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BT Openreach Moot Replacement of all UK Master Sockets with NTE5C

Thursday, August 4th, 2016 (11:56 am) - Score 18,680

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.”

End.

Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar captain.cretin says:

    But is it any BETTER at doing its job than the old one??

    The suspicion has to be that this is easier/cheaper to work with/procure.

  2. Avatar Stuart Andrews says:

    The question I ask, is why is it under consideration replacing perfectly good NTE sockets for the new NTE5C.

    I’m suspicious,as they say there no smoke without fire,there is more to this NTE5C than we are being told.

    1. Avatar Jonny says:

      Surely it makes sense to replace them when Openreach techs come across the old style, so there’s no need to make multiple styles of accessory to fit on the lower half of the socket in the future.

      I’m not sure what there is to be suspicious about – it’s not active equipment.

    2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      I also think that there must be something extra functional about this swap. Swapping out something liken 28m master sockets preemptively (rather than on fault fix/installation visits) would be hugely expensive and manpower intensive. There are also bound to be some nasty surprises in the form of “non-standard” wiring to be found on the way.

  3. Avatar karl says:

    Looking at the user instructions will you be able to connect more than one set of phone extensions? Connectors of the self punch down type are normally very fussy if you shove more than a single wire in each connector in them, will be interesting how it performs with regards to that.

    Overall i like the design/look of it but function and performance will be what matters.

  4. Avatar joe pineapples says:

    Still on an old style single plate master socket here. I guess not having a micro-filter dangling down would be a good thing but we just had the decorating done so it must fit to the original (8.5 x 8.5cm) back housing 🙂

  5. Avatar Shilks says:

    I’ve just had one installed as my old external drop cable tested faulty and OpenReach fitted the new NTE 5C. My previous NTE dated from the early 1980’s – one of the smaller sockets (still in situ). I am of the opinion that there could have been so much more design thought given for those of us who prefer to have their sockets embedded into the wall in metal boxes (same as Mains sockets).
    With a few design tweaks the 5C could have been made much more adaptable and allowed for a much more flush fitting even on the surface mounted pattress (which being biased I do not like).
    I would have preferred to also have the option of screws on the front plate to stop children from being able to just take the front plate off the back box or they being accidentally knocked loose. Being able to feed extension cables from the back box rather than unsightly running down the front / skirting should also have been a design consideration. For something that could have been the size of a single light switch – the NTE 5C is a monster in size and protrudes far too much out of/from the wall. Especially so when it is on a surface mounted box.
    The one thing (only) I do like however is the toolless IDC sockets. One could argue that this is long overdue.
    A good user manual can be found here:- https://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/helpandsupport/how-toguides/howtoguides/downloads/NTE5C_Instructions_CP.pdf

    Hopefully in time a smaller, less protruding 5D/5E will be forthcoming. Something half or 3/4’s the size would be big enough for both a BT style plug and RJ11 / RJ45 to sit along side each other.
    I can see myself having to drill holes in the back plate to get the telephone extension cable to feed from behind the back plate onto the front of the backplate onto the (clear in my case) extension IDC terminal.
    It would be interesting to find out what the design criteria was for these. Seems as though little to no thought went into
    1. Vacuum cleaners or accidentally knocking the face plate
    2. Children pulling them off.
    3. Internal extension cables coming from the back.
    4. The huge protrusion of the whole unit once a twin BT / ADSL adaptor is used.
    It could have been designed soooooo much better from a Customers aesthetic perspective without compromising the speed and efficiency of the initial installation.
    I am personally underwhelmed at the design. A great opportunity missed.

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