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BT Wholesale Suspend New Orders for 330Mbps FTTP on Demand Broadband

Wednesday, Jan 14th, 2015 (4:05 am) - Score 37,915

BTWholesale has confirmed that new orders for their Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) based Fibre on Demand (FoD) product, which offered the potential for people within reach of an FTTC capable line to order a full 330Mbps fibre optic broadband connection, have been suspended.

At present most of BT’s “fibre broadband” lines are actually based off their slower 80Mbps capable hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology, which only takes a fibre optic cable as far as your local street cabinet and then uses the existing copper line from your cabinet to the home.

By comparison FoD was initially touted as a “premium” option for businesses and possibly home workers that wanted something better than FTTC, but who couldn’t get NATIVE FTTP because it hadn’t been deployed to their area (though the telephone exchange does need to support FTTP / FoD). In essence, FoD enabled those with an FTTC capable line to upgrade to FTTP, albeit at a considerable cost with the end-user effectively paying for much of the new line to be built. On the surface this seemed like a good idea.

The service originally attracted a one-off wholesale connection charge of £500 +vat and a monthly rental of £38. Another pain came from a one-off distance based charge of £2 per metre, which roughly translated meant that more than half of UK premises would face a total connection charge of between £700 and £1,500 (BT figure). Expensive, but just about viable for some home owners.

But last year the costs skyrocketed after Openreach said that its assumptions about deployment costs were incorrect (here). As a result the connection charge went up to £750, monthly rental shot to £99 and the distance based charge reached £3.50 per metre (not forgetting ISPs will charge more than this). On top of that some ISPs struggled with positioning a product that attracted a business price, but which lacked some of the usual business features. We summarised some of FoD’s issues last April 2014 (here).

But this week one of our readers, who had been waiting for months to get an install quote, noted that their FoD based order had been cancelled because, according to the ISP, the product was being withdrawn from sale. Upon chasing this up we were advised that BTWholesale has decided to suspend new orders (as of 9th January 2015) for FoD whilst existing ones are processed by Openreach.

A spokesperson for BTOpenreach told us that FoD is still technically an Early Market Deployment (EMD) product and that they expected it to join their mainstream products in due course, before also reiterating that FoD has an important role to play. We also asked for an ETA on when the suspension might be lifted, but sadly none could be given. We are currently hunting for further information.

UPDATE 7:06am

According to a private briefing document, which has been snuck out to us under cover of darkness, the situation is the result of a temporary Stop Sell on Wholesale Broadband Connect (WBC) based FoD in Market B with effect from 7th February 2015. Take note that Ofcom describes Market B areas as “telephone exchanges where there are three or more primary operators (ISPs) present or forecast to be present, accounting for 89.8% of premises” (i.e. this is the primary designation for most of the UK).

In addition the same update provides 90 day notice of the temporary ‘Stop Sell’ on the same service in Market A with effect from 10th April 2015 (i.e. the last 9.5% of UK premises in mostly rural areas). The update further states, “We ask that anyone raising WBC FoD orders consider deferring this until we resume sales of the product.”

According to the briefing, “Following an increase in demand for FoD … [we’ve] identified that the customer experience and lead-times are currently not meeting the product specifications. Because of this, we’ll be implementing a temporary Stop Sell. This will allow us to review current processes and make changes to improve the overall customer experience on this product.”

The briefing anticipates that this Stop Sell order will be in force until 30th April 2015 at the earliest, although it does not confirm a clear date for resumption.

The good news is clearly that demand has improved since this time last year, when it was really quite low. A big part of that is likely to be because of the Government’s Connection Voucher scheme (grants worth up to £3,000 for SME’s to get superfast broadband).

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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