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UK ISPs Mute on Support for New 55Mbps FTTC Broadband Product

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016 (8:35 am) - Score 1,836
fttc bt openreach mastersocket

Some Internet providers appear to have been left confused and uncertain about whether to adopt BTOpenreach’s new Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL) product, which launched last Saturday and offers superfast broadband download speeds of ‘up to’ 55Mbps and uploads of 10Mbps.

The new middle product tier, which went live on 16th January 2016, was first unveiled in December 2015 (full details) and sits roughly in the middle of Openreach’s existing ‘up to’ 40Mbps (2-10Mbps uploads) and ‘up to’ 80Mbps (20Mbps uploads) focused FTTC profiles. But for the time being none of the ISPs we spoke with were able to confirm whether they would ever adopt it.

Generally a lot of other countries that sell VDSL broadband solutions tend to adopt a 50Mbps tier as their main solution and such a profile would be achievable for a large number of UK premises, much more so than the top 80Mbps profile that is harder to reach unless you live very close to your local street cabinet.

Never the less Openreach’s aim with the new product was to “increase the choice of speeds available for end customers and enhance the options available to our CPs“. In keeping with this we were keen to find out what ISPs thought of the new tier, as well as if any planned to adopt it.

It is all rather silly,” said the first reply from Andrews and Arnold’s (AAISP) boss Adrian Kennard, before adding that they might still look at the service if customers started demanding it (unlikely to happen given that most won’t even know of its existence).

Meanwhile Sky Broadband simply gave a “no comment” and BT Consumer responded to say that they were “currently reviewing [their] options.” It’s been suggested that BT might be the most likely candidate for the new service given that their IPTV (YouView) based Ultra HD TV product recommends a download speed of 44Mbps to allow extra headroom for other services (here).

Elsewhere TalkTalk added that they didn’t have anything to say and would let us know if that changed, while PlusNet separately mirrored part of BT’s reply by saying they were “reviewing [our] options, we always look to ensure our customers get the very best products and packages.”

Finally Zen Internet similarly added that they, “have no plans to offer a service based on the new 55Mbps profile. That’s not to say we will never offer a service, we may well do so at some point, we just have no plans currently.” Interestingly Zen noted that 65% of customers buying their services had opted for a package based on the 80Mbps profile, which is in stark contrast to other ISPs where 40Mbps is often more popular.

On the other hand it may be an attempt to match Virgin Media’s entry-level 50Mbps product, but that only works if ISPs get behind it and in any case Virgin’s entry-level package won’t stay at 50Mbps for long (an upgrade path to 70Mbps already exists for current customers).

None of this is to say that ISPs won’t start offering a 55Mbps product option in the future and indeed we have to assume that some must have expressed such an interest in order for the new tier to be introduced, although so far the reactions have been somewhat tepid. Meanwhile we have heard from some consumers with an interest in the new product, but it’s difficult to know how significant this is. Time for a snap poll (news posts are cached so you might not see the latest results for a few hours).

Assuming FTTC at up to 80Mbps could work on your line and alternatives were not available, which would you choose (each faster tier is slightly more expensive)?

  • 80Mbps (20Mbps upload) (65%, 212 Votes)
  • 55Mbps (10Mbps upload) (17%, 54 Votes)
  • 40Mbps (10Mbps upload) (14%, 44 Votes)
  • 40Mbps (2Mbps upload) (5%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 325

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Paul W

    Purely from a selfish point of veiw, it’s a shame this new speed profile isn’t being more widely adopted. When I was on the 80Mbps tier with Plusnet, I only got 55Mbps download and 11.5Mbps upload, so this would new tier would be perfect for me. I’d also be willing to pay a slight premium for this new tier, over an ISP’s 38Mbps basic FTTC service. However, looks like I’m in the minority here, according to the ISPs.

  2. Avatar David Hoffman

    It seems odd that there is no 60/15 option.

  3. This wasn’t produced for ISPs to offer a new broadband tier, but to allow 4k video at a lower price than the 80/20 product.

    40Mb / 60Mb / 80Mb would be a little silly.

    • Avatar Paul W

      Thanks for the clarification. It seems a shame that we can’t go 50Mb / 80Mb though, but then I suppose they’d be less incentive for customers to upgrade to the faster tier.

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