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    LLU Unbundled UK Copper Phone and Broadband Lines Decline to 9.8M

    This is a discussion on LLU Unbundled UK Copper Phone and Broadband Lines Decline to 9.8M within the General Computing and Internet forums, part of the Community channel category; LLU Unbundled UK Copper Phone and Broadband Lines Decline to 9.8M - ISPreview UK The latest quarterly update from the ...

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      LLU Unbundled UK Copper Phone and Broadband Lines Decline to 9.8M

      LLU Unbundled UK Copper Phone and Broadband Lines Decline to 9.8M - ISPreview UK
      The latest quarterly update from the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA) has revealed that the era of traditional pure copper line based Local Loop Unbundling (LLU), which gives rivals greater control over part of BTs UK telecoms infrastructure, may be entering into a slow decline.

      Unbundled lines (aka MPF and SMPF) are mostly used by ISPs like Sky Broadband and TalkTalk, which have built some of their own kit inside of BTOpenreachs network and as such have secured more control to differentiate their products and prices from those provided directly by BT itself.

      The regulatory solution, which was introduced by Ofcom in 2005 to help break BTs dominance of the UK market, has enabled cheaper and faster services to emerge in competition with BTs own products.

      However the latest update reports that the UK had 9.8 million LLU lines at the end of May 2016 (this excludes BTs own lines), which is down from 9.84 million at the end of March 2016. The LLU installed base has been broadly stagnant since around October 2015, but over the past few months weve started to see signs of this downward trend emerging.

      None of this is surprising because the related lines tend to reflect older ADSL2+ broadband and phone services, which may be slowly going out of fashion. By comparison the more modern hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL) fibre broadband services, which mostly tend to come in a virtual (VULA) flavour of unbundling that doesnt offer quite the same control as full LLU (MPF), have been showing good growth and now total around 6 million lines (see the latest BT results).

      Similarly the expansion of Virgin Medias hybrid cable and fibre network, which is gradually moving into some areas where BT were previously the dominant infrastructure provider, might also be having an impact and lest we not forget BTs own pure fibre optic Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) deployment that is about to surge, or its imminent 300-500Mbps roll-out. Some smaller alternative ISPs (e.g. Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and B4RN) are also doing FTTH/P networks of their own in a few areas.

      Some may ask why we dont have an equivalent MPF LLU form of FTTC and the answer reflects a mix of both technical / cost challenges and regulatory dilemmas. Ofcom are in fact preparing for their next 2017 Wholesale Local Access Market Review (here), which will examine these issues and could conceivably make related services cheaper.

      But the regulator will face a difficult balancing act because if they choose to go down the path to cheaper FTTC then they risk harming the investment case for the new generation of ultrafast and FTTP/H technologies, which might end up looking less attractive to consumers next to a cheap-as-chips FTTC service.

      NOTE: There are also a few niche Sub-Loop Unbundled (SLU) VDSL lines by smaller ISPs that do give a lot more control, but these can be quite expensive and more tedious to deliver. Bigger ISPs tend to prefer the easy life afforded by VULA.

      Other Stuff

      Elsewhere the OTA separately noted that BTOpenreach are planning to start using their new NTE5C Master Socket and VDSL Mark 4 filters from this month (see our Feb 2016 summary) and have advised that there will be a national launch using 3,000 engineers working on installation and repair activities.

      Apparently Openreach will also continue to deploy the older NTE5A socket and VDSL Mark 3 filter as it manages the run down and build-up of old and new versions. Openreach anticipate that NTE5C will be fully deployed by end of September 2016 when stocks of the existing NTE5A are exhausted, said the OTA.

      The new NTE5C is needed in order to support BTs future services, such as broadband and standalone (naked) VDSL/FTTC broadband-only SOGEA lines that will be surfacing over the next few years. Anybody ordering one of those products in the future can probably expect to have one of the new curvy NTE5Cs installed alongside.

      Finally, the OTA has also re-confirmed that BTs existing trials will be coming to an end on 30th September 2016 and the large-scale pilot, which is currently planned to take place in Cherry Hinton (Cambridgeshire) and Gillingham (Kent), should then begin at the very end of this year.

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      Re: LLU Unbundled UK Copper Phone and Broadband Lines Decline to 9.8M

      Are any third party suppliers selling NTE5C master sockets yet? I couldn't see any on the Run it Direct web site.



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