Guernsey gets VDSL. 40Mbit speeds

I genuinely didn’t think Guernsey would ever get ‘high speed’ broadband. When the 20mb upgrade came along over a year ago, I was actually quite surprised.
And yet again, Sure have surprised me again.

Completely out of the blue, all of a sudden they were advertising their new ‘Superfast Broaband’ service. I thought, I wonder what this could be? And sure enough, it’s basically what BT in the UK call ‘BT Infinity’.

As an aside, and to clear things up, VDSL is not fibre optic broadband. It is still delivered over your telephone line’s copper cable. However to achieve speeds as fast as 40mb, it requires the line distance to be very short indeed. And that’s were the ‘fibre optic’ bit often comes from. The telcos have to deploy street side cabinets everywhere, in order to reduce the length of the telephone lines. Think of these street cabinets (or MSans, as Sure are calling them) as mini telephone exchanges, if you will. The closer you are to one, the faster your new 40mb service will be.

But here is the rather good thing. Unlike BT in the UK, I believe, who will only connect you to their VDSL service if you are need a cabinet, Sure appear to be connecting up anyone so long as their line is short enough. (Read: if you are connected straight to the telephone exchange).

So, with the aside over, what is this service actually about? Well firstly, it’s all about speed. 40mb is a lot of bandwith. There really isn’t much that you can’t do over that kind of connection. Multiple HD video streams, super fast file downloads and plenty of bandwidth for the entire house to enjoy, without someone screaming if the internet is being used by someone else.

What about the upload speeds? Well, the advertised ‘up to’ speed here is a rather measly 2Mbps. I was actually expecting a bit more, since in my opinion upload speeds are now becoming more and more important. With the shift to services ‘in the cloud’, users need to be able to upload their data just as quickly as they download it. In the UK, upload speeds on similar VDSL services can approach up to 10Mbps. Maybe Sure will bump it up in the future.

The pricing for the service, in my opinion, is very good. For their home product, it’s just £35 per month. Much less than my current £50 per month for just 20mb. So for pro users, it’ll be a no-brainer to switch, unless you really need a fixed IP address or a sightly lower contention ratio. But in any case, I highly doubt the 40:1 ratio on the new service will slow down speeds on the 40mb service down to ADSL levels.

Another ‘issue’, is that the installation requires a visit by an ‘engineer’ (No, they aren’t engineers, they are Technicians. Try going to University for 4 years first). This visit seems rather pointless. It appears that the sole purpose for the visit is to fit a new master socket on the line, that will split the telephone and VDSL signal at source, before it enters the home’s internal wiring. For most people this probably won’t be a problem. But for some with master sockets in unreachable locations, it’s going to be a bit of a pain. As far as I am aware, you can get VDSL micro filters just as you can for ADSL (in fact, they’re probably the same). So why they can’t just do that is beyond me? If someone’s internal home wiring is really that bad then they shouldn’t be getting this service anyway.

Update: C&W have contacted us and will be sending the engineer to visits on the 12th September! So a few weeks waiting time. I’m hoping that they have already enabled the line for the service, and if the VDSL modem arrives in the post before the visit then I will plug it in and see if it works!