Superfast Broadband comes to Basingstoke

March 1, 2010

You may have noticed the vast fleet of BT OpenReach vans that have recently descended on the town. This is because Basingstoke has been chosen as one of the few places in the south to receive the new superfast broadband known as FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet).

This is great news for Basingstoke because for many years we have suffered from poor internet speeds in comparison with other towns. This problem is largely due to British Telecom’s decision to only build one telephone exchange in the centre of town and with broadband, specifically ADSL, the speed you get is dependant of a couple of critical factors. 

Firstly, distance. The further away from the exchange the weaker the signal becomes so the slower the connection. The second problem is line quality. Telephone cables are made of copper and this deteriorates over time and corrodes where it is joined. As cables are made in fixed lengths when they are distributed around the town, you may have a number of segments joined together. So if one section of the line from your home to the exchange is damaged or degraded, the potential speed is reduced even further.

Now with the improvements in technology it has allowed the Broadband equipment to shrink in size and the equipment has reached a size where BT OpenReach are now able to relocate this equipment, from the central exchange, much closer to your home – within metres rather than miles.

The other improvement comes in the cabling. Gone is the old copper cable because it is now replaced with optical fibre. The issue with copper is it has resistance. Image trying to run through water; you have to use a lot more energy than running on a dry land and this is why the electrical signal degrades. With fibre optic the copper is replaced with fine strands made from glass or plastic and a powerful laser transmits the signal.

There are a number of advantages with fibre optics. 

  • The signal remains very strong over long distances. 
  • The cable is capable of handling much higher capacities. Where your current ADSL phone line can only hold one signal, many more signals can be sent simultaneously. 
  • It is much quicker because the signal now travels at the speed of light.

So with this increased speed we will be able to watch high definition films without the usual “buffering” message punctuating the experience.

So how fast is fast?

The current UK average speed for ADSL is around 2.5Mb but thisis significantly lower in Basingstoke. Fibre to the Cabinet seeks to offer speeds of up to 40 Mb with a guaranteed minimum of 15 Mb and upload speeds of up to 5Mb.

When can I get it?

The proposed roll out should now be complete. So far, BT, Sky and Talk Talk have signed up to provide the new broadband package but only BT appear to be taking orders.  However, check with your current broadband provider to see if they have plans to use the new service.

How much will it cost?

Each provider will no doubt have its own business model but the prices seem to be around £20 – £25 per month but I suspect, as popularity increases, services providers such as Sky and TalkTalk will begin to offer bundles allowing you to share the costs across other services.