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UK ISP Sky Shows Interest in Naked FTTC Fibre Broadband Service

Tuesday, Aug 4th, 2015 (2:04 pm) - Score 1,930

A small titbit of info. has surfaced that appears to confirm Sky Broadband’s interest in BTOpenreach’s forthcoming standalone “fibre broadband” product (Single Order GEA / Naked VDSL), which means you could take superfast broadband without also having to pay a separate phone line rental fee.

The SoGEA product was first mooted in July 2014 before finally being confirmed a few months later (here) and this was followed in March 2015 by confirmation of BTWholesale’s plans for a related product trial (here), with the expectation being that such a service could be launched before the end of summer 2016.

One of the benefits of this approach is that it might be cheaper because most consumers now prefer to use their mobile or VoIP (Skype etc.) to make voice calls instead of landline phones, but in reality the cost difference probably won’t deliver a big saving over the more familiar broadband + phone line rental combination.

At the end of the day you’d still have to pay something for the physical copper or aluminium line that BTOpenreach runs into your property and simply cutting out the voice component doesn’t make a huge difference to the overall price.

Never the less today’s update from the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA2), which usually doesn’t carry much of interest, also includes an interesting little report on the progress towards building SoGEA into a product. The mention of Sky Broadband’s product request is particularly noteworthy.

OTA2 July 2015 Update – SoGEA Progress

Openreach have been sharing their SOGEA design proposals with Industry via the CFPCG & a series of focus workshops.

For migrations scenarios (i.e. Consumer switching from existing WLR/MPF-based service to SOGEA-based ‘derived’ voice service with new CP), the initial design proposal to ‘parallel run’ the old & new services for up to 7 days, was rejected by Industry due to the conflicting contractual issues that would exist between the two CPs concerned and the consumer, during the period of parallel running. It was however agreed that the ‘parallel-running’ approach would work for a ‘same CP’ upgrade scenario.

In addition to the initial proposals from Openreach, Sky has now submitted an SOR for a SOGEA access product without the copper test leg but with a test capability provided within the cabinet. Other CP’s are reviewing their interest in this ask.”

A Statement of Requirement (SoR) is industry speak for when an ISP, such as Sky, formally requests the introduction of a new product or a change to an existing one. Mind you such requests often take a lot of time and there’s no guarantee that Openreach will accept it, although Ofcom can intervene if the ISP raises a concern. Sky were also one of the first major ISPs to adopt Openreach’s FTTC Self-Install product when it first emerged a couple of years ago.

A few years ago Sky also requested a new unbundled (LLU) superfast broadband (FTTC) product called SLU Bitstream (SLU = Sub-Loop Unbundled) that might have gone beyond the existing Virtual Unbundled Local Access (VULA) variant of FTTC (here). But so far little appears to have come of this and Sky seems to have moved on to focus their efforts into developing a new ultrafast FTTH/P network instead.

At the end of the day we’d still quite like to see what SoGEA might have to offer, although if the cost difference ends up amounting to a few pence then all the effort might well appear to have been wasted. On the other hand consumers ordering SoGEA would at least get one clear and hopefully simple price, which is a plus.

Separately the OTA2 report also notes that Ofcom’s new harmonised GPL NoT+ broadband and phone migration system, which launched on 20th June 2015, has so far suffered “no major issues“. Mind you we have seen some smaller problems, such as with migration requests that occur too fast and conflict when rented flats or houses change ownership.

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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