Up until now, Milton Keynes has been living in the dark ages when it comes to broadband. Speeds anywhere close to the ADSL2+ standard of 24Mbps are few and far between, with only the smaller outer exchanges being able to provide anything close to modern day speeds. Most people are still struggling along with 1-4Mbps, which in todays world of streaming video, media rich websites, and online gaming, is way below par.
The problem with the existing broadband infrastructure in Milton Keynes is that when the new town was initially planned, the price of copper was too high to lay across the whole town. Instead they opted to go for aluminium, which for phone lines is just as good as copper, though back in the 1970's the internet was barely even heard of, let alone broadband. Because ADSL signal is not carried as well by aluminium, the majority of local broadband users cant get close to the speed they should even when they are not far from the exchange.
Also Milton Keynes is home to one of the countries largest telephone exchanges. 'Thats great' I hear you cry? Wrong! The more people on the exchange, the busier and more saturated it becomes. All of central Milton Keynes and surrounding areas run off this exchange (approximately 30,000 premises), which is actually based in Fishermead, not Bradwell Abbey itself. Newport Pagnell, Stony Stratford, and Bletchley all get their own, and are generally not affected by this technological blight of Milton Keynes.
Fortunately this makes Milton Keynes the perfect candidate for BT to trial their new Fibre network, hopefully going ahead as of January 2010. Fibre is totally different to the way broadband works when going down a phoneline, it is specifically meant for handling data, in vast quantities. BT will be upgrading the Bradwell Abbey exchange to utilise FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) or FTTH (Fibre To The Home), which should enable speeds of up to 100Mbps, therefore in some cases providing 100 times the connection speed.
To give an example, most home local networks (using ethernet cable to connect the PC in your study, to your PC in the living room) run at 100Mbps. This means you will have potentially the same transfer speeds between your computer upstairs, and a server on the other side of the planet! This is huge news for Milton Keynes residents and business owners, which have been plagued by sub standard speeds for too long. This town is already a technological and commercial hub, but can only expect more growth and wealth because of it.
Up until now, BT are remaining fairly hush-hush on the subject. Openreach (BT's wholesale offshoot that deals in selling its services to other ISP's such as Sky, Pipex, Be etc) will initially be upgrading the exchange, and then opening up to a range of other hosts to provide this service. This means you should be able to get onto the network without ever actually being a BT customer. Speaking to a BT customer service representative, I was told that when the time comes they will be heavily pushing the service to all areas it will be available in.
If anyone can provide anymore information or knowledge on the matter, please make a comment below :)
- Any ISP can partake in the trial
- Speeds will be around 100MB down / 15MB up
- Proposed start, summer 2010
- Costs, unknown and dependant on individual ISP's
Looks good, more information will be added as we find it :) Also here is a useful map showing the Bradwell Abbey Exchange coverage.