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UPDATE BT Openreach Pilot Faster and Cheaper FTTC Broadband Install

Thursday, August 14th, 2014 (7:35 am) - Score 4,268
fttc bt cabinet internals

BTOpenreach has announced their intention to pilot a new capability (GEA-FTTC Start and GEA-FTTC Stop) from 22nd September 2014, which will in the long run enable them to provision superfast broadband (FTTC) lines at a faster and cheaper rate than is currently possible. But there is a caveat involved.

The 6 month pilot, which will take place at a selected number of telephone exchanges, essentially involves a change of approach by Openreach engineers and one that is focused around retaining key jumpers in FTTC (NGA) enabled Street Cabinets (aka – GEA-FTTC Stop), rather than recovering them after a line has been stopped. For example, this can happen when somebody moves house or ends their service for another reason.

Next the GEA-FTTC Start process simply reflects the ability to quickly start (re-provide) a “new” FTTC line where the jumpers are already present following the GEA-FTTC Stop process. By doing this engineers can effectively re-use existing FTTC lines, which in some cases may completely remove the need for an end-user or Openreach network visit.

Openreach Statement

Openreach is looking to drive process efficiencies and improve GEA-FTTC provision lead times by introducing two new capabilities that will change our engineer’s involvement at the NGA cabinets. Re-using existing GEA-FTTC lines where possible, will allow the re-starting of our GEA-FTTC services for your end customers in less time than our standard NGA products.

On the surface this might sound like an easy task, but it does require Openreach to make changes at the telephone exchange too and indeed the reason their pilot is so long is simply because at present there are no real-world lines to test with. In order to gain enough feedback Openreach will probably need to test with a number of fairly busy areas.

Unfortunately we can’t currently asses what other potential conflicts or problems might emerge because all of the relevant details have been kept away from public view. However we are aware of one caveat, which is that GEA-FTTC Start will only work with ISPs setup to use the PCP-Only (FTTC Self-Install) method and this still isn’t widely used. Most ISPs tend to default to an engineer installed FTTC service, not least because it can help to iron out some potential home wiring problems.

ISPreview.co.uk has requested a list of the initial pilot exchanges from Openreach (likely to be expanded in the future) and will report back later on their reply.

UPDATE 7:43am

This Price Notification page contains some details about the cost of Openreach’s new capability, which pegs the price of restarting a related stopped FTTC line at just £32.52 +vat. By comparison Openreach’s self-install method, which can still require engineers to visit the local cabinet (but not your home) is £49 +vat. In other words it could soon become cheaper for some ISPs to setup FTTC and at that level more providers might be able to absorb the cost and offer a “free” setup.

It’s further noted that during the PCP Only Install process, Openreach will automatically convert the order into a GEA-FTTC Start order if the fibre jumpers exist in the cabinet. Good news, albeit perhaps an administrative headache for some ISPs as the costs may vary for different locations.

UPDATE 3:17pm

Apparently there are no firm exchange lists yet, although a spokesperson for Openreach did inform ISPreview.co.uk of the following: “The pilot will start in the Swansea test centre and will increase to cover the ‘West Wales’ and ‘East, West and Central Downs’ regions by the end of the calendar year. We are exploring further regions for 2015, with the south of England, Wales and the Midlands being looked into.”

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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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10 Responses
  1. Avatar FTTH

    Will this only work of the cabinets are designed to meet 80-100% of customer takeup?

    I believed that the ‘economical’ approach was used today where the 100% take-up was not possible? so tying up a VDSL connection with no customer on the end may prove problematic?

    • Avatar Unknown101

      I assume they’ll just leave the jumper in and if the cabinet starts to get full and ports are required they will probably just allocate the port to the new customer and on the PCP only or MI task the engineer will just use the port and re-jumper E to D side on the old line to ensure they are still connected to the exchange.

  2. Avatar john

    well it will still be rubbish no matter what they do get rid of the copper what,s been paid 100 times instead but all they think of profit and a lousy service

  3. Avatar adslmax

    Pointless to be honest in my view. But, hang on Openreach, where is the news for G.Fast and Vectoring? When???

  4. Avatar Raindrops

    Another boring, pointless BT story submitted by the gibbering BT employee brigade. £35 to flip a switch, if only they had an off switch.

  5. Avatar Bob

    The idea solution would be to let BT just replace all copper and put ADSL2+ customers on a 20Mbps FTTC package, but as usual, Nanny Britain says no…

    • Avatar FTTH

      @Bob.
      Agree with the first bit 🙂
      ‘The idea solution would be to let BT just replace all copper’

      It’s not Britain saying no… If BT/Gov/Ofcom make it too easy, everyone will do it 😉 That would not be good for the shareholders.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @Bob
      I believe the biggest barrier to this, other than the very considerable cost, is not the government but the various LLU operators, all of which would end up with stranded assets if such a move took place.

    • Avatar dave

      I would love to be able to get say 25mbps FTTC. It would be enough speed for many and the cost would be cheaper than 38mbps and 76mbps FTTC and the speed would be guaranteed at 25mbps unlike adsl2+.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      If you replace all copper your suggested fttc solution won’t work 😉

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