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The Cornish firm with Britain's fastest net connection

  • Fibre broadband
  • BT XGPON trial equipment

By Barry Collins

Posted on 9 Nov 2012 at 10:20

A small engineering firm has Britain's fastest broadband connection, running at 10Gbits/sec, as part of a trial with BT.

Until six months ago, Truro-based Arcol had an ADSL connection of only 500Kbits/sec to share among its 40 employees. The connection was so slow that staff "used to go home at at six o'clock to do their email," according to Arcol's owner Alun Morgan.

However, the company was one of the beneficiaries of the Superfast Cornwall project, in which a combination of public and private money is aiming to bring fibre broadband to at least 80% of the county's population by 2014.

Arcol was first upgraded to a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection, running at up to 330Mbits/sec. Now, it's participating in a trial that sees the business hooked up with a staggering 10Gbit/sec line.

That gives the business access to more bandwidth than the Olympic park enjoyed this summer, according to the director of the Superfast Cornwall Programme, BT's Dr Ranulf Scarbrough.

Speed beyond the limits of today's equipment

PC Pro witnessed tests running over the 10Gbits/sec line on a visit to Cornwall yesterday. The ultra-fast speeds use a standard called XGPON, based on networking equipment developed by ZTE.

Arcol is connected by a direct fibre link from its offices to BT's exchange in Truro, and is the first business in the country to enjoy the record-breaking speeds.

ZTE's engineers demonstrated the speed of the line by initiating a dozen or so simultaneous downloads of a 40GB file from a dedicated content server. The PC they connected to had been upgraded with a 10Gbit/sec NIC, just to be able to cope with the data-transfer speeds.

BT XGPON trial equipment

The 40GB files were transferred in around 20-30 seconds each, and even with so many simultaneously downloads, only around half the available bandwidth was being used. Scarbrough claims the physical limits of the networking and PC equipment prevents the line from being utilised at its maximum capacity.

Indeed, although the direct link between the Truro exchange and Arcol runs at 10Gbits/sec, the company isn't connected to the wider internet at those speeds "because there's nothing you could do on the internet at 100Gbits/sec," Scarbrough adds.

The XGPON trial is a demonstration that end-to-end fibre connections have the capacity to go well beyond today's 330Mbits/sec speeds, Scarbrough said, although there are no current plans to offer the service commercially.

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User comments


Anyone for iSCSI or FCoE SAN in the cloud?

By dconf on 9 Nov 2012

What About The Spare Wires?

I live overseas (on the Isle of Arran) and it is not likely we will ever have fibre broadband.

When I put the telephone cabling into my house and connected up my wall socket, I was struck by the number of 'spare' wires there were.

In areas where fibre is not going to happen, is there any reason why these spare copper wires couldn't be used for a kind of parallel broadband connection i.e. instead of one connection using two strands of copper, we have two or three parallel connections running to a 'smart' wall socket that presented your router with a combined signal?

To me it seems achievable and uses existing infrastructure and technology. The only new kit would be the new 'smart' telephone point.

Or am I just being thick?

By Michael on 9 Nov 2012

BT already thought about it

Just seen another article on the PC Pro site where BT are thinking about 'line-bonding'.

By Michael on 9 Nov 2012


Max speed here 75kbs but very often down to old fashioned dial up speeds. Would love to try real broadband but it won't happen here, not cost effective.

By linux1943 on 15 Nov 2012

It's Never Right

As the title sugesstes this comment is about fibre optic broadband in general, I bet this company is way out in the middle of nowhaere and gets this speed as the village where I live strugles to get on average 2mbps let alone 2gbps we are only 5 miles from an exchange but we are not connected to that one ho no wehere connected to one about 10 miles away (well done bt ) according to bt's infinaty website we are due to get fibre broadband at the end of dec this year but there is no boxes any where and dec is fastly aproching and they will proberbly put it back again to DEC 2013, so how come a village in cornwall can get infinity (one thats more that 10 miles away from an exchange) but we can't at less than 5 miles from one .

By FireFoxx3 on 15 Nov 2012

Think yourself lucky

I live in Cumbria, about 5 miles from the exchange and we're lucky to get 500k. It would often be faster to revert to dial-up.

By davicon3 on 15 Nov 2012

Same old story! Almost obscenely fast speeds being trumpeted in the media while so many of us struggle to make a viable broadband connection at all. This is hype, pure and simple, to make BT look good. If you want me to return to you BT, put some serious investment into creating greater equality of provision, not these spectacular peaks of performance which, this article points out, are beyond the capability of readily available consumer hardware anyway.

By LesDerbyshire on 15 Nov 2012

Ignorance is its own reward

Truro is a cathedral city and county capital of Cornwall. Arcol are located on the outskirts in Threemilestone. Google is obviously too much effort for some.

My 160Mbit FTTP residential connection in Truro is a standard BT offering ... all part and parcel of where you choose to live I guess.

BT are no saints, but they don't deserve the whinging bashers that populate Dennis Publishing's comment columns. There are much worse out there and I doubt anyone here has tried other telco's.

By tim_wall on 15 Nov 2012

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