The Problem with EO Lines

The FTTC journey explained the timescales involved but for EO lines there's much more to do. We need to place, plan and build a new cabinet and re-arrange the networks into 'groups' of lines in the ground (or overhead), get power to the new cabinet and update the records. If this sounds easy, think again - this is a highly skilled engineering, modelling and planning job. 

EO lines were not included in commercial plans. We have included them in our plans because there are more EO lines in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK.

To date we have delivered to over 200,000 EO lines. So do not feel disheartened if you find you are served by an EO line, we know how to deliver to them, we are providing this information only to explain why we often can’t give you a completion date for EO areas.

Find out more about EO deployment by watching the video below

 The differences in the EO journey compared to the FTTC journey are shown below; 



The problem is that for properties with EO lines, there is no copper cabinet already in place: Their lines connect directly to the telephone exchange. So to enable them for fibre broadband, the engineers have to build not just one but TWO new cabinets – both a copper cabinet and a fibre cabinet, as well as connect up the two and re-arrange the lines. As you can imagine, this takes longer to sort out. Therefore we have to start the planning process earlier. At this stage we have to carry out an EO cable assessment to maximise the “turn in” to new copper cabinet (how many lines we can connect to the new fibre cabinet). This means that we try to work out how to put in a solution that can serve as many EO lines as possible in an area. Important to remember that this will not necessarily be all EO lines in area.

Field Survey

All the same things as for the standard FTTC solution but for two cabinets – not just one. Can be challenging to find a possible location to put the new street cabinet.

Often EO lines can be in town centres close to the exchange which can make it more challenging again to organise traffic management and digging permissions. We also need to align dates for the build of two cabinets rather than one, as well as traffic management and power (for the fibre cabinet).

It is not until the field survey has taken place that we know what we planned can work, and it often throws up challenges that we then take back to planning and design to address – hence why no idea of timescale is known for EO lines before field survey. If added private landowner permissions are required we are unable to predict how long negotiating these will take. As for all the other permissions required and organising of power, the timescale for obtaining these is out of our control – the other reason why we don’t know when an EO area will complete deployment until just before it does. Once all the obstacles are navigated engineering deploy quite quickly. So it is common for little to no timescale information to be available on our map for some time and then ‘all of a sudden’ the map updates to say “Good News! You can now order!”


Additional work involved in co-ordinating the build of two cabinets rather than one.


Cut the connection between the exchange and the existing ‘distribution point’ in the ground and re-arrange these lines to terminate onto the new copper cabinet.


Records updated to show which EO lines have been moved to the new copper cabinet and are able to order a fibre service.