Bell Canada plans 10Gbps speeds for ‘easier to maintain’ FTTP


news Canadian telco Bell Canada has revealed it is planning to extend its Fibre to the Premises network to some 2.2 million premises by the end of 2015, hyping the technology as being far easier to maintain than Fibre to the Node and also being capable of delivering 10Gbps speeds to customers by 2017.

Bell Canada operates networks using both the Fibre to the Node technology favoured by the Coalition Government in Australia, as well as the Fibre to the Premises model which represents Labor’s original plan for Australia’s National Broadband Network. Its main competition in the country comes from local HFC cable players. In total, it has 7.9 million locations covered with FTTN and FTTP.

However, in a conference call for the company’s latest financial results session last week, first reported by FierceTelecom, the company focused strongly on its Fibre to the Premises infrastructure as representing the future of its network. The company offers a 1Gbps FTTP service to about 2 million premises across Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic region, and plans to deploy FTTP to a further 200,000 premises by the year’s end.

In the call (read the transcript online on Seeking Alpha), Bell Canada chief executive George Cope acknowledged deploying FTTP infrastructure was capital-intensive.

However, he said, the company had now had four to five years of experience deploying the infrastructure, and was seeing other advantages to the model. With respect to its operating expenses, Bell Canada was seeing a requirement for about “40 percent less truck rolls in Fibre to the Home areas versus FTTN areas”.

In addition, the company was seeing a 50 percent reduction in preventative maintenance compared with FTTN.

“Most importantly our churn rate is lower in markets that we have FTTH over anything else we provide and that’s simply because there is no technology better in the world than that technology,” said Cope.

In addition, the executive said, the “capital intensity” for Bell Canada in terms of rolling out FTTP over the past few years had been lower than the company’s HFC cable competitors.

Bell Canada is also planning to upgrade the speed service on the network. “… by 2017 we’d have the ability to do 10 gig speeds. That would be available without requiring any upgrade to our network,” said Cope.

Bell Canada is also seeing a great deal of uptake of the technology. “In some of our fiber-to-the-home markets, we are seeing penetration greater than 50% market share in some of the more mature Bell line markets,” said Cope.

The news comes as Australia’s NBN company continues to push strongly into deploying FTTN infrastructure.

The company’s initial FTTN rollout has launched in Belmont, NSW. It aims to have 500,000 FTTN premises Ready for Service (RFS) by mid-2016 and 3.7 million by mid-2018.

What we’re seeing here is clear evidence — from a massive telco which owns huge FTTP and FTTN networks — that FTTP offers that telco and its customers significant advantages over FTTN, in terms of speed, upgradability, operating costs and maintenance effort. It is clear that Bell Canada prefers deploying FTTP wherever it can, and that the company does not regard it as an expensive proposition to do so, when compared to the capital being injected in legacy HFC cable networks in the same country.

My only question is: Why is there such a huge difference in network infrastructure philosophy between Bell Canada and the NBN company?

And, of course, the answer is: Politics. Australia’s NBN company appears continually determined to ignore the reality of the benefits of pursuing a near universal FTTP rollout in Australia, because the new Coalition Government will not allow it to do so.

Australia is only being saddled with the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix because of politics. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Coalition needed an alternative NBN policy to take to the 2013 Federal Election — and if both major sides had been more willing to work towards a bipartisan NBN solution — then NBN’s executive team would probably acknowledge that the views of Bell Canada’s executive team is correct: FTTP is the end game for the upgrade of every incumbent copper telephony network in the world. It’s just a matter of time.

Former NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley said it best in his detailed analysis of the NBN company’s costs:

“Telcos around the world are recognising that FTTP is the most cost-effective way to provide the broadband infrastructure that is needed to stay competitive into the future,” he said.


Image credit: Sarah Buxton


  1. “and if both major sides had been more willing to work towards a bipartisan NBN solution”

    But there’s the rub Renai, it was never possible for the LNP to be supportive of the NBN as their primary sponsor is heavily invested in stopping competition to it’s Pay TV money maker, that’s why the Australian NBN has been ruined for this generation and possibly the next, rent seeking incumbent media moguls.
    It’s our loss.

    • We had the human wrecking ball, aka Mad Monk, Tony Abbott running the LibTroll party (under the close supervision of Uncy Rupe), so there was never any chance of the Libs backing the NBN. :-(

    • LNP cannot be supportive of FTTP (and only barely supportive of FTTN) because they’re not wheat/barley, wool or mineral ore. The only people who need that sort of infrastrucure are the military and counter-intelligence… Guess what! They’ve already got it.

      You can tell when we will need 1-10Gbs, when we get a (truly 100%) Oz manufacturer who can export cars to Detroit… I’m not holding my breath. It’s like when the WA misGovernment canned Bright Communications rollout with underground power… Sandgropers aren’t smart enough to need it.


  2. But but but we can’t compare FTTP rollouts in Oz with other countries! totally different scale! much smaller ….

      • Renai, let me share a home truth with you. Just between friends I will share it with you because I like you:

        When a political policy is launched from a company’s building it’s because that company is sponsoring the policy.

        Where was the mid 2013 LNP policy launched from? Foxtel HQ in Sydney. I knew then in 5 seconds who was paying the piper to play the tune. In fact even if you hadn’t known what a computer was you could have put 2 and 2 together. Sometimes the way the world works isn’t complicated. In fact in hindsight the LNP were so audacious to make their Foxtel sponsorship that obvious that it is mind blowing.

        • Yeah that was a dead give away – like you my alarm bells immediately went off at maximum volume when it was announced they were launching the policy at Uncy Rupes PayTV monopoly HQ.

        • On the other hand the Labor NBN launches were all ok and fair, umm hang on…….

          “The National Broadband Network Company’s constant stream of launch events being held around Australia to promote the switch-on of NBN fibre infrastructure is providing the Australian Labor Party with a massively advantageous and uneven platform to promote its broadband policy and very likely breaches the Government’s Caretaker Conventions demanding equal treatment of all sides of politics during an election period.”

          Perhaps not.


          • I wonder what happen at the canning election reality with Turnbull and NBN contractors.

          • Derek O,

            It’s a totally related counter point and you know it, so it’s ok to criticise Coalition NBN launches, but criticising Labor NBN launches is a no go zone because Derek O says so.

          • Well reality labor never held a press conference to launch there NBN policy in a union office

    • Funnily enough (not sure if your serious or not Lindsay) the distance issue applies to copper networks as well as fibre (former simply performs far worse when distance is a factor). So we may as well use other companies examples as a general basis as the distance doesn’t change in Australia based on which technology you choose. Distance just generally means everything is going to be a little more expensive here than elsewhere.

      Its worth noting that current NBN fibre is capable of 1Gbps to 10km (latest commercial deployments for fibre 40Gbps to 40km).

      Cu is 600Mbps over 100m (internal building wiring) or 1Gbps in a lab (over 20m).

      • Simon, I’m not sure how to put this. So i’ll just say it.

        Lindsay was being sarcastic. :)

        • Hehe I thought so but I and the whole internet sarcasm are sadly not good bedfellows :/

    • Yes we can, Lindsay — Canada is huge, has population and size comparable to Australia, and the facts don’t alter — there are significantly cheaper operational costs with FTTP. Glass doesn’t degrade like copper, and FTTP has fewer cable joins to degrade and require maintenance.

      (I see Lindsay was being a bit sarky there, but I’ll ignore it and press on :)

  3. That darned editor needs to get in the sea, again. :)

    Unrelated: once again the economies of just moving to the end game, and getting over it (cost/ religion) is being reflected in another overseas operator. How many more does it take, before we get the hint?

    • Brendon a certian so and do who even is suppose to be financial literate Rizz knows the one I am talking about where we have another company switching to FTTP due in part maintenance “being far easier to maintain than Fibre to the Node”.

      Since this is one part of his rants over at business tech

      “SR13 and orher reviews (and any financially literate person) agrees capex expenditure is recoverable in 5-7 years due to the lower capex, insignificantly higher opex, revenue capturing majority of demand and faster rollout. Time to learn how such calculations are performed. Many upgrade options available in the future.”

      Got to love that claim of insignificantly higher opex

  4. Hah! The fools. Wasting all that money when everyone knows 50Mb is more than enough. Silly Canadians being wasteful with precious and rare data.

    • Exactly, why would they waste their money rolling out FTTP? Don’t they know copper is enough for the next 20 years? Idiots.

      Richard and Alain will be livid that a private company is wasting money like this!

  5. @renai alternatively the answer isn’t politics but marketing. They face HFC competition and are talking up FTTH. But as your article points out they rolling out hundreds of thousands.

    “In total, it has 7.9 million locations covered with FTTN and FTTP.”

    Pretty much says it all. Also they aren’t the first to identify 50% opex saving from fibre. Unfortunately few put a figure on it. It reduces opex from $50 per line per year to $25. Compare the difference in capex (thousands)!

    Unless greater than copper speeds are required fibre and entering premises simply isn’t competitive. Why figures are important.

    Backhaul can’t handle customers on 10gbps. It’s drivel.

    • But Rich…
      Why is it you think you know better than CEO after CEO, CIO, and CTO… professional after professional, and industry-expert after industry-expert?

      Inside Australia as well as abroad, it keeps being demonstrated that the future is fibre, not only because the costs are equalising, but also because – and most importantly – it’s what customers want.

      You need to get with the program, son :) This constant negativity is only self deprecating.

      • @s i’m seeing the very same numbers they are and interpreting them in the same way. They wouldn’t be in thier positions if they didn’t understand them. When the numbers don’t stack up there must be another explaination. Just like Quigley being caught out with his pdf, it is only a matter of time.

        Show this equalising. Put some pfigures to it, more hot air.

    • Wow nice deflecting there except they must be a considerable cost in of using just $50. But let’s look Morrow said it wold cost $200k a year just to power the nodes. FTTP that’s a big saving already.
      If it cost $1B as some people have claimed year to keep the MTM that’s $500k maintained.
      So now with the power saving and maintenance it’s $800k it’s getting very close to the billion in savings. But then it’s no wonder the capex + OPEX in the SR cost the same by 2027.
      Backhaul can’t handle 25Mbps on a node its drivel.

      • @jk $200k / 4m premises. “Some people say”. Repeated misunderstanding of opex. And backhaul.

      • Jason K,

        “But let’s look Morrow said it wold cost $200k a year just to power the nodes. FTTP that’s a big saving already.”

        Well it MIGHT be if you can provide comparative figures, so how much is to power FTTP for a year?

        Don’t forget the FAN in the exchange and the Aggregation Node and every single NTU in every FTTP residence, pro FTTP argument always conveniently leaves these out, then they rabbit on about FTTP being a ‘passive’ network.

        So the big saving is what exactly in $$$/year?

        • Your lack of Comms infrastructure understanding is showing again Alain, $200m to power the nodes vs $0 to power FTTP OSP …. because there is NO ACTIVE OUTSIDE PLANT!!!!

          just incase that isnt clear enough, lets break it down further:

          FTTN Powered equipment (that the Telco pays to run):
          * POI/Exchange equipment
          * Nodes

          FTTP Powered equipment (that the Telco pays to run):
          * POI/Exchange equipment

          Comprehending this yet????

        • Well Reality I meant $200M to run the nodes.
          But as for your cost of power for FTTP the gpon network is passive so no power required to battery back except at the customers house if they wish to use it during a blackout.

    • Ah Richard, your copper zealotry is showing again, how about you join the rest of us in the 21st century and just admit that Verizon and Bell Canada prove you wrong?

      • shh don’t mention British Telecom, or the largest internet provider in the USA, Comcast.

        • yeah lets look at BT shall we, they’ve spent Billions on an FTTN network that CAN’T deliver the speeds customers order! #Fail

          when I put my telephone number into BT’s website it told me “Great News! You can get superfast fibre optic BT Infinity”, promising a download speed of 52.6Mbps.

          Except in reality I am not getting anywhere near that figure, and judging from the growing number of complaints we are receiving about Infinity, I’m far from alone.

          contrast that to Bell Canada and Verizon who deliver the exact speed customers pay for on their FTTP networks!

          and seeing as you brought up Comcast, quess what they have been quietly building …. *drum roll* that’s right, FTTP!!!

          Comcast will announce more cities for Gigabit Pro later on. The company has said the fiber-to-the-home service will be available to 18 million homes by the end of this year.

          You were saying Alain?

          • Derek O,

            We can all provide selective examples of negative comment about FTTN and selectively pick positive comment for FTTP.

            “Verizon Takes Heat For Failing to Deliver on FiOS Promises”

            “In fact, there’s been a few hints that Verizon may want to eventually get out of the fixed line broadband business entirely to focus on wireless,”


            I know Comcast are cherry picking certain areas with FTTP rollouts, it still doesn’t mean that’s what the Government NBN Co here MUST do because the NBN Co are not cherry picking FTTP areas based on trying to beat a competitor and locking your retail customers into your infrastructure.
            Comcast are also going to upgrade their HFC areas (by far the largest customer base) with

            Sure BT customers are having problems with FTTN, it doesn’t therefore mean that no BT customers have ANY problems with FTTP just because that’s not what you were looking for.

            Australian customers on NBN Co FTTP have problems also, read the Whirlpool NBN forums or look at the daily outage service reports from the ISP’s.

            All infrastructure types have dissatisfied customers.

          • Duck and weave all you like Alain but the FiOS example you used is irrelevant, it about Verizon not passing all the premises it agreed to!

          • Reality
            “Yeah I know what is says, sound familiar?”
            Yes it does we where promise it to be complete by 2016. Then in just 3 month they would only connect 4.5m homes now with the cp16 it is only 2.5m homes.

          • “Yeah I know what is says, sound familiar?”
            Yeah the Libs really made a mess of their MTM rollout, and your link proves it was evident 2 years ago (where in Reality it was evident before the election).

  6. Bell Canada is a private company competing with other private companies for the customer dollar, the nearest equivalent in Australia would be Telstra, that is a company that sells retail packages like mobile phones,tablets mobile wireless etc, well it would be near if Telstra was cherry picking areas of Australia by rolling out FTTP so it could compete with other infrastructure competitors, and the Telstra FTTP is for BigPond customers only.

    To say that Bell Canada is a direct equivalent to the NBN Co in Australia you need to ask Bell how they would feel about rolling out FTTP to 93% of Canada, oh and you have to provide wholesale infrastructure access to all of your competitors, and we have some more good news, you don’t get to set the wholesale access price a Government agency does.

    • Bell Canada is as what Telstra is to Australia. There are wholesale requirements for certain services they provide… like ADSL, like VDSL, like fibre.

      Just in case you don’t take my word for it… here’s press of the CRTC moving forward their preliminary “you must wholesale your networks” ruling:

      They do cherry-pick though. It just means that by cherry-picking, they still don’t guarantee that they are going to be making the highest ARPU off a connection because they are required to wholesale. Their solution to that is to spread fibre far and wide, to give themselves the greatest opportunity at increased long-term revenue.

      • Stonemage,

        Thanks for that, I wasn’t aware that was planned, although it looks like a long phase in period forcing the incumbents to wholesale their infrastructure area by area.

        Not entirely sure whose sets the wholesale pricing if a smaller player wants to resell Bell FTTP for example.

  7. Why are we being tortured with how good other countries have it, I doubt I’ll ever see a fibre connection in my life time. Thanks libs.

  8. Luckily all Australians are single, elderly and live alone in their own premises where they will never have to share their internet connection with someone who wants to watch Stan or Netflix.

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