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Openreach looking to incentivise fibre take-up
Friday 06 September 2013 11:50:57 by Andrew Ferguson

The news about options for no engineer visiting to install FTTC is being welcomed by many, but this has not launched yet and there will be those who still want someone to visit to resolve wiring issues. Two levels of installation are currently available, something that many are probably not aware of:

  • Basic Install where the Openreach engineer simply installs the Openreach modem and anything beyond that is down to the end-user.
  • Managed Install includes the install of the Openreach modem, but adds connection of the provides supplied router and proving that the connection works on one computer that belongs to the end-user.

The reason for this news item, is that Openreach issued a briefing to providers on the 5th September asking whether providers would be interested in a special offer where Basic and Managed installs were available at a reduced price in certain areas with the aim of driving an incremental change in the take-up volume in the specific areas.

As this is something only under consideration at this time we obviously have no indication of the size of the reduction. The landscape for installation of FTTC broadband is set to change dramatically later in the year, the trials for providers to use their own integrated VDSL modem/routers are set to continue until Autumn and will expand the range of installation options greatly.

The PCP Only option, has led some people to worry that people will suffer from much worse speeds, but with providers like TalkTalk already offering their own engineers for installation of YouView it will make it easier for them to offer free install if you do everything yourself, or pay a small fee to have one of their engineers install both the fibre service and the YouView box. Hopefully providers will question customers at the time of order to determine what sort of install would work best, i.e. non engineer for the geeks through to a complete rewire of internal telephone wiring for those that need it.

Price wise the PCP Only option which has a proposed price in the £40 to £50, which while not ultra cheap is still lower than the basic install at £92, or managed install at £95 to £100 (variations are down to which GEA-FTTC service is ordered, all the prices exclude VAT). One interesting addition that may help those who cannot wait to start using their new connection is the ability to book a specific time slot for the PCP Only activation which carries a £12.50 charge.


Posted by pcoventry76 over 4 years ago
They don't have to incentivise some. Just give us cabs!
Posted by gromittz over 4 years ago
Quite agree ! oh and not just cabs but EO lines too.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Hence the only some areas I suspect, i.e. cabinets that the demographics say should have higher take-up but do not.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 4 years ago
What I am hoping is that the take up round here is good and so the Superfast Cymru have some spare cash and they decide to put it into a few more cabs. It's possible I suppose.

Posted by mabibby over 4 years ago
I'm what you would call a "geek" but the managed engineer install was a godsend to get my master socket moved with a fresh cable/socket which otherwise would cost £200 as previously quoted.

I think to ensure FTTC product is a success BT need to continue to bite the bullet with sending engineers to wire fibre conversions.
Posted by Going_Digital over 4 years ago
FTTC should become the standard installation for all new broadband installations the customer shouldn't really have to choose the technology. There should simply be an economy broadband option that has a capped speed and a premium service that has no speed cap.
Posted by Borisvon over 4 years ago
Maybe if they hadn't been installing fibre everywhere virgin already is and spent more time on the non virgin areas there would have been a larger take up!
Posted by ValueforMoney over 4 years ago
Would it be correct to assume that these announcements, the FOD pricing and the current proposals from Ofcom for 2014-2017 for anchoring cost recovery to a hypothetical ptsn only network, that FTTP will be given lip service until after 2017?

It looks that way, which is I think a shame.
Posted by jroadley over 4 years ago
Just get the cabs updated for everyone instead of those in major cities. Us people who live the sticks want super fast broadband have cash waiting to pay for it!
Posted by jren207 over 4 years ago
I'm glad our FTTC installation came with an engineer visit. I'm a bit of a "geek" myself, but we have star wiring and it would have been a mess if I was left to connect the modem myself. Would have probably needed to pay up to get the wiring sorted, whereas due to the engineer visit, everything was included in the broadband package/contract cost.
Posted by tommy45 over 4 years ago
If BT openreach are serious about increasing FTTC takeup then why don't they scrap the madatory 12mth min term that they impose on ISP's,and they could also start allowing ISP's to reset DLM or even disable it and set manual line profiles , now that would be real progress

This standard instal seems to be the norm in a lot of cases, where the customers has been charged the full £80 +vat fee or has an 18mth contract or a permentation of both , Atypical engineer instal at customer premises
Posted by tommy45 over 4 years ago fit the vdsl faceplate unbox and connect BT openreach modem to mains power and filtered socket, wait for the dsl led to to iluminate to indicate a sync and off to the next job, no checks ,tests with a Jdsu exfo , just because there is a sync doesn't mean every things ok, and any BT OR engineer should know that
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

It's called return on investment, it's not BT's fault the government rapes them.
Posted by mdar5 over 4 years ago
If vectoring is introduced it will mean the DLM has to be in TOTAL control of every line.

So you can forget any hope of the ISP's being able to muck about with the DLM/interleaving etc settings on one line to favour one particular customer at the expense of wrecking other customers' lines performance.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 4 years ago
This is a desparate attempt by BT to get more VDSL customers, because the takeup rates so far have been fairly low.

For many users, BTs copper VDSL simply does not offer value for money, and more often than not BTs VDSL is an areas where there is already competition from Virgin Media, with reduced demand for VDSL lines. On the other hand, for many potential customers, especially small businesses, genuine fibre broadband services rather than half-baked copper VDSL would make more sense.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
So these potential customers will wait for 'genuine fibre' rather than FTTC now...
Posted by zyborg47 over 4 years ago
JNeuhoff is correct, I know a few people that have no interest in VDSL, because either they don't see the point in paying more for a faster speed, certainly if they got a good ADSL speed or because they just happy with what they have got.
I don't feel incentivised as I got the speed I want now and I don't feel the need to spend more even if it is only £4-£5 a month for something I don't need.
Posted by Borisvon over 4 years ago
@JNeuhoff, spot on.
You try confronting BT about focusing on virgin areas and they deny it, but big green cabs next to virgin ones don't lie!
I ditched BT (for sky,same lines but better cost) about 6 months ago as got tired of waiting for the mystical cab update which never happened but skipped our ADSL cab and moved off to fit some more in the virgin areas near me!
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Software geeks can't solve hardware problems, so there's a need for someone with practical skills to sort out wiring messes.

It's a pity BT didn't adopt a 2-wire internal standard post 2000 and let the ring wire nonsense fade away with time.
Posted by chrysalis over 4 years ago
otester no return on investment if no customers. The 12 month mandatory contract is a serious hinderence, but no worries ofcom are soon to enforce a change to this.
Posted by russianmonkey over 4 years ago
If OpenReach install FTTC in Virgin areas, this then means that many providers can provide a faster service.

More providers may then resell FTTC over the OR network which means more competition which leads to lower prices in the longer term, ergo people then may be inclined to move to FTTC instead of staying on Virgin's HFC network.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Has any of those saying FTTC is only in areas where cable is available looked at the national, rather their own street and friends?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
The Ofcom contract term is NOT about minimum term from install date, but rather the need for a new 12 month term when switching provider.
Posted by Borisvon over 4 years ago
@andrew I've driven round most of my local area and its just what I see and yes most of friends and family see a similar pattern.
They enabled my exchange earlier in the year, started putting cabs in where virgin is, skipped our area without virgin then started putting cabs in the other virgin area's.
Eventually they just moved off to another area/exchange.
I don't live where the average must be based.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
At the end of the day with an aim of 2/3rds coverage by Spring 2014, there are going to be lots of people in that final third, waiting for councils to push coverage further.

What made an area attractive to Virgin, probably makes it attractive to BT too.
Posted by Borisvon over 4 years ago
Surely people who can't virgin would be more attractive to BT but that would be common sense which BT lack.
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago

I have not looked at the national statistics, but I am willing to bet that 90% of cabled areas has BT VDSL installed and has had it for a while. I have never made any secret of the fact that I despise the BT policies and have told every CEO in the last 10 years this either personally or via email (apart from the new one... I have no BT service at all anymore, direct or indirect... so no point really).

Posted by MCM999 over 4 years ago
@Borisvon Rather than lacking common sense BT instead is driven by hard-nosed commercial reality and is upgrading all its cabs where it believes there is a real prospect of seeing a viable commercial return. Like most companies it has long left behind any altruistic tendencies it might ever have had. Remember it's responsible to its shareholders to provide a return on their investment rather than limiting itself to upgrading cabs in areas that VM, in its various earlier guises, chose to ignore often because they were not commercially viable at that time either.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

Considering most people have at least 12 month contracts with broadband it's not that big of a deal.

The reason for low take up is BT mostly rolling out in areas which already have good speeds or at least good enough for the average consumer to be not that bothered about upgrading.
Posted by zyborg47 over 4 years ago
I agree with otester in that the reason for low take up in a lot of areas is because people have got good speeds. i know a few who got 16Mb/s on ADSL and don't feel the need to move, but a lot of people in this city don't have anywhere near that speed and that is maybe why FTTc is doing ok around here.
Did Bt start out their FTTC in Cardiff , which have a huge Virgin cable presence?
Posted by lyncol over 4 years ago
Low take up is a result of bad decisions made by Openreach. As an example, in my town we have one FTTC outside the exchange gate and in my village on the outskirts of town (4.5 km) 200 households are crying out for something more than 2MB.
Customers with long lines should initially be the target market and not those already enjoying good asdl2.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
"BTs VDSL is an areas where there is already competition from Virgin Media"

See the link Andrew provided to be proven wrong on this common myth. There is always going to be some overlap - why? Because that is where the customers area! Why shouldn't I have FTTC in my area just because Virgin are here? What a foolish way of thinking.
Posted by finaldest over 4 years ago
Those in small communities need to take some initiative if they want FTTC.

local communities need to canvas the local population to gauge take up and then approach BT for an estimate.

Funds can be raised via local fund raising and through the local Councillor/council.

My local community did this with ADSL2+ in the
past when I lived in a rural community.

Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
As far as common sense goes of course Openreach are going to put cabinets in areas which have Virgin Media if worth their while.

Someone who already uses an Openreach line moves to FTTC Openreach get a few quid a month more, the FTTC charge.

Someone who is on Virgin Media moves to FTTC when it becomes available Openreach get line rental and FTTC charge.

A customer won back to Openreach from Virgin is more incremental income than 2 FTTC subs.
Posted by fastman over 4 years ago
finaldesk is commection - a number have alrewady islip and Binfield Heath are well documented (pus a number not documented) -- see openreach FAQ of how to move it forward
Posted by RandomJointer over 4 years ago
Come off it, Jeurgen. Your theory that people are not buying faster fttc speeds because they want even faster fttp speeds just doesn't wash.

People are buying faster fttc services and encouraging take up will only help further roll out.

You want fttp for your business, you can get it now for around the cost of an unskilled member of staff's wage.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 4 years ago
@RandomPointer: Are you working for BT? Because you seem to know more than BT whom we contacted several times now.

Copper VDSL takeup is low because quite often it simply does not offer good value for money, the low takeups are a fact. Not even all the wasted public money handed over to a poor charity called BT will make a difference. VDSL Infinity is simply not the right product for many!
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago
that statement doesn't make one jot of common sense...
what residential applications are there for 100 Mbps, that a ~40 Mbps cannot do?
VM saw this very same issue when it brought in its 100 Mbps product... people were happy with the slower products, majority were new connections. a lot of people don't care that much about fast internet, they're happy with their smart phones.

As for can locations, not a hint of VM in our village,exchange is 5km away, yet FTTC is here. 57 down and 18 up, more than adequate for work and play for all the family.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
JNeuhoff statements never make sense, he just likes to the get the boot in on BT.

VDSL is not the right product for many? like many of the general public care whether its copper or fibre :D

I take it you can't get it then or are happy with your Virgin connection?
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
@JNeuhoff - what actual BT product are you interested in?
Posted by JNeuhoff over 4 years ago
@GMAN99: If I wasn't to like BT I'd be in good company, BT usually has poor ratings for a good reason, see e.g.

@Somerset: We don't use BT. we'd certainly not use copper VDSL. The fact is the low takeup of BTs VDSL shows that many users are not interested in this product.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
While not liking VDSL is a valid idea for low take-up, I do not believe that people who want faster broadband will have decided to remain on ADSL/ADSL2+ if that is their only other option.

Maybe a survey to ask those who have FTTC in their area is needed.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
@JNeuhoff - so what product do you want and why does the method of delivery matter? So what have you contacted BT for?
Posted by mervl over 4 years ago
Isn't the simple fact that any large scale roll out, however it's handled, is going to leave the (very anxious) few furious because they have a use for it but can't get it, and the vast majority (for whom it may even be available) disinterested, because they've better things to do. Despite what the advertisers tell you no mass market service is "designed just for you". Take them at their word at your peril, if you like. It's all about the economics (to misquote Bill Clinton).
Posted by mervl over 4 years ago
So why haven't Ofcom or the Government "specified" FTTP? I suspect because they've realised the people won't pay for it, and in the popularity stakes it's pretty low. Even worse than HS2. All that happens is that a few people want everyone else to pay so they can have it. The poor subsidising the rich again. Well "No". Cry as much as you like.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Why did Gov not specific FTTP? Simple the reports way back in 2008 suggested a cost of many billions and no-one did a real analysis of how long to install too.

As a project over 20 years FTTP is a no brainer, but who tells someone who can only get 2 Mbps now, that their area is 16 years down the FTTP build list?

B4rn is showing what can be done, but also the difficulties linked with doing FTTP in the rural parts of the UK.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

Reaching outlying villages is expensive, not only a large installation cost but fiber tax as well (done based on distance of the fiber cable).
Posted by andy88 over 4 years ago
Transparency on 'why' streets are not commercially viable does not help, and an appeal structure to see if apparent mis-assessments could be reviewed.

Whilst I can accept that BT 'should' be looking to the best return for their investors, it does not prevent marketing etc, from making broad but occasionally false assumptions or having a blind spot to some easy wins.

There do seem to be many areas of skipped non-Virgin streets as are often commented on. The lack of feedback only breeds suspicion.

End users seem too disconnected from the ultimate providers ?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@andy88 on the disconnect, compared to the original ADSL roll-out there is now an extra layer involved with the functional split to make Openreach.

There is an NGA enquires address at Openreach which can give some useful information and the press coverage of the 'rural' project, has meant many in towns/cities assume they will be covered by commercial roll-outs, when they will be in the final third.

Interestingly was reading about Singapore and problems with information and delayed roll-out, but they are talking of full FTTH/P/B in that case.
Posted by phil_w_lee over 4 years ago
It seems that BT are using the same demographic studies as Virgin (and their predecessors) in deciding which areas to enable exchanges and upgrade cabinets.
If they stopped trying to cherry-pick the same areas as Virgin, they might get better take-up rates.
There's only one cherry, and Virgin have already taken a mouthful.
A monopoly on a small pie is better than the scrapings of a large pie that has been eaten already.
The areas screaming for faster connections are those that Virgin missed, but BT is ignoring them - presumably in the hope of getting a subsidy.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
So you would suggest that BT stay out of areas where virgin are and tough to those customers?
Posted by otester over 4 years ago
People seem to forget that BT is a private company.
Posted by RandomJointer over 4 years ago
Sorry, Jeurgen. You make no sense.

Punters are crying out for FTTC services in their area. I see no other voice saying that they will not buy FTTC services because they want FTTP apart from yours.

It is puzzling that I can only find BT Retail offering services in Openreach FTTP areas anyway. No other provider seems interested.

Even more puzzling is that your company, MHC Ltd, before it was dissolved, was only one street away from the exchange. There is no way that fibre ethernet services were not available.

Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Everyone is saying your making no sense JNeuhoff, I'd have to agree. BT has some poor user ratings on a website, shock horror. Still the ISP with the most customers in the UK :)

So you are saying people don't want copper and they are waiting out for FTTH is that right? I'd say your totally wrong.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Also I wouldn't consider 1.7 million subscribers - low, its still very much early days and its working its way closer to the 4million Virgin cable subscribers
Posted by JNeuhoff over 4 years ago
RandomPointer: If you are not already working for BT, you should consider becoming a BT sales person, because you sure know more than BT tells its customers :)

We haven't used BT for ages ...

Also make sure you know the difference between Ethernet/Leased Lines and Fibre Optic Broadband services, where they are available, and learn a little about cost/benefits analysis for the various telecom services a small business might want to use.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 4 years ago
GMAN99: Looking at the various speedtest maps, including the one provided by Thinkbroadband, you can get an idea how low the VDSL takeup really is at the moment.

There are a few aspects which makes VDSL not very suitable for a number of business users. (no naked VDSL, no VDSL line bonding, no symmetric download/upload etc.)
Posted by JNeuhoff over 4 years ago
RandomJointer: "It is puzzling that I can only find BT Retail offering services in Openreach FTTP areas anyway. No other provider seems interested. "

There are quite a few altnets in small towns which use leased line backbones and long-distance wireless links to customer's premises, capable of offering symmetric broadband links, often more suitable for small businesses than ADSL2+ or VDSL.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
You are using speedtest maps to measure take up? Not surprised your off the mark :)
Posted by JNeuhoff over 4 years ago
GMAN99: When BT posted their financial results on May 10th 2013, BTWholesale’s overall FTTC/P connections total was around 1.5 Million, while its FTTC service itself passed 15 million premises in the UK. That represented a meager 10% uptake only. Looking at the various speedtest maps I can only confirm this rough figure.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Its 1.7million , .2million served by (others) including Sky and Talktalk, as some simply don't like dealing with BT Sky and TT need to ramp up their end to help uptake and drive competition.

It just depends on how you view the picture I guess, I see it as getting almost half on FTTC as there is against Virgin's cable network which has been around for decades and it has more coverage that Virgin's cable network. It is still very early days :)
Posted by Borisvon over 4 years ago
I'm not saying that BT should avoid virgin areas I'm just baffled by there deployment strategy, I'm not in a rural area, we have probably 2000+ houses, businesses, schools etc. with access only to ADSL with no other options so surely that would be ideal cherry pickings as there's no competition.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 4 years ago
@Borisvon: Similar in our town, thousands of premises, high density settlement area. This shows how wrong the FTTC technology approach really is, because it can't be commercially scaled down by BT to serve lets say 2000 properties. The whole lot of BT is in a mess, with half-baked short term copper network patches like VDSL, and even then it doesn't even touch EO lines. Even when offered good money BT often won't do a FTTP broadband installation.
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago

The whole point is that BT is looking to service a majoprity vs a minority. BT isn't very good at that and it would be best for a competitor who is capable of such service to be incentivised to do so.

No point complaining about something that BT is not good at doing, when they are geared up for something different.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
"I'm not saying that BT should avoid virgin areas I'm just baffled by there deployment strategy"

Isn't it one of, deploy first where there is the most dense population of customers? Sounds right to me
Posted by Borisvon over 4 years ago
Yeah but I'm in the dense population area!
So I'm being penalised and avoided because virgin (Or Ntl as it was at the time) did the same!
If it wasn't for mobile broadband we would be stuffed altogether!
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