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BT Openreach Trial 18Mbps FTTC Broadband Speed for Slow ADSL Lines

Friday, April 15th, 2016 (1:35 pm) - Score 3,833

Openreach (BT) has today launched a new low tier bandwidth product for their Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL) based “fibre broadband” services, which offers download speeds of up to 18Mbps (2Mbps uploads) for those stuck on slow speed ADSL lines.

The new product option may seem odd, but Openreach sees it as a way to make FTTC packages more attractive to those who might wish for something faster than the old ‘up to’ 8-20Mbps ADSL / ADSL2+ products, but who would otherwise not be willing the pay the extra. Similarly it may eventually help to encourage the eventual replacement of ADSL services.

At present Openreach’s entry-level 40Mbps (2Mbps upload) FTTC tier costs the equivalent of £6.90 +vat per month (this is just the raw wholesale rental and ISPs have to add extra costs, VAT and data usage etc.). But as a general rule most retail FTTC packages from ISPs of the 40Mbps speed tier will usually attract a c.£10 per month premium over ADSL options.

However the new 18Mbps tier looks to shrink the gap between FTTC and ADSL prices and as such it will come with a “special offer” price of £48 +vat per annum, which works out as about £4 +vat per month for ISPs and that’s a big saving over the 40Mbps tier; albeit still reflecting notably slower download speeds (this puts it in the same sort of cost ballpark as an ADSL line).

Openreach Statement

This briefing contains more information on our trial and special offer for our new GEA FTTC 18/2 Mbps product for slow speed ADSL lines. This product will be available at a lower monthly price than the standard GEA service. We expect this will assist CPs in creating options to uplift customers who currently receive a poor ADSL experience. We will be launching the trial and special offer on 15 June [2016] and it will be available for six months on our standard GEA FTTC terms, conditions and prices subject to the changes we refer to below.


The special offer pricing will only be available for those end customers with slow lines that we can identify on eligible cabinets. We are expected to publish details of those initial cabinets and eligible lines on 15 April 2016. While we hold the right to modify cabinet eligibility lists, we do not expect to remove eligible cabinets once published and approved for special offer. The special offer is not available to SIM only provides.


The special offer will only be available for new orders we receive for slow lines during the six month special offer period, which will run from 15 June until 14 December 2016, inclusive.

Service Level Agreements

During the special offer period only repair and “delivered in a non-operational state” SLGs will apply.

However the standard FTTC connection charges will continue to apply unless the customer can meet the requirements for bulk install by placing three or more orders on the same qualifying cabinet for the same day, at which point it would attract a charge of just £15.00 +vat per connection.

Consumers who find they’re able to benefit from the new 18Mbps product have been told that the current pricing will remain in effect even after the special offer period expires, although Openreach could still change the pricing if it wanted. Apparently the minimum period of service for the special offer product will also be 9 months.

At the time of writing no ISPs have confirmed that they will adopt the new tier, although it usually takes a few months before that happens (as per the new 55Mbps tier) and in any case the special offer period isn’t due to begin until 15th June 2016.

Of course this won’t help much if both your ADSL and VDSL line speeds are both dreadfully slow, as does happen in a few areas.

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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.
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21 Responses
  1. adslmax Real says:

    FTTC 80/20
    FTTC 55/10
    FTTC 18/2

    When are we seeing FTTC 110/30?

    1. Ignition says:

      We aren’t.

      Hope that helps.

    2. Matt McLaren says:

      You mean:


      following the pattern of last nights unvieling, I would say 76/19 could become 104/19

      Though I would of rather seen 52/14.7 meaning a new unvielment of 104/29.4…

      I wouldn’t expect much anytime soon though, advertising rules means providers can’t advertise headline speeds if atleast 10% of the customers can acheive them and I’m sure their ins’t enough people able to acheive that.

    3. Ignition says:

      FTTC isn’t going higher, BT are not going to push vectoring out to all cabinets to make it go higher.

      They’re running with G.fast and some, more likely very little based on past form, FTTP.

      Don’t worry about it, ADSLMax, I understood you were moving to an FTTP area so should be all set.

      Matt – a block of flats like yours should be good for a G.fast node in the basement if the landlord is reasonable.

  2. Steve Jones says:

    Targeted head on at migrating LLU ADSL users on slow lines. Will the TalkTalk & Sky bite and undermine some of their own revenues? Clearly it’s an easier decision for users of the BTW exchange ADSL services. If (say) Plusnet can start offering 18mbps speeds to those on longish LLU lines with modest speeds for just a few pounds more, it might cause some to migrates.

    1. Sunil Sood says:

      BT Wholesale said some time ago that they wouldn’t be participating in the 18/2 trial..

    2. Lee says:

      I suspect that may change if they get pressure from their customers (ISP’s) to start offering it.

  3. Alasdair says:

    Will this extend the length of line over which they’ll accept orders for VDSL or is it just a cheaper entry point for those who won’t get more than 18Mbit/s anyway?

    1. Lee says:

      No, it looks like it’s to tempt those on slow ADSL lines onto VDSL but without the jump in monthly costs that FTTC connections attract.

    2. Al says:

      Usually attract, I’ve finally gone live for Fibre and my monthly cost is actually lower than I was paying for my ADSL connection.

  4. Henry says:

    I am on a slow ADSL line: 4 Mbit/s down and 0.4 up on a good day, 1 down and an internet destroying 0.01 up on a bad day.

    But this Openreach offer is not aimed at me, because I am one of thousands on long EO lines in Rotherhithe in inner London.

    This looks as if it is more aimed at slow VDSL lines, presumably to support BT Retail’s “Unlimited Faster Broadband” product and similar services from other ISPs for those too far from their cabinet to get superfast speeds but close enough to get some VDSL.

    1. Lee says:

      I think it’s aimed as slow ADSL lines that have FTTC available but don’t want pay the additional charges that an FTTC connection attracts (typically around £7-10 per month more). They may however be willing to swap to an 18/2 service if it was only £2 a month more expensive for example, regardless of what speed their line could achieve on VDSL2.

      Openreach haven’t defined what a “poor ADSL experience” is though.

  5. Adam says:

    I think this is aimed at longer lines so BT can switch off their ADSL and ADSL2+ legacy kit, and get the entire country onto fibre optic broadband (hybrid).

    This will actually save them money in the long run, only downside they will need nationwide coverage of fttc in order for this to actually work. And there will need to be a big push by ISPS to do this.

  6. themanstan says:

    Isn´t this a prelude product for 10 Mbps USO?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      No, the USO needs new technology to extend the reach of fixed line broadband, while all this does is add another profile to FTTC’s existing limitations.

    2. themanstan says:

      Long reach VDSL that has been bandied as the solution needs the ADSL bands, so this price point would allow migration of customers off the ADSL products and release those frequencies that are needed.

  7. dragoneast says:

    In my urban-fringe village, generally, residents without kids have mostly stayed on the c.3Mbps ADSL rather than upgrade to the 30+ Mbps VDSL. Don’t know if they’d be eligible for this offer, but I’m not sure it’d tempt them. They seem quite happy. Even if BT gave the upgrade away for free! I suspect may be for good reason: more speed would just be an excuse to spend (or waste) more money by subscribing to this and that. (Even though they could well afford it).

  8. Ignition says:

    TalkTalk and Sky aren’t going to pursue this I don’t think.

    They really, really don’t want to see their MPF market eroded.

    1. MikeW says:

      And BTW have said that the trial restrictions mean they won’t take part. Who is left?

      Perhaps it is focussed at small, local ISPs who can target the specific “eligible cabinet” areas.

      Perhaps it allows smaller ISPs to compete with LLU? Perhaps it will be targetted at cabinets that have no LLU offering.

      I guess we can speculate some more when the cabinet list gets made public…

  9. New_Londoner says:

    I suspect the improved upstream speed may well tempt some on ADSL, even if they don’t really need faster downstream. I doubt Sky and TalkTalk will rush at this, unless of course the market forces them to.

    When combined with long reach VDSL you can see a route to ADSL being withdrawn at some point.

  10. Steve P says:

    Could be interesting to me (if available).
    I’m 5km from my cabinet, which has just been upgraded to support FTTC, but cannot order a VDSL service as the line length is too long.
    I currently get 1mb down (0.1 up) from ADSL, and would happily pay an extra £4 a month – even if it ‘only’ took me to 2mb down. This would still be stone-age service, but would be double the current speed.
    I am in a BDUK (Superfast Cymru for me) intervention area, so not sure what their plan is (if any) for improving my service. I’m not listed on the ‘white postcodes’ set – so am not covered by infill efforts. Worried we are in a gap between those supposedly covered by intervention areas and those covered by a postcode whitelist.

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