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FTTC Fibre To The Cabinet – GEA


What is GEA – FTTC?

GEA stands for generic ethernet access. Similar to EFM this is a cost efficient business IP access technology. FTTC stands for fibre to the cabinet, the medium by which the local cabinet is connected to the local exchange.

How are the reductions in cost achieved?

GEA – FTTC utilises the copper network used for phone lines in the first mile. Copper is used to connect the premises to the nearest access cabinet. The GEA circuit then hops onto fibre to the local exchange. This is where the carrier’s network POP (point of presence) is located. The GEA FTTC circuit then routes its traffic over the ethernet network.

Cost savings are achieved by using copper and fibre as transport to the carrier’s core network.

What is the speed capability of GEA over FTTC?

Although the GEA service provides significant cost savings, it does limit the maximum throughput to 20Mb upload and download.

The upload and download speeds are the same, they are symmetrical. The bandwidth speed is offered at 2Mb, 5Mb, 10Mb, 15Mb and 20Mb.

Is generic ethernet access resilient?

GEA over FTTC uses several copper pairs. This means if one copper pair fails the service will continue. Albeit at a lower operating speed. The service is not provided over diverse ducting. This means if the duct is cut the service will fail.

Where is GEA available?

GEA is available to over 85% of UK businesses. You can check if your business can receive generic ethernet access using the checker.

How fast can GEA be installed?

GEA has rapid installation times of as little as 18 days. This is primarily due to the use of copper as the first mile access medium.

Source: This is a great GEA FTTC overview provided by BT Openreach

Generic ethernet access

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gea over fttc - generic ethernet access

GEA over FTTC leased lines are for some businesses an ideal combination of speed and reliability. The first mile is provided over twisted copper pairs. This has several benefits. Firstly resilience, in the form of multiple copper circuits. Secondly cost, as copper can be used to your customer premises negating the need for fibre installation fees. Thirdly, speed as lead times for GEA over FTTC can be much quicker without the need to install fibre cable.

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GEA over FTTC Benefits

GEA over FTTC offers uncontended 1:1 bandwidth – you won’t share bandwidth with any other business.
Although not as strong as a fibre leased line SLA ethernet services are backed by significant service guarantees. The guarantees cover features such as speed and availability. Unlike a leased line SLA, jitter, latency and packet loss are not usually included in an ethernet SLA.
GEA services operate on the same upload speed as download speed. This is called a symmetrical bandwidth connection. There are several benefits of this symmetry:

  1. If remote users are accessing HQ hosted applications and content. They can download and access these much faster.
  2. FTP and other remote web services have a far higher performance.
  3. It is quick to send and upload large files, CAD technical drawings, graphic designs etc
Because the service uses an existing copper network, the availability is widespread. The main determining factor as to whether you can get access is not the availability of copper. It is the availability of access technology at your local exchange from either BT or an LLU provider.
There is no cap on the data transferred over the circuit each month. The service is truly unlimited and there are no fair usage policies.
Some suppliers insist that you use a managed router. This can be inflexible and expensive as a monthly fee is applied to the managed router service. Other providers can provide what is known as a “wires only” service. This means that your business provides the router to connect to the end of the circuit.
Enhanced support is provided on these services. Although the fix time is not as good as with a premium leased line 9 hours vs 4 hours. There is still a 24 x 7 x 365 support service. So you can report a fault as soon as it occurs and minimise downtime.
Static IP addresses are required for you to operate certain services. For example, you own email server, remote worker VPN, self hosted web servers. Usually you receive a block of 4 static IP addresses.

If you have a requirement for more static IP addresses then this can usually be accommodated. A justification for IP addresses is usually required.

Most providers provide an online web portal specific to your service. This can show you uptime statistics, usage of the connection over time and much more. Often this service also allows you to raise a support ticket and handle any moves and changes.
The service can be installed in 18 days. The lead time is vastly less than a fibre leased line. This is because the service is utilising existing copper infrastructure.

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No. You will need to order new copper services, or utilise an existing voice line.
This is not possible. GEA over FTTC is a fixed speed service, without the capability to bust over the ordered capacity.
You can upgrade to GEA but you will need to make a fresh installation for the GEA service. There is not an automated upgrade path.
Yes GEA is a business product with guaranteed uptime and fix times, included in the SLA. The SLa is not as stringent as a leased line. The SLA is comparable to an EFM line.

IPv4 addresses are now in short supply and ISP’s are becoming more and more protective of their allocations.

In the past businesses would just order large blocks of IPs, in case they needed them. Because there were so many, they were just given out. This has caused a large redundancy problem, and IP’s are now in short supply.

With NAT (Network Address Translation) and PAT (Port Address Translation) there is less of a need for organisations to order/require large blocks of IPs. The determining factors for IP allocation to different devices and services have changed.

When you request a certain block request size, many ISP’s will be quite demanding on what you want them for. They will investigate the equipment/services you want to allocate them to, and whether you have considered NAT/PAT to get round the need for a large block of IPs.

GEA is not contended. Your traffic passes over 1:1 contention copper lines to the cabinet. It passes over fibre at 1:1 contention to the exchange. It passes over your provider’s core network at 1:1 contention.

Yes. This is possible. There is usually a charge. If you know where you will be moving you should inform your provider at the quotation stage. This is because it may affect the decision on which carrier to use for GEA.
Most carriers will provide a router on a next day service. We therefore recommend that if you cannot tolerate downtime, you hold a hot standby router in the event of a hardware failure.
A ‘synchronous’ circuit means that upstream and downstream levels must be the same i.e. if you have 20Mbps download speed then you must equally have the same 20Mbps available as your upload speed, at all times.
This will only be possible if we have a specific postcode to work from and what incremental increases are potentially required.
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