[Cerowrt-devel] How is DSL sold and bandwidth managed in the UK?

Fred Stratton fredstratton at imap.cc
Fri Aug 1 15:51:53 EDT 2014

I shall attempt an answer, probably to a slightly different question to 
the one you are actually asking.

Remember, the UK is a member state of the EU.

Cable cost too much to install in the 1980s, partially causing the 
demise of Nynex. Cable is routed underground here, like most services.  
All cable, which covers most major cities, out as far as here in the 
suburbs,  is run by Virgin Media. No price competition. Lost a lot of 
video content to BT and Sky. Probably price competitive with Sky 
satellite TV.  Tiered bandwidth offering, comparable to fibre in speed, 
heavily traffic-shaped.

The telecom operator BT has no state involvement.

BT is comprised of two parts. One is BT Retail, which has circa 38 per 
cent of the retail market.

The other part is the supposedly separate OpenReach, which owns and 
maintains infrastructure, and sells services to 3rd parties. AFAIK, BT 
Wholesale also sells telephony services to third parties on top of 
OpenReach services.

Because of its dominant position, the regulator, OfCom, regulates 
OpenReach prices for services to third party service providers.

It is currently investigating fibre prices, on the basis that these are 
too high.

Not all services come via BT. TalkTalk has the most separated 
infrastructure. Sky uses OpenReach fibre backhaul.

Local Loop Unbundling means that there are eight or so different DSLAMs 
in each telephone exchange.  Sky and TalkTalk in addition have their own 
non OpenReach voice telephony equipment.

There are two tiers of ISP.

One is composed of the big players. These are BT Retail, Sky and 
TalkTalk. BT Retail have 5 brands operating as separate entities, 
including Plusnet, notable for carrier grade NAT and traffic shaping. 
None have caps or download limits.

These three are focused around content delivery, principally video. The 
service is cheap, with a plug in gateway provided. Contracts are 
generally for one year. Customer service is hopeless. You are paid 
inducements and cashback to change provider. Whilst the ADSL price is 
cheap, the cost of the phone line is steadily ratcheting up.

If the price of a service increases by 10 per cent or more in a year, 
the retail customer can leave the ISP, whatever the contract says.

I am obliged to pay money to a public corporation, the BBC. These are a 
major online video content provider, and the main competitor to the 
three main ISPs for content. These ISPs pay fees to Akamai principally 
to access iPlayer, and complain about it.

The others are the smaller players such as EE, and boutique providers 
like Zen and AAISP.

EE, or Everything  Everywhere, are T-Mobile and Orange, a combined unit 
in the UK providing mobile telephony, and internet services over the BT 
network. BT Wholesale, I think, provide and run their infrastructure.

Zen and AAISP provide a good service over lines rented from OpenReach or 
TalkTalk. They have customer dervice and respond to faults. They cost 
ten times as much as the big three, because they make their money by 
charging for bandwidth. There are many others in this category. Some 
provide ipv6.

Retail customers find deals through sites such as this


The fibre infrastrucure has been rolled out by BT. Fujitsu, and Digital 
Region, a public enterprise, have pulled out or folded.

Sky and TalkTalk currently use OpenReach infrastructure for fibre, but 
are introducing some of their own cabinets as a joint experiment.

OpenReach FTTC uses Huawei or ECI MSANs. I have fibre cabinets 200 
metres in either direction along the road.

CPE for ADSL is customer installed, and is generally a TrendChip/Ralink 
or BroadCom based device with the usual driver BLOBs, a 2.6 series 
kernel, and telnet access.

CPE for VDSL/FTTC is the official network endpint for fibre, rather than 
the wall plate. The boxes provided are either Huawei HG612, or an ECI 

These are cut down gateways without wireless, configured as VDSL2 
'modems'. The HG 612 Is Broadcom based and has been unlocked. I have 
used one on an ADSL2plus line. Source code is available, even some 
Broadcom code released in error by Huawei. The ECI box is Lantiq based, 
and blogic has had OpenWRT running on it. There are configuration 
problems with uboot, so this not stable.

This partly answers your question. Note also I have said nothing about 
mobile internet.

On 01/08/14 19:12, Dave Taht wrote:
> uknof list:
> There has been a long discussion on the cerowrt-devel list about 
> how/when/ and where to get bufferbloat related fixes into the head 
> ends and CPE, and it's confusing as to who can and what sort of 
> devices controls what,
> The uk seems to have a vibrant dsl based isp market all getting stuff 
> from BT.
> How does it work in Britain? I am under the impression that there are 
> a lot of HFSC + SFQ based rate limiters there for various classes of 
> service
> See below for some open questions on the role of the DSLAM, the BRAS, 
> etc...
> Or see "the ideas on how to simplify and popularize bufferbloat 
> control" thread:
> https://lists.bufferbloat.net/pipermail/cerowrt-devel/2014-July/thread.html
> On Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 2:04 PM, Sebastian Moeller <moeller0 at gmx.de 
> <mailto:moeller0 at gmx.de>> wrote:
>     Hi MIchael,
>     On Aug 1, 2014, at 06:51 , Michael Richardson <mcr at sandelman.ca
>     <mailto:mcr at sandelman.ca>> wrote:
>     >
>     > Sebastian Moeller <moeller0 at gmx.de <mailto:moeller0 at gmx.de>> wrote:
>     >>      No idea? How would you test this (any command line to
>     try). The good
>     >> thingg with the ping is that often even the DSLAM responds keeping
>     >> external sources (i.e. hops further away in the network) of
>     variability
>     >> out of the measurement...
>     >
>     > With various third-party-internet-access ("TPIA" in Canada),
>      the DSLAM
>     > is operated by the incumbent (monopoly) telco, and the layer-3
>     first hop
>     > is connected via PPPoE-VLAN or PPP/L2TP.
>             So they "own" the copper lines connecting each customer to
>     the DSLAM? And everybody else just rents their DSL service and
>     resells them? Do they really connect to the DSLAM or to the BRAS?
>     > The incumbent telco has significant
>     > incentive to make the backhaul network as congested and
>     bufferbloated as
>     > possible, and to mis-crimp cables so that the DSL resyncs at
>     different speeds
>     > regularly...
>             I think in Germany the incumbent has to either rent out
>     the copper lines to competitors (who can put their own lines cards
>     in DSLAMs backed by their own back-bone) or rent "bit-stream"
>     access that is the incumbent handles the DSL part on both ends and
>     passes the traffic either in the next central office or at
>     specific transit points. I always assumed competitors renting
>     these services would get much better guarantees than
>     end-customers, but it seems in Canada the incumbent has more found
>     ways to evade efficient regulation.
>     > my incumbent telco's commercial LAN extension salesperson
>     > proudly told me how they never drop packets, even when their
>     links are
>     > congested!!!
>             I really hope this is the opinion of a sales person and
>     not the network operators who really operate the gear in the
>     "field". On the other hand having sufficient buffering in the
>     DSLAM to never having to drop a packet sounds quite manly (and a
>     terrible waste of otherwise fine DRAM chips) ;)
>     >
>     > The Third Party ISP has a large incentive to deploy equipment
>     that supports
>     > whatever "bandwidth measurement" service we might cook up.
>             As much as I would like to think otherwise, the only way
>     to get a BMS in the field is if all national regulators require it
>     by law (well maybe if ITU would bake it into the next xDSL
>     standard that the DSLAM has to report current line speeds as per
>     SNMP? back to all down stream devices asking for it). But I am not
>     holding my breath...
>     Best Regards
>             Sebastian
>     >
>     > --
>     > Michael Richardson
>     > -on the road-
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     >
>     _______________________________________________
>     Cerowrt-devel mailing list
>     Cerowrt-devel at lists.bufferbloat.net
>     <mailto:Cerowrt-devel at lists.bufferbloat.net>
>     https://lists.bufferbloat.net/listinfo/cerowrt-devel
> -- 
> Dave Täht
> NSFW: 
> https://w2.eff.org/Censorship/Internet_censorship_bills/russell_0296_indecent.article 
> _______________________________________________
> Cerowrt-devel mailing list
> Cerowrt-devel at lists.bufferbloat.net
> https://lists.bufferbloat.net/listinfo/cerowrt-devel

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