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BT Runs an 800Gbps Channel On Old Fiber 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
judgecorp writes "BT has demonstrated an 800Gbps 'superchannel' on a 410km fiber in its core network, which was not able to carry 10Gbps channels using older technology. The superchannel is an advanced dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) technique, created by combining multiple coherent optical signals into one channel, which had previously been shown in laboratory tests. BT ran the test on a fiber with optical characteristics (high polarization mode dispersion) that made it unsuitable for 10GBps using current techniques. That's a good result for BT, because it means its existing core fiber network can be upgraded to handle more data. It's also a good customer story for Ciena, which makes the optical switches used in the test."
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BT Runs an 800Gbps Channel On Old Fiber

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  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday May 24, 2013 @03:07AM (#43810125)

    But when will they upgrade my 4Mbps down / 256Kbps up DSL connection that I pay through the nose per month for? Cuz really, I keep reading about those marvelous link speeds but in the past 10 years, I haven't seen much of that reach the average Joe Blow internet user like me...

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Friday May 24, 2013 @03:21AM (#43810157) Homepage

      It's the last mile problem, and they haven't even started working on it really. New estates are being built with only FTTC and ADSL available instead of just taking the opportunity to run fibre right into each home.

      BT always does the absolute minimum possible to remain slightly competitive. That's all we can ever expect.

      • It's the last mile problem, and they haven't even started working on it really. New estates are being built with only FTTC and ADSL available instead of just taking the opportunity to run fibre right into each home.

        BT always does the absolute minimum possible to remain slightly competitive. That's all we can ever expect.

        They would never be able to run *only* fibre into the home, because they need to be able to provide power for POTS; so running fibre as well is an additional cost (this is also presumably why they still run POTS all the way back to the exchange instead of handling it at the cabinet). That said, there are a number of regions where you can get FTTP if you want.

        • by LordVader717 (888547) on Friday May 24, 2013 @05:29AM (#43810649)

          Fibre providers have an ONU (optical network unit) supplied by the mains power on the property. Unless there's some kind of requirement for power-free phones I don't know about there really is no reason to run expensive copper wires.

          • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@@@nexusuk...org> on Friday May 24, 2013 @05:51AM (#43810729) Homepage

            Fibre providers have an ONU (optical network unit) supplied by the mains power on the property. Unless there's some kind of requirement for power-free phones I don't know about there really is no reason to run expensive copper wires.

            Fairly sure there's a legal requirement for the telco to keep the phones working during a power outage. Certainly do-able with fibre, but would require a UPS and regular battery servicing - probably cheaper just to run copper.

            • by jabuzz (182671)

              Back here in the UK a battery backed power supply is provided. I would have thought it would be cheaper to run some copper from the exchange and provide a standard -48VDC to the building. You could even use the copper or copper coated steel as armour for your fibre.

              • Back here in the UK a battery backed power supply is provided. I would have thought it would be cheaper to run some copper from the exchange and provide a standard -48VDC to the building. You could even use the copper or copper coated steel as armour for your fibre.

                In the UK too... I'm not sure how feasible it would be to run the fibre optic kit off a -48vdc supply that's been carried by several kilometers of wire... the equipment isn't going to be extremely low power and the resistance of the cable will not be negligable...

            • by Bengie (1121981)
              My ISP just installed a UPS along with the fiber ONT. They said about 12 hours of run-time.
            • regular battery servicing - probably cheaper just to run copper.

              Sounds like a good application for iron-nickel batteries. Inefficient to charge, but they last forever. The nano-versions are more efficient but not on the market yet, though the customer is paying for the charging power so it probably doesn't matter.

              • Ever since I first ran across iron-nickel batteries I have wondered why they weren't used for large scale stationary electrical storage. Granted they don't have the best energy density but they are really reliable and from the sounds of it cheap to produce and easy to refresh. I was looking into them as a method to store energy for when I get around to getting a cabin in the north woods as it is nice to have lights at night and I really don't want to have to deal with transporting a generator and fuel.
            • Fairly sure there's a legal requirement for the telco to keep the phones working during a power outage.

              There shouldn't be these days. Nearly everyone has a cell phone.

              • Fairly sure there's a legal requirement for the telco to keep the phones working during a power outage.

                There shouldn't be these days. Nearly everyone has a cell phone.

                Which won't work when the base station is unpowered

            • No need for a UPS at all. A battery will suffice just fine. A car battery (which is WAYYY too big for that purpose), would keep a modem and phone alive for a couple weeks. I doubt they have any requirement beyond 24 hours.
            • Source? It also seems pretty silly because most people these days use cordless phones that need additional power anyway.

        • Meanwhile, I noticed on my visit last week to the medieval Dutch city of Amersfoort [wikipedia.org] that every house in the historic city centre had an orange fibre tail outside the front door awaiting connection...
      • by jabuzz (182671)

        Just to make it clear while new estates might be being built FTTC there are strict standards that a developer must conform to for BT (actually Openreach) to provide a service. Basically everything must be underground and ducted. It should be quite easy for Openreach to pull a real fibre into any house built in the last decade. The problem is that over 90% of all the housing stock in the UK pre-dates this.

        Documentation is here

        http://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/network/developingournetwork/documentationandi [openreach.co.uk]

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Okay, this is 2013. A decade ago by ex-girlfriend was enjoying 100/100Mb fibre into her Japanese house for about £23/month. Many other western European countries have had it for nearly as long.

          Britain is a backwater for broadband. Ours is expensive, slow, capped and limited. It's a bad, bad joke that we are still not installing fibre into brand new houses and that the only people who can even do it is the old monopoly BT. My ex got her broadband from the power company who laid the cable in power

          • by nhat11 (1608159)

            I won't use countries small Asian countries like JP or KR or EU countries like Britain as examples since they're only about the size of one of our large states here.

            As much as I would love fiber here, people have other priorities like buying food or paying for their cell especially in this economy.

            • by stdarg (456557)

              Being widespread with low population density is a problem in the US. Too expensive to run fiber out to the suburban or rural houses.

              Also in the US, being small with high population density is a problem. Too expensive to run fiber in established cities. Imagine rewiring NYC!!

              Of course then you have projects like Google Fiber, or more locally for me, Greenlight NC, that ARE DOING IT. So it's all bullshit. It is possible, and not especially difficult or expensive, in both urban and suburban areas, in the US. W

          • by mjwalshe (1680392)
            Why do consumers need FTP and Compared to the USA we are miles better - the messed up the deregulation and did not mandate LLU
        • by johnw (3725) on Friday May 24, 2013 @06:31AM (#43810863)

          Having said all that for reasons I don't understand Openreach want separate ducting for copper and fibre but that is just plain crazy if you ask me.

          Obviously they are worried about cross-channel interference. That or the danger of high voltages on the fibre connections.

      • s/BT/every ISP in the western world/g
      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        Well as a share holder why should my company do this only to let Sky etc freeload off my investment FTC is really all that a home user needs anyway.
    • Sorry for you, Joe Blow, but you live in the wrong country: in Romania [rcs-rds.ro] you get FTTB - Cat 5 in your house with 100Mbps for just unde 12$/month. Of course, you can allways go cheap and pay just unde 9$/month for 50Mbps. You may start weeping now.
      • Sorry for you, Joe Blow, but you live in the wrong country: in Romania [rcs-rds.ro] you get FTTB - Cat 5 in your house with 100Mbps for just unde 12$/month. Of course, you can allways go cheap and pay just unde 9$/month for 50Mbps. You may start weeping now.

        80Mbps vDSL is widely available in the UK.. prices below £10/month if you're willing to go with cheap crappy ISPs who are on record saying they have no interest in planning for the future (plusnet).

        • VDSL is sketchy though. And you left out their "line rental" charge which for some reason they leave out of their advertised price (14.50 GBP).

          • VDSL is sketchy though. And you left out their "line rental" charge which for some reason they leave out of their advertised price (14.50 GBP).

            Well yes, ok - you have to pay for a POTS line to go with it (which is annoying - if I didn't have to pay for POTS I wouldn't bother having it; my whole home phone system runs off an Asterisk server anyway). But that's the same for all the DSL based services in the UK.

            • Which is a reason not to go for the DSL. You have to compare the full price for the whole package. The cable providers always offer double or triple play and give you a telephone adapter to use you POTS phone.

              • Which is a reason not to go for the DSL. You have to compare the full price for the whole package. The cable providers always offer double or triple play and give you a telephone adapter to use you POTS phone.

                There's only one cable provider in the UK and the are extremely crap. There's a great many very good DSL providers to choose between.

                • I was paying 25 GBP a month for a 30 Mb connection, which seemed quite reasonable compared to the DSL providers who had low usage caps, no speed guarantees, and wanted an extra 15 GBP on top of their advertised price.

                  • I was paying 25 GBP a month for a 30 Mb connection, which seemed quite reasonable compared to the DSL providers who had low usage caps, no speed guarantees, and wanted an extra 15 GBP on top of their advertised price.

                    No static IP, no chance of an IPv4 subnet, no IPv6 at all, terrible customer service.

                    • 1,2 and3) fat chance of getting that with a consumer grade ISP. Which national ISPs do IPv6 anyway?
                      4) Anecdote I know, but I was pretty pleased when I got a billing issue fixed in a couple of minutes on the online chat. And other statistics seem to disagree with you http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2012/12/sky-broadband-tops-ofcom-study-of-uk-isp-customer-satisfaction.html [ispreview.co.uk]

                    • 1,2 and3) fat chance of getting that with a consumer grade ISP. Which national ISPs do IPv6 anyway?

                      I've been using EntaNet for years - I get a free static IPv4 /29 subnet and a free native IPv6 /56 subnet. The monthly cost is quite reasonable.

                      You'll get similar from A&A and Bogons, albeit at a fairly high price.. Static IPv4 IP addresses are pretty common - most of the not-dirt-cheap ISPs are happy to offer them, usually at no extra cost. Even Plusnet used to do free static IPv4 subnets (not sure if they still do).

                      I think Claranet and a couple of others also do native IPv6 as standard.

                    • None of the companies you listed is a consumer-grade ISP. Your Entanet doesn't even advertise that they have residential services. The few "home" services I found from your recommended companies were also all much more expensive.

                      And your static IP isn't really free if you're paying for a business-class service at a business-class price. FWIW I've never gotten the option of a "free" static IP with any of the ISPs I've been with. But then again I don't shop for business-grade broadband for my home anyway.

                      How

                    • None of the companies you listed is a consumer-grade ISP. Your Entanet doesn't even advertise that they have residential services.

                      Entanet doesn't sell directly - you have to go through one of their many resellers, who *do* offer residential connections. For example, I use UKFSN [ukfsn.org] - oh look, right there on their website it says "family broadband". If you buy a "family broadband" connection from UKFSN you'll get an Entanet account which can do IPv6, static IPv4 subnets, etc.

                      The front page of A&A advertises "Home::1 for the modern family" as a product. Again, you get IPv6, etc. with that.

                      I'll admit that Bogons is more aimed at busin

                    • Yes, they have a service that starts at £15/month, but you fail to mention that it's with 1 GB/month allowance. *One Gig!*. That *is* outrageous in today's age. That's about an hour of iPlayer! Not even one Netflix movie!
                      So let's reiterate: For just short of £30/month (don't forget the "line rental") I get an outdated ADSL connection with a speed of anything southward of 24Mb/s and a usage policy which would seem draconian 10 years ago.
                      Meanwhile at Virgin Media, £30/month will get you 60Mb

                    • So let's reiterate: For just short of £30/month (don't forget the "line rental") I get an outdated ADSL connection with a speed of anything southward of 24Mb/s

                      Errm, I'm not sure how having a speed of under 24Mbps makes an ADSL connection "outdated" since that's the top speed of *any* ADSL connection...

                      Meanwhile at Virgin Media, £30/month will get you 60Mb/s maximum speed (and because they don't use copper wires you do actually get this speed on pretty much every connection) and a traffic usage policy that's more like 2GB/hour.

                      Firstly, despite Virgin's insistance that they offer "fibre optic broadband", they use copper cables just like everyone else (only they use coax instead of twisted pair, but its still copper).

                      Secondly, some of us don't consider speed to be the primary factor when buying a service. I don't actually use my internet connection for anything that would benefit from 60Mb

                    • Errm, I'm not sure how having a speed of under 24Mbps makes an ADSL connection "outdated" since that's the top speed of *any* ADSL connection...

                      ADSL *is* outdated. VDSL is more up-to date (yes, I know that ADSL2+ has a longer range). Now, they do offer VDSL as their "fibre broadband" package, but that just means they're deceptively using the fibre buzzword for twisted pair wires. You're right that coaxial cables use copper (though not technically wires), maybe I should have been more specific. Of course it's just as deceptive for Virgin media to advertise themselves as fibre.

                      A modern infrastructure consists of a robust fibre backbone and a last-mil

                    • Possibly. But before we get into consumer demographics and user behavior statistics I think it's best we just agree that there's a huge variance in the types of users.

                      Which is why I was pointing out that your argument that "these aren't consumer grade ISPs because they don't allow blazingly fast connections that allow terabytes a month to be downloaded" is bogus - *most* people don't want to download that much, the people who do are in the minority.

                      Reliability is of course somewhat less tangible. I don't know of any statistics that would let me evaluate different companies performance. My experience has usually been between 0.5-1.5% downtime. I can see how this might be a dealbreaker for some businesses, but I can live with it. The link you posted certainly doesn't advertise guaranteed fault-correction, which is typically part of a business grade contract.

                      0.5-1.5% downtime sounds extremely bad to me - 1% downtime equates to 7 hours per month or 3.5 days a year. Conversely, I have had no downtime at all in the past 4 years (other than the occasional resync, which is on the order of a couple of seconds). If I was experiencing outages amounting to days per year then I would be changing ISP, whether or not that connection was used for business.

                      "Uncompetetive" is what I'd label it. Whether or not you want to call it outrageous I'll leave up to you.

                      And yet the ISPs in question seem to do pretty well, even from their home users, so it can't be that uncompetetive.

                      I guess you can compare it to the supermarkets - you can go to Tesco and pick up a packet of "Value" meat for under half the price of the equivalent "Finest" meat; does that mean that the "Finest" brand is uncompetetive? Seemingly not - lots of people buy that (I have no statistics, but anecdontally I would suggest that more people probably buy the "Finest" brand meat than the "Value" equivalent). Same goes for drinks - you can buy a supermarket own-brand cola, or you can pay several times that price for Coca Cola; is coke uncompetetive? it seems not - they're still in business and doing pretty well by all accounts.

                      Someone offering a product that is at a higher price than the competition doesn't make it "uncompetetive" unless the customers perceive the more expensive product to not be worth the extra money. A lot of people are willing to pay a small amount extra for what they perceive as a higher quality service (and from personal experience dealing with the useless customer support departments at Virgin, Talk Talk and a few of the other low-cost ISPs, I would say that the improved support you get by paying a bit extra is definitely worth the money).

                    • You sound like you work for BT ;-). Even if "most" people don't download "that much" (Though you yourself concede that you fiancée, living on her own, uses a chunky 20GB a month), there is a growing proportion of people who *do*, and they want to be able to do that wherever they might live and have a peak bitrate to support these high-quality services. They are the one's who are driving the market, not the 50+ market segment who just want to "do email" or whatever.

                      0.5-1.5% downtime sounds extremely bad to me - 1% downtime equates to 7 hours per month or 3.5 days a year. Conversely, I have had no downtime at all in the past 4 years (other than the occasional resync, which is on the order of a couple of seconds). If I was experiencing outages amounting to days per year then I would be changing ISP, whether or not that connection was used for business.

                      It's an estimate as I haven't got any

    • But when will they upgrade my 4Mbps down / 256Kbps up DSL connection that I pay through the nose per month for? Cuz really, I keep reading about those marvelous link speeds but in the past 10 years, I haven't seen much of that reach the average Joe Blow internet user like me...

      Where abouts are you? Most people can get way more than that (I'm on 8Mbps down / 1MBps up; if I turned on Annex M I'd get more upstream, and if I could be bothered I could switch to FTTC (80Mbps down, 20 up) for only about a pound a month more...) Also, British internet prices aren't exactly "through the nose" - especially if your local loop is crap (if you're never going to get a decent throughput on the local loop you may as well go for a cheap ISP).

      • by mrbester (200927)

        Heh, my fibre upgrade means I pay about £2 less a month with a six fold speed increase than before...

    • by RoboJ1M (992925)

      I take it you don't have access to BT's FTTC?

    • This is for backbone, not home use. Jeez. Even if you went to the internet company's office and tapped directly into their 10Gb connection, you won't get anywhere near that speed because the other side of the link isn't nearly that fast.
    • by mrbester (200927)

      The A does stand for asymmetric, but that ratio is way off. The only reason your upstream rate should be so low is if you're on rate adaptive, which wouldn't get you your downstream rate. The only thing I can think of is a misconfiguration on your line, and you should complain about it to Broadband Services on their specific number as the general helpline can't do anything about it.

    • Last Mile - Owned by BT and mostly very low quality copper

      BT will not invest because they have to give access to anyone at below rock bottom prices and might on the whims of the government get it taken away from them at any time

      No-one else will invest because they can just hive off BT, the only exception is Cable, which is almost all one company...and so they have no reason to invest further either ...

    • by theid0 (813603)
      If you were in the UK and your last mile only supported that speed, you might as well go with a cheap ISP.
      http://www.uswitch.com/broadband [uswitch.com]
      But Joe Blow internet user probably lives in an area covered by FTTC (i.e. BT Infinity) and could get 40 Mbps minimum.
    • I live in a UK village which recently got upgraded to a 21C exchange and I'm getting 1.5 megabytes a second down now. Up/down speed doubled overnight for the same price. They're getting there.
    • Fast broadband speeds not guaranteed by living in city centre. Research shows slowest area in London includes Barbican, next door to the City of London, while fastest is Charlton in Greenwich via http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/mar/27/fast-broadband-speeds-city-centre [guardian.co.uk]
    • by D1G1T (1136467)
      50Mbps DSL gear is readily available now. Still plenty of room on copper pipes; no need for fiber. I've found the best solution to lazy incumbent former-monopoly service providers is to not use them for that service. We get our cable tv from what used to be the big telco, and our internet and phone from what used to be the cable tv company.
      • by MiG82au (2594721)
        Bollocks. Have you looked at distance you can get 50 Mbps at? Few people are close enough to the exchange.
        • High speed DSL won't go far enough to get to the telephone exchange but it will go far enough to get to the cabinet in most urban settings at least.

          The plan in the UK seems to be to do a mixture with the existing ADSL system continuing to serve the lower tier broadband users. FTTC+VDSL for the middle tier broadband users and FTTH for the top tier broadband users.

  • GBps != Gbps (Score:5, Informative)

    by luminate (318382) on Friday May 24, 2013 @03:13AM (#43810143)
    Might want to change the title...
  • 800 Gbps fiber to the home, here we come!

    Just kidding. But still... These high bandwidth innovations are going to have a stunning impact on some companies deeply invested in expensive transnational data transport. It's time to put away the notion of precious gigabits forever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by whois (27479)

      For what it's worth, it's not providing any more bandwidth than the old technique, which had 80 channels at 10Gbps each. What it's doing is, instead of saying I have 80 channels, each of them needs to be clean in order to pass 10Gbps, it's saying I have these big channels which are noisy, but we have ways to mitigate that. Once all our mitigation is done you can expect 800Gbps (that may or may not be with error correction/other overhead factored in. Depends on the marketing department I suppose, but usu

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        No. That is not what this is.
      • by Bengie (1121981)
        You:

        For what it's worth, it's not providing any more bandwidth than the old technique, which had 80 channels at 10Gbps each.

        Post:

        which was not able to carry 10Gbps channels using older technology

    • by antdude (79039)

      I am still waiting for fibers near my homes! Verizon FIOS doesn't want to bring them here. I still can't get DSL too! Argh! :(

  • Invest (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Friday May 24, 2013 @04:32AM (#43810449) Journal

    That's BT for you, instead of investing in the network, they flog the life out of the old crap they have to avoid investing in the network, and give more money to shareholders.

    • by Snospar (638389)
      This is BT investing in the network and it's a smart investment too. By upgrading the boxes on the end of the old fibre they've shown they can breath new life into it - something which was in doubt when the previous technology ran into problems. These boxes and associated optics are not cheap but it's much better to be spending money there than on a new programme to dig up the roads.
      • by Bengie (1121981)
        FTTH is almost always cheaper, it just requires a bit more up-front, but it only takes a few years to pay it off.

        The only reason companies don't do FTTH is because it makes for a bad quarter report compared to less capital intensive upgrades of old-copper that allows the ISP to charge more and increase revenue.
    • That can go the wrong way too though. In Germany the former state phone company decided to invest billions to get ISDN in every corner of the country, only to find that the speed was obsolete almost as soon as it came into service.

      • Oh, and as a "bonus" for this tremendous foresight DSL speeds are consistently 30% slower so that some people can still use their late 90s phones and fax machines. For a 25 mbps line that's a trade-off of 8mbps for a 64kbps phone and fax line which no-one uses.

      • BT did that as well and then dragged their feet over implementing ADSL until eventually they were forced to do it.

    • That's BT for you, instead of investing in the network, they flog the life out of the old crap they have to avoid investing in the network, and give more money to shareholders.

      That's an insane attitude, what better investment is there than making the existing infrastructure 100 times more efficient? Why would you dig up the roads for no reason?

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        You think its cheap to do that though our senior network guy a telecom gold back in the day (early 80's) said when we complained that the 10Mbs link between London bridge and staples corner said "Don't knock it I had I had oxford street dug up for that"
    • instead of investing in the network, they flog the life out of the old crap they have to avoid investing in the network

      Because the smart thing to do would be to rip up thousands of miles of fiber that can carry 800Gbps and replace it all with thousands of miles of fiber that can carry 800Gbps. :can't tell if kidding or IBEW:

  • They are the only ones that can lay fiber and invest into last mile, and they stubbornly refuse to do that.

    I hate them so much for it. UK is falling further and further behind the rest of the world, it's just ridiculous.

    --Coder
  • Glass is glass.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Annorax (242484) * on Friday May 24, 2013 @06:57AM (#43810927) Homepage

    No news here people. The fact that existing fiber optic cable can be reused with new terminating equipment to increase transmission speed is not anything new.

    MCI was doing this throughout the 1990s.

    The inherent properties of the fiber optic cable have always meant that their potential "max speed" was much higher than the current terminating equipment of the time.

    This is as interesting as someone saying "Hey, I bought a new sports car and drove it faster on this old road today than I did on my motor scooter yesterday!"

    • by Threni (635302)

      Not to disagree with you, but I assumed that:

      "BT ran the test on a fiber with optical characteristics (high polarization mode dispersion) that made it unsuitable for 10GBps using current techniques"

      was an implication that glass is not just glass, and that you use this or that glass for this or that feature. Are you saying there's no fiber, no matter how old or which characteristics is has, which cannot run that this (or any future) speed?

    • by jroc242 (1397083)
      We did the same thing with our dark fiber ring between our offices. We use Ciena cards for DWDM. It used to be 1G circuits, now we install 10G circuits. Soon we will be putting in some 40G cards which will give us 40G circuits, no digging in manholes.
      • by Shatrat (855151)

        The big deal here is that there are a lot of fiber types that we couldn't go beyond 2.5G on due to effects like four wave mixing, chromatic dispersion, polarization mode dispersion. Those fibers have been sitting idle, and now have value again due to the fundamental differences in how the 'coherent' optics are modulated. In many cases that's going to mean millions of dollars of construction can be avoided because existing fiber can be used again.

  • To give me that kind of speed, I'd be happy. ;-)

  • Am I the only slashdotter who sees "BT" and immediately thinks it's about bittorrent?

    Download a copy of the Man of Steel screener in a single millisecond. Yay !!

  • "Oh waaah I live up a country lane that's 10 miles away from the nearest house and I can't get fibre optic, woe is me" If you want good broadband move to a city. I live in Bristol and i'm pretty happy with my BT Infinity service, I get about 75 down/25 up unlimited for like £25 a month.

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