Front line customer service staff at the biggest ISPs aren’t always the most knowledgeable of people. One such example occurred recently when a member of BT Business’s Twitter care team informed a potential customer that they couldn’t have ‘FTTP on Demand’ because the Government had “pulled” it.
In fairness it’s easy to get native Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) broadband services confused with FTTP-on-Demand (FTTPoD or FoD) as the two solutions work in identical ways, although their cost, contract and deployment methods are significantly different. In a native FTTP setup the fibre optic cable should already be running outside your property (e.g. down your street), which makes it fairly quick and inexpensive to get connected.
By comparison FTTPoD is designed to be requested (‘on demand‘) in FTTC capable areas where Openreach’s pure fibre optic cables have yet to reach, which in some cases will attract significant distance based construction charges (civil works) worth thousands of pounds (we’ve seen quotes of nearly £18k from some ISPs but that’s extreme). On top of that you also pay significantly more for the monthly rental + connection fee and there’s a 36 month contract.
The high cost, which in some cases can run close to the level of a leased line (albeit often without some of the same service level), has limited uptake and ISPs have found it difficult to position within their product portfolios. As a result we only know of a few ISPs that offer it (e.g. Spectrum Internet, Interoute and FluidOne) and two of those only sell it in specific parts of the UK.
Initially BT Business had also offered FTTPoD (Infinity Fibre on Demand) but this ended up being shelved after a “stop sell” was put on new orders by BTWholesale a few years ago. So far as we’re aware BT Biz didn’t reinstate it, at least not for long, after the “stop sell” was lifted last year (here). Never the less the product continues to show on the ISP’s pricing sheets (here and here).
However sometimes the provider’s support teams seem to get confused or have simply been given the wrong information, much as we recently discovered (reminder: BT Business does not currently do FTTPoD). We’ve seen examples where this confusion has also occurred over the phone.
@ispreview yes we do it as a business product if it is available
— BT Business Care (@btbusinesscare) March 1, 2017
Other people have found it similarly difficult to get a clear answer, often being told two completely different things depending on which day or time of the week they ask. Certainly one of the most unusual responses was this one, which was shared with us by a perplexed user.
Sometimes there can be issues with FTTPoD availability in certain locations, which might hamper the ability to proceed with an order. However some ISPs, such as FluidOne, appear to have more luck with getting around those issues than others. Never the less FTTPoD as a product has NOT been “pulled” by the government and we have recently seen a tiny number of installations proceeding.
Openreach have similarly confirmed to ISPreview that FTTPoD is still taking orders. Separately, after two long weeks of repeatedly trying to get a response, BT Business has also been able to confirm that “the customer was given inaccurate information by one of our customer service agents, for which we apologise.”
The ISP stated that they had decided to stop offering their BT Business Infinity on Demand product “due to low demand” and have instead chosen to continue focusing upon their dedicated ultrafast Ethernet products instead; much like most other ISPs.
If anybody else out there has a story of something silly that they’ve been told by an ISP’s customer support / service / sales agent then please do share, preferably with evidence of the original conversation.