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  • Writer's pictureJack Royle

Fibre to the premises: All you need to know

Increasing numbers of our customers are choosing to go for FTTP (fibre to the premises) broadband installations. This product has been available for some years now, but as businesses become increasingly reliant on their Internet access, they have been prepared to pay a lot more for fast, stable and ultra reliable broadband in the form of "full fibre".

Broadband supply in the UK has been confusing for users for a long time now. When FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) first arrived, this product was often referred to and sold as "fibre" - but, it isn't. The fibre referred only to the link from your nearest telephone exchange to your nearest street cabinet (the boxes on the street with all the connections in your very local area - most likely you will have seen these open and being worked on - they are a mass of wires!). The connection to your house or business was still the copper cabling that has been used for decades. This offers good speeds at up to 80mbps but it is certainly not the latest technology or the fastest - that's FTTP - full fibre. This product yields up to 1gbps or 1000mbps, more than 10 times the speed of FTTC, which most of us have at the moment.

Why is full fibre so fast? Well, as the FTTP name suggests, this is because the link uses fibre optic cables all the way from the local exchange right into the premises, so the broadband limits of copper cables - which have now been reached - are no longer a bottleneck.

What's more, however, is that this product not only offers better speeds but much improved reliability and betters SLAs (service level agreements). The vast majority of our customers with FTTP never see a single outage from one year to the next - and if they do, the fix is usually within 4 hours, day or night, every day of the year. And that's great news, because normal FTTC broadband can be down for days, and you will be lucky to get a 48 hour fix from BT Openreach if the fault is on the copper network or at the local exchange.

The downside, as you might imagine, is cost - and the time to install. Full fibre can take over a month to install or more, as BT Openreach will need to route a new connection to your premises, which will involve not only site surveys, but may even involve street works and new ducting. This initial install fee is usually absorbed by the supplier, on takeup of a 3 year contract or more, but the monthly cost is still substantial, at over £350 + VAT a month in many cases. Even so, we have seen many of our dental practice customers take up this product, especially those that run all their services across broadband, including not only their Internet data, but their phones, their PDQ machines (card machines), their WiFi, their alarm and in some cases their practice management or digital imaging or scanning software. And some areas still can't get even the previous FTTC technology (such as central London amazingly) and here FTTP is the logical choice.

Recently, BT Openreach have begun to roll out fibre for everyone, without having to order it bespoke. This is called "Ultrafast full fibre" or "Fibre First", but it is limited for now. It has all the advantages of the business grade product, but without the SLAs, as whilst the product is extremely similar, its support structure is not. It will, over time, revolutionise the UK's broadband connectivity. See here for more details:

If you are in one of the regions the has Fibre broadband enabled, this is the option you should be going for.

© Liam McNaughton, Dental IT ltd August 2021

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