Broadband Regenerator: new hope for slow ADSL lines?
By Barry Collins
Posted on 9 Nov 2012 at 12:45
BT is trialling a new "Broadband Regenerator" device that it claims will boost speeds for those at the end of lengthy and sluggish ADSL lines.
ADSL speeds drop off markedly for customers at long distances from the exchange, with speeds often reduced to mere hundreds of kilobits per second for those who live several kilometres away.
The Regenerator is a small box that ideally sits halfway between the customer's property and the local telephone exchange, delivering speeds as if the customer's property were based at the location of the Regenerator.
Trials of the device in Cornwall have seen speeds boosted from low hundreds of kilobits per second to three or four megabits per second, according to Jeremy Steventon-Barnes, network director for BT's Superfast Cornwall project.
When you say you're going to do 80 or 90% fibre, everyone thinks they're in the 80 or 90%
While those speeds are far from "superfast", they do enable customers to access services such as iPlayer and YouView that were previously out of reach.
BT hopes the Broadband Regenerators could be used to improve speeds for the 10 to 20% of Cornwall residents who won't be covered by the county's fibre rollout, and could eventually be used nationwide.
One Broadband Regenerator device - which sits in BT's underground ducts - can serve up to four premises, although the device requires an extra copper pair to provide its power. That could prove a limiting factor on those long ADSL lines, where available copper pairs are already at a premium.
BT said the device is still being trialled and wasn't willing to discuss costs or a target launch date.
Broadband Regenerators are not the answer for customers who can't get an ADSL connection of any sort because they live too far from the exchange.
For those customers, BT is exploring using line-bonding technologies, where two or more copper pairs are used to serve the same property, delivering speeds of around 1 or 2Mbits/sec. If that fails, the technology of last resort will be satellite broadband, which is generally slower and more expensive than ADSL.
Despite running a 4G trial in Cornwall with EE, BT has gone cold on the idea of using high-speed LTE services to reach such notspots, largely because 4G is an expensive way to reach as few as 10% of customers who won't be covered by the fibre rollout.
"We don't have a plan to use LTE at the moment," said Dr Ranulf Scarbrough, director of the Superfast Cornwall Programme for BT. "Whether that debate is completely over, I don't know."
Scarbrough admits that BT's failure to provide universal fibre coverage inevitably gives rise to resentment from those whose miss out. "When you say you're going to do 80 or 90% fibre, everyone thinks they're in the 80 or 90%," he said.
"When you say you're going to do 80 or 90% fibre, everyone thinks they're in the 80 or 90%"
To be fair, it's not exactly unreasonable to think you're in bottom 90th percentile of a group.
By steviesteveo on 12 Nov 2012
One from the top, one from the bottom
There should be a list of all exchanges and their speed per customer. The list should be ordered by speed and split 50:50 into 2 parts. Then these should be randomised, then paired; One from the top list, one from the bottom. If BT wants to upgrade one they have to upgrade both. Problem solved.
By _Alex_ on 15 Nov 2012
Thats a great way of looking at ti, a nice idea indeed.
Sadly it uses something called logic, and logic is sadly over-ridden by thirst for profits.
The number of times we see the latest and greatest new system rolled out in the cities, where speeds are already super high.
The new extender sounds great, but in truth fibre should be going out to all subscribers, everywhere, no matter what.
Fair enough drawing the line at Fastnet Rock lighthouse, but suggesting a village in Cornwall cant be fibred should be considered a failure of government.
Europe needs this more than it needs another runway at any airport anywhere.
By Gindylow on 15 Nov 2012
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