Hot on the heels of last week's Hanaro line upgrade, the KT line got the boost as well yesterday. This means that both lines are now on FTTH, getting maximum 100Mbps on each direction. Curiously, both links share the same UTP cable up to my room, then 4 of the lines are pulled for KT link, while the other 4 remaining serve Hanaro link. Because the Hanaro FTTH line installation was already done, the KT servicemen simply worked on the existing line in my room.
This has an interesting consequence, however. Read on.
Above: KT's FTTH (fiber to customer's room)
Below: Other FTTH (fiber to building router)
Picture courtesy of KT.
This edited picture from KT's FTTH marketing website claims that KT's implementation of FTTH will be a 'true' FTTH, where fiberoptic cable will reach all the way to the customer's computer The competition (namely, Hanaro) only has the fiber connecting to the central router in the building, and the router will sprout UTP cables that reach the customer's computer.
The latter is easier to deploy (UTP cable is easy to handle and immediately connects to any LAN cards), while the former is technically superior (ensures cleaner signal and has room for future speed boosts). Hanaro obviously took the latter method to aggressively seize the blooming FTTH market in Korea - it has always played second fiddle to KT as far as ISP competition goes, and this is a great way to turn back the tide.
Of course, KT isn't exactly taking a back seat to this, so they came out to claiming that they provide better service and speed by saying the fiber really goes all the way in. They even made a television commercial illustrating this - two speed skaters are doing the laps, but one of the skater faces rough surface right before the finish line. While he tiptoes through this with much difficulty, the other skater (obviously representing KT) breezes through and takes the first place.
Now this could be seen as just a funny exaggeration, but because I now have FTTH lines from BOTH companies installed, I find it disturbing. First of all, the 'fiber to the building, UTP to the room' method the commercial dismisses does not, at least in current form, have noticeable slowdowns. In fact, the line speed tests done after the installation of each lines showed that KT's line was actually somewhat slower - downloads in the 70Mbps range compared to Hanaro's 90Mbps range.
Secondly, at least in the case of my apartment complex, both companies deploy FTTH the exact same way - fiber to the building, UTP to the room. Both Hanaro and KT's central router in the building must be sharing the same room, because otherwise the signals from both companies couldn't have come to my room on a SINGLE UTP CABLE. KT isn't being entirely being truthful in their marketing claims. I thought that, before the KT technicians came to work on installing the line, they would really install another cable (fiber, obviously) through the wall. After the 'shared line' installation was done, the Hanaro technicians' muttering the week before that went something like 'we are doing lots of work for KT guys here with 8-line UTP cable' all made sense.
Is KT doing false advertizing, or just taking pragmatic compromise? You be the judge.