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BT Forces UK ISPs to Charge More for SFI2 Broadband Engineer Visits

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 (1:47 pm) - Score 2,188
bt openreach uk engineer

The base module price of having your ISP call out a BTOpenreach engineer to investigate and potentially fix a broadband fault (Special Faults Investigation 2) on your ADSL telephone line (i.e. IPstream Connect) will increase from £95 +vat to £125 +vat next month.

BTWholesale usually picks up the tab for any problems that occur on your phone line and which exist within their “realm” (i.e. this usually means everything up to where the line enters your home phone socket), yet anything outside of that is typically charged to you (i.e. within the end-users realm).

For example, BT will often levy an SFI2 charge against a customer if the fault is found on non-BT wiring in your home or is linked to your broadband modem or router. In practice this aspect still causes disputes but that’s another story and one we’ve covered several times before (here).

The new change, which is effective from 1st September 2012, means that BT’s primary SFI2 base charge will increase. However they have also reduced the price of other work that may or may not be needed.

BTWholesale SFI2 Prices from 1st September 2012 (+vat)
Base Module – £125 (Previously £95)
Wiring Module – £40 (Previously £50)
Equipment Module – £20 (Previously £50)
Co-op Module – £20 (Previously £35)

It’s worth pointing out that some ISPs might also choose to take the older SFI (aka – SFI1) service, which remains unchanged and carries a single cost of £160. Likewise when a BTOpenreach engineer is unable to gain access to your property at an agreed time/date then a further £85 abortive fault or £98 abortive installation charge may be levied (we still get occasional reports of this being charged even when the customer has been waiting in all day and nobody has turned up).

Given the high costs it’s easy to see why ISPs continue to hope for an alternative to BTOpenreach as the only source for telephone line fault fixing.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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19 Responses
  1. Its a shame that ISPs can’t have a choice of providers other than wholesale too. This is not open access, its a monopoly pretending to be open access. I have a lot of experience with users who can’t get their ISPs to fix faults because wholesale say its openreach fault, openreach say the lines are fine and its wholesale’s fault, and the poor end user hasn’t a clue what to do. Digitalbritain? No It isn’t. Spending half a day on the line to dehli rebooting rooters is nobody’s idea of fun, especially the third time… Also if openreach are to levy a charge for the householder not being at home when they call then they should expect a charge from the householders who wait in for hours and no engineer arrives?
    What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    We can’t expect obsolete phone lines to deliver the service people are starting to need and want. The forums are chockablock with complaints from people who are quite technical and know their onions.

    These charges would not be necessary if the networks worked. Also if we had proper fibre networks there wouldn’t be the throttling, capping and awful contention ratios the ISPs have to contend with to keep costs down.
    Bring on the fibre. Moral and optic.

    • In fairness some degree of rental or engineer fee would still be required as no service, not even fibre optic lines, are completely fault-free (e.g. a fibre line can still be damaged and need repair).

      Similarly even FTTH ISPs must often still make use of Traffic Management and usage restrictions as the core capacity cost needs be kept in check. Data capacity isn’t free and you can’t give everybody an affordable 1:1 dedicated network with guaranteed 100Mbps+.. yet. Commercial models need to make some profit 🙂 .

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Surely B4RN will be employing some form of traffic management? Every property will not get uncontended 1Gbps to the Internet surely?

      What happens if/when there is a fibre fault in the home or out in the property owners field or further a field, who pays for that, is it covered in your £30 a month?

  2. Avatar Thursday

    How do you propose a 100% fibre network should be funded?

  3. Avatar SlowSomerset

    Chris Condor, agree with every thing you said, present system total rubbish and total monopoly.

  4. Avatar SlowSomerset

    What no BT Fanboys here yet ha ha.

  5. Avatar Kingtrip

    On paper, these charges absolutely represent maintaining the service. Reality, the quality of the service that is SFI is poor. For it to be value, everything needs to fit. The work by the engineer should be completed as the SFI product describes, the tests the engineer conducts should account for the notes supplied by the providers to them, what they describe to the customer should be recorded in their notes and they should be recording a digital signature from the end user. Aside from the signature (which is more for disputes), more often than not one or more of these fails on every occasion.

    Personally, I feel somebody in BT is most suited to the job, but just not the current trash. Don’t get me wrong, a third party may certainly also be upto the task.

    Another point people need to take into account. It’s highly improbably that a third party would ever be able to support customers on 20C services, due to the lack of handover frame.

  6. Avatar telecom engineer

    Bring on the contractors eh?
    Well if you want the ug joints left open, cabinets butchered and working lines pinched from end user a to serve end user b then go ahead. Openreach have employed contractors for easy installations a few times around here ( with install if it cant be done a bt engineer is tasked to resolve for them) but they still insist on being such cowboys they always get thrown off the patch. Why? Because they are cost cutting piecemeal contractors who dont have any regard for the long term or any service beyond what is on their ticket. Do you think that a talk talk contractor would not be tempted to pinch the best pair to a cabinet from a sky customer? Also most these guys are lucky to have a multimeter let alone the 3grand handheld testers openreach use for advanced faulting.
    The only solution is the current openreach model without any contractors ( due to be out by may thankfully) where such tactics hurt the same guy / firm cuasing it.
    SFI 2 came about in response to cp requests who didnt like sfi 1 with set time / price, , which in itself came about due to someisps refusing to pay for long duration faults. Also isps can pass on or not any charges they see fit.

    • Avatar DTMark

      “The only solution is the current openreach model without any contractors”

      The only solution which has a long term future and which benefits the country/the customer is shared ducting with providers laying their own fibres and each responsible for their own.

      No need to pick “the best pair” which only comes about as a result of using last century’s technology to try to provide this century’s services.

      Complete accountability throughout. Customer choice. Incentives for all the players to raise their game.

      Competition raises standards.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      ^ Sounds like a good idea. PIA!!

    • Avatar DTMark

      What we need is decent quality usable ducting around the country with sufficient capacity for multiple providers. So premises can be hooked up in, say, 45 minutes. It’s not a big ask.

      Leaving aside the rest of the reasons why PIA in its current guise is a farce that nobody is prepared to touch, and why it would never work, I don’t see how PIA provides even that.

  7. Avatar tom

    Every BT engineer i have ever had experience with (which includes 2 openreach SFIs) is clueless and does not check things without prompting. They are fine if your voice line goes entirely dead, anything more such as internet issues not a clue. Half the time they forget equipment they need to test things, other half they cant not get said equipment to work. I once had an SFI bloke turn up and sat in amazement as i watched his laptop crash 3 times all in the space of 15 minutes {2 BSOD and one just completely froze desktop). Needless to say they did not solve the issue. Totally useless.

    When it comes to any wiring all of em seem to leave it in a mess any pack of rats would be proud to use as a nest. I have had one BT bod when i decided to have an extension fitted cos i did not have time to do it myself run it and then at the socket connect wires to all 6 points in the extension even though anyone with half a clue knows you do not connect anything to points 1 or 6. Hell even connecting the ring wire nowadays on an extension in a home with internet normally is not a good idea.

    The only thing i will say which is positive is some (and it is only a few) are decent and will converse with you and be personable. Which is nice but still does not get the job done.

    God knows why the price is going up, maybe they will spend it on re-training them, they all seem to need it.

  8. Avatar Sledgehammer

    The only thing good about PIA is it will make a whole lot of money for BT. That’s why nobody is taking BT up on this offer.

    Also it would put who ever opted for PIA with BT at a complete disadvantage as regards price for their service, a no-brainer.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      A disadvantage compared to what ? The cost of building their own ducting ? Do you expect access to infrastructure to be free ?

    • Avatar DTMark

      @FibreFred – it’s certainly one way of incentivising interested players to build a national broadband network, yes.

      I don’t expect BT to offer access to their ducts for free, but then I’m not talking about BT’s ducts.

  9. Avatar anon

    Half the time they dont even fix the problem as bt nuggets nah nowts and they wanting more money greedy t***s

  10. Avatar telecom engineer

    So what we have is the base i.e. testing at nte going up but ancillary worksuch as working on eu wiring equipment coming down. So overall if your isp chooses to allow all modules (it is a pick and mix but only modules required are charged, ie if it is a network fault eu wiring or coop call wont be used or charged) the overall cost is lower. This will hopefully lead to isps being more likely to authorise more modules so higher chance of fix. But hey lets not let facts of the topic at hand get in the way of mindlessly slagging off BT and its employees. Iam sure those who come here providing info, explanation and support really enjoy trolls making unpleasant offensive comments. I am certainly finished here and will retire to tbb where adult conversation can take place without the prepubescents spoilling comments.

  11. Avatar Deduction

    I also concur most BT engineers are indeed useless. So are their call centres in India now i think about it. In fact lets not diss specific employees the whole organisation is horrid.

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