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What is fibre to the cabinet?

imageThinking of getting fibre broadband installed? Here’s what you need to know about ‘fibre-to-the-cabinet’ (FTTC) - one of two ways broadband services are provided to business and residential customers. The BT Name for this product is BT Infinity,. You may have seen the adverts for this.

What is fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC)?

Fibre optic broadband is supplied to homes and businesses using fibre optic cables. The main fibre optic connection for a FTTC-type broadband install runs most (but not all) of the distance from the distributor or telephone exchange to the home or business premises. These main fibre optic cables actually terminate in cabinets - hence the name.

The cabinets in question are the green cabinets you’ll have seen on street corners around your home. Chances are you’ve spotted one within a few streets of your own property. Remember that the nearest one might not actually be the one that supplies your connection though: it depends on the way your neighbourhood is connected to the exchange.

After the fibre cable terminates in the green cabinet, it is connected to the property using copper wire. This copper cable is exactly the same cable that has provided your telephone services for years; it’s designed to transmit data speedily over short distances.

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Will my connection speed be affected?

The idea of fibre broadband being run through copper cabling can be off-putting for some customers, but generally performance is excellent via copper. It can handle VDSL data for high speeds and low packet loss, it can handle VDSL data for high speeds and low packet loss, so in real terms, there is normally very little difference in performance. The only people who may see a slow-down are people who are a long way from a cabinet.

Internal phone cabling is actually more likely to cause problems with speed because many homes and office buildings were cabled long before broadband was an issue. Damaged wires can be replaced during the installation if the engineer spots any damage.

What about installation?

FTTC modems are fixed, wall-mounted boxes which can’t be moved, and they can only be installed at the master phone socket. In addition, it’s generally not cost-effective to install a second phone line to get around this, and moving a line from point to point (say, from front to back of a house) can be extremely costly. If you desperately want to install the modem elsewhere, you have the option of designating an extension socket as your new master and asking the engineer to do the necessary work, but not all engineers will be keen on the idea.

To avoid this, ask for a data extension kit to be installed. It’s basically an ethernet connection between the modem and your new fibre router or hub, and it runs from room to room internally. This is less tidy than rewiring your phone sockets, but it can also be far more practical. Positioning your hub in a different place can give you an added advantage if you suffer from wifi blackspots; you are likely to get a better signal in the rooms where you need it most.

For more information please call Lloyds IP on 0844 855 0456