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FTTC Fibre Cabinets

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BT are currently rolling out their fibre access network throughout the UK.  This page gives an overview of BT Openreach's FTTC fibre cabinets.

BT Openreach FTTC Cabinets

fibre broadband fttc

~ FTTC Roll out

As at April 2013, BT Openreach had so far installed over 30,000 street cabinets.  BT have invested £2.5 billion to roll out fibre to two-thirds of the UK by the end of 2014, which is a year ahead of target.

They plan to install 450 cabinets per week (>20,000 cabinets pa), enable over 1,000 exchanges, lay over 50,000 km of fibre and connect 200,000 distribution points.

Further BDUK deployment is to reach the rural final third. The Government has allocated £530m of public funding to help bring faster broadband to rural areas.

March 2014: 19 million homes, which is 2/3rds of UK premises now have access to fibre based services, some 21 months ahead of the original target. 2.7 Million consumers signed up for Openreach fibre services. Total of 6 million premises in the UK have fibre.



BT Openreach currently use 3 different DSLAMs in their FTTC Cabinets

ECI M41 dslam
What model is installed is down to BT's planning dept and anticipated demand in your area. The earliest cabs were Huawei's. During the 2012-2013 period BT seemed to be favouring the ECI cabs, but since late 2013/early 2014 most new cabs tend to be Huawei.

Cabinets installed as at April 2013
ECI M41  7,732
Huawei MA5616T  3,637
Huawei MA5603T 12,995


~ FTTC Cabinet Capacity

Maximum line capacity per DSLAM depends on the make and model installed.

Cabinet Capacity
Max Line Cards
Max Lines
  Cab Housing
ECI 256
Huawei MA5616T
Huawei 128
Huawei MA5603T
Huawei 288
Huawei MA5603T
Huawei 384 HD *
Huawei AIO

Additional line card installation is automatically triggered when utilisation is above 75%.

* In 2016 Openreach started to replace some Huawei MA5603's with new 64 port line cards.  A previous limitation of the Huawei cabs was only 48 ports per line card.


 ~ FTTC Cabinet Interior

Main parts and electronics that make up the inside of an FTTC cabinet.

Inside an FTTC Fibre Cabinet


 ~ FTTC Cabinet Photographs

ECI DSLAM & Line Cards
IDC Blocks
Input/Output Ducts
ECI FTTC Fibre Cabinet
I/O Ducts ECI FTTC cabinet
This particular cabinet is designated ECI 256 - note provision availability for 4 line cards and full IDC rack

ECI M41 DSLAM in FTTC Cabinet

ECI M41 Cabinet
This cab would be designated EC1 128 - note provision for 2 line cards and only 128 IDC connectors


Huawei MA5603 DSLAM in FTTC Cabinet

Huawei MA5603 FTTC cabinet
This DSLAM would be designated Huawei 288 - note availability provision of 6 line cards.


~ Street Furniture - FTTC cabinet Housings

BT have been known to use the following street FTTC cabinets:

  • ECI 128, ECI 256
  • Huawei 96, Huawei 128, Huawei 288

The FTTC cabinet will usually be located no more than 50m from the green PCP cabinet as per recommended guide lines. In exceptional circumstances the absolute maximum is 100m.

The number behind is actually an indication of how many lines the cabinet supplies, so for example the ECI cabinet furniture for 128/256 is exactly the same.  Same applies to the Huawei 288/384.

The easiest way to identify the type of cabinet is by the grill vents.

Note: The shape of the cabinet top is not indicative of model. Angled or flat top is an option.



Huawei 288 /384HD FTTC cabinet

Huawei 288 FTTC cabinet

Newer model is 14mm wider to facilitate 90° opening of the side door for easier access.

ECI 128/256 FTTC cabinet

FTTC 128 street cabinet

Huawei 96/128 FTTC cabinet

FTTC Huawei 96 cabinet

ECI FTTC cabinet Huawei 128 PCP cabinet

Combined PCP & FTTC Cabinet - All In One (AIO) units

All in one copper and fibre cabinets are very rare, with the first one in the UK being installed in Aug 2014.

They were introduced to overcome of the problem of Exchange Only Lines not being able to get Fibre To The Cabinet and can support up to 128 vdsl lines and on the PCP side a maximum of 500 E&D sides.

EO or Exchange only lines are where a telephone line connects directly to the exchange without going via the usual green PCP cabinet.

Traditionally EO lines were those very close to the exchange or a (few) singular line(s) at large distance from the exchange, where previously it was deemed more economic to run one length of copper rather than install an E-side & PCP cabinet.

Combined PCP/FTTC cabinets are not being deployed in areas where there is an existing PCP cabinet and are restricted for BDUK use.

Combined PCP FTTC  DSLAM for Exchange only lines
Combined PCP & FTTC unit
Photograph taken by Niall McGill
Huawei All in One cabinet

~ Line Card Info

Huawei MA5616T VDSH (24)
Huawei MA5616T VDLF (32)

Huawei MA5603T VDMF (48)
Huawei MA5603T VCMM (48) These were swapped out in 2015 see here.

DSL line card for Huawei MA5603 showing multiple DSL transceivers and various chips.

ECI Line cards VTU-C64P.  Contains Lantiq Vinax V3 chipset.
ECI V41 specsECI M41 specs (Note this is old 2010 version).


Last updated Jul 2015

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