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

Friday, March 31st, 2017 (1:29 pm) - Score 1,855
slow internet download

Openreach (BT) has today announced that the on-going ISP trial of their new 18Mbps (2Mbps upload) Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) product, which is designed to help people stuck on slow ADSL based pure copper broadband lines, has been extended until 30th October 2017.

The new product, which was first introduced a year ago (here), is designed to act as an uplift path for existing ADSL (up to 8Mbps) and ADSL2+ (up to 20Mbps) based copper broadband lines, specifically those where your current speeds are sub-10Mbps. Related connections are still used by a little over half of the country, including in many areas where faster FTTC (VDSL2) based “fibre broadband” services are now available.

However a lot of people who could order an FTTC service from their ISP may often choose not to do so because sometimes the speed uplift vs ADSL is simply too small (i.e. FTTC speeds can fall a lot lower than headline levels) and this makes the extra cost unattractive (FTTC tends to add a +£5-15 per month premium).

As a response to that Openreach introduced the new 18Mbps tier, which costs providers £4 +vat per month (the cheapest 40Mbps tier is £6.90) at wholesale and that puts it at a slightly more expensive level than the more traditional ADSL2+ based services. Under the plan this was due to be trialled until 31st March 2017 but the trial has now been extended until 30th October 2017.

Openreach Statement

Existing customers on 18/2Mbps can continue to use this product, while for new customers there will be a temporary halt in availability of 18/2 product, except for customers being migrated from the Chelsea exchange.

For new customers, we plan to reintroduce a special offer on slow line regrades to 18/2Mbps in the coming weeks.

So far Sky Broadband are the only ISP that has openly confirmed their participation in the trial via the Sky Fibre Lite product (here), which involves about 20,000 of their subscribers. Unfortunately the announcement doesn’t say why Openreach needs to extend this trial again, although we have asked them and are awaiting a response.

Products like this one may also come in handy for areas where Openreach might need to switch-off existing ADSL services in order to encourage locals to adopt Long Reach VDSL (LR-VDSL) technology (details).

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Mark Jackson
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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12 Responses
  1. Avatar dave

    Openreach should make this available for all FTTC enabled cabinets and disable adsl on those cabinets and just leave adsl enabled on non-fftc cabinets.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      That would make sense, but Openreach has no power to make unilateral decisions like that. It would require a new frequency plan/power mask and support for the MPF product to support ADSL on the affected lines would have to be approved. The NICC (which is an independent body sanctioned by Ofcom) could do the technical stuff, but Ofcom would have to sanction the modification of the specification of the MPF product (let’s call it MPF sans ADSL) as it would have commercial and financial considerations. Not just to LLU ADSL operators, but customers of BT wholesale’s ADSL products.

      There would also have to be a migration process which would mean uplifts to customer ADSL equipment, which somebody would have to pay for.

    • Avatar gerarda

      dave – so no one beyond a mile or so from the cabinet will be able to get any broadband at all? – great idea!

    • Avatar REGIS

      Its been suggested before that if adsl was retired then the vdsl signal could be increased and reach lots more people. vdsl does not run at full speed because of the need to keep compatibility with adsl.

      A work assosiate gets 5Mb on adsl (to far away from the cab) and yet can get 69Mb on her mobile via ee, if they did decent data packs (her words) then she would drop adsl in a heart beat.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @gerarda

      If service was to be from the cabinet, then the ADSL frequencies would be re-used, which is essentially what LR-VDSL does. The reach from the cabinet will then be similar to that from seen from the exchange. That means anybody on an ADSL line from the exchange would get a faster services from their local cabinet as long as the ANFP was revised to allow for a new frequency plan and power masking.

      This is hardly new and has been extensively covered, including the current trials.

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2016/08/bt-reveal-tech-details-expanded-long-reach-vdsl-broadband-trial.html

  2. Avatar Dave

    That’s good cut me off all together, Most of the time I would not notice anyway

    • Avatar dave

      You might want to consider 4G. You can get 20GB data limit for around £10-15 on hotukdeals put the sim in a 4g router. Speeds will be over 30Mbps. You probably can’t download a huge amount on a 1-2mbps adsl.

  3. Avatar George

    Maybe a daft question (probably!) but the cabinet has to be enabled as well to get this up lift? The reason I ask is that in the Forest of Dean (SSLOP exchange) a number of cabinets were bypassed (passed in most cases) and were not upgraded to fibre during phase 1 of the roll out and it looks as though only 2/3 of the remaining non enabled cabinet areas (based on info on this site and a rather (cards to the chest email) from Fastershire) will get Gigaclear. If there must be an enabled cabinet what else can I/We in the area do – most of us have sub 4Mbs.

    Thank you

  4. Avatar eM

    By mistake, I’ve been put on a 18/2 tier on Plusnet after they sent out an engineer to fix my line. They couldn’t change it remotely so had to send out another engineer to get me back on 40/2 tier.
    On BT’s DSL checker page, my cab does show 18/2 sim provide availability, but not the other column.

  5. Avatar Tim

    Am I correct in assuming that the extension of the trial = delay in general introduction? If so this is bad news for anyone with slow broadband.

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