Broadband News

Is the hammer hovering over the G.fast roll-out?

G.fast has had a difficult birthing in the UK but from our figures it is an ultrafast service available to around 1.885 million premises and provides a speed upgrade path for people where the top VDSL2 package is not enough speed and no other options exist or they just don't want to change provider.

So we learn that Openreach is now re-assessing its investment in the G.fast roll-out and of course the alarm bells ring with chants of the G.fast roll-out ending. Unfortunately like so many topics things are more complex and our understanding is that the work for 2020 will continue which is aiming to get G.fast to be available to some 2.73 million premises by end of March 2020 (at end of last quarter the Openreach G.fast footprint was listed as 2.166 million premises).

What is happening, we are told that the issue is about getting better at avoiding overbuilding G.fast pods with FTTP via the Fibre First roll-outs and with a number of Fibre First exchanges having an extensive G.fast footprint this makes sense, i.e. why roll-out an ultrafast technology twice. Surely much better to sit down and re-plan the G.fast roll-out so that based on the next few years of known FTTP plans new pods will only appear where FTTP will not. That was the original stated aim of the G.fast roll-out i.e. G.fast where FTTP is not but we are in a situation where 27,891 premises have both G.fast and Openreach FTTP as an option today.

In terms of the take-up of G.fast in the last financial results the 36,000 live lines from a footprint of 2.1 million looks tiny and its very easy to say that this pause is due to low take-up. As we said earlier things are more complex, ahead of the last Openreach financials we thought the take-up of G.fast would be around 38,000 to 48,000 premises so not massively wrong and using the same source data in the Fibre First areas (i.e. where VDSL2 is also superfast) we believe that Openreach FTTP take-up is in the 32,000 to 42,000 lines region. 

On the topic of the the broadband speeds people want and will more importantly pay for the buying choices for those in Openreach FTTP new build areas should be a good indicator of what people are happy with:

At the end of Q2 2019 in Openreach FTTP new builds speed tests indicated:

  • 36% are on a 40/10 FTTP service
  • 62% are on a 55/10 FTTP or slower service
  • 80% are on an 80/20 FTTP or slower service
  • Just 20% are clearly buying the ultrafast speed options

Of course if the price of the ultrafast options was to be slashed then take-up would probably increase and the beauty of FTTP is that in a few years when we need 500 Mbps to just check our email and whatever social network is in fashion will scale to handle that. 

This also illustrates why new entrants are so aggressive with their full fibre pricing, i.e. to get high take-up you either need to roll-out in an area where there is no superfast/ultrafast service already available or you need to undercut the existing service even if you are a lot faster.

So G.fast roll-outs have not ended just yet, our money is on the Openreach FTTP roll-outs now taking the position of priority at both planning and resource levels giving Openreach an ultrafast footprint of 18 to 19 million premises once it has finished its 15 million premises FTTP roll-out. A reminder on the FTTP plans, target of 4 million by the end of March 2021 and ambition for deliver 15 million for 2025.

Comments

@thinkbroadband https://t.co/9G6LCOxcBC is installed in the cabinet my block is connected too, but there is no ment… https://t.co/SbVKgeNDtj

  • @MrAndMrsSmith99
  • comment via twitter
  • about 1 month ago

It's no surprise that take up is low, when it is only available to those at the top end of the VDSL speed range.

  • brianhe
  • about 1 month ago

@ Brianhe
Ermmm no. G.Fast take up % rates are low because for those able to order a g.fast service, most will be perfectly happy with their current 80/20 or 40/10 FTTC services & don't feel the extra cost is worth it. No different to majority (80%) of FTTP users choosing 80/20 or less in Openreach FTTP only areas.

  • baby_frogmella
  • about 1 month ago

It is worse than that. I get a full 80/20 (in fact my max obtainable is significantly higher) my cabinet has a G.fast pod and after 10 months it is even enabled. However I can't get G.fast as presumably I am judge to far from the cabinet. So basically you can get a full 80/20 VDSL if you can get G.fast so the takeup was always going to be low at this point in time.

  • jabuzzard
  • about 1 month ago

On the only available to top range, that is why the street cabinets that have G.fast have a footprint of 3,136,990 premises but as article said its 1,885,000 premises within range based on our database.

No doubt in a couple of years when the 160 Mbps service is £26.99/m we will be saying take-up of the £45/m Gigabit option is low, i.e. the data suggests that at this point in time people are willing to trade a little time to save money.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 month ago

I can only see a very small market for G.Fast at this moment in time, and by the time it might be needed in future I would guess most will be on FTTP anyway.

  • burble
  • about 1 month ago

It'd be more interesting to see if Openreach replaced all their DSLAMs with the G.Fast versions, and just had every line with G.Fast capability whether it'd be cheaper to just sell a product of "We'll give you whatever copper can deliver", and the ISP just buckets to the nearest bandwidth bucket based on the sync speed. I bet it'd be cheaper to just manage an estate of one DSL technology than 3 different DSLAM topologies.

  • zzing123
  • about 1 month ago

The just give whatever it can do is VDSL profile 35b, which would indeed have been far more sensible approach than G.Fast but we are where we are and that won't happen now.

  • jabuzzard
  • about 1 month ago

@baby_frogmella, you are right a lot of people are happy with their 40/80Mb/s. Even some people like myself who don't get 40 are fine with the speed they get.

even if the cabinet was right on top of my house I would not bother going for a faster speed.

  • zyborg47
  • about 1 month ago

Another brake on G.fast take-up is OpenReach wholesalers' inability to provide it.

Our connection is G.fast enabled and I enquired of our ISP (EntaNet) last week as to availability and pricing, and their response was "Unfortunately we don't have any plans to roll this out as yet as our systems are not able to support it".

I didn't follow up to ask why this is the case - we do have good 80/20 FTTC which is enough - but if OpenReach resellers aren't able to provide it then takeup will never grow!

  • ChrisMooreGB
  • about 1 month ago

"Another brake on G.fast take-up is OpenReach wholesalers' inability to provide it."

Not sure why that would affect take up rates as there are plenty of CPs which do sell g.fast. Last time I checked no-one is forced to stay with a single provider...

  • baby_frogmella
  • about 1 month ago

I have Ultrafast through BT/Openreach through landline as they are not allowed to put overhead cable on my estate. I am getting 150mps which is twice as fast as I was getting.

  • DUMB65error
  • about 1 month ago

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