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ADSL2+/21CN - PlusNet's Plans

ADSL2+/21CN - PlusNet's Plans

ADSL2+/21CN - PlusNet's Plans

We're now making plans for the next generation of broadband services and the purpose of this blog is go into some of the details of how we will deliver them to our customers. As we mentioned in our plans for 2008/9 this year we will begin testing ADSL2+ to our customers. This is a big project and will really benefit PlusNet's customers. It's as big as the 'up to 8Mbps' upgrades two years ago and the 'up to 2Mbps' upgrades from two years before that. The up to 8Mbps world has brought online content into the living room; whether it's iPlayer or 4OD or one of the other streaming services. ADSL2+ will mean higher speeds for our customers and we are going to see further integration between PC and TV (whether that's via a set-top box, TV with an Ethernet cable, games console or media centre PC) and more rich content (and HD content) being delivered over the Internet. Unlike previous "time shift" technology, things like iPlayer don't rely on you setting the show to record before it's been on. (Note: Before I go any further I should note that as yet not everything has been finalised, so there may be a few changes to the finer details and the exact dates haven't yet been decided.) So in this blog I'll cover off the following:

  • What is 21CN?
  • What is ADSL2+?
  • PlusNet's testing plans
  • WBC and IPStream Connect
  • Rollout and coverage
  • Products

So first of all, what is 21CN? 21CN (or 21st Century Network) is the new core network that BT are developing. Costing in the region of £10 billion and taking about five years to complete, this will bring a number of changes to both voice and broadband services in the UK. A lot of the changes will be "behind the scenes" and not noticed by customers. Part of the upgrade work will move the voice (PSTN) service on to an IP network; existing telephones will remain the same the only thing people may notice is a short outage as the switch happens. Another part of the rollout is will be the availability of faster broadband speeds through ADSL2+. There's plenty of information on the Internet about 21CN such as Wikipedia, BT themselves and Samknows. What is ADSL2+? The broadband services we offer at the moment use a technology called ADSL. The ADSL part of the connect is actually only the bit between the customer's router and the local exchange. ADSL works by using part of the unused frequencies on the telephone line to transmit and receive data. As distance from the exchange increases some of the frequencies become unusable because of interference and with less frequencies available the maximum speed decreases. The next generation of broadband services are being based on a technology called ADSL2+. This works in a similar way to ADSL but the frequency range is different and this, depending on line conditions, can offer faster speeds. ADSL as used at the moment can offer speeds up to 8Mbps whereas ADSL2+ could theoretically offer up to 24Mbps (we'll go into more detail on the availability in the Rollout and Coverage section). There's more information on Samknows for those interested. PlusNet's testing plans A small number of exchanges have already been upgraded to offer ADSL2+ services. We will start testing ADSL2+ services internally later in the summer and then with customers this autumn. We've placed the order for the initial capacity to connect the first set of exchanges to our network and have begun work on developing the necessary automation to deliver the project as well as planning the other backend system changes that will be required. We plan on being cautious during the trial after our experiences with the DSL Max rollout two years ago and will carefully review the progress before migrating large numbers of customers across to ADSL2+. The actual migration process involves an engineer visit and a rejumpering at the local exchange, not too unlike a switch to/from LLU, so we will start out with limited numbers of opted-in customers so we can see exactly how the new provisioning and fault processes work. As soon as we can we will post more information on how the migration process will work and how customers on trial exchanges will be able to take part. WBC and IPStream Connect Available at launch from BT Wholesale will be two products WBC (Wholesale Broadband Connect) and IPStream Connect. Wholesale Broadband Connect will actually come in a couple of different flavours but for the purposes of this blog will just talk about WBC. WBC is the new broadband product that will offer ADSL2+, of course you can only move a customer on to a WBC product once their exchange has been upgraded to offer ADSL2+. This presents a little challenge that is overcome by IPStream Connect. Rather than having a mix of some customers connecting via 21CN and some via the old IPStream central pipes, IPStream Connect allows an ISP to switch all of the customers not on WBC on to part of the 21CN backhaul. That way all customers regardless of whether they are on an ADSL or ADSL2+ connection have their traffic routed in the same way to the ISP. Rollout and Coverage So long as the trials are successful we intend to switch across to WBC and IPStream Connect at the end of 2008. The exact date has yet to be determined but we will keep these posts regularly updated with any news. It is currently our intention to allow customers to "opt in" to ADSL2+. The exact mechanism on how this will work, especially given the rollout schedule, has yet to be decided. So far approximately 5% of the UK population has been switched on to 21CN, this is expected to increase to 55% by May 2009 and the remainder over the next 2-3 years. You can check the estimated date for your exchange to be switched over here (note: these dates are subject to change and don't necessarily indicate the date that ADSL2+ will be available). It's important to note that ADSL2+ won't give a speed increase to everyone, the current estimate from BT is that around 10% of the country will be able to get more than 12Mbps. In reality the specifications for ADSL2+ suggest that there should be some speed increase for most people that currently get 4Mbps or more or 1Mbps or less. Those customers whose speeds are currently between about 1Mbps and 4Mbps the main benefit of ADSL2+ may be an improvement in stability rather than speed. We've posted previously about how to market ADSL2+ because we feel it's important to set the right message and expectations about what is being sold, but at the same time not disadvantaging ourselves in the marketplace. Products We already sell all of our broadband products with a clear usage allowance which is measured between 8am and midnight, seven days a week. Overnight usage is free on our Broadband Your Way products. Our intention is to standardise to ADSL2+ products across our product range from early 2009. Once the trials have completed we'll provide new lines on ADSL2+ and will offer migrations to existing customers when their exchange has been upgraded. We'll keep you updated as things progress, so look out for more news later this summer. (Disclaimer: I'm using "up to 24Mbps" as a placeholder whilst we decide exactly how to describe the ADSL2+ services, as per the linked blog above you can help us with this decision). Dave Tomlinson PlusNet Product Team

 

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25 Comments
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25 Comments
Grafter
Dave, I would like to offer to help when 21CN arrives in this part of the world. Bob Milton
Grafter
u talk about download speeds im under the 4mb speed which wont see a great improvment of down speed but i have allways belived that with adsl+2 u get a bigger upload speed which i was looking forward to. can any one confirm this plz to be fact?
Community Veteran
This is something I would like to get involved with but currently BT plan on making the change at the back end of 2009 Sad. I am curious however what the expected upload speeds would be.
Community Veteran
Dave, Can you confirm that when a user is switched over to IPStream Connect the user could be moved over to ADSL2+ before the exchange is WBC enabled? My exchange is one of those tiny ones where the WBC date is way off or undefined! But I would like to get ADSL2+ for the improved, or at leats hoped for, line stability.
Not applicable
[...] launching services to end users. Plusnet have indicated a cautious approach and are expecting to start trials with customers in the autumn, hoping to avoid any problems that might occur by jumping in head [...]
Not applicable
Can I ask what effect this technology will have on those of us who are a long way from the exchange and can only manage 500k connection on a good day from an 8meg line? - If it can improve on that, bring it on!
Plusnet Staff
"Can you confirm that when a user is switched over to IPStream Connect the user could be moved over to ADSL2+ before the exchange is WBC enabled? " The exchange needs to be WBC enabled to get ADSL2+. Think of IPStream Connect as the exact same ADSL connection from you to the exchange but with the part where the traffic goes from the exchange to us over the 21CN backhaul link rather than the current 20CN backhaul and central pipes.
Not applicable
Available to assist in any way required
Not applicable
When I test my download speed it is usually at less than 1 Mbps-so why can I believe that I will see any improvement? Get the current system working before you move on!
Newbie
Getting 'Upto 8Mb' would be nice at the moment let alone thinking about getting 'Upto 24Mb' in February 2009! :-/ Can me a cynic, but I expect to catch up with the rest of you 'Upto 8Mb'ers in Feb' 2009. Perhaps then I can enjoy speeds of 3.5 like the rest of the nation, who obviously sit on top of their local exchange and not a couple of miles away like us, but u n t i l t h e n . . .
Newbie
Great minds think alike Brian. Smiley
Not applicable
I echo Robert Togneri's comment. VoIP telephony, iPlayer, HD streaming are all pie in the sky to the underprivileged like me who struggle with an unstable 500kB broadband link and yet pay the same as customers enjoying a genuine 8MB link. If ADSL2+ will enable me to start using the full range of internet services, then yes please.
Not applicable
"Those customers whose speeds are currently between about 1Mbps and 4Mbps the main benefit of ADSL2+ may be an improvement in stability rather than speed" Well aint that sods law. Bt estimate August this year to upgrade the exchange, but it's a shame i'm not expected to see much improvement on my 3.5 (syncing at 4mb) line. Sad
Not applicable
As a side note, loved the heading in the newletter email of "Faster Speeds Are On The Way". Maybe it should have a * at the end and a footnote saying "maybe not for all". Wink Wink
Not applicable
I am happy to be involved in the testing phase too. My exchange is scheduled to be upgraded by BT on 19 Aug 2008.
Grafter
Yay, by Q4 2011 thanks alot. I loved the way you mentioned: It’s as big as the ‘up to 8Mbps’ upgrades two years ago. We are scheduled for this next year!!!!! This is ridiculous...
Not applicable
I like your service but I cannot make head or tail of all the techie stuff. I know you feel you must explain all to your customers but we wrinklies and I guess many others just want a section which tells us in jargon-free language what will happen at our end and if we need to do anything. To make an analogy with cars, you are at the stage when we were adjusting our carburettors and fitting indicator lights. That stage is long past – please row out of it in the computer world. Oh, and thank you – I hope without optimism.
Not applicable
I'm still at 2 with no chance of faster in the foreseeable future. I live in a backwater place it seems.
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[...] so far. Other ISPs are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach - including BT-owned ISP PlusNet. It’s also quite likely that many larger ISPs who operate their own LLU networks will not [...]
Dabbler
Looking forward to faster Broadband speeds, I might actually be able to get 2Mb! - who knows?
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[...] the international comparison tables for penetration. Fixed-line broadband is reaching saturation, speeds are increasing and mobile broadband is really taking off. But where do we think broadband is going [...]
Newbie
On the question of how do we sell superfast? How about we use the same technology as our competitors - the line speed you get from us is the same as they will achieve ... what differentiates us is the quality of service when you have a problem and our overall network capacity that is shared between all the users (our pie is bigger - everyone gets a thicker slice). Broadband speed test gives me 6096Kb/s - the local exchange is all upgraded for w21CN, etc, I think my router will handle the signalling, can I be a guinea pig for the new service?
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[...] in June we first wrote about our plans to use BT’s new products to offer our customers faster speeds. We provided an update in [...]
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[...] still not sure and would like some more information we have a couple more blogs from us at the start of the trial and an update on how things are going from September. There’s also a blog from our Marketing [...]
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[...] this (where have you been?), then you can bring yourself up to speed by reading the blog posts here and [...]