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Fluidata Boss Slams Use of Old BT Copper Broadband for New UK Builds

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 (11:37 am) - Score 3,057
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The Managing Director of UK business ISP Fluidata, Piers Daniell, has criticised BT for “short-sighted and self-absorbed behaviour” after he completed on a new flat in London only to find that the operator was installing older copper phone and broadband cables into the premises instead of true fibre optic.

According to Daniell, the “small but fantastically advanced” flat is a new development, part of a billion pound investment into the Bermondsey area, and his building is home to over 80 flats. So naturally he was expecting the very latest cutting edge fibre optic (FTTP/H) connectivity and ended up being quite disappointed with BT’s up to 80Mbps hybrid-fibre (FTTC) solution.

Piers Daniell said:

Well as it turns out I don’t have fibre running into my brand new flat. The housing group who developed the site wanted to keep everything as separate as possible for each apartment and so understandably gave the responsibility of installing comms to the flats to BT. So what did BT choose to install? Fibre to the Home? No. Instead they installed a 100 year old technology and have graced my flat with a BT phone socket delivered over copper.

Let’s remind ourselves this is not a flat in Worcestershire. This is not a building hundreds of years old. This is a building built from the ground up in 2013. This is a building within a stone’s throw of the City of London (should be good for my flat price… but I digress), arguably the capital of the world. And what do I have to deliver my internet access… two strands of copper.”

Daniell admits that he doesn’t actually have a need for anything faster “at the moment” but stresses that this misses the point, which is that he’s moved into a new building, in London, where BT are only installing old copper cables.

Piers Daniell continued:

This is like the government deciding to install a new train system between London and Birmingham and calling it progress… oh wait a minute, bad example. It is like building a new airport and not making the runway long enough to take the new Airbus Jumbo. Granted it is an airport, but it isn’t particularly useful. And while it may cope today it certainly will not cope with the demands put upon it in the future. In the same way that when I start to watch 4K television from the Internet the FTTC service delivering 80 Mb/s is going to look like old technology. Which it is.

And what really gets my goat (if you are reading this and thinking boohoo Piers, you must be so upset having fast broadband and a new flat), is that BT have successfully persuaded most of the countries councils that it is the right company to prepare Britain for a fast networked future. With over £500 million of public money being used, how can BT justify this old technology for completely new sites? Granted it may have some use in very rural communities but surely as a country we should be demanding nothing less than fibre into every home. Gigaclear, City Fibre, IFNL, Hyperoptic among others can deliver Gb/s speeds. But when BT are given a clean sheet of paper they can’t?

Or is it they don’t want to? Think about it. BT recently raised the cost of its direct line rental to an astronomical £15.99 a month. This is a blatant use of jazz hands. As it talks about cheap broadband (which needs a phone line if it is FTTC, which its Infinity product is) it is recouping the cost from the line rental. If they installed fibre, where would the line rental revenue come from? Would people still pay for or enable a phone line if they didn’t need it for broadband? And to think this is the company we have asked as a country to prepare us for the future.”

It should be said that BT doesn’t appear to have received any direct public BDUK funding to upgrade the property that Daniell moved into, which was also built before the new Connection Vouchers scheme became available. Most of the BDUK money is instead designed to tackle sub-urban and some rural areas that exist outside of the central towns and cities.

On the other hand there are a growing number of new developments in London where true fibre optic (FTTP/H) connectivity has been deployed, usually by both BT and others like Hyperoptic. It’s therefore unclear why BT chose not to do the same for Daniell’s flat because it’s a lot more cost effective to put fibre in before a new property is built than to add it later. Indeed there have been more than a few calls for fibre optic broadband to become the standard for new builds.

On the other hand FTTC services won’t stay at a headline speed of 80Mbps, with upgrades such as Vectoring, including possibly G.Fast (aka – FTTC2) and FTTdp, all likely to surface over the coming years to potentially push peak speeds well beyond 100Mbps. Never the less Daniell does raise an interesting point about the need to be ready for the future.

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108 Responses
  1. Avatar Gadget says:

    Got to ask – What was the developer’s position in all of this as the person building the development – did they even discuss with BT?

  2. Avatar PhilT says:

    There’s a new greenfield (actually ploughed field) development near Peterborough called “Cardea” that has a FTTH service from day 1. IFN “See the Light”

    I think it has its issues, or had – http://www.mycardea.co.uk/2013/03/20/minutes-from-nhw-meeting-on-19th-march/

  3. Avatar NGA for all says:

    The current fixed line access review for setting cost recovery in 2014-2017 has no incentive to address this. Of the c£87 per copper loop, £17 pa is for capital on the dropwire which assumes has a life of 10 years.

    If there a minor change to this review which stated that BT would be expected to replace some copper access with fibre on an annual basis, then this nonsense could be dealt with rather than gamed.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      This is all irrelevant, the developer decides what goes in to its development and which company to source it from. It’s got nothing to do with regulation, not sure why anyone would image it does?

    2. Avatar NGA for all says:

      The developer did not put the copper in, BT took that decision. It is entirely relevant, if the default position is that BT can recover copper costs then there will be no motivation to seek the long term more future proof and cheaper solution. The UK will end up paying for two networks – copper and a fibre overlay rather than fibre only, so it takes 20 years, but it will longer if we do not start.

    3. Avatar MikeW says:

      @Nfa
      I think you have it the wrong way around.

      In the copper world, BT is regulated, and the amount they can ‘recover’ is fixed. They have to charge exactly that amount, no more or less. Fibre in the access network is not regulated, so BT can charge what they like, for whatever reason. They don’t need to come up with a recovery amount, because they don’t need to spend dozens of committee meetings persuading Ofcom that they deserve the extra threpence ha’penny.

      The incentive is already there… by being unregulated.

      They can’t necessarily take advantage yet, as that still requires the street & exchange to have the right equipment deployed. The ‘blank piece of paper’ that Piers refers to below is only the last 200 metres.

    4. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @MikeW In theory maybe, but Openreach is likely to remain with dominant market power status for a very long time. In this environment you will not be able to hide that LRIC on fibre is lower than copper. Dropwire capital costs are recovered assuming a 10 years life on this part of the copper access network, that’s 2.6m lines a year being replaced in theory. I doubt there is any evidence to support such a replacement level, so the cash is being recovered and not spent on replacing drop wires. Some positive change ought to be possible by simply adjusting the mechanism.

    5. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @NGA for all
      Regardless of what is installed, the developer makes the decision, not the regulator and not the network operator. If the developer didn’t want what was offered by BT it could have gone to another company but clearly decided on the copper solution in this instance.

      By the way, techies tend to ignore this but some services still won’t work over fibre. Many developers would specify copper for lift lines, alarms, even EPoS equipment in commercial developments, so don’t assume that the existence of copper is proof that the network provider is being short-sighted.

      The moral of this story is, as always, buyer beware. Why would you make such a big decision without checking on the specification properly, especially on those aspects that are important to you? The developer may not have specified FTTP, but the buyer did not bother to check. Whose “fault” is that really?

    6. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @New_Londoner

      Buyer beware, perhaps your entitled to blame the stupidity of the customer, developer, government. It is peculiar that you would compate buying a second car with a piece of national infrastructure.

      There is certainly work to be done on alarms systems but fixing these needs direction setting and vision.

    7. Avatar Gadget says:

      Direction setting and vision are all well and good but not much use if you can’t have an alarm connection or an epos terminal in your shop

  4. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    Bizarre comments from Piers, surprising that the MD of an ISP isn’t better informed!

    Surely his complaint is with the developer as it decides what goes into the building, not BT or any other network operator. Why didn’t he ask about this before he purchased the property if it was important to him? Also, IIRC BDUK doesn’t cover London, so isn’t the reference to public funding a red herring?

    As I said, bid odd that the MD of an ISP doesn’t know this.

    1. Avatar Piers says:

      New_Londoner my comments were more from a personal perspective. But while I appreciate there was no BDUK funding involved in this, there is no excuse when presented with a completely blank sheet of paper to install 100 year old technology. No other business would have done so, so why do we tolerate BT doing so?

      In my experience house builders are badly informed and while a huge amount of good work is happening when the smaller providers support a new build, you would have thought the de-facto choice would offer something similar. Especially if it is the one chosen to roll out so many councils ‘super fast’ solution.

    2. Avatar NGA for all says:

      It is even odder BT does not have planning rules to provision new sites with the most efficient and future proof solution. Ok they will rely on their licence which says PSTN, but this not mean the default could not be changed.

      So if a developer finds the appropriate BT site they may get fibre access, if they do not they certainly will not. I guess this aligns with the notion that Fibre access is a premium, when it is in fact just a better and over time cheaper replacement, something BT proved to itself many many years ago.

    3. Avatar MikeW says:

      @piers

      The obvious question is what provision for fibre did your developer make? Certainly there is no excuse for not knowing… Openreach have a guide for property developers that details the ducting requirements for both copper and fibre.

      The most recent version dated from April last year, and has comprehensive plans for fibre. https://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/contactus/connectingyourdevelopment/documentationandinformation/buildersguide/buildersguide.do

      The version before that included the requirements for fibre, but wasn’t quite as detailed.

      Your development might actually have the ducting for fibre, but not have made use of it. That really depends on how long ago the underground utilities were agreed. If those plans date back 2 or 3 years, then they probably don’t include scope for fibre.

    4. Avatar MikeW says:

      @Nfa
      Remember that provisioning fibre into a development not only requires the rightwork from the developer, but also needs the right equipment available on the network side. It also needs to be available when the first property is sold, not the last.

      Right now, we have no idea of what was available in the exchange and in the street at the start of this development… Which could have been some years ago.

    5. Avatar NGA for all says:

      If BT has put a VDSL cabinet in the area, then it will be motivated not to be put fibre into this new development, hence the Fixed Line market review will have to change to accommodate the FTTP transition and cater for the less costly solution.
      Piers – if VDSL is available you will have your answer and it will good to record this anecdote. Could you update us. This is not as bad as pretending cabinets cost £100k or each exchange costs millions but it it is another piece of dysfunction in Openreach that needs fixing.

    6. Avatar Piers says:

      NGA – yes they have built a new cabinet to deliver VDSL (as it isn’t live for orders yet) for the site so they are delivering that with fibre…

      In terms of other peoples comments on the developer, I honestly think the onus should not be on the developer. BT are providing the comms and I think my point, which I am not always well versed in making, is that fibre should be the only solution that is deployed by BT to new sites. There is no sense in anything else.

    7. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Sorry Piers but the developer decides what to go with, and from which company. It decided that the copper solution met its needs, based on its criteria. However the onus was ultimately on you to check before buying if this was important as you could have gone elsewhere if you were not happy with this aspect of the facilities on offer. So I really think this is down to you for not checking, rather than the developer and certainly not the network provider.

      Of course if you did check before buying and were misled that’s a different matter that should be taken up with the developer or agent.

    8. “It decided that the copper solution met its needs”

      What is MUCH more likely is that the developer just could not be a^^ed and just told BT to get on with it.

      I doubt the average developer knows what copper is, let alone fibre!

    9. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Indeed, most other people when buying/renting new properties check to see what broadband is available.

      Piers didn’t ?

    10. Avatar FibreFred says:

      @Piers

      “BT are providing the comms and I think my point, which I am not always well versed in making, is that fibre should be the only solution that is deployed by BT to new sites”

      Again… I’m astounded :O

      A man in your position, how you can possibly say such a thing? If that happened what about wanting to buy an LLU product from Sky, TalkTalk etc etc, what about all of the niche ISP’s that don’t offer a product on FTTP?

      Are you saying that BT should just force fibre and lock them all out? The complaints to Ofcom would be enormous.

    11. Avatar Piers says:

      Fair comments that I should have checked before moving in, however my point is not as a consumer or from a developer perspective but actually on the actual technology deployed. Someone at Openreach had to plan running copper cables to all the flats and fibre to the basement. Surely in a new build this kind of mentality out of kilter with modern demands?

      It also raises another interesting point that the developer could have very well thought they were having fibre installed as BT, Virgin and so forth all refer to their copper products as ‘fibre’.

      For one I don’t think my developer was particularly on it, as they told me Cat5 has been run to each room but actually they have had a useless RJ11 socket installed in each room! Ultimately though our industry should be telling the developer what telecoms needs to be installed, not the other way around. In the same way the power company would decide what power is required for each flat and design the services accordingly. The fact the developer would want to cut corners or cost would not come into it.

      And finally @FibreFred you will find BT, SKY, Virgin, TTB and so forth all have access to the Openreach FTTP product, so if BT Openreach had provided FTTP all the residents would still have had a choice of provider… The other fibre providers like IFNL manage to deliver choice of ISP through our Service Exchange Platform.

    12. Avatar JNeuhoff says:

      “And finally @FibreFred you will find BT, SKY, Virgin, TTB and so forth all have access to the Openreach FTTP product, so if BT Openreach had provided FTTP all the residents would still have had a choice of provider”

      Of course FibreFred knows that only too well. He’s just trying to defend his beloved BT as he always does.

    13. Avatar FibreFred says:

      “And finally @FibreFred you will find BT, SKY, Virgin, TTB and so forth all have access to the Openreach FTTP product,”

      Can you buy an FTTP product from any of them now apart from BT?

      That was my first point, the second was you would lock out LLU providers, you seemed to snip that bit of your reply 😉

    14. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Piers
      You said the industry should be providing information to developers on what to install. It does, see https://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/network/developingournetwork/documentationandinformation/buildersguide/downloads/developers_guide.pdf as an example. And I’m sure other providers do too.

    15. Avatar MikeW says:

      Wiring within the home also has standards. I’ve certainly come across documents targeted at builders describing structured cabling before now, ranging from the basics to very detailed home automation.

      I guess we should expect homes built now to be inhabited for another century, so we should be deploying the in-building cabling needed to distribute the services that arrive on fibre. An example of current thinking could be…

      http://www.select.org.uk/downloads/CEDIA%20Recommended%20Wiring%20Guidelines.pdf

    16. New_Londoner – there really is no excuse for BT to be installing 20th century infrastructure in new developments rather than infrastructure fit for a 21st century digital economy. It simply reinforces the impression that BT is an old-fashioned, bureaucratic monopoly, with a fixation on the old phone network, that no longer serves the nation well.

  5. Avatar boggits says:

    We’re currently retrofitting a number of properties in London that have really poor copper ADSL with 1G services, there are still few landlords that have made the jump to realising that providing high speed services will increase the attraction of their properties but that number is slowly growing.

  6. Avatar MikeW says:

    Did you hear the one about a bloke that bought a new flat? Turns out the developer was a tightwad, and skimped on the specifications. Next year we’ll hear more as he discovers the 10year NHBC guarantee isn’t worth the paper it was written on. Heard any stories like this before?

    Did the man check first? Did he pay any attention whatsoever? Or just leave the details to his PA? One simple question would have discarded the development at an early stage.

    Of course, he’s absolutely right – new builds should indeed be getting fibre nowadays. But that is for the developer to demand. And developers will only get the message when their customers (ie us) walk away from their showhomes because they might be pretty, but lacking the basics.

    1. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Your last paragraph makes sense and industry standards and BT planning rules should be changed to reflect the future need, rather than reinforce the legacy solutions and the cost recovery regime upon which it reliant.

  7. Avatar Slow Somerset says:

    This could only happen In this Country, here we are again taking another step backwards.

  8. Avatar John says:

    That’s BT for you. BT is old fashion, out dated and backward. BT are not the future technology. As for FTTC (it’s often rubbish because the more distance away from cabinet, you won’t getting 80/20 but probably even worse shocked that FTTC can be below ADSL2+ speed)

    It’s 21st century for god sake – BT should installing FTTH with new houses built, get rid of outdated copper wires but I know why why why….because BT want to keep line rental profits and instead they put up copper wires and outdated bt socket in new houses/flats built.

    BT ought to be ashamed but greed in profits. BT don’t want you, they only want your money and your superslow broadband!

  9. Avatar dragoneast says:

    I’m not the head of an ISP. But I’ve learned not to make assumptions, to check things, and that the “obvious” often isn’t done because the world isn’t perfect. And I try not to go around blaming everyone else all the time. Perhaps that’s why I’m not the boss of an ISP (or anything else for that matter). BT do sometimes appear stupid. But they’re not alone.

  10. Avatar FibreFred says:

    If fibre and copper is available to supply to the new build the DEVELOPER is given then choice of which to deploy

    If fibre is not available (does anyone know?) boo BT , but everyone boo’s their lack of residential FTTP anyway so.. nothing new

    If fibre is available (does anyone know?) boo developer, nothing to do with BT

  11. Avatar Darren says:

    Here’s an idea.

    Make FTTP to new builds a requirement from a certain date. Create a BDUKFTTP pot using public money. If BT can’t provide FTTP to a new build then an alternative provider gets finantial help, if needed, to make it happen.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      And how does that work?

      Say it costs…. say £50,000 – 100,000 in financial help to provide FTTP to the new build.

      The government will be (rightly) asking show me tangible cost benefits, how do you provide a business case for that?

      Its great people coming up with ideas, we just need realistic ones that you can actually sell to people, things that can actually fly

  12. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

    I have a relative that is in a very senior position for what is currently one of the largest new home builders in the UK. I asked him them about this and they assure me it is NOT down to the developer.

    The only time a developer has any say in something like this is if more than one operator approaches them. By LAW the only utility that has to be made available to all new builds is electric and that can be done via solar or wind turbine if no grid, electricity network is available, though for common sense properties now normally have both gas and electric. WATER believe it or not in a form deliver via mains pipe is NOT a even a requirement. They can just fit a water tower/tank if the water company refuse to plumb the new development.

    Utility operators submit plans for what will be installed. Building control have the final say one what and how utilities are installed. A developer can not for example decide if fibre is not available in that area already and would require additional street works, that BT come and dig up miles of streets to install it.

    It is nothing to do with the developer. If fibre is available in that area then it boggles the mind why BT did not install it. If it is not available then the developer would have had no say in making BT install it, that would be down to BT wanting to and building control and the local authority allowing them to run it to that site (IE OFF SITE WORK). The developer only makes decisions about the actual building work on the actual site not the local area as a whole.

    A developer to take this the opposite to new city builds that decides to build a street of homes in an area in the middle of nowhere that has no current comms, gas, electric or water has no say in making the local authority ensure the water board comes along and fits a billion miles of pipe and new sewage network to connect his new build. Or the power company fit a billion miles of gas main or hundreds of new electricity pylons even if they offer to pay for it…….. THINGS like that FIBRE included requires off site work and that is down to the local authority and the utility firm to reach decisions of how and what happens off site or even if the work will be allowed in the first place to deliver those service. NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DEVELOPER.

    Once again the same old regular BT defenders here have NO clue what they are on about and like BT blame it on everyone else.

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      Things like this are much more nuanced than that. In order to get planning permission, developers reach agreements over the supply of all sorts of facilities that lie outside the development. Utilities, roads including major bypasses, schools, shops, bridges and changes to flood drainage.

      Even now, developers of Battersea power station are negotiating and funding the extension of the London underground and building of new stations. I think you can safely say that’s a LOT to do with the developer.

      Developers are part of everything that happens – it is all a matter of negotiation.

      However, I agree that a developer cannot force BT to supply something that just doesn’t exist locally. But unless they start asking, BT won’t start supplying.

      At the very least, BT are requiring the installation of fibre ducting infrastructure in developments. We just need to get them filling it.

    2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @CrazyLazy

      Quote “The developer only makes decisions about the actual building work on the actual site not the local area as a whole.”

      Agree with that bit of what you said, if you extend it to include the services that other provide on site. In this case the developer could have opted to go with a supplier other than BT, so could have chosen a company offering fibre if it wanted to – assuming BT wasn’t prepared to offer fibre.

      As I’ve said though, this is really down to the buyer (Piers) not checking before buying, rather than being the fault of the developer or BT. If I bought a car and then said it should have had an electric rather than petrol engine it came with, the fault with be with me, not the dealer or manufacturer. Same here – up to the buyer to check, go elsewhere if not happy with the facilities on offer. It’s a bit late to check after buying, and rather silly to the blame others for something you didn’t bother to find out about earlier.

    3. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Here comes our resident expert who just happens to know someone in the business and no-doubt checked last night 😉

      Re-read what I posted, I said nothing about forcing BT to bring it to the area.

      Re-read it, its still completely true, also read the guides on the Openreach site. If its available its a choice and its a choice of the developer.

    4. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      The only one that thinks it is a resident expert is the person that thought for half a dozen posts before hand it was down to the developer.

      @NewLondoner that is half the problem, what other suppliers apart from BT in this area to a new build of flats were available?

      I will agree and bash Piers like yourself in one regard though……..
      IF FTTH was that great of an importance to him, he should had checked the property he was buying had that service in the first place the same as you would check if it had gas, electric, water etc first. Those utilities and fibre being down to the developer though is still rubbish, you can not force any of the organisations that provide those things to provide to your new development. Most will as it makes them money in most cases, they are not obligued to do so though no matter what they are willing to pay.

      I do not for one second believe a developer spending probably millions on a development did not bother to ask BT if they would supply fibre. I suspect its more a case of they asked BT to supply fibre… BT said sure no problem and just installed FTTC like the rest of the area has. The developer knowing they should ask for a specific product name from BT is not an excuse either, if they did ask for fibre and BT said yes then BT have mis-sold them also. No matter how much they, virgin and the ilk what to insist a product with copper in it is “fibre”.

      It would be interesting if Piers could contact the developer and ask what the agreements originally were for all utilities and what the developer did actually ask to be installed.

    5. Avatar FibreFred says:

      ” I suspect its more a case of they asked BT to supply fibre… BT said sure no problem and just installed FTTC like the rest of the area has. ”

      Priceless 😀 You really are

    6. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      Better that than clueless 😀

    7. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @CrazyLazy

      Quote “@NewLondoner that is half the problem, what other suppliers apart from BT in this area to a new build of flats were available?”

      Well in Bermondsey you can certainty find Hyperoptic and, I think, Virgin. There may be other fixed network operators with a presence too, not sure.

    8. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      By area i mean the specific location of the new build not the local area in general.

    9. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      ^^^^^^

      @CrazyLazy
      Actually I suspect you didn’t until you got an answer. 🙂 I think this is as good as it gets without the address, shows that there’d were options had the developer wanted a different solution.

    10. Avatar FibreFred says:

      🙂

    11. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      There are not other options, your whole point of me and yourself not knowing the exact location of these flats shows there are no other options you know about, you are just pretending there are.

    12. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @CrazyLazy
      There certainly are other options in Bermondsey, why do you think they would not have be on offer at this particular development had the developer been interested?

  13. Avatar NGA for all says:

    @Piers Move to Dolphinholme, you will have choice of 2 FTTP providers, 1 state sponsored, one self funded.

  14. Avatar FTTH says:

    Plenty of Developers are now seeing the value in Fibre, they ‘see the light’ so to speak. They are investing in their own fibre so that a true OAN (open access network) is in place. Delivering all services on day 1 & allowing for provider change.

    There is no reason SKY, Virgin or BT could not deliver service over a single fibre strand. In fact, you can do all three at the same time if you really wished.

    Relying on BT for provision of service is risky and locks a building in to a single operator.
    MDU fibre rollout is cheap when done day one.

    If Piers was informed of his broadband speed when purchasing it was probably referred to as ‘SUPERFAST FIBRE’. Even if it is just DSL.

  15. Avatar Jon Roberts says:

    seems to me they will make more money by providing the site with fttc then enabling fttpod and charging the fee to install it and make more profit for there shareholders

    an opinion not fact

    1. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      Seems far more likely, and the way BT and some others operate. Why give a new build and people that obviously have money the best thing straight away when you can milk them for more cash later?

  16. Avatar Lindsey annison says:

    In 2004, we organised an event specifically aimed at property developers and planners to cover all the issues that were going to come into play regarding broadband into new build and also for renovations etc. The DTI decided this was a step too far (too much information, too soon) and gazumped the event by organising a free broadband shindig the same day, also in London.

    We were holding the event because property developers were saying that there simply was no information available written in plain English that explained what the likely technology advances needed in new build would be so that informed choices could be made. The Milton Keynes debacle was frequently cited – plenty of fibre laid, no feasible connectivity. Only one RDA had produced anything – the EMDA toolkit if anyone remembers it – and there was nothing forthcoming from Whitehall to inform developers or planning authorities.

    In 10 years, the situation has not changed sufficiently to allow developers (and planners) to find advice on this topic easily. I recently visited a new build before the first turf had even been dug to discuss (as a neighbour) what was being planned for comms – with the unlikely hope that if I could provide the correct information, the cost of fibre into the village could be covered by the development and we would all win and have FTTH. Despite regular visits, the developers were persistently told by BT that the ONLY option for phones and Internet was copper. Worse, BT said that no other company was permitted to install first mile copper, own it and provide services over it.

    However much evidence I produced to show the true choices, who would you believe? The incumbent telco with umpteen decades of experience or some mad woman who lives nearby…….

    The planning authorities are similarly poorly informed. Other nations insist that, just as a house has a reduced carbon footprint with modern materials, fibre ducting is installed into ALL new build. Why don’t we? Everyone knows that FTTH delivers ROI but we keep putting up with impoverished excuses from a very rich PLC as to why it cannot be done. Just make it the law and it will be astounding how it suddenly can be achieved after all. Even with incumbent moaning and foot dragging, demands for public subsidy etc it would then happen.

    And maybe, a whole decade later, it is time to re-organise the event and BIS will stay away that day!

  17. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    Is information available for developers?

    Well I went to the Openreach web site, typed “developers” into the search box on the home page and found

    https://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/network/developingournetwork/documentationandinformation/buildersguide/downloads/developers_guide.pdf

    I’m sure it’s not perfect but it only took a minute to find, so difficult to see why an interested developer couldn’t do so too. Presumably other network providers have similar docs (I can’t be bothered to spend more time looking), so no real excuse for not being able to find relevant information. No doubt bigger developers will have their own experts anyway, so this is not difficult!

    1. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      What BT have to say on the matter and what law and planning permission AS TWO PEOPLE HAVE NOW TOLD YOU says about matters of any utility being hooked up to your development are probably different things entirely. I have not bothered to click on the BT like and the rather predictable we are wonderful and promises to grant more wishes that a sneezing Genie will give away for free. Sales guff.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      And that’s your problem Deduction, you won’t click on the link as you’ll learn the truth and simultaneously put your foot in your own mouth as it details copper provision and fibre

      Yes REAL fibre, actual FTTP, not pretend FTTC stuff, actual fibre cable into the premises.

      Ignorance is bliss eh

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @CrazyLazy
      I think you missed the point. I provided the link to the Openreach document to illustrate how easy it is for developers to find information if they want to, not to say that the document in question is either sole source of such information nor that it is ideal, the latter being entirely subjective anyway.

      It does however provide information on both copper AND fibre, even down to the level of what builders should fit on site etc. So any developer claiming ignorance has not put much effort into finding out what might be on offer, or does not think this is important.

      (Back on topic though, I still maintain the onus is on the buyer to find out what they are buying before signing a contract, as is always the case!)

    4. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      What any source of BT have to say about installation of any utility and what the law says is completely different no matter how much you care to insist it is not.

    5. Avatar FibreFred says:

      lol!

      So that document is against the law now? Its like being back at school 🙂 I wonder when you’ll put your Dad is bigger than mine in a reply?

    6. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @CrazyLazy

      Quote “What any source of BT have to say about installation of any utility and what the law says is completely different no matter how much you care to insist it is not.”

      I’m not entirely sure what this means, think you are suggesting that the law contradicts the document that I linked to? If so, feel free to clarify what elements of the document are at odds with what laws.

      For the record, I’m confident your relative that works for a house builder does not really understand this area, and that a fair number of your posts suggest you don’t either. But some specific references to sections of the document and the relevant points of law that apply will of course enable you to show otherwise.

    7. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      No im stating what BT say they can provide and what the local authority, planning departments etc etc allow are 2 different things. What BT have to say about products you can have is irrelevant if the authority or LAW concerned will not allow you or them to install such a product.

    8. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Telcos install duct and cabinets. Council planning departments have no say in what services go in them. Other parts of the council may encourage certain products.

    9. Avatar FibreFred says:

      It’s against the law to install fibre someone call the cops woo woo woo.

      It’s turning into a classic thread for you crazy / deduction , I’m loving it

    10. Avatar TheFacts says:

      And then there are code powers for telcos.

    11. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Once again, Mr Lazy tries to come across as an expert but ultimately displays a complete lack of knowledge and his hole gets deeper and deeper after every post.

      We’ve been here before of course with GPON and point to point fibre, I’d like to think its a lesson learnt – but its very unlikely.

    12. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Please respond to New_Londoners asks on the specifics of law /chuckle

    13. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @CrazyLazy
      So please can you identify the specific sections of the document that you have a problem with, and the specific law(s) that you believe apply and that would make the content incorrect.

      To clarify, when you read the document you will see it is for developers and their sites. As you will know, as private sites this this means considerations such as highways regulations do not apply during development.

      I’m sure you know this, so I’m looking forward to you highlighting the relevant laws that do apply in England (where this site is located) that contradict the wide range of content in the document. No need to cover every page, a cross section of representative examples that demonstrate the breadth of laws being transgressed should suffice.

  18. Avatar TheManStan says:

    Shouldn’t the finger pointing be all at OFCOM?

    Surely, it should be them who remove the option of copper only in developments?

    They are the regulators, they should regulate for this.

    If BT are operating within the regulations as they stand then they can’t be blamed.

    But, it should a be a regulator who is reactive and pedestrian in the fast paced world of communications technology!

  19. Avatar NGA for all says:

    @themanstan Submissions on FTTP transition have gone to Ofcom for the 2014-17 Fixed Line access review. However, there is nothing in the proposals as they stand to do anything on FTTP until after 2017. This is despite requests from Birmingham, Derby, Cumbria in Jan 2013. These requests have been ignored. Scotlands 2020 ambitions cannot be met without additional tweaks to the 2014-2017 proposals.
    Given the frequent references to laws in these exchanges, then additional changes are needed and these should act as a substitute for any additional direct expenditure with BT Group.

    1. Avatar JNeuhoff says:

      It is strange that the costs per Fibre Cabinet are several times higher in England than in Northern Ireleand, which adds even more to the concerns of many (except for those hopeless BT trolls) that the BDUK has been a waste of taxpayer’s money. More strange that Ofcom hasn’t investigated this yet.

  20. Avatar TheManStan says:

    Depends if the cost per cabinet is averaged… NI overall lower population density (141 vs 407 England) potentially means less internal hardware is needed, making the cabinet costs appear cheaper. Not saying that there isn’t an issue with pricing, but sometimes aggregated costs should be viewed and calculated in a similar fashion to have meaningful value.

    1. Avatar NGA for all says:

      The cabinet suppliers are the same. You will not find anything different. DETI confirmed in their own press that 60% of the c£16m funding went on 70% of c1150 cabinets in areas ourside Greater Belfast. Fermanagh is is little more remote and perhaps less commercially viable than Redhill in Surrey.

  21. Avatar TheManStan says:

    That’s not the point i am making about cost comparisons.
    If, on average, NI cabinets are supplied with hardware for 50% capacity and in England with 75% capacity, yet they are only described as a single line item then their apparent cost will be differ substantially. This is what I mean about a like for like basis. Itemisation of cabinet contents would give a real comparison would allow pro rating.

    1. Avatar NGA for all says:

      48 port cards at $16 a port is the going market rate. 1 or 2 cards for rural, if PCP serving 200 pstn users is the average. Cab,power supply, battery a metre for the mainland, blocks to terminate pstn. Itemisations available for between $6000 to £12,000 depending on volume, delivery to UK. This is before power supply and labour to install. CallFlow happy to quote £25k which includes all the SLU payments to BT includes an allowance for ECC. This is fully documented.

      BT are 18 moonths ahead, and ‘comfortably’ under their £2.5bn, where at least 50% is capitalised labour.

      NI was £16m subsidy for c1200 cabs, large Huawei types, before ECI came on board with smaller cab. This visible on BT PDF’s describing the project.

      The benefits of 30 years of Moor’s law should be seen but it is difficult to see it in >£250 per premise past numbers for the mainland UK projects.

    2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      I’d expect that labour costs are lower in NI, not sure but quite possibly power connections too? On that basis, why would fully installed costs be uniform across the UK? It’s surely more expensive in London given traffic, permits etc, compared to say Surrey? On the other hand, long fibre runs could push up costs in rural areas?

    3. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @New Londoner – Sean Williams BT said at PAC a 14% premium over NI, which could be ok, but there is no reconciling with either the numbers identified in Table 11 P33 of the NAO report or indeed the claims made by Openreach CEO of £100K per cab and millions per exchange when so many are just glassed through.

      Power can be an issue, hence the need for pro-actice FTTP/FOD only when that goes too high. The 4G cover obligtaion ought to be used intelligently but this is not the case. It is a shame Openreach do not have freedom to re-use unused licence spectum in rural.

  22. Avatar NGA for all says:

    @New_Londoner On power – It is interesting the NAO found £16k for FOD for each cab/path. The notion of spending excessively on power while also supporting FOD is peculiar when a rural PCP serve c200 users.

    I am not sure how Openreach can charge LA change control fees where the power costs are unknown in the planning phase. The scale of these fees is very concerning given they seek to improve Openreach network for the next generation.

  23. Avatar TheManStan says:

    Um… don’t you mean 1600 for a 48 port VDSL2 DSLAM?
    16 might be a the price for a 48 port patch panel

  24. Avatar NGA for all says:

    TheMANstan – No, $16 per port x 48 ports for the VDSL card.

  25. Avatar TheManStan says:

    My bad, misread your per port part.

    So USD 16 per port on the card or as part of the DSLAM?
    And the source for this price?
    Because retail prices for 48 port VDSL2 DSLAMs are £1700 for a single unit.

    You can’t even buy a 24 port annex A 17a/30a Zyxel DSLAM on eBay for that money.

    1. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Documented quotes from industry, which need anomyising.

  26. Avatar TheManStan says:

    But they are is USD?

    1. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Yes delivery to UK. $16 is the lower end of the range. My objective is not some absolute truth just get the cabinet components in a range with enough quotes to be able to provide guidelines. the $16 was basd on 600 (cabs)- 2x48port cards each – assuming one card is held in store until needed. The purchase of a single cab and its compoents is well documented + slu compoents to enable it so a range is available.

  27. Avatar NGA for all says:

    @THeMan Stan
    This unhealthy obsession is not driven by some desire to hurt BT in anyway, just the £1.4bn was a unique opportunity to refresh rural connetiviy for the next 25 years. The notion that confidentiality agreements, planning fees, change control fees, incentive bonuses take predence over efficient design means BT is missing out on much bigger investment opportunity.

  28. Avatar TheManStan says:

    It’s just often US equipment is not EU compliant.
    A different market has different pricing hence the 1$=1£ often.
    Also, a reseller would often have difficulty selling the volumes BT would require and might often breach regional market agreements that the manufacturer has in place.

  29. Avatar TheManStan says:

    It’s just often US equipment is not fully EU compliant.

    Additionally, BT may not be able to source volumes needed from a distrubutor in the US simply because of regional market agreements that the manufacturer has in place.

    To outside the agreements often compromises support arrangements that the manufacturer has.

    It would not be economical for BT to have the US service agents support them when they really need them to be in the same time zone or be familiar with compliance requirements for UK/EU states.

    1. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Is China in the same timezone?

  30. Avatar TheManStan says:

    apologies for double post,thought first reply didn’t go through, weird!

  31. Avatar themanstan says:

    I’m guessing Paddington is, as that is where Huawei UK main office is they have 2 more for their 1000 employees…

  32. Avatar TheManStan says:

    Guys, simply buying is only half the issue. When you are doing a strategic capital purchase the item price is only half the considerations you have. And remember this is a commercial purchase, consumer rights and support do not exist, the rules are very different.

    Everything is negotiated in the procurement process, before the buy actually happens.

    – Support for the product how is this supplied, is it local, regional or overseas.
    – Diagnostics equipment supply
    – Code access rights
    – firmware fixes
    – training programs for installations, diagnostics and code
    – spares supply-chain
    – failure replacement procedures
    – consequential loss
    – and guaranteed response times for all of the above

    a reseller in china or the USA is not going to provide you with any of the above…

    1. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @StanTheMan – understand the complexity and numbers are not in isolation of other public funded projects in Europe, or references to several economic models mimicking VDSL rollouts. FCC subsidies per state are accessible bit not quitable. BT has announced it is 18 months and comfortably under £2.5bn,you can estimate c£1.8bn to April 2014 tracking the numbers in the annual accounts, half of which is capitalised labour. The impact of Moore’s law on telecom cost models and capital employed is scary.
      When the current BT management have exited, shareholders and the middle management will carry the cost of the correction, as per the mis-reporting in BT Global. The competition commission and state aid authorities will not be able to ignore the subsidy levels compared to those for FTTH.
      The latter is of concern, of greater concern is that the focus on extracting a ransom and generating will prevent efficient design.
      Will Liv Garfields departure permit an internal investigation and governance check on the FTTC subsidy levels to be triggered?

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      What do you mean by efficient design?

  33. Avatar NGA for all says:

    @TheFACTS – if the decisions are driven by a cash recovery model where optimising the bill for state aid becomes an end in itself, then in such an environment it becomes easy to make poor decisions, for instance paying excessive costs for power on a cabinet to support 50 users rather than pushing fibre further towards DPs or completing FTTP in full and insisting it is done. The latter may need more money hence the £250m – but this is unlikely to emerge as there is no transparency, the change control costs are inhibiting discussions, and the confidentiality agreements are barrier to building trust.

    LA are complaining (privately, which incudes to their MPs) the above scenario is creating signficant change control costs. Planning and re-planning, change control (on top of project management fees and effciency bonuses) is seen as place for BT account teams to earn extra bonuses, rather than working together to use state aid efficiently.

    The speed and coverage templates may not be a work of art but their publication with indicative costings for the proposed solution per engineering area would allow for common sense checks to occur and extra funding sought should it be needed. This arguement assumes BT will attempt to bill up to the amounts identified in the National Audit Office report – more than 3 times the numbers for the mixed economy solutions in NI excluding greater Belafast. If this assumption is wrong and I for one hope it is, then we will get a better outcome than forecast. Unfortunately there is a small possibility of being correct so the points need pressing through all channels.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @NGA for all
      Not sure why you get so worked up about the comparative cost of the provision of cabinets. I have posted earlier why I would expect it to vary across the country due to a range of factors.

      More importantly though, let’s not forget that we taxpayers only pay for this provision when the work has been completed and is invoiced for, which has to include supporting cost detail. As BDUK has access to all the invoice data, any major inconsistencies should be easy to spot and query, so I suspect you’re bringing up a problem that doesn’t really exist.

      Meanwhile, back on topic ….

    2. Avatar NGA for all says:

      New_Londoner – The same reason the NAO and PAC got worked up and will continue to do so. BDUK like BT are unable to explain the x3 increase in subsidies from NI excluding Greater Belfast and BDUK Framework numbers.
      BT has blagged on some of the differences but there is no explanation to reconicle cica c£13k per cabinet and path payments in NI (exlcuding greater Belfast the sum is less) and the average of £47k identified by the NAO available by expanding Table 11 on page 33. Across 30k cabs it will deny many many rural users and the country the network solution a great great number have catered for.
      ERDF based audits are insufficient as they devoid of the reference points needed to establish referenecable costs.

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @NGA for All
      Sadly the PAC has very little credibility, mainly functioning to provide its members and in particular it’s chair with regular media opportunities. It rarely offers any useful insights based on facts, preferring instead to letting members grandstand, with hearings quickly followed by a (presumably pre-written) hysterical press release. Sad but true.

      Like I said, all invoiced costs have to be supported by evidence, so there will be numerous opportunities across every contract to query any inconsistencies in costs. So why not wait and see what happens rather than putting out a lot of posts based on supposition plus analysis of very limited information and a large amount of assumptions?

    4. Avatar Gadget says:

      Apart from the usual standard rules on false accounting as BT is listed on the NYSE it also has to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (http://www.continuitycentral.com/feature0203.htm)so there should be ample audit trail and account trail to satisfy all, but as New_Londoner said at the commercial audit stage and perhaps we should applaud the zeal with which everyone is trying to pre-empt that.

    5. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @new_londoner Are you saying that Table 11 in the NA0 REPORT is unrepresentative of the data BT and BDUK gave to the NAO?

      Sure NAO and PAC do not have a grip on the regulatory detail, or the realities of radio attenuattion but the numbers should line if they have examined them and BT/BDUK presented contract details.

    6. Avatar Gadget says:

      All table 11 confirms is that the cost of the physical cabinet is only a proportion of the total costs of enabling service, which will also comprise of exchange equipment, backhaul to a handover point and running the service.
      What is more interesting is the table 13 which showed that at least one other firm arrived at a similar cost to the BT bid (the Atkins Global model) and the Department considers the Bit Commons model “greatly underestimates the actual costs of deployment” [taken from the report text].

    7. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @Gadget ‘greatly underestimates were comments from BDUK not the NAO’. BDUK have not published their model for public scrutiny. The Bit Commons would be more than happy to amend its findings if credible cost data is presented. Table 11 is what the NAO published and is the basis of their concerns. We can compare (cabinet,power,installation) if you wish, but the NI subsidy was for the cabinet path upgrade and contribution to the elements you identified.

      The question remains. Is BT’s complaint with the NAO/PAC the inaccuracy of Table 11? The NAO I am sure would update this table if a new set of data was provided.

    8. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @NGA for All
      My issue with the PAC is with its credibility as a body interested in establishing the facts, and is ability to do so. This is a general point, not specific to its “enquiry” into BDUK.

      The NGA hearing was very poor, with appalling chairing, and mainly unsubstantiated, often contradictory, comments from many of witnesses as well as from the members. I note it was supplied with a detailed report from BT afterwards (now on the PAC site) to correct some of the factual inaccuracies in its draft report, which it subsequently left uncorrected.

      So I regard the PAC as primarily a publicity vehicle for its chair and members, and not a credible source of information. A shame since it’s members all work for us and we pay their wages!

    9. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @New_Londoner last entry on this thread I promise. You have not answered my questions so as a BT shareholder and an advocate of public investment in connectivity you could answer them in the following way at near zero cost.

      You have dismissed your competitors evidence which is not something I can argue with.

      As a citizen we have to make our political institutions work, as there are all we have. Despite the unsanswered questions the Minister is publicly supporting BT which in the circumstances you put him is very generous. Three simple changes,

      1) You have dismissed your competitors so the speed and coverage templates have no real confidential value or competitive value. Best to transfer that to the LAs. The fact they are a work in progress reinfocrces your ability to release them.
      2) Given the NAO have declared what looks like £16k worth of FTTP enablement for every path, declare an aspirational target per LA for FTTP. This provides a means to publish some estimate for FTTC and FTTP(where it is needed), rather than some idiot bleating on upon £70 per premise past in NI. So the subsidy is a £70-£100 range for FTTC prem passed and £xxx (some range) for FTTP, crude but it a credible answer.
      3) As long as the speed and coverage template remains a moving target remove the change control costs so efficient outcomes can be identified, and the LA partnerships look like partnerships.

      There are many more changes but these would stop a second NAO investigation and we could all support the Ministers view on Value for Money, while it would permit your LA partners and BDUK to stand a little taller.

      Thanks for engaging.

  34. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    I see we’re way off topic with most of the recent posts. In the meantime CrazyLazy has not provided any relevant response to show which laws are at odds with the content of the developer document I linked to, so I assume we now agree that the document is in fact fine.

    1. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @New_Londoner The gap between BT Groups need for free cash flow and the nations need for a worldclass data transport infrastructure creates many inconstancies and tensions. The existence and inconcistent use of a developers guide is not a substitute for a strategy to upgrade most loops over a 15-25 year period.

      The history of telecomms law suggests the laws come after the engineers have worked out the answers, so the law for NGA provision will be probably written 10 after it is finished.

    2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @NGA for all
      You may be right about the lag of laws, although I’m struggling to image any that would apply exclusively to NGA provision anyway.

      However our fried. @CrazyLazy and apparent expert suggested existing laws were being breached, but has been strangely silent, has yet to respond to my request to identify the specific sections of the document and the laws each transgresses.

    3. Avatar MikeW says:

      Perhaps his friend “George” will be along soon.

  35. Avatar MikeW says:

    Is it too late too add some facts to this page?

    Here’s one: In December 2013, Openreach sent out a press release about FTTP in a large property development in Greenwich. Some quotes stand out:

    Title:

    Galliard chooses Openreach FTTP for prestigious Greenwich development

    Chooses? But developers can’t choose, can they?

    Galliard originally had their sights set on an all-copper infrastructure on the site.

    But probably they didn’t know any better. Certainly BT’s developer guide at the time didn’t tell you about fibre: Builders guide from 2009

    When negotiations re-started with all the utility companies early in 2011, FTTP … was available in Greenwich!

    Negotiations? Don’t you just get what you are given?

    “We had a series of round table discussions with Galliard’s directors, to explain how we would approach the project,” says Lewis Benn, Business Development Director at Openreach.

    Hang on… Openreach had to do some persuasion?

    Managing Director, Galliard Construction, says: “Most of all, though, we liked the fact that FTTP was going to be a marketable asset in its own right.”

    Ah – normal service is resumed. A developer chooses to do something he finds profitable.

    Here is the full article or case study as a PDF. There is even a story about it on ISPReview, but it didn’t get half as many comments!

    OK, so the development is big. And prestigious. And for the rich. You can see, perhaps, why Openreach were motivated to use FTTP there. But this kind of press release is only going to backfire if they fail to negotiate similar arrangements with other developers. It only takes a few retaliatory stories from the competitors.

    After all, according to a Developer Working Group meeting in 2012, Openreach were expecting to rollout fibre-only for all new site developments in September 2012.

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