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BT Openreach Moot Replacement of all UK Master Sockets with NTE5C

Thursday, Aug 4th, 2016 (11:56 am) - Score 21,080

Openreach (BT) has confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that they will start to introduce their new wall-mounted NTE5C Master Socket from the end of this summer 2016, which could make life a lot easier both for consumers who like to tinker and for the operator’s own engineers.

The Master Socket, which is a fairly characterless cream coloured box with a removable bottom faceplate and often an Openreach or BT logo at the top, typically represents the first point inside your home or office for connecting to Openreach’s outside copper cable (it’s the best place to plug-in your broadband router).

Openreach engineers currently claim to install around 50,000 such sockets every single week, often as part of new provisions or repairs. Over the years its design has been improved, such as to include enhanced filtering to limit interference, but the general look and feel has remained the same.

By comparison the new curvy NTE5C design first came to our attention last year after it was mentioned as part of Openreach’s future SOGEA standalone VDSL (FTTC) “fibre broadband” trials (here and here) and we were finally able to flesh it out in more detail during February 2016 (here).

The new socket adopts a “Tool Less” design (no screwdriver / screws required) and colour coding to make it simpler to service. Similarly the home wiring is no longer connected to the faceplate, which again makes it even easier to swap the front according to the service being installed.

A couple of months ago we learnt that the NTE5C was about to move out of trial and enter general circulation, with 3,000 engineers working on installation and repair activities (here). A new VDSL Mark 4 filter will also accompany the extra kit, where needed, and we’re expecting the national roll-out to begin next month.

Openreach has now published user instructions for the new socket and interestingly they are considering whether to conduct a “replacement of all [old NTE] sockets” with the new NTE5C. Naturally this would only occur as part of an engineer visit, such as when having a new service installed or a repair conducted.

Carl McCullagh, BTOR’s Operational Readiness Manager, said:

“We’ve informed all communication providers about the new socket and used extensive feedback from engineers and customers to design it.

Our goal is to enhance customer service. So, when a customer calls about a fault and is asked to check their own wiring, they won’t have to crawl about on their hands and knees using a screwdriver to detach the front cover.

The new socket will be standard issue by the end of the summer. Openreach will replace the NTE socket in the majority of customer visits, but replacement of all sockets is also under consideration.

The new design means that faceplates can be easily removed and replaced which makes it easy for customers to self-install a new faceplate if needed. This could greatly reduce engineers’ visits to customers.”


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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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