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UPDATE2 Sky Broadband is the First UK ISP to Begin Trialling Self Install FTTC

Thursday, Sep 5th, 2013 (8:23 am) - Score 5,701

BTOpenreach, which among other things works to maintain and upgrade BT’s national UK telecoms network, has confirmed Sky Broadband as the country’s first ISP to begin trialling a new and possibly cheaper wires only (self-install) variant of its up to 80Mbps capable FTTC superfast broadband technology (i.e. no home engineer visit required).

Sky Broadband advised ISPreview.co.uk that they have already completed extensive trials of the self-install product with their own staff and received “positive results“. The ISP confirms that it has since chosen a select few customers to help it test the solution and this is also being supported by their Sky Hub that would replace the current Openreach VDSL modem (i.e. the hub can switch between fibre/FTTC and ADSL).

A Sky Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

Sky has become the first ISP to begin trialling wires-only fibre (self-install) with Openreach. Self-install on fibre has the potential to provide a better customer experience by removing the need to stay home for an engineer which is why we are supporting this initiative with a Sky Hub that replaces the Openreach VDSL modem as well as being a wireless router.”

The self-install solution has a number of potential advantages and disadvantages. Firstly it means that a home engineer visit would no longer be required (although they usually still need to do some work at your local street cabinet), which could result in a cheaper set-up fee and shorter contract terms (the standard FTTC install currently costs £92 +vat and that includes a separate VDSL modem).

But even Openreach acknowledges that there’s one potentially significant downside to this approach, which occurs because consumers now have to replace all of the hopefully good re-wire / faceplate work that an engineer would do by plugging in a simple Microfilter (much like most people already do for a standard ADSL broadband connection).

In Openreach’s own words, “the use of microfilters may result in reduced speeds when compared to an engineer-based installation” and some people fear that the performance detriment could be quite significant. Unfortunately it’s very hard to be sure but we’d certainly rather pay for the work to be done by an engineer than risk a big loss of speed, especially on longer lines.

ISPreview.co.uk also queried with Sky Broadband whether or not their chosen customers had been made aware that they were taking part in a trial which could result in worse performance than the engineer alternative. So far Sky would only say that the initial feedback had been “positive” and in line with their own internal results.

Readers might recall that we published a preliminary timetable for the self-install trial in April 2013 (here) and the latest news suggests that Openreach appears to be more or less on target, which would mean that the expected commercial launch is still likely to occur during Q4 2013 or early 2014 (depending upon the outcome of their customer trials).

UPDATE 8:39am

Added a statement from Sky above.

Sky also confirmed that they explain the process to customers and said that users then consent as they go through. Apparently new customers can expect to be added to the trial as it ramps up over time.

UPDATE 12:52pm

Some additional information has emerged from a trial user on ThinkBroadband’s forum and Openreach has also put out a general statement, which seems to confirm that “Several [ISPs] are participating in the pilot which will run for approximately two more months” (though Sky seem to be the first out of the gates) and this all appears to be in keeping with the aforementioned timescale.

We know somebody on the trial and hope to have more feedback on this next month, not least in terms of the expected performance detriment.

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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