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BT Confirm UK Trial Areas for SoGEA Standalone FTTC “Fibre Broadband”

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 (10:56 am) - Score 17,816

BT has published the first concrete trial locations and technical details for their forthcoming Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SOGEA) product, which is a naked VDSL style service that allows you to order a standalone superfast “fibre broadband” (FTTC) line without needing a phone (voice) service.

At present anybody taking a standard copper ADSL or VDSL (Fibre-to-the-Cabinet) based “fibre broadband” connection on BTOpenreach’s national UK telecoms network, which is used by most of the markets major ISPs, knows that you first have to have a working copper phone line (costs anything from £10 to £18 per month on top of the broadband fee).

However a growing number of consumers no longer use their fixed phone lines for anything except Internet connectivity (most of us prefer to use our Mobile and or VoIP) and as such some ISPs, such as Sky Broadband and AAISP, have been calling for a new broadband-only service.

The SOGEA product is BT’s solution (more details here and here), although it’s critical to note that removing the phone (voice) side of the service doesn’t completely remove the full impact of line rental because you still have to pay for the physical copper line that enters your property. As such the cost vs benefit of SoGEA over a traditional broadband + phone combo isn’t expected to be huge.

BT’s Latest SOGEA Description

Single Order GEA (SOGEA) is a data-only GEA-FTTC product that will be self-contained, hide complexity by including the copper bearer, and could be conveniently purchased through a single order.

• is an addition to the Openreach product portfolio and not intended to replace any existing product choices;
• uses the same Ethernet characteristics as currently available from GEA-FTTC products;
• is supplied with its own copper bearer that would terminate in the exchange and not with MPF or WLR equipment;
• is available as a new provide or migration from/to existing products or product combinations;
• will accommodate the industry geographic number port process in the order and provision process;
• requires any voice service to be provided entirely by VoIP from a service provider.

Openreach are now pressing ahead with the service and the first technical trials are already expected to begin during early 2016 (several ISP / CP trials will also be conducted during 2016), which will be followed by a major pilot. Assuming all goes well then SoGEA might finally become a commercial product for ISPs in 2017.

The good news is that BT has now published a technical document for SoGEA (SIN 517 v1), which reveals a number of interesting new details about the service and that includes its trial locations.

Technical Trial
• Swansea, Ipswich, Brentwood (TBC), Thurso, Newcastle, Leeds

CP Trial 1
• London
• North West (Manchester, Merseyside)
• Midlands (Birmingham)
• Yorkshire (Leeds, York)
• Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh)

CP Trial 2 and Pilot locations to be confirmed.

The document confirms that ISPs will also need to supply SoGEA customers with a broadband VDSL (FTTC) router that may also include support for analogue telephony (ATA), which would for example make it possible for you to connect your phone / handset into the router and use a VoIP / phone service for calling. Many routers already support this, but not all of those currently being supplied by ISPs do.

SOGEA is generally expected to be a self install (PCP-only) provision with CPE Enablement (ie CP provided modem/router with integrated ATA if required) with NTE5C faceplate where a SOGEA isolation faceplate is required for voice reinjection. The service will not be supported if an Openreach modem is connected in the customer premise. Appointed install options will also be available, including installation of NTE5c and faceplate where required, but will require a CP modem,” says BT.

It’s clearly noted that the SoGEA service will be available as either a managed install or customer self-install, much like current FTTC packages. However if the ISP finds that “voice reinjection around a customer’s existing homewiring is required” then Openreach will need to provide a special SOGEA faceplate that will only fit the new style NTE5C backplate (this relates to your BT Master Socket).

Customer premises that do not have a NTE5C will require that their existing NTE is replaced with a NTE5C. You can get an idea of how BT envisages this setup working below, which appears to be much the same as using a normal VoIP equipped router. Otherwise we should get more details next year.


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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.
Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. JamesM says:

    Swansea. so close but no Cigar – come to Cardiff Mun!

  2. GNewton says:

    What exactly is there to be trialled? AAISP has been offering naked VDSL for quite a while now, using BTs local loop infrastructure.

    1. TheManStan says:

      I believe their product is “in addition to”, so a company or individual would have a telephony service and would add another copper for VDSL or for bonding.

    2. MikeW says:

      What A&A sells to you bears little resemblance to what they need to order from BT, or the processes they have to go through.

      The BT systems, which ISPs use to order broadband, are designed to require broadband orders to have associated voice lines, or simultaneous orders for those lines.

      Those systems need rewriting, and the new order process needs to cope with a variety of migrations that don’t exist today. The test processes need to work without a voice service, and unterminated MDF connections.

      The BTW back end systems get updates every quarter, and appear to have changes for different aspects of SOGEA due every quarter from now until 2017.

      All those changes need trialling. But they also need using.

      Using the BTW changes requires matching changes in ISPs own internal systems. Those need to be tested too. Live trials help there, and provides opportunity for ISP staff to be trained up.

      And all of that needs to happen before ISPs can sell the service.

      I know the commentors on this site love to bash BT left, right and centre. But bashing a perfectly normal part of the process of introducing large-scale software systems seems just a little, well, petty. Story mentions BT? Must bash!

    3. Big Geoff Mitchell says:

      [Admin note: removed post due to breaking our personal abuse rule]

    4. Big Geoff Mitchell says:

      Personal abuse? I said that GNewton was showing a lack of knowledge just as most of his rants do. It was not personal abuse.

    5. GNewton says:

      According to AAISP:

      “We can provide a copper pair specially for broadband for £12 pcm. Installing a new copper pair is £60†. This is sometimes referred to as “Naked DSL” in that there is no telephone service as such, and no need to separately purchase a phone line to have the broadband service.”

      I know of a customer who ordered a naked VDSL from AAISP, and this caused quite some confusion with the local BT engineer who installed the line because it had no voice service, but he had special testing equipment just for the VDSL signal only and eventually managed to get the job done.

      If I understand MikeW correctly BT is mainly testing the changes needed to its software for providing or processing naked VDSL.

    6. FibreFred says:

      Software and ordering process, as per previous trials.

      The end to end process needs trialing, not just tech, there has to be a sales/implementation/support wrap around what you buy.

      Again lack of understanding of what goes into a “product”, I think you struggle with understanding a mass production item. It probably explains a lot of things and why you criticize what you do, you only see a small part of a bigger picture.

      Over simplification.

    7. GNewton says:

      @FibreFred: I haven’t criticized anybody. Your emotional attachment to anything involving BT does comes across as strange to many readers here and can cloud your judgement.

      Naked DSL is nothing new, it has been available in many countries, and even with some ISPs in the UK, so it good to see BT finally catching up a bit.

  3. cyclope says:

    As i live in one of these trial areas, i’m interested in saving some cash , but like many i already have FTTC So how do i apply to this,? As yet again this assumption that everyone uses the same CP for voice and data services or uses one of the mass market providers

  4. cyclope says:

    Also why the need for a router with an ATA? the customer may use a software solution on their computer for VOIP , they may not be interested in VOIP ? by them forcing this makes it a con

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