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.
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.
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 bt.com 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.
- Upload speed on Fibre Essential shows 10Mb - 10Mb indicates FTTP service
- 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
- 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.
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.