• 19 Dec

    Is copper really suitable for the last mile of high performance networks?

    Is copper really suitable for the last mile of high performance networks?

    With the continuing roll-out of high speed, copper-in-the-last-mile products by Openreach, is fibre to be consigned to higher bandwidths only? Can we build VPNs for business with FTTC, GEA or DSL?

    Not if you want a reliable service. On Friday my home broadband went haywire, numerous drop-outs, bandwidth re-sets and at one point I had less than 100K upstream. After checking with Andrews and Arnold's excellent reporting platform (using 4G from my phone!) it was not in the core or the exchange and I picked up my landline phone to hear masses of static and noise. After waiting 33 minutes on hold to my landline provider I got through to raise a fault and the line suddenly cleared. So what had happened? No rain, no wind (I am on overhead wires for both phone and power), no lightning, router was fine (brand new). I have no idea - maybe an engineer had a cabinet open and the copper pair was bent, twisted, slightly jiggled and then he closed it and it was fine again. Three weeks ago it took two weeks and three Openreach engineer visits to solve the last problem which was phone line quality - two bad connections in two separate junction boxes on top of the pole I can see from upstairs. I was without internet on and off for over a week. Each fault call is preceded by threats that if the fault is internal they will charge over £100 for the engineer's visit - nice work if you can get it when there is a BT engineer on every corner.

    Whatever the reason, it shows the weakness of copper through corrosion, water, bad connections or whatever. Good connections can become bad ones (and back again if you are lucky) in minutes and this causes disruption, wasted time and dissatisfaction. Imagine if my office with 30 people had been using a copper provided FTTC for phones and internet and had been down all afternoon.

    BT Openreach should be installing fibre, not copper but they are hooked on the drug of the cash that flows from milking ancient infrastructure. So for now, if you want a reliable, high-performance network, use fibre. For most businesses, that means a leased line last mile, supported by a 24x7 Network Operations Centre and Service Level Agreement.

    Posted by: Richard Auld Tags:

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