Broadband News

Openreach to scale back G.fast roll-outs as full fibre to take priority

The original ambition for G.fast was to roll-out it to 10 million premises by some date in 2020 and the last set of financial results indicated that some 1.1 million premises had been passed by the pods, on Thursday we learnt that the 10 million is being revised down to 5.7 million premises.

Full fibre’s our priority and we accelerated our investment plans to reflect that. Our engineers are already building FTTP to 10,000 premises each week and we’re on track to reach three million homes and businesses by the end of 2020. Our ambition is to reach 10 million by the mid-2020s.

We’re keen to make ultrafast broadband available to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Gfast allows us to do that alongside our big full fibre build with little disruption to local communities, so we plan to upgrade more than five and half million premises using that technology.

Openreach spokesperson on changes to G.fast

The downside if you take a technology neutral stance is that by dropping 4 million G.fast premises as a result of the expansion in the full fibre from 2 million to 3 million premises that there is going to be around 3 million premises without the option of an ultrafast service from Openreach (based on the original plan been being 10 million G.fast plus 2 million FTTP). In terms of the ultrafast world league tables this is likely to have little impact as a lot of the G.fast roll-out to date has overlapped with the Virgin Media DOCSIS network.

One can see a a couple of warnings within this change for the UK full fibre ambitions which are very much about making the UK look better on the world broadband stage and that is full fibre is still more labour intensive than G.fast and doing both at once was difficult. Many years ago the opposite happened when the FTTP roll-outs were scaled back to allow the easier to deploy VDSL2 service roll-outs to continue at a high pace in an Openreach that was struggling with splicing lots of fibre. The second warning is that as a massive amount of the full fibre roll-outs that the Government is hoping will reach 50% coverage by 2025 is being done under commercial control and if markets and regulatory pressures shift firms are free to change their plans.

While we have your attention a few small updates, our footprint of known live G.fast is at 586,818 premises (2,093 pods) up from 539,000 on the 7th August, Plymouth and Paignton are just two of the new areas that will appear on our maps soon, the pods went into our coverage database last night.

On the full fibre roll-outs, that has jumped from 529,000 to 530,402 in the same 3 day period and an interesting development is that we are now seeing almost complete VDSL2 cabinets overlaid with FTTP particularly in Northern Ireland and this is not infill as we are seeing it made available to premises with full speed VDSL2 availability. The majority of the full fibre we have seen under the 'Fibre First' banner to date has been Exchange Only line upgrades in city centres and we knew the shift to overlaying VDSL2 was going to take place soon. Our availability checker currently prioritises FTTP providers, but with the overlay now covering fast VDSL2 areas and the limited choice of provider on GEA-FTTP we will coding changes in the next week or two to ensure that the VDSL2 options will also appear - until now this has not been an issue since where FTTP has usually overlaid VDSL2 the VDSL2 speeds were often below 10 Mbps.

Comments

@thinkbroadband Good!

  • @tyrbiter
  • comment via twitter
  • 8 days ago

Hurrah! About time! Someone at BT has finally conceded the stupidity of G.FAST.

  • AndrueC
  • 7 days ago

In my opinion all providers such as Openreach, Virgin Media, ufo, Hyperoptic etc should be filling in the blanks. Initially I would not like to see areas that have multiple fttp providers with others bethout. Gfast has such a big drop off in terms of distance to speed flawed technology.

  • Housey1
  • 7 days ago

G.fast just provides even faster speeds for those close enough to a cabinet to get fast speeds anyway. FTTP can provide very fast speeds for everyone especially those with sub 2Mbps ADSL connections.

  • Michael_Chare
  • 7 days ago

The death of the G.Fast . Good riddance, should have never happen!

  • adslmax
  • 7 days ago

It would be nice to see some sort of rollout plan, so we can check when our area will be moving to FTTP. I had already ruled out G.Fast through being more than two foot from the cabinet...

  • tmcr
  • 6 days ago

Don't think you'll see a rollout plan with any detail, it not been available for the publicly funded BDUK stuff, so even less likely with Openreach only work.

  • brianhe
  • 6 days ago

So seems like G.Fast is basically dead, and thank goodness as it was always a folly and really wasn't G.Fast as it was designed to have been anyway. I suspect take up has been quite low given the only people to benefit are already on a decent speed. BT would have been better off just moving to VDSL MAX and then those people on short lines (that would have seen a speed increase with G.Fast) could have still received a speed increase by syncing up to the maximum attainable of their line and paying a bit more if they wanted.

Roll on full fibre.

  • philipd
  • 6 days ago

For purely selfish reasons I'm not happy with this at all

My cabinet is 33 metres as the crow flies from my door so I'm currently synced at exactly 80Mbps down and 20Mbps up on BT's Fibre Max package.

G.Fast would have given a realistic time frame for giving me speeds that aren't available to me as Virgin don't cover Canterbury.

Now there is this push for FTTP I'm fairly certain I won't see fibre speeds for quite a long time...also I'm unlikely to pay the charge for proper FTTP installation, whatever subsidy form it'll be.

  • fusen
  • 5 days ago

On Openreach FTTP install, it costs same cost as G.fast, unless you have things like a 50m long drive and they want to charge excess construction charges

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 5 days ago

While obviously this is the direction they should be going, it kinda sucks for those of us on crappy ECI cabinets hoping we might at least get G.FAST in the meantime.

I'm about 250m from the cabinet and my speed has dropped from 100/30 on Digital Region to 80/20 when I moved to Openreach, now down to 70/20.

I realise people on ADSL will have no sympathy here (for good reason) but seeing what you get for your money reduce, as your usage increases, is not great.

  • alexatkinuk
  • 4 days ago

@andrew just to clarify your comment regarding G.Fast and FTTP costing the same for install.

When they install the G.Fast pod I thought there was nothing extra needed between the pod and the home? With FTTP they obviously need to install fibre literally into the home. Why would Openreach not charge more for the latter?

  • fusen
  • 4 days ago

The G.fast service requires an engineer to visit the home, so has a charge for that. Checking and rationalising the in home wiring is what you get for the money, so chance of best possible is higher.

The FTTP service requires an engineer to visit the home, so has a charge for that. They are only running the final little of fibre or in some cases have nothing to as the fibre is already present.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 3 days ago

The problem with FTTP is that it will be BT network, so you will have very little choice in the providers you will be able to use. Also, FTTP is over priced,

  • zyborg47
  • 2 days ago

What worries me is the number of places where the "not Openreach" providers are going in, particularly in new builds, and there is no choice of CP other than themselves. CityFibre I think being the exception, which a number of CPs using their network.

I foresee the sort of thing that seems to exist in theSstates, where your location determines you CP, for better or worse, and you can't migrate.

Or am I mistaken?

  • uniquename
  • 2 days ago

"wg=hich" = "with" above.

  • uniquename
  • 2 days ago

The Vodafone CityFibre deal I believe gives them exclusivity for residential customers for some time.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 1 day ago

@Zyborg: Eh? Being on a BT cable gives you the greatest choice of provider. It gives you access to all the ISPs that operate a service through BTw or that utilise BTor facilities. About the only ISPs you won't have access to will be KCOM, the AltNets and other FTTP providers.

And of course there is nothing technically preventing /any/ ISP from providing a service over BT FTTP. Just a matter of the ISP signing the paperwork and running a few cables.

  • AndrueC
  • 1 day ago

@AndrueC, very few providers offer pure fibre and when they do they are not cheap. I know someone who moved into a flat that had FTTP, they wanted to satay with Talk Talk why I have no idea) but since Talk Talk do not offer FTTP they could not, so they had little choice but to go with BT or the couple of other expensive provender. they can not even get another line put in to use FTTC as there is no FTTC there.

what is needed is Network installed by the government, taking out all profit making companies like Bt and then providers can use that. Still too much of a monopoly for BT.

  • zyborg47
  • about 6 hours ago

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