Gibtelecom broadband upgrades

Gibtelecom today announced that it has commenced rolling out its second set of free broadband speed upgrades, announced in February this year. The Company is well advanced in building the beginnings of a new next generation communications network for Gibraltar.  This new network will facilitate providing some of the highest internet broadband speeds available in the European market.  The new technology (VDSL2) being deployed will eventually replace the Company’s extant internet (ADSL) network.  This VDSL2 technology is the same as that being deployed by telcos throughout Europe, and is engineered to maximise the use of the long standing copper networks to produce internet download speeds of up to 100 Mbps.  The new system caters for multi-media services, such as television, being able to be provided down telephone wires. These latest upgrades, from which over 11,000 customers will benefit, consists of an increase of the 8Mbps [Enhanced service] to 20 Mbp and further doubling of the Standard [2Mbps] and Standard Plus [4Mbps] speeds.

Following trials conducted over the summer months by Gibtelecom this new high speed internet network is now being deployed with some top bandwidth (8 Mbps) customers. Works continue on transferring these customers to this new network. At present over 300 customers have been migrated to this new technology and it is estimated that by the end of November some three quarters of top customers can be on the new service.

Nevertheless, Gibtelecom’s CEO, Tim Bristow, today apologised that “this highly complex engineering project is taking slightly longer to deliver than previously announced.”  He explained “that it is because the Company underestimated the topographical and operational challenges of rolling out higher broadband speeds throughout Gibraltar.  Committing to a September delivery for all speed upgrades earlier this year was over ambitious. Albeit Gibtelecom already has an extensive fibre optic network and Gibraltar is only 6.8 square kilometres, we are facing some of the same issues in rolling out super-fast internet speeds as large European countries, like the UK. Delivery of top speeds over old copper wires to individual customer premises is dependent on many factors, including the quality of the infrastructure, the distance from the nearest fibre nodes and the positioning of the related electronics.

Jansen Reyes, Gibtelecom’s Next Generation Network Manager, who is leading the technical aspects of the project, explained that “the roll out plan for this new set of broadband upgrades is significantly more complex that we anticipated.  Despite our small team working round the clock to put in place this new high-tech network,  it was only as a result of extensive trials conducted across Gibraltar in these past few months that our engineers come to appreciate that there are pockets of Gibraltar to which we need to get the technology closer.”

Enhanced Service (8Mbps) customers need to replace their existing router with a Gibtelecom broadband gateway. “We are proactive in trying to contact customers to arrange individual appointments at their premises.  However, we would ask top bandwidth customers who have not yet had their new broadband gateway installed and tested to contact Gibtelecom by emailing or calling 151 to arrange a mutually suitable date and time” said Gibtelecom’s Operations Director, Adrian Moreno.  “Furthermore to try to speed up the installation of Gibtelecom’s new broadband gateway at customer’s premises, we will endeavour to notify customers of specific geographical deployment programmes. It is more efficient and effective to transfer as many households or businesses as practical within a particular area to the new technology in a similar time frame” said Adrian Moreno.

Whilst conducting the summer high speed broadband trials Gibtelecom engineers identified some pockets of Gibraltar where the 20 Mbps service is not achievable for some Enhanced service customers in the short term. This is due to the deterioration of the signal due to the particular location, nature of the existing copper infrastructure and the distance from the nearest fibre nodes. “Gibtelecom is planning the installation of some 20 cabinets, containing essential electronics and fibre nodes, to bring the technology closer to these impacted areas. These cabinets that need to be placed in streets are subject to extensive technical planning and works, as well requiring permits from the Development and Planning Commission.” said Gibtelecom’s Technical Director, Xavi Bado.

Those customers currently on the 8Mbps [Enhanced service] speed who are not able to receive the new “up to 20Mbps” service can retain their existing broadband but with a lower monthly charge. Gibtelecom plans to upgrade customers who are currently using the 2Mbps [Standard service) and 4Mbps [Standard Plus service] to the 4Mbps and 8Mbps service respectively by the end of November, not in September as previously announced. There is no need for these 10,000 customers to contact Gibtelecom as their existing routers will work at the new higher speeds.

Tim Bristow concluded by saying “whilst we are not quite there yet, Gibtelecom believes it is on track to deliver mega internet speeds for Gibraltar ahead of most of Europe.  The European Commission’s target is for 30 per cent of households having at least 30 Mbps by 2020.  I am confident Gibtelecom have the technology, the engineering capacity and skills to be in this space for Gibraltar well before then.”

27 September 2012