Broadband News

Confusion between VDSL2 and FTTP products for BT site visitors - UPDATED

After a bit of back and forth on our forums we feel it is worth highlighting a potential source of confusion for the general public and some guidance on how to second guess if a service is FTTP based or VDSL2/FTTC based when ordering from BT Consumer.

BT Checker screenshot
Example result from BT checker where VDSL2 and FTTP are both available

The screenshot above shows what a lot of people in existing VDSL2 areas where FTTP has now been made avaialble will see. Looks great dedicated fibre connection (copywriters might want to read up on GPON there) and and reliable speeds day and night etc etc.

Look more closely FTTP has no speed drop off due to distance, which means in this case the Fibre Essential service is actually a VDSL2 service for a property around 1 to 1.3km from the street cabinet. The Fibre 1, Fibre 2 and faster options have top of the line speeds shown e.g. 50 Mbps - note that due to advertising rules they have to show the median speed that the public experience to the router, the technical maximum is 55 Mbps, the 5 Mbps difference is to allow for peak time speed drops and other overheads.

Things are more confusing on a mobile device, since after a search you need to scroll the page fully to see anything beyond the Fibre Essential product.

BT Checker screenshot
Example result from BT checker where only FTTP products are offered

The above screenshot is taken from a property where the VDSL2 speeds are slow enough to be non-existent and you can see the Fibre Essential service is offering much better speeds and wil be delivered using FTTP.

So how to tell if on whether Fibre Essential will be delivered via FTTP - we cannot guarantee that these points apply in all cases but based on some looking at various locations these appear to be the differentiators.

  1. Upload speed on Fibre Essential shows 10Mb - 10Mb indicates FTTP service
  2. Your Stay Fast Guarantee figure is 18Mb on Fibre Essential i.e. it seems to be always that value for FTTP on a 40/10 service
  3. Fibre Essential even in locations where VDSL2 is expected to be full sync still only shows an upload speed range of 8Mb - 9Mb and a guarantee of 29Mb

For those wondering why if FTTP has no distance issues that the stay fast guarantee speeds are so low, is because that guarantee is around the throughput of actual data between BT and the hub they supply so takes into account the level of extreme peak time congestion people might see.

What should BT Consumer do?

To avoid any possibility of confusing the public they should make it clear to the public when the Fibre Essential service is delivered over the VDSL2 before people have entered the checkout system. 

The current set of bullet points promoting FTTP advantages need changing to make it clear they only apply to FTTP options if a mixed set of products is offered to the public.

There are different versions of the BT product searches out there, we have seen one where after the availability check the visitor is only offered the Fibre 1 service (based on 55/10 underlying product) in FTTP areas and no mention of the faster options is made.

One of the reasons why BT is not defaulting to delivering FTTP to everyone in FTTP areas is that Ofcom regulation means the 40/10 FTTP is £5/m more expensive than the 40/10 VDSL2 service if that VDSL2 is possibly going to be superfast.

Another source of confusion is that the UK has never adopted partial fibre and full fibre descriptions, the history of why is long and mired in lots of marketing speak and posturing.

Update Saturday 3rd October

There is another way BT has of showing FTTP availability in areas where VDSL2 is also available and in this instance a single speed is offered which is clearly FTTP, the Fibre 1 product with 50 Mbps average download and 10 Mbps average upload delivered over the 55/10 Openreach product.

BT Checker screenshot
Example result from BT checker where VDSL2 and FTTP are both available

In this situation VDSL2 is available at 67 to 72 Mbps type speeds but no Fibre Essential product is offered at all, but more oddly there is none of the faster options avaialable. We are guessing that this is part of a marketing test to see if simplyfying the options increases take-up and upsell to faster speed options might happen later in the order journey.


I am sorry but I really think ASA should ban this advert as misleading. Stop confused peoples!

  • adslmax
  • 19 days ago

I've highlighted this before (social media) - BT Consumer/Retail (whoever they are called) should stop confusing/misleading/doing consumers no help in helping them know what they are ordering.

It's not helping anyone apart from BT Consumer themselves, as they are wrongly implying customers are often getting a service much better than they are.

It's making the take up of FTTP that much harder as people thing they already have full fibre.

ASA - you have to change your tune on this. The time has come.

  • mskipsey
  • 19 days ago

They also need to change every instance of "Mb" to "Mbps". This just adds even more confusion to those who probably do not understand enough about broadband.

  • mollcons
  • 19 days ago

I think they made a rod for their own backs when the started labeling VDSL/FTTC as 'Fibre'!

Most, non-technical, people think they already have 'fibre' so why would they now want to upgrade to 'fibre'?

From a usability perspective, that page is a mass of confusion. I misread 50Mb - 50mb as a symmetrical service (why do they need 2 numbers??)

  • SlimJ
  • 19 days ago

This is growing problem calling this Fibre. Openreach has already in few area's stop connecting new customers to PSTN/WLR services and only connecting to new customers FTTP.

It time they will ask for permision from Ofcom to be allowed disconect all from PSTN/WLR service. I think could happen the same sort of way did with digital TV.

  • amiga_dude
  • 19 days ago

The speeds in the picture are representative of FTTC not FTTP as I know someone on fibre 900 and they are getting extremely close to that speed and not 74 meg

  • chrisb_me
  • 18 days ago

This article is about BT speed tiers which are available on BOTH FTTC and FTTP technologies and how to differentiate between the two. Fibre 900 is irrelevant as its not available on FTTC.

  • baby_frogmella
  • 18 days ago

Two things need to happen. Firstly Ofcom need to remove the absolutely bonkers rule that prevents selling 40/10 FTTP at the same price as 40/10 FTTC. There is no justification whatsoever for that. Every ISP selling FTTC is able to sell FTTP if they want. It is not remotely anti competitive and is actively slowing down migration to full FTTP, something Ofcom should be encouraging.

The second thing is that Openreach where there is both FTTP and FTTC available need to be allowed to refuse new FTTC connections.

  • jabuzzard
  • 18 days ago

"Firstly Ofcom need to remove the absolutely bonkers rule that prevents selling 40/10 FTTP at the same price as 40/10 FTTC"

FTTP is generally more expensive than FTTC.

OFCOM basically force OpenReach to make 40/10 cheaper on FTTP where FTTC isn't available as SuperFast.

It's a good rule. It allows those who only have OpenReach FTTP to buy a cheap package.

Without this rule out it would only make that single tier £5 more on FTTP.
Why would you want that scrapped?

  • j0hn83
  • 18 days ago

Note that all three options are shown under the heading "Full Fibre" - (Tick) "A dedicated fibre connection to your door". That's surely mis-selling for Fibre Essential?

  • candlerb
  • 18 days ago

This has been the problem since FTTc first became available, The cabinets here still has the poster saying superfast fibre is here on them, which is not true and the amount of times I have to tell people that we can not get fibre here, only a hybrid system, that still uses years old copper wires to get the broadband to your house.
I dread it when/if FTTP comes here. I wonder how many people will be pushed to sign up for something they do not need?

  • zyborg47
  • 17 days ago

Not sure how they're going to 'push' you into signing for something you don't need ?

I think we're more likely to see people who think they're on fibre already, or opt to take a low tier 'fibre' product being a little confused and annoyed when they later ask to upgrade to a higher tier to be told they cant have that 'fibre' they can only have the 'fibre' they already have.

Someone 'educated' me recently and said average joe doesn't care what technology the service comes on, they choose on speed/price, Maybe when they find out they cant upgrade, They'll become aware of the difference.

  • Swac3
  • 17 days ago

It's about time someone sorted BT out once and for all
Being bombarded with adverts for broadband in all rooms and misleading information is adding insult to injury for people in large areas of rural north wales who cant get 5mps!
Openreach want £60,000 to £70,000 to connect our particular property!

  • patches
  • 16 days ago

It was ever thus, right from the start of "Infinity" , BT described it as fibre broadband. Well to be fair it was fibre part of the way, I watched BT engineers pulling it through ducts at the end of my road back in 2009, but it was never fibre all of the way. OTOH speeds trebled and have increased again since.

  • rmclayton
  • 16 days ago

Plot twist - by by showing Mb instead of showing Mbps they can redefine the denominator to anything they want - how about it being Mb per minute? Perfectly allowable.

  • gordslater
  • 15 days ago

@Swac3, they won't push me as I know what I need and what I want, and I am fine with what I have got. Sure if they offered it me for the same price, I may take it.
When I say push I mean people who think they need to pay more for speed they do not need. I can imagine BT saying have fibre direct to your door and get super-duper speeds and then people end up paying more for something that is not going to make a difference to them what so ever.
You are right most people do not care what technology it uses, I have no problem with FTTP, but I do not need anything faster.

  • zyborg47
  • 14 days ago

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