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

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 (4:05 am) - Score 37,795

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install quote, noted that their FoD based order had been cancelled because, according to the ISP, the product was being withdrawn from sale.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).

Leave a Comment
31 Responses
  1. adslmax says:

    Good I don’t care about fttp on demand as it far rip off. Let’s hope fttc 80/20 will become 120/30 soon

  2. AndyH says:

    Poorly written article – I suggest someone forwards you the BB-1727-15 briefing.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Everything we’ve written is based on information that has either come directly from Openreach or some of the ISPs involved. I can’t locate the briefing you mention; although it’s probably not public as otherwise we’d know about it already. Perhaps you’d be able to share so that we can better understand what is so wrong?

      UPDATE: Just seen the briefing, seems to confirm what we wrote *shrug*.

    2. No Clue says:

      “UPDATE: Just seen the briefing, seems to confirm what we wrote *shrug*.”

      No shock there then 🙂

  3. AndyH says:

    This comes from BT Wholesale and not Openreach. There has been no stop-sale issued by Openreach at present as far as I can see (it was still part of 2015 roadmap issued only 10 days or so ago and is being rolled out to more and more exchanges).

    There are lengthy delays in all aspects of FTTPoD – from the survey stage right up to installation and not all of this has been Openreach’s fault. This has led to unhappy end users and CPs of BT Wholesale’s services. It was mentioned to CPs back in September that there would be major process changes to FTTPoD and a re-launch to that effect. I can only assume this is now going to be happening after the stop-sell has been released.

  4. Walter G M Willcox says:

    1. We know that BT Openreach have stated that they cannot supply VDSL services at over 1.8 km and there are many under that line distance with substandard speeds below even 15 Mbps, let alone the EC minimum of 30 Mbps (or UK’s 24 Mbps).

    2. Given the demand already evidenced causing this “temporary” stop sale, can anybody enlighten me as to how such an over-build of VDSL services is a practical solution for the UK ? (Note that FoD requires new fibre all the way back to a distribution node as BT have only provided blown fibres throughout their network, sometimes in ducts at full capacity, just sufficient for their FTTCs. (I.e. 4 or 8 fibres installed in the FTTC with minimal spare 7 mm tubes for a second FTTC)

    1. NGA for all says:

      @Walter Here’s the optimists answer. BT ought to have 48 or 96 fibre at the aggregation node in the D side. The 20% future proofing costs identified by NAO should mean spare tubing from the Aggregation Node to each cabinet. Is this one spare tube or 5 – you have observed only one which if proved true nationally is a real problem, as the tax payer is paying for future proofing but not receiving it.
      If we get to the truth about cabinet costs, equipped with 1 or 2 cards then extending beyond wil not be such a big deal.
      However if the fabrication of the £40k+ cabinet/fibre path/install/USC premium subsidy is maintained then we risk losing the opportunity to secure the means of extending fibre further at a lower cost.
      The lack of BT white papers on the design and implementation which has nothing to do with commercial confidentiality is a real shame.

  5. Bob2002 says:

    >Following an increase in demand for FoD …

    Hard to believe demand has almost reached double figures … 🙂

  6. NGA for all says:

    Thanks ISP Review
    Given the significant savings from Phase 1 referenced at EFRA select committee on DEc 10th by BDUK, FOD will be more important to reach the final 5%-10% and 12%-20% of those outside the 1.2-1.4km from the FTTC cabinet.

    Let’s hope BT is forced to restore the residential price for FOD to comply with stae aid affordability clauses and pressure is brought to put more manpower on the ground.

    The premiums are being paid within the milestone payments so the monies will be sitting in BT’s accounts.

    1. GNewton says:

      “Let’s hope BT is forced to restore the residential price for FOD to comply with stae aid affordability clauses and pressure is brought to put more manpower on the ground.”

      So was it ever a condition for the state aid recepient to also make sure of future affordable upgrade paths like affordable FoD? If so, how did BT get away with dropping FoD?

    2. NGA for all says:

      @GNewton In a resource crunch, LA’s are pitched against other to get their share of the 160-180 cabinet installs a week, so their capacity to chase down the detail or even work as one is limited. LA are facing full monoplist control and associated behavior. This is not reflection of Openreach or its agents but decision taken by a small number of individuals in BT Group and how they wish to squeeze Government. Just look at how USC premiums are accumulating where like FOD there is no resource or plan to complete.

      Any challenge on FOD could be on a long issues list. The likelhood is BT will use the allocation of scarce resource as one of their means of controlling events.

      The BDUK monies could fund another 1500 engineering apprentices (on the top of 2,400 announced), but that should have been planned in 2012. The milestone payments divorced from the underlying actual costs create a signficant headroom to employ more peole.

      The opportunity to do more remains as the monies are in the system, but in BT’s books as free cash flow. BDUK referenced 2020 at the EFRA session. This is not surprising as the USC premiums, ‘clawback’ and ‘efficiency’ gains need to be converted into additional coverage. This will be hard as BT is already in possession of the cash from the milestone payments.

  7. GNewton says:

    FoD has been a dead product from the beginning. The truth is BT is not capable of implementing widespread fibre-optic broadband services, not even with the aid of taxpayer’s money, because BT acts like a beggar, it has no longterm vision or ivestment plans. This is all part of the ‘Can’t Do’ culture in the UK.

    1. TheFacts says:

      Please explain further in more detail.

    2. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: Please explain why you don’t agree with my statement. Do you see any evidence (present or future) of widespread deploment of fibe-optic broadband services by BT in the UK?

  8. No Clue says:

    Oh well another idle BT promise, no doubt come April there will be a new excuse.

  9. hmmm says:

    because its shit the superfast tripe

  10. Walter G M Willcox says:

    @ NGA for all. IMHO there are some quite disturbing facets of the designs employed for all FTTCs (ECI 256, Huawei 128 & 288) whether commercial deployments or in intervention areas. (N.B. previous FTTC suppliers Rutland Telecom and Vtesse Networks both had FTTCs with 500 line capacities)

    1. It is a travesty that only about 1/3 of the PCP capacity is catered for in the associated FTTC and the excuse and significant prohibitive extra costs to litter the UK with second duplicated FTTCs, seems ridiculous.

    2. The practice of NOT installing sufficient ducts and tie pair cables for the entire cabinet is already causing serious delays and inconvenience as well as over-stretching the installation capacity for the UK. The Huawei 288 for PCP 4 in Albury Surrey intervention area only had the usual single set of 100 pr tie cables and has been without availability since late September 2014 and has just had its forecast monthly availability delayed for a fourth time now to 11 february 2015. PCPs 1 and 5 also on the THSE Shere exchange have been declared unavailable for a month whilst BT Openreach presumably just fit a second line card. PCP 20 in Ewhurst was also left without availability for over 6 months. PCP 1 in Dunsfold Surrey is currently seemingly at capacity too. In Lancashire there are no FTTCs available for Halton, Hornby, Silverdale and Milnthorpe with partial deployments in Lancaster, Forton, Carnforth, Caton, Bentham, Burton, Kirkby Lonsdale and no doubt many other exchanges.

    3. All FTTCs are only equipped with a four * 7 mm tube which feed directly into different fibre termination assemblies only capable of accommodating 4 or 8 fibres all destined for the electronics racks. There is no possibility of fitting additional fibre switches or patch panels or any ongoing fibre cables. In the Ewhurst “commercial” area the fibre distribution node only has a 7 tube assembly feeding up to PCP 19 and then a four tube splitting to PCPs 18 and 20 sometimes in ducts at full capacity. This again has constricted the fibre counts to either one or possibly two 4-fibre bundles which were only blown with great difficulty.

    4. Perhaps most disturbing (When there are rumblings over inadequate generation capacity) is that all and every FTTC is only fitted with a standby battery lasting between 4 to 6 hours from full charge with no possibility of battery replacement or even a standby generator plug. In storm conditions rural power can easily be lost for over 24 hours which would disable all FTTCs although the phone lines ought to continue back to the exchanges where adequate standby generation is usually deployed. This is yet another reason to deploy P2P FTTH which does not require intermediate power supplies after the distribution cabinets. I’d guess that the current FTTC deployments are adding a further 30 MWh of power consumption in the UK too.

    1. GNewton says:

      In all fairness, wouldn’t you have the same issue for full FTTP lines, too, as regards power backup with a battery?

  11. Chris Conder says:

    All this is proving what Peter Cochrane said in the House of Lords enquiry is true, and that FTTC is a choke point and a dead end. Using taxpayers money for it is a criminal waste. If BT want to protect their copper assets then that is fine, but not at our expense. That money could have been used for real fibre networks. Even Virgin could have made far better use of it, Altnets even more so. Its just been wasted.

    1. TheFacts says:

      How much money to provide what? You need to identify how much is providing the core network and how much is for the actual cabinets.

      Without that you have no substance to your comments.

    2. No Clue says:

      Turns out the BT 2.5 Billion figure had no substance either, but that did not stop them and you whittling on about it.

    3. TheFacts says:

      Please explain exactly why FTTC is a choke point. More like a DVP.

    4. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: “Please explain exactly why FTTC is a choke point”

      Please explain why you think FTTC is future-proof and not a dead-end road!

    5. FibreFred says:

      Fttc just brings um fibre to the cabinet you can put what you want in there going forward e.g. replace the copper leg with fibre, it’s not a dead end road and has a future and not “all” to do again

    6. GNewton says:

      @FibreFred: To quote your own words from 2012 on this subject:

      “FTTC isn’t future proof no but it has a future path FTTP on demand”

      (see http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2012/10/successful-vdsl2-g-vector-tests-pave-way-for-uk-100mbps-bt-fttc.html#comment-25534)

      So let me repeat it here, what many posters said back then:

      FTTC is not future proof. And FoD never had a future, either.

    7. TheFacts says:

      What does ‘FTTC is a choke point’ mean? The cabinet is a relatively small cost of the scheme.

    8. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: Your questions are rhetoric and stupid, because you already know the answer to this. To most people, certainly on this forum, the answer is obvious!

    9. No Clue says:

      “The cabinet is a relatively small cost of the scheme.”

      LOL yeah if you call around £40,000 per cabinet a small cost.

      In fact according to…
      “We’re currently upgrading 2,000-3,000 cabinets a quarter”

      SO thats 3,000 x 4 (quarters in a year) = 12,000 cabinets a year

      12,000 cabinets x £40,000 = £480,000000 a year

      5 years (approx) since the rollout started x £480,000000 a year on cabinets = a grand total of £2.4 Billion……..

      Which is interesting as they only claim to have spent £1.3 billion on their own commercial rollout in the next breath.

      I guess like him the idiots can not count. Must be a trait needed to be employed by BT.

      Regardless whatever the idiot argues next including his readjustment of figures to suit as always, clearly it is not a “relatively small cost of the scheme”.

      I actually admire some of the nonsense he types, without him the stupid content on here to rip the michael out of would be massively decreased.

    10. Jason Taylor says:

      There are two reasons why FTTC is not a “choke” point.

      FTTC has got fibre to the last hundred or so yards. There are enough spare fibres to install PONS to feed fibre to that area over time should that sort of build-out be required.

      We have not reached the limits of what can be achieved by pairs of copper cable. Who knows, perhaps if we get fibre to the distribution point or pole, we are not far off being able to run existing ethernet technologies or using techniques such as multiple pairs. Although fibre is best, copper is certainly more flexible in more ways than one.

      The pause on FOD has actually shown what would have been the result of an attempt to deploy pure fibre solutions and ignore the existing investment in copper. It would be too slow and expensive to deploy.


  12. hmmm says:

    bt wholesale because all doesn’t add up in there figures and selling products what they are mis-selling typical of BT and there cowboys

  13. Neil Jolly says:

    Do not purchase this system! BT are selling this service to people in Milton Keynes without explaining its pros and cons. We have had horrendous issues with BT on this service. Once the system is installed they disconnect physically all the copper. They dont tell you its a monopoly and no other providers can offer you a deal. So you are stuck with BT cibre to the home with their dedicated fibre to the home dept. Who dont work weekends. Nobody but the dept within bt can deal with questions, faults or orders and wo betide anything going wrong on a Friday. They dont even have a dedicated number. Its been hell and Im only covering the tip of the iceberg here.

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