Broadband News

Newspapers shocked that faster speeds may mean paying more

Painting BT and Openreach as evil incarnate is a popular past time and while there are valid concerns over whether the 4 million premises for the end of 2020 target will be delivered and whether the subsequent 15 million ambition will happen there are some sectors of the media trying to scare the public into thinking full fibre will be forced upon them and they will have no choice but to pay a lot more per month.

The reality is of course very different and the coverage arises because of warnings during the financial results that faster full fibre and 5G services are going to cost more to subscribe too, alongside the eventual migration of people en-masse from existing copper services to full fibre services when the copper network is eventually retired. As things stand today no date has been set for the any part of the copper network to be retired, there is a date of 2025 for turning off the WLR service and moving to voice over broadband which will mean changes in how phones are plugged in. Once the WLR change has took place we would expect the copper switch to become the next target.

As the full fibre roll-out via the Fibre First Openreach programme completes on individual exchanges we are expecting broadband providers to shift customers in the area onto the new full fibre service but with packages available at the same speed and price as existing VDSL2 packages and since the switch to full fibre will need a home visit in every case these switch overs are not going to happen overnight. 

Ofcom would have a major meltdown if Openreach and broadband retailers were to use the full fibre programme to move customers en-masse with no choice from £30/m copper packages to £50 a month or more packages.

The amount of full fibre competition is increasing and many of those in Fibre First areas already have a choice of an ultrafast service via Virgin Media so ramping up prices across the board makes no sense and millions more are going to get at least one other competitor such as Vodafone Gigafast where the ultrafast products generally under cut the existing superfast product pricing.

The short version is that there is a big difference between charging a premium for 160 Mbps and faster products during the roll-out when the geeks will chew your arm off to sign up as soon as they can and between planned migrations to equivalent products but on a superior technical platform.

Comments

Well it's short sighted of any company not to predict and budget for infrastructure updates or replacements, and no doubt we've all been paying for the eventual shift from copper to fibre in our bills for a good number of years already. This upgrade is little different to how various other updates to infrastructure are managed, from replacing gas and water pipes to upgrading the national grid or installing smart meters. BT had it a long time coming, as a company they need to invest and update, upgrade. They will be saving loads of money after the upgrade due to reliability improvements.

  • philipd
  • 4 months ago

ADSL2+ £19.99 16/1
VDSL2 £24.99 40/10
VDSL2 £29.99 80/20
VIRGIN MEDIA 350/35 £39.00
G.FAST £52.99 160/30
G.FAST £59.99 330/50

  • adslmax
  • 4 months ago

I would add that millions of people pay £30 a month for a 80/20 VDSL line that don't get anywhere near that speed. Where as if you have a FTTP line and pay £X for speed Y then you get speed Y or nothing regardless of how far you are from the exchange. That is excluding contention of course.

  • jabuzzard
  • 4 months ago

Just to point out, Philipd, other utilities are metered or, in the case of water, being migrated to metering. Also: you receive electricity, gas and water at 230v for electricity and adequate pressure on the others to provide your needs. If you want more electricity, gas or water than the infrastructure serving you provides at the moment you pay for the upgrades and/or pay per unit of usage.

We can't compare upgrades to the national grid to this - these are upgrades to the actual supply serving the premises. If you want a 3 phase electricity supply you'll pay for any cabling work.

  • CarlThomas
  • 4 months ago

@CarlThomas

As a side note many people don't get the same water pressure, it depends where you live, it can be variable.

No utility company can expect their network to last forever, technology has progressed now and BT can update their network with something better and cheaper than corroding copper. A huge part of their network hasn't been touched in 50 years or more, they've been paid back many times on their initial investment in copper!

When the water company replaces old leaking pipes to bigger plastic ones, they don't argue their customers should be paying more for a better supply.

  • philipd
  • 4 months ago

@CarlThomas

Don't forget Openreach have already reported they expect to make huge savings in maintenance and running costs with an all fibre network, and will also be able to recover a not inconsiderable amount of copper for it's value.

Trouble with BT, they are quite late to the game, they've messed around with VDSL and G.Fast trying to squeeze more money out of a network of 50 year old or more corroding copper longer than was sensible, now the likes of Virgin and alt.nets are gaining ground.

  • philipd
  • 4 months ago

@Philipd Actually you do, talk of investment in network to reduce things like water loss is seeing water bills increase

When broadband appeared in UK in 2000 pricing was pretty much £50/m the fact that so many services are lower than that now even before you take into account inflation is pretty amazing, particularly given the investment into access and core networks.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 4 months ago

Maybe it's time to dig this out again https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/world-of-tech/how-the-uk-lost-the-broadband-race-in-1990-1224784

We might not be in this mess if the infrastructure was updated some 30 years ago as planned.

Maybe one day the requirements of a data utility may stabilise, just like household gas, electricity and phone eventually did. We're evidently not there yet.

I would expect things like water pipe changes to come out of maintenance costs that the water company builds in to pricing (after all, I'm not going to get twice as much water). These are upgrades.

  • Cessquill
  • 4 months ago

We have recently had fibre installed on the pole, two of my neighbours have been BT FTTC customers on a similar speed to me (4MB), one was on superfast1, the other on the 55/10, they where both told they needed to upgrade to ultrafast to get fibre.

  • burble
  • 4 months ago

@Cessquill, we are currently in discussions with Anglian Water over an upgrade to our water supply, hopefully in off peak it will give us twice as much flow, during peak periods we hope to get more than the present trickle.

  • burble
  • 4 months ago

The cost saving would be surely very substantial. In the last 14/15 years there must have been two man weeks of effort fixing faults on just my line.

  • brianhe
  • 4 months ago

@burble - that is the joy of a retail team that are confused, the messaging on the BT Consumer website is not helpful.

An Ofcom pricing rule means if you can get superfast VDSL2 and opt for a 40/10 FTTP product there is a bit more to pay, but the other 55/10 and 80/20 superfast services are not affected. If the speeds people are connecting at is 4 Mbps (assuming 4MB means that) then the price impact does not apply.

The answer if one retailer is insisting you need to order the 160 or faster service is to talk to one who is happy to connect at the product speed the person picks.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 4 months ago

A cynical person might think the sales team had a financial incentive to sign them up to ultrafast. ;)

  • burble
  • 4 months ago

Virgin Media 350/35 is now £51/month for me. :(

  • Khan
  • 4 months ago

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