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BT Publish First UK Prices for the 160-330Mbps G.fast Broadband Pilot

Posted Thursday, October 27th, 2016 (7:36 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 7,636)
Openreach BT UltraFast G.fast Fibre Broadband

After a long wait Openreach (BT) has today revealed the tentative wholesale cost of their new ‘up to’ 330Mbps capable G.fast broadband technology for UK homes and businesses, which from January 2017 will be piloted in 17 locations across the country (reaching 138,000 UK premises by the end of March 2017).

Under the current plan Openreach intends to begin the commercial roll-out of G.fast (ITU G.9700/9701) technology later next year (technical details), which should reach 10 million homes and businesses by 2020. After that the coverage should eventually rise to “most of the UK” by 2025 and we’re guessing that “most” will equate to around 60% UK coverage.

BT’s long-term plans for G.fast are still dependent upon the final outcome of Ofcom’s on-going Strategic Review. In the meantime Openreach has already confirmed the roll-out of a huge new pilot (coverage details), which will involve 138,000 UK premises. We see this as being the unofficial start of their commercial deployment, even if that’s not how they frame it.

Suffice to say that we now know quite a lot about G.fast, including its top two product tiers.

Pilot product 1
• A peak downstream rate of up to 330 Mbit/s.
• An upstream rate of up to 50 Mbit/s.

Pilot product 2
• A peak downstream rate of up to 160 Mbit/s.
• An upstream rate of up to 30 Mbit/s.

However one thing we didn’t know, until now, was how much the service will actually cost. Thankfully that has today begun to change after Openreach revealed the first wholesale pricing details for their G.fast pilot. But it should be remembered that these are still provisional (subject to change).

Likewise these costs reflect Openreach’s raw wholesale charges, which come before ISPs have added their own costs for service delivery, VAT at 20%, profit margins, capacity and other features on top in order to create the product that you eventually buy.

G.fast Pilot Pricing from 9th January 2017 Onwards

* £49 for Managed Engineer Install with CP Device, £99 for Managed Engineer Install with Openreach Modem
* £9.95/month +vat rental for 160/30Mbps and 330/50Mbps

The fact that the monthly rental is the same for both their 160Mbps and 330Mbps options in our view confirms that this pricing should be treated more like a special offer, although it’s probably nearly the right level for their 160Mbps service. We’d expect 330Mbps to eventually attract a price closer to Openreach’s similar FTTP option (see further below).

Openreach Statement

The prices above are intended to encourage participation in the Pilot and are not an indication of launch prices for the new product variants. Changes to the Openreach Price List will be notified via ACCN OR468 and will be effective from 9 January 2017. Openreach intends to announce the full launch prices in due course.

For the sake of comparison, Openreach’s top 80Mbps (20Mbps upload) FTTC / VDSL2 based “fibre broadband” product costs about £49 +vat to self-install and attracts an annual rental of £119.40 (also equivalent to £9.95 per month). Meanwhile their top 330Mbps (30Mbps) pure fibre optic FTTP service is £92 for the connection and £355.32 rental (£29.61 per month).

In the commercial market ISPs tend to price their 80Mbps products at around £30 inc. VAT per month (e.g. Sky Broadband), which is roughly double the original wholesale cost and reflects all of the extra things that a provider has to add before they can deliver the service to you. However some, such as Plusnet, will do this for just £19.99 per month (don’t expect top quality).

As a result we can see that G.fast is positioning itself to be roughly in line with Openreach’s existing products, but despite the wholesale cost being close to an 80Mbps FTTC product you should still expect ISPs to charge a fair bit more for G.fast because fuelling a 160Mbps+ package with capacity is expensive (especially for smaller ISPs). We’d guesstimate a +£10 per month premium over 80Mbps at retail.

Once launched the most attractive package for consumers is likely to be the 160Mbps service, which should provide more than enough speed for the vast majority of homes and businesses. The challenge will be in encouraging consumers to pay the extra premium, especially if they can already get a viable 60-80Mbps connection via FTTC.

The other obstacle is the same one that has plagued FTTC (VDSL2), which is the issue of headline speeds vs reality. Signals sent over copper lines degrade over distance and G.fast’s performance falls away much more rapidly than VDSL2, which means that a lot of people could be offered something well below 160Mbps by their ISP. Time will tell.

We should add that Openreach has today also announced an extension of their existing G.fast trials in Cherry Hinton (Cambridgeshire) and Gillingham (Kent), which will begin on 23rd November 2016 (when they were originally due to end) and run until 8th January 2017. After this they will be merged into the pilot as expected. Existing trial customers will benefit from free service rental for 160/30Mbps and 330/30Mbps until 8th January 2017 and after that you’ll have to pay the new pricing or downgrade.

When combined with the on-going FTTP expansion, BT’s roll-out of “ultrafast broadband” should have reached 500,000 premises by April 2017.

G.fast Pilot Locations

* Bolton, Greater Manchester
* Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire*
* Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
* Derby, Derbyshire
* Donaldson, South East Scotland
* Gillingham, Kent*
* Langside, Glasgow
* Donaldson, Edinburgh
* Gosforth, Tyne & Wear
* Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
* Luton, Bedfordshire
* Rusholme, Manchester
* St. Austell, Cornwall
* Swansea, Wales
* Swindon, Wiltshire
* Sheffield
* London: Balham / Upton Park, London

NOTE: Several of the areas listed above reflect a continuation / expansion of the earlier G.fast trials (e.g. Swansea, Gillingham, Huntingdon etc.).

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37 Responses
  1. Bob

    Shouldn’t this be call ultra fast copper?

  2. Be great when this becomes available, i would welcome even faster internet speeds allowing me to further utilise broadband productivity

  3. I’d love to see the BT ‘superlative roadmap’. We’ve had ‘super fast’, now we’re on to ‘ultra fast’. When 1Gbit/s FTTP goes mass-market in a couple of years what will its superlative be?

    • chris conder

      gigabit is hyperfast. We have that now, via self build. Openreach can’t do gigabit. Gfast is another part of the superfarce, it will only make a few go faster and any on long lines are still gonna be superslow. Gfast costs as much to install as doing the job properly with real fibre, but it extends the life of the obsolete old phone line network, thus making lots of profits from the ordinary punters.

    • Lee

      Openreach can and are trialling Gigabit.

      Get some facts before attempting to bash 🙂

    • Steve Jones

      Whilst Openreach are not selling gigabit yet, it is being trialled. The GPON infrastructure is capable of going much, much faster than that. It’s whether there is sufficient mass demand at commercial costs.

      http://uk.pcmag.com/bt/82291/news/bt-namedrops-nine-gigabit-fttp-broadband-locations

    • AndyH

      @ Chris

      You really do talk a lot of nonsense.

      “Openreach can’t do gigabit.” – so why are they trialing gigabit now and why can GPON support gigabit speeds?

      “Gfast is another part of the superfarce, it will only make a few go faster and any on long lines are still gonna be superslow.” – so why would BT invest money in something that they would get zero returns on if it really benefits the ‘few’?

      “Gfast costs as much to install as doing the job properly with real fibre” – according to who? BT must be getting an amazing deal on deploying g.fast if what you’re staying is correct…

    • TheFacts

      Typical Chris nonsense, must be very embarrassing for B4RN.

    • FibreFred

      Oh Chris 🙁

    • Chris P

      Openreach can do Gigabit, 10 gigabit or even higher anywhere in the UK providing you pay for the install.

  4. Steve Jones

    Given that g.fast is to be installed (at least at this stage) at existing cabinet sites, this can be viewed more like an incremental cost upgrade, not a large up-front expenditure as the really big sums will have been spent on the fibre and cabinet deployments.

    I would therefore say it’s not surprising that the wholesale costs are close to VDSL2, as I doubt there’s much of a premium that OR can extract given that the any ISP taking up the product is going to have to bear the costs of the back-haul bandwidth.

    GE

    I’d go a bit further than that and say that g.fast is being driven by the competitive threat by VM who can (relatively cheaply) uplift their network with higher headline rates. That, alone, is likely to mandate that OR will be keeping their wholesale pricing down in order to protect market share and to be able to avoid the sort of damaging headline claims about maximum speeds.

    OR’s ambition will surely be to get as many customers onto FTTC as possible, and I think we might yet see some price reductions on wholesale GEA-FTTC rates, and especially for a product that might tempt customers off of LLU DSL2 products.

    nb. there also seems to be some hint that the price matching of GEA-FTTP products with hybrid GEA products of the same speed band will be broken. It might go some way to reflecting the difference in deployment costs. If hybrid is a truly lot cheaper to deploy, then that surely ought to be reflected in wholesale costs. (Something that the fibre purists dislike mightily).

  5. GuyC

    Meanwhile their top 330Mbps (30Mbps) pure fibre optic FTTP service is £92 for the connection and £355.32 rental (£29.61 per month)…

    Someone for got to mention the £ 30,000.00 ‘construction costs’ we have been quoted!

    • The pricing we gave is for native FTTP, where the fibre optic cable already passes near to your doorstep. At £30k that sounds more like the upper levels of FTTP-on-Demand (FoD), which is a different kettle of fish.

    • Steve Jones

      The difference in the g.fast and FTTP products is significant and surely a reflection that g.fast is cheap to deploy as it largely just sits on the FTTC infrastructure. That crack in price-matching with FTTP might presage something else, and that there is some market split between the cheap-to-deploy urban areas (where VM also operate) and the more expensive to deploy areas. I can easily see why OR would seek to maximise urban area market share by keeping wholesale costs low as they are under major threat from VM.

      In contrast, less populated areas are very difficult to get returns from given the much higher investment per premises.

      As for the 30K is that for an FoD deployment? Those costs are largely distance related and reflect what contractors charge.

  6. chris conder

    Considering the BT trolls were saying FTTC was the final answer a couple of years ago to anything I wrote, it is interesting to see the same culprits saying I am mad now. Time has proved me right. And it will again. Gfarce is another stop gap technology, and the longer we let them get away with these quick fixes for a few, the longer the country is going to be stuck on copper crap. If you can keep the masses happy with sticking plasters then you can ignore the real disease festering underneath. And this is nothing to do with B4RN, I don’t speak for them, I speak for myself. I am only a volunteer for them, I am not staff, nor a spokesperson. They are a lot more tactful than me. I speak as I find, and I know fibre is cheap and easy for communities to deploy, and gives a far superior service. Legacy copper is going to kill this country’s aspirations to lead in the digital age. We will watch in horror as the East takes over the internetz and the West becomes a laughing stock. A few years ago the USC was 2Mbps. Now they are hoping to get it to 10Mbps. They can’t even do that unless they make the peasants have satellites. Copper can’t even get 2Mbps to the rurals. What a ridiculous state of affairs when gigs are so cheap and easy through fibre. Let them eat cake, and play with a train set instead.

    • FibreFred

      I don’t think anyone said fttc was the end? Fttc and G. Fast are stop gap, quite obvious.

      What’s is also obvious is how many other telcos are interested in G. Fast around the world

    • TheFacts

      @Chris- not a spokesman? Apart from talks and on the media.

      We all agree fibre to every UK property is the ideal, maybe you could explain the funding scheme for this.

      ‘let them get away…’ The government decided the funding available and the need for faster speeds soon.

    • FibreFred

      She means she doesn’t represent b4rn when she’s bad mouthing BT I thought that was clear 😉

    • FibreFred

      …and how easy is it for urban or semi urban communities to deploy fibre? Have we seen one yet?

    • Steve Jones

      When has anybody said that FTTC is the final end? All that people having been saying is that FTTC is a cost-effective stage on the road (as it is in many countries) and that it can be rolled out much faster and at much lower cost whilst pushing fibre further into the network.

      There is simply no prospect of OR being able to fund a £25bn+ expenditure given the current regulatory environment. No investors would provide that sort of money given that. Telefonica, who were given a much freer hand with a vastly looser regulatory environment are now in deep, deep financial trouble and engaged in a fire sale.

      Communities may be able to lay fibre cheaply (at least in rural areas), but if you read the B4RN business plan, it explicitly states that the community approach uses options not available to commercial operators. The following is a direct quote taken from the B4RN business plan

      “Across the B4RN area the total duct length that we need to dig is a touch under 500Km to link 3200 properties. Assuming all this was dug using highways in the traditional model would cost £77M, or if it were all soft digging £19,5M, giving a per property cost of between £6K and £24K and this is just for the duct digging and ignores all the ancillary costs. Clearly, on the Openreach model, this is not a financially viable proposition. ”

      Now I suspect those costs are probably on the high side, but the fact is that B4RN have been able to use a lot of volunteer labour, free wayleaves and much else which are simply not available to commercial operators. The business plan makes a point that what B4RN does is only possible within a community-owned scheme. That’s very good and, indeed, laudable if it can be organised, but it’s a huge amount of work, and not many communities have that degree of cooperation. Further, OR can only fund this through wholesale charges (which are typically a fraction of the retail pricing) and they are required to run a parallel copper network by regulation.

      OR is a (roughly) £5bn turnover company of which around £2.5bn is from the basic network. FTTC turnover has barely reached £400m a year. That incremental BB revenue is tiny when compared to a potential £25bn+ capital expenditure, especially as there is infrastructure competition from VM in around 50% of the country and would undercut any increase in costs.

      Some operators, like Gigaclear, can make a business case from fibre to the more affluent villages with a guaranteed take-up target and with access to the full revenue stream, but it’s marginal and they will not fibre remote properties.

      Finally, OR have a lot of responsibilities to large numbers of employees and investors, including paying towards a large and increasing pension deficit (there are 300,000 BT pensions, most of whom were inherited from the state company). The investors in BT are often people and institutions that depend on a regular, albeit not massive dividend. It’s often part of people’s investments, either directly or indirectly. To betray those people would be a dereliction of duty. Also, if dividends from OR were withheld (which might allow for another £500m a year capex at best), then investment would completely dry up. No shareholder or institutional investor would put the necessary fresh money forwards.

    • Oggy

      Chris, you stick to looking after your farm and the adults will discuss broadband in the UK on here. 🙂

    • MB

      Can I ask why anyone would need Gigabit speeds currently? Seems as though it’s a nice to have rather than a necessity. I have 150Mbps VM and I barely ever peak beyond 10Mbps, I’m in the IT/Comms industry, an avid media streamer and an occasional gamer, the need for speed is in the majority purely marketing for the residential arena, however business is another thing completely.

      Chris C, what is the contention on the B4RN network?

    • Lee

      MB – thank god there’s another sane person around these parts. People are speed demons so obsessed with headline speeds without any real idea what the speeds mean and what speed you need to do what 99% of the population want….to scroll through facebook while watching one BBC Iplayer stream 😀

    • TheFacts

      Interface speeds are 100M and 1G so relatively easy to offer 1G.

    • Steve Jones

      Clearly most people don’t “need” 1Gbps at the moment, which can be seen by the fact that the majority of the market don’t even opt for the highest speed available to them and many have stuck with ADSL. There will always be some who want the fastest available (who needs, rather than just wants a Ferrari?). However, a few doesn’t make a viable market.

      There are businesses that really need high speed – try running a video editing business, but arguably they ought to be sited where very high speed broadband is cost effective (just like a warehouse might be sited close to a motorway). Alternatively, they might choose to pay for a private circuit (which is “just” a matter of cost).

      The argument also is that if there’s a massive provision of very high speed 1Gbps broadband was provided, that there would be a substantial increase in usage and economic activity. Perhaps a lot more use of cloud storage? Maybe 8K video? Whether that’s enough to justify the capex involved is another thing.

      The problem with fibre is not the technology (that’s easy and well-established). The problems are all logistics (enough people to do the work) and the economics/finance. especially in sparsely populated areas.

    • brianv

      Good call, Christine! You’ve managed to flush out a whole nest of BT trolls with one stinging comment!

      Generating a veritable roll call of BT rogues; all deployed in “online perception management” here :- “FibreFred”; “TheFacts”; “Steve Jones”; “Oggy”; “MB”; “Lee” — all tentacles of the same Beast.

      We can bet they’re working multiple forums on behalf of BT. Using countless user identities. Working, crucially, at arm’s length to BT itself. For plausible deniability. Such is the putrid world of corporate PR at BT.

      Keep going, Chris! Now you’ve got them on the ropes, time to trammel them into the slurry (where they belong).

  7. MANSEL GLASBROOK

    On 18/10/2016 Swisscom (Switzerland) Ltd launched G.fast in Switzerland.

  8. Shaun Taylor

    Is the Sheffield trial all of Sheffield or just the city centre ?

  9. fastman

    some mad village recently clearly indicated they would all get get 1 gig each all the time !
    Not !!!! — am looking forward to 450g backhaul some one installs in the Village !!! Not or the 2/gig actually and the end result !!!! is not what they thought they were getting !!!

  10. fastman

    headlines of 1 gig for all means you need to provide a chunk of backhaul and that’s not cheap and also depends where you have to backhaul it from !!!!! so you might be backhauling your network hundreds of miles to get to you

    • Ignition

      As long as they cover peak load + burst they can certainly achieve no visible contention. Even on 1Gb the average punter will still use less than 5Mb/s. A single 10Gb backhaul would be more than enough for 450 x 1Gb connections for a while.

  11. Srob

    If you can already get an 80mb connection I can’t really see that much need to upgrade to g.fast. Shouldn’t bt instead be
    More concerned about the 1-3mb connections?

  12. Jim

    I’ve currently only got ADSL2+ which gives me around 17Mbps. I’m actually managing to stream 4k video on that including some HDR content but it chokes on some programmes. I’m looking forward to getting fibre so that I can then at least meet the 25Mbps minimum recommended for 4k video. Ok, I’d be happy with 52Mbps but there are now use cases where folk do want a lot more than 5Mbps peak. I can imagine there will be plenty of households in the not too distant future where four plus people will be wanting to stream 4k video while downloading other stuff in the background and then 160Mbps plus will look very atttractive and probably just a bare minimum for some.

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