What will replace my FTTC connection?
Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) has been a common way of accessing connectivity for some time. Across Britain, we’ve all seen the green metal cabinets dotted around our streets.
But as Openreach switches off the public switched telephone network (PSTN) in 2025, businesses will need to start considering an alternative. Here, Kristian Torode, Director and Co-Founder of business broadband provider, Crystaline, offers his advice for FTTC upgrades.
Openreach is rolling out ultrafast full fibre broadband to 25 million UK homes and businesses by December 2026 as part of the biggest upgrade to broadband and telephone lines to date.
Promising speeds up to 10x faster than current technologies, with up to 80% fewer faults, users will benefit from a more reliable service that meets the demands of our digitally-driven society. But, as Openreach rolls out full fibre, town by town and city by city, keeping older technologies running will become expensive and cumbersome.
Enter full fibre
You may have already heard of the PSTN switch off. In a nutshell, services relying on the old, copper lines that currently support much of the technology used for voice and internet connectivity will be switched off in 2025 in place of the aforementioned fibre alternatives. Openreach says that, once it has connected 75% of premises in a particular exchange to full fibre, customers will no longer be able to purchase old copper products.
Those products include basic telephone lines, multi-lines, ISDN2, ISDN30 and asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL). Because FTTC enables connectivity via fibreoptic cables from the telephone exchange to the green, roadside cabinet and then through copper cable to the relevant business, the service will also be impacted by the switch off.
With FTTC being a widely-used connectivity service among homes and businesses, this news may be worrying to some. After all, upgrading your broadband network is both a time and cost investment. However, if you currently have FTTC, there’s no need to worry. Your broadband won’t be immediately affected by the switch off, as the copper lines that run from your premise will be kept live until you can access the new full fibre service, even after the switch off date. That said, it is beneficial to start thinking of upgraded, future-proofed alternatives.
Fibre to the premise (FTTP), or full fibre, is a newer form of fibre broadband. The key difference between FTTP and FTTC is that, with FTTP, a fibreoptic cable goes directly from your broadband provider to your premise, bypassing the cabinet along the way. Unlike FTTC, copper wire infrastructure plays no part. In terms of benefits, the biggest differentiator is speed. For Openreach providers, which is everyone except Virgin Media, most FTTC speeds start at around 35Mbps and go as high as 76Mbps. For FTTP, however, packages range from around 50Mbps all the way up to 1Gbps.
That speed difference is pretty much night-and-day. Downloading the latest PlayStation game on a 35Mbps service can take up to seven hours – a long wait when you’re keen to start gaming. On a standard full fibre service, you can get going in around 90 minutes. If you’ve got gigabit-capable broadband, you may be plugged into your headset in less than half an hour. If your business uses digital services like video conferencing or any cloud-based software such as those commonly used for accounting, payroll, stock management, or file storage, FTTP will undoubtedly lead to a faster and more reliable service.
The drawback of FTTP is that, right now, it’s not available everywhere. That will soon change as the full fibre rollout continues, but businesses may want to explore other options if they want to upgrade immediately.
SoGEA is a type of broadband service that’s based on the Generic Ethernet Access (GEA) standard. It works by providing connectivity over a single connection that doesn’t require a phoneline, so isn’t reliant on retiring technology. SoGEA is widely available and can deliver high-speed internet connections of up to 80Mbps. It’s a given that all businesses today need a reliable, robust internet connection. However, if your business doesn’t need the same level of data transfer FTTP can enable, SoGEA is a worthy alternative.
The PSTN countdown clock is ticking and, for those using an FTTC service, you may start feeling pressure to switch over. Our immediate advice is don’t worry – you won’t be left without an internet connection once the PSTN switches off. However, the end of FTTC is coming and, if you’re already considering upgrading your business broadband, it’s best to assess alternatives that are faster, more reliable and built to last.