Vodafone launches Gigafast in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool - UPDATED
The news Vodafone was going to start selling a FTTP service across the Openreach network surfaced last November and now at last a partial launch of the service has happened i.e. you can only order if you phone Vodafone.
From today in theory those with access to the Openreach FTTP network in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool can order one of six FTTP packages. The pricing matches the existing VDSL2 and CityFibre FTTP pricing, though the upload will not be symmetric on any of the packages unlike in the CityFibre areas.
- Vodafone Superfast 1 35 Mbps average download £23/m
- Vodafone Superfast 2 63 Mbps average download £25/m
- Vodafone Gigafast 100 100 Mbps average download £28/m
- Vodafone Gigafast 200 200 Mbps average download £35/m
- Vodafone Gigafast 500 500 Mbps average download £45/m
- Vodafone Gigafast 900 900 Mbps average downlaod £55/m
The upload speeds we believe will match the existing Openreach packages e.g. the 500 Mbps service will offer 75 Mbps maximum upload and 110 Mbps on the top tier service.
At present the service can only be ordered by telephone and while the press release talks of availability to 360,000 properties (rising to 500,000 in 2021) our random checking across the three cities has so far only found availability in Birmingham specially on the Kings Norton exchange. On the nearby Birchfield exchange the Vodafone site does not recognise properties that have Openreach FTTP available. This may be teething problems in getting the checker behind the Vodafone website updated, which means for now there is now point in us trying to figure out which exchanges are part of the Openreach deal.
Unlike most home broadband services based on old telephone lines, Vodafone’s full-fibre broadband uses all optical-fibre cables at every stage of the connection. This gives users download speeds on average of 900Mbps, which is 14 times faster than the average fixed broadband service in the UK. Residents and businesses across the city will now be able to enjoy broadband speeds of up to 900Mbps, meaning that everyone can now rely on fast connectivity like never before with fast and reliable broadband connection. We have also been able to get the Vodafone site to tie itself in knots and deliver a blank page.Extract from press release
Being FTTP based there is no old copper (or for some aluminium) phone line involved, but the link between the Openreach ONT and the Vodafone router will be a CAT5e cable which is distinctly metallic rather than optical cable, so strictly speaking it is not fibre at every stage of the connection.
Update 6:15pm We have a better idea for some locations where the service is available, Vodafone has told us that Fairfield and Bootle in Liverpool; Sutton Coldfield, Sheldon & Kings Heath in Birmingham; and Brislington in Bristol are served by the Gigafast service. There are more areas served and that is clear from the number of Openreach FTTP premises on the 7 exchanges we have found coverage on i.e. 108,214 premises. Bootle is a bit odd as we don't see it on the Fibre First lists and have not spotted any big Openreach roll-out either.
The original article carried a figure of 400,000 premises that can order the service, but Vodafone has updated this to 360,000. A quick look at the councils areas that are City of Bristol, Liverpool District and Birmingham District shows an Openreach FTTP footprint of 280,976 premises, but given how varied the definitions are of these urban areas we suspect there will be exchanges that are outside the core council area but flagged for Gigafast availability.
The seven exchanges where we have seen Vodafone Gigafast coverage using the Openreach network are Bristol South, Kings Norton, Highbury, Sheldon, Stoneycroft, Sutton Coldfield and Four Oaks.
Update Wednesday 26th August: We have found nine more exchanges taking the total footprint to 231,392 premises. Also the packages are now in our listings and will flag up if FTTP is available and it is one of the exchanges where we have spotted Vodafone selling FTTP. Additionally there is an extra field for broadband API customers to let them know if the service is available. We will keep the hunt on for what is probably something like another 9 exchanges.