than 30 million consumer and business customers throughout the country. Openreach is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of its revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom. Any company can access its products under exactly the same prices, terms and conditions.

Over the last decade, Openreach has invested more than ?10bn into its network and is currently building the UK’s largest fibre broadband footprint. This technology is available to more than 26 million homes and businesses, with tens of thousands more gaining access each week. Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group.

For the year ended 31 March 2017, it reported revenues of ?5.1bn. For more information,[1] About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.

BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach. For the year ended 31 March 2017, BT Group’s reported revenue was ?24,062m with reported profit before taxation of ?2,354m. British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group.

BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

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