Broadband News

10 Mbps Broadband USO launches - UPDATED

The broadband Universal Service Obligation that has been talked about for what seems forever is now a real thing and people can request their minimum 10 Mbps downstream connection (sync speed) with minimum 1 Mbps upload service from BT and KCOM if you are inside their exclusive network area.

The BT website has updated to add its USO page and we have also added our own guide, which will get edited as we learn more about how the broadband USO is working in practice.

The BT pages make something clear which we have been saying will be the case for sometime and that is if you are able to get a 4G service that meets the speed standards you will not see additional help.

It also needs re-iterating that while the broadband USO will help people get a better broadband connection, the price you  pay may change. 

We will be looking at the BT checker with some known outlier case addresses to see what it is actually doing, so we can do two things, help advise people with questions and if there are any quirks to feed these back to BT.

Update 1:30pm

We have had some reports of problems with the BT USO checker and in the process of looking into those cases, which seem to centre around people having sync speeds under 10 Mbps but the checkers suggesting something in the range of 6 to 14 Mbps. Suggesting that BT is possibly using the best case estimate, for those where speed estimates straddle the USO figure we recommend BT adopts a maybe type response, i.e. to offer people a manual review before taking the address on as a USO case.

More seriously though we have found a major problem in the checker used.

If we check using a postcode where slow ADSL2+ which is clearly under 10 Mbps is the only BT fixed line network then BT is offering its 4G hub as a solution to people, but we have looked at some postcodes where we know Virgin Media cable broadband is available and the checker is not telling people that there is another provider option. The same is happening for addresses where we know Hyperoptic is available.

Our understanding of being designated the USO provider was that BT would look through the alternate options too, and while we do not expect them to link directly to another provider we feel Ofcom should mandate that at the very least BT highlights that other services beyond its own 4G Hub can deliver better than 10 Mbps. 

We are not certain but the one or two postcodes where we think there was no alternate options but 4G coverage returned an identical message.

The BT checker also seems to be failing for some addresses, so if you get a broken response we suggest rather than hammering the checker again that you wait until next week. 

If BT wants access to our database to help cross check the alternate operators and at least give the public some guidance then we are happy to discuss either live API level access or a monthly updated flat dataset for use under commercial terms.

Update 4:30pm For all those working from home its almost time to do a five second commute and just want to add a short update to say BT is aware of what people have been saying. Alas as is obvious since it is both a Friday and a very different Friday to a few weeks ago nothing is going to happen immediately, so therefore it is a case of sit back and wait until we can report on updates to the USO site and processes.

If people are confused about the response from the BT USO checker and want some guidance as always we are here to ask questions of and can take a look at the various data points available.

Comments

I currently receive around 7mbps download / 1mbps upload - just used the new BT online USO checker and they claim I am ineligible because I can already receive above 10mbps. I cannot get 10mbps! Their automated response implies that any reduced speed must be due to the wiring of my property. So looks like I'm stuck with inadequate broadband.

  • smithsmith32100
  • 13 days ago

Was expecting to see a few like this. If you can email [email protected] with your address will have a look at what we and other places are saying. Was expecting the borderline to be more about those seeing 9 Mbps sync and being rejected.

One possibility is that they are using best case estimates. Have not had time to run some random scenario lines through their system yet.

Presume you are using ADSL/ADSL2+ and have double checked that internal wiring i.e. extensions are not impacting speeds.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 13 days ago

As with Andrew have you connected to the test socket for a speed test to eliminate your own wiring...

  • Croft12
  • 13 days ago

Hi Broadband Watchers. I have tested a few +10 Post Codes in Surrey which shows on TBB Maps Amber (-10) and they show that service above 10 is available so they should be yellow. Or Green.
There will be only a very few customers that cannot get + 10 and they are on long drives or tracks.
All Post Codes have a set GPS Position Lat / Long.

  • Blackmamba
  • 13 days ago

The checker appears to be down already.

  • dunks
  • 13 days ago

Hi Broadband Watchers. Just check both checkers BT and OFCom results at the address point.

  • Blackmamba
  • 13 days ago

@Blackmamba if you think thinkbroadband has something wrong then email the postcodes.

NOTE Just the postcode, no screenshots from ipad or other device are needed. We know where postcodes are located.

It is entirely possible that BT is working of high end estimates rather than the low range we use, i.e. best case versus worst case.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 13 days ago

Also should highlight that working from the maps is the wrong thing to do, people should check using https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/postcode-search since the map images are not updated every day unlike the text based search.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 13 days ago

Hi Andrew. And others. I have always work of the best cases at the Post Code (GPS position) that is the one which gives the true picture that is available over that postal area. You may find that some ADSL are registered to FTTC status this has been changed in the last few months.

  • Blackmamba
  • 13 days ago

Using best case means if 20 properties, then you are right for 1 in postcode and wrong for 19.

As I've said send across the postcode(s) so that we can look and report back.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 13 days ago

Oh well, I'm not eligible for USO. I expected that, as the BT dslchecker has a max observed speed for my ADSL2+ line just above the USO - it is always a little faster a couple of days after heavy rain, and gets worse again as the ground dries out.
I expect that there will in fact be very few properties eligible for USO where the installation cost is below the threshold.

  • sheephouse
  • 13 days ago

Great news!
You could get a faster connection with mobile broadband and our 4G Hub

Well, it would be if EE speeds weren't under 2Mbps here.

  • locutus
  • 13 days ago

Mark on ISPreview has been saying people with known poor 4G coverage are getting the result.

I think its fair to say that the check is broken to some extent.

Ofcom did have some very low figures for those who will get USO help, so question is whether that is based on the Ofcom data they've checked or taken from the BT data which is what people are seeing now.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 13 days ago

I guess they need to get a "dispute" process for the computer result running quickly..

  • Croft12
  • 13 days ago

@Andrew
Do you know if the predicted 4G result is assumes a handset or an external aerial? I know of instances where a handset shows no signal whereas the use of an external aerial gets >30Mbps download speeds via a router.

  • New_Londoner
  • 13 days ago

On the 4G prediction no idea - my old understanding prior to today was that plan was 4G hub initially and follow up with external aerial with £99 cost if needed. For an aerial outdoors and above most greenery the difference may be even greater than you suggest.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 13 days ago

Hi Broadband Watchers. The BT Checker is not faulty if the Addresses are correct to the postal list which will cascade to Openreach, OFCom,ISP,s, TBB, d/Bases this data is off the Cabinet (FTTC ) Equipment this data is recorded to the set Post Code GPS Lat/Long pin.

  • Blackmamba
  • 13 days ago

Locutus

Take the 4G Hub as a first step, if it doesn't get you 10Mb you can then prove it and take it to the next step etc, until you get 10Mb or above.

  • jumpmum
  • 13 days ago

Andrew.

If you would like to check LN9 5PP you will find that you get the result "It looks like your address might be eligible for a network upgrade"

So some premises are getting an expected result that does not include a 4G router

  • jumpmum
  • 13 days ago

BT checker now useless. Typical BT. They will take all the government money though.

  • garethley
  • 13 days ago

garethley

It is being swamped, it does work once eventually but you have to give it time. Once I got the post code pop-up window loaded correctly it worked perfectly.

  • jumpmum
  • 13 days ago

Hi Jumpmum. I think they will get pure fibre on Post Code LN95PP checked BT and OFCom information there is fibre very close showing on TBB maps.

  • Blackmamba
  • 13 days ago

Hi Broadband Watchers. I think on the Openreach Website you can register for the service you are interested in and they will tell you when the service is available via email so it the customer responsibility.

  • Blackmamba
  • 13 days ago

Blackmamba you are so misleading so many people can I suggest you just stop posting in the news comments, or I will remove your ability to do so.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 13 days ago

Hi! Our address is on an ADSL2 ( no + so 8Mb/s max ) with no meaningful mobile signal - barely GSM let alone 3G or 4G and the mast is 16 miles away - we measured ) and yet BT suggests a 4G hub.

  • bsdnazz
  • 13 days ago

Blackmamba

There is an FTTPoD customer about 2+ Miles away as the crow flies across open farmland plus a river, 4+ miles by road. Some BDUK deployment the other side of the river some miles away, No commercial deployment for some distance, 20+ miles. Not sure what you think is very close. Out there even one field can be over 1/2 mile long.

  • jumpmum
  • 13 days ago

We’re on FTTC “superfast” broadband.. currently with super fast download speeds of 8mb and super fast upload of 0.4mb on average.
Even the BT Wholesale checker states maximum observed
Speeds of 8.98 download and 0.46 upload..
No dodgy wiring in the house as the modem is always plugged into the master socket.. think it’s the 1.8km to the cabinet that’s the problem..
Come one BT this is crap!! Sort out your database as it says we can’t apply for USO as we’re already over 10mb download speed.

  • cen8wfw
  • 13 days ago

If you have 8 Mbps via VDSL2 its not a superfast service in terms of the statistics, it might be you signed up to a product that had superfast in the name though.

You say 8.98 download, if that is a speed test download speed it may be the download sync is just over 10,000 Kbps, the low upload should mean you qualify though. Need to see sync speeds to say for sure.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 13 days ago

To be honest I always knew we wouldn’t get superfast broadband over our VDSL 2 connection.. we were previously on an ADSL connection only giving about 1.5mb before we upgraded. Luckily we’re with Vodafone and they provide a perpetual discount due to our slow speed.
Think I’ll give BT a ring to see what they say.. 4G May also not be an option as the house is in a remote location .. where you cannot get a 4g signal indoors.. it’s a listed property so would like to understand if they would count this out as we’d be unable to attach an antenna to the house

  • cen8wfw
  • 12 days ago

So.. having been told by the website I cannot apply.. due to BT thinking I get over 10mb/s I rating their call centre. I was told that to apply for USO I have to be a BT customer. In effect I’d have to move over to them from my current provider, and then make an application for USO.. is this correct? If I move over and then get told I need to pay £3000 or they can only give me 4G at £45/per month.. I’d be then stuck in a 2 year contract with BT.. unable to go back to Vodafone who already discount my monthly fee due to the poor speed!

  • cen8wfw
  • 12 days ago

You don't have to be a bt customer already to apply for USO.

  • Croft12
  • 12 days ago

Just tried it to see what is would say, tells me I already get 10Mb or more, upper limit of checker is 5.5Mbps, which is rarely approached.
Seems something a bit broken.

  • brianhe
  • 12 days ago

That’s what I thought Croft 12.... Andrew do you have any advice? Seem like the BT call centre staff don’t know what they’re doing.. W when I called through I chose the option for new customer.. they tried to sell me broadband then told me I had to apply after.. I was wary as I didn’t want to lick myself into a new contract if they would in the long term not be able to help.

  • cen8wfw
  • 12 days ago

The obvious case where it would be a nonsense is where another provider has or is building a USO compliant network in 12 months.

https://community.bt.com/ might be able to answer that if you can't get any sense out of the phone team some of the mods there are pretty good at following things up...

  • Croft12
  • 12 days ago

Please don't block bm, we need some amusement.

  • Somerset
  • 12 days ago

Hi Somerset. I will respect Andrews request.

  • Blackmamba
  • 11 days ago

Been waiting for USO page, just taken me straight "To order a 4G Hub ", yet a speedtest on 4G gives 1.2/0.4 Mbps, compared to 4.4/0.4 Mbps on ADSL2+. I suspect they are assuming we'd get signal from the "back of" the directional transmitter 870m away. We pickup an intermittent signal from 15km away!

Superfarce Cymru stopped with FTTP 334m away, despite saying otherwise. Quoted £21K last summer for 11 homes/businesses, still waiting for BT to justify (one trench under a field, owned by a digger business). No reply from WG OMR.

Day1 WFH, from 76Mbps/1 -> 4.4Mbps/4, reason I stopped WFH 12 yrs.

  • danielmec
  • 10 days ago

(I didn't know I could have two comments)

Perhaps the antenna could be better in a hub than a mobile phone. I leased an office 35m from a street cabinet as couldn't work effectively after 9 years (ISDN 2B+D, then ADSL) and got an instant uplift to nearly 16Mbps. Then FTTC in 2015.

Our friends at the topmost of the 11 premises get about 2.1 Mbps. OMR checker claimed our house had 8Mbps ADSL (commented with TBB link in OMR response). We're still marked as BT have "plans" to bring superfast, just like the adjacent postcode and back to cabinet that had FTTP since 2017. Plans refused under FOIA.

  • danielmec
  • 10 days ago

The hubs (4G routers) do generally a lot better than a mobile phone, so if price is within budget might be worth looking at.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 days ago

According to the checker I'm eligible - I get 1.6Mbs down /0.5 up on my BT ADSL landline but I installed a mobile 4G solution about 2 years ago on Three & recently switched to Vodafone for £21/month with unlimited data! I get about 20-30Mb/s down & same up depending on time of day. The BT/EE option looks really poor value in comparison. I installed an external Solwise antenna & a 4G TPLink router (about £200 for both) and it works very well.My question is the R100 scheme is creeping towards me - there is a new Fibre box about 1km away as the crow flies(continued below)

  • browgars
  • 10 days ago

Continued - I was wondering whether if I get the 30 neighbours together whether we could so a self dig & install FTTP with the same money? R100 is doing FTTP around us but they wont say when/if we will get it. Digital Scotland are clueless and stopped my Community scheme 3 years ago & are unable to give me any information. Any ideas anyone?

  • browgars
  • 10 days ago

Install with what same money? If you have 4G from another provider that hits USO criteria then no money on offer.

This is only checked at the second manual stage, so given how busy things are best to wait to explore this idea later in the year. Also what R100 is doing might be clearer. R100 in terms of actual delivery is at very very early stages, in fact suspect its more likely tail end of the old Digital Scotland contract.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 days ago

Under USO, I qualify for 4G broadband at a speed well over 30Mbps instead of my ADSL 3.5Mbps. The only problem is that my unlimited ADSL would be replaced with a maximum 500Gb 4G service. At present I use between 600Gb and 800Gb/month, so this 4G broadband is not a suitable option under USO

  • skwebpages
  • 10 days ago

@skwebpages
Based on your own posts, you already get "about 20-30Mb/s down & same up depending on time of day". Given this, you would not qualify for the USO ("access to a decent connection means by any technology capable of delivering the standard, including wireless networks such as mobile broadband").

What am I missing? Why do you think that you do qualify for a USO subsidy?

  • New_Londoner
  • 10 days ago

Nothing to stop you keeping the ADSL and having the 4G, other than paying for it.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 days ago

skwebpages - why would your 4G have a download cap on it? I thought all the providers do an Unlimited Data SIM now.

  • DanielCoffey
  • 9 days ago

@New_Londoner
The only reason that I know what my 4G usage would be, was because I took out a contract with 4GEE broadband but cancelled it after 3 days when I found out what the daily usage was. Not practical limited.

  • skwebpages
  • 9 days ago

@DanielCoffey
The max allowed on BT or EE 4G broadband is 500Gb per month. 3 does unlimited but is not available at my location.

  • skwebpages
  • 9 days ago

@skwebpages, Not sure where you got that information, but EE have unlimited plans, I'm on one for home 4G broadband. It's on their website

  • Swac3
  • 8 days ago

I can get 11Mbps on BT so I'm not eligible for USO. But on EE 4G I can get around 50Mbps-60Mbps depending on time of day, and as Swac3 says, it's unlimited. The only "limit" I have is that I also have the L2TP VPN service from AAISP, configured directly in my RUT950 router, and they have a limit of 1TB/month. So I've effectively got a 1TB monthly limit, unless I disconnect the VPN.

The L2TP gives me a publicly-routeable static IP address.

  • jimwillsher
  • 8 days ago

@jimwillsher Surely you're ineligible for USO intervention not because you get 11Mbps on BT but rather because you can get 50-60Mbps on 4G. As for paying for a VPN so as to have a static public IP address that happens to limit you to 1TB/month this is your choice and outside the scope of the USO.

  • MCM999
  • 8 days ago

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