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Clearing Up the Confusion Over BT Business and FTTPoD Broadband

Friday, March 17th, 2017 (8:58 am) - Score 7,085

Front line customer service staff at the biggest ISPs aren’t always the most knowledgeable of people. One such example occurred recently when a member of BT Business’s Twitter care team informed a potential customer that they couldn’t have ‘FTTP on Demand’ because the Government had “pulled” it.

In fairness it’s easy to get native Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) broadband services confused with FTTP-on-Demand (FTTPoD or FoD) as the two solutions work in identical ways, although their cost, contract and deployment methods are significantly different. In a native FTTP setup the fibre optic cable should already be running outside your property (e.g. down your street), which makes it fairly quick and inexpensive to get connected.

By comparison FTTPoD is designed to be requested (‘on demand‘) in FTTC capable areas where Openreach’s pure fibre optic cables have yet to reach, which in some cases will attract significant distance based construction charges (civil works) worth thousands of pounds (we’ve seen quotes of nearly £18k from some ISPs but that’s extreme). On top of that you also pay significantly more for the monthly rental + connection fee and there’s a 36 month contract.


The high cost, which in some cases can run close to the level of a leased line (albeit often without some of the same service level), has limited uptake and ISPs have found it difficult to position within their product portfolios. As a result we only know of a few ISPs that offer it (e.g. Spectrum Internet, Interoute and FluidOne) and two of those only sell it in specific parts of the UK.

Initially BT Business had also offered FTTPoD (Infinity Fibre on Demand) but this ended up being shelved after a “stop sell” was put on new orders by BTWholesale a few years ago. So far as we’re aware BT Biz didn’t reinstate it, at least not for long, after the “stop sell” was lifted last year (here). Never the less the product continues to show on the ISP’s pricing sheets (here and here).

However sometimes the provider’s support teams seem to get confused or have simply been given the wrong information, much as we recently discovered (reminder: BT Business does not currently do FTTPoD). We’ve seen examples where this confusion has also occurred over the phone.

Other people have found it similarly difficult to get a clear answer, often being told two completely different things depending on which day or time of the week they ask. Certainly one of the most unusual responses was this one, which was shared with us by a perplexed user.

bt business care twitter fttpod

Sometimes there can be issues with FTTPoD availability in certain locations, which might hamper the ability to proceed with an order. However some ISPs, such as FluidOne, appear to have more luck with getting around those issues than others. Never the less FTTPoD as a product has NOT been “pulled” by the government and we have recently seen a tiny number of installations proceeding.

Openreach have similarly confirmed to ISPreview that FTTPoD is still taking orders. Separately, after two long weeks of repeatedly trying to get a response, BT Business has also been able to confirm that “the customer was given inaccurate information by one of our customer service agents, for which we apologise.”

The ISP stated that they had decided to stop offering their BT Business Infinity on Demand product “due to low demand” and have instead chosen to continue focusing upon their dedicated ultrafast Ethernet products instead; much like most other ISPs.

If anybody else out there has a story of something silly that they’ve been told by an ISP’s customer support / service / sales agent then please do share, preferably with evidence of the original conversation.

Leave a Comment
60 Responses
  1. Avatar baby_frogmella says:

    Totally agree with the confusion surrounding FTTPoD at BT Business. I was even given a FTTPoD contract to sign at BTB, with a peculiar price of £150 pm on a 24 month contract…with zero construction/setup charges LOL. Unsurprisingly, a week or two later they couldn’t process the order and reneged on the agreement.

    In the end I went with Fluidone (aka Fluidata), obviously it wasn’t cheap – £300 pm & £3700 in setup costs – but the service will be installed in a few weeks after the survey was done earlier in the week.

    AFAIK Fluidone are the only ISP currently offering the Openreach based 330/30 FTTPoD.

  2. Avatar NGA for all says:

    The article is helpful is so far as it shows the ambiguity. It was done for the Government and then withdrawn!

    If, say 4 customers order it together and can be served from 1 splitter, why can it not be ‘native’ FTTP with perhaps a connection charge reflecting the length of the final drop.

    You have a good example in Staffs I think where some 16-18 customers ordered a fibre extension beyond the cabinet. This is FoD but they use the same components (mostly) to build a small FTTP GPON solution.

    Every BDUK contract have a requirement for the infrastructure to be extended in the manner above and was budgetted accordingly – hence the so called savings. VDSL is not a panacea and the contracts can only be met using VDSL if your allowed a larger of pool of customers from which the more difficult are excluded, hence the widespread reductions of the BT commercial footprint during Phase 2 OMR.

    Mark – The BT promises are matter of public record, but the means by which orders can be taken and delivered needs a bit more work. Staffordshire have provided a lead and there are others.

    Underspends, clawback, and ‘full fibre’ vouchers (+ a capital contribution from BT referenced in WLA 2017) suggests a need to be combined in a manner that orders can be lined up. We might have to start doing the easier ones first. Cascaded procurements stops and a new demand led process starts.

    It is either this or a stack of money is returned to Treasury and we start again with some badly framed USO.

    1. Avatar AndyH says:

      Why do you keep referring to FTTP and cabinets? There is no connection or link – they are completely independent builds.

      You cannot have a ‘demand led’ FTTP/FoD build with public funding, it falls foul of state aid rules!

    2. Avatar Chris P says:


      From your comments it’s clear you should setup your own fttp only isp specialising in cheap connectivity for the masses.
      You keep coming up with obvious cost saving solutions that some how the incumbents have over looked how clever if you. I can see a knighthood coming your way for services to the uk internet community.

    3. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @ChrisP – BT are already delivering small FTTP clusters in many places and in some deeply unlikely places. It is not cheap, but it is not impossible either. I think it is just practice and using the money available to get another 500k premises done.

      The scrutiny on the costs means Phase 2/3 can add another 100k FTTP and the Capital Deferrals of £325m is there to be used. The scrutiny on the BT’s capital will release more funds to that effort from the grip of BT Group and that Deferral will grow quarter by quarter.

      Keep building or the money is given back to Treasury. They do not want it back, but it was not to be grazed upon.

  3. Avatar NGA for all says:

    Perhaps the question ought to be the following?

    As the Cabinet rollout is exhausted, how do we organise for the construction of lots of small FTTP GPON access networks.

    FoD provides a reference point so FoD GPON (sorry AndyH) is a minimum of 4 customers off a splitter.

    The opportunity cost for BT might be too high to make it affordable so perhaps some direction relationship with qualified contractors is needed working some OR template.

    1. Avatar AndyH says:

      NGA – “lots of small FTTP GPON access networks”…as a consultant, please explain how on earth this would even be remotely cost effective?

    2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      It’s conceivable that GPON splitter nodes could be put into some business parks where there are fibre distribution points nearby with the final connection cost being picked up by the customer. The problem would be the business case. Unless there was a differential wholesale cost for OR business GPON in such circumstances, then it would be difficult for OR to make the business case. I suppose a business-orientated ISP might be able to commission it – a company like Warwicknet might be interested provided that they have a monopoly over that GPON node (as they do with their dedicated FTTC cabinets).

      So there may be opportunities for OR to offer such dedicated GPON nodes as a product for business-orientated ISPs, but it might run into issues about common wholesaling. That said, if this “dedicated business GPON” node was to be a wholesale product available to all, the it might be viable, especially as it would be something of a premium product.

    3. Avatar CarlT says:

      I imagine this would be done via PIA and operators deploying their own fibre. Street cabinets can hold MSANs that deliver PON. No need to base anything on Openreach’s design. FoD is nothing exotic, it’s a standard PON build just done on demand rather than pre-emptively.

    4. Avatar Steve Jones says:


      There may be good reasons why a business ISP (or a business park owner) won’t want to lay and maintain their own fibre with all the issues that involves. If OR were to offer a “GPON node” product to ISPs then I can see advantages to them as well in that it does help maintain revenue including somewhere up the value chain than just providing a bit of ducting space.

      It’s certainly the sort of product that OR might wish to look at. Whether there’s sufficient ISP demand for it is unclear (but they should know their customers). It might overcome some of the issues of FTTPoD for business where, in effect, the first customer gets to bear, if not most, a disproportionate share of the construction costs. It would put some of the risk onto the ISP who, after all, have the selling capability to deal with businesses. OR does not have that capability (by regulation). It has to deal through service providers.

      There surely ought to be some way of aggregating demand for GPON nodes. This is one possibility, at least in business areas.

    5. Avatar AndyH says:

      @ Steve – This is what BT have done now in Bath, Bristol, Bradford, London and Manchester. They have built a large number of PONs in business/retail parks and high streets in those areas covering around 25k premises. This is native GEA-FTTP, so subject to the normal installation and monthly costs, but they are most likely targeting a higher take up percentage than we see for residential services as well as more likely higher product bandwidth variants.

    6. Avatar Steve Jones says:


      I was thinking more in terms of where a business case can’t be made for the normal GEA-FTTP product, which is subject to national pricing. Where or can make the business case for that then fine (but I imagine a lot have been done at the behest of BDUK local projects, so benefit from gap-funding).

      What I have in mind is something between FTTPoD and the standard GEA-FTTP product in terms of cost to businesses and allow the benefits of aggregation of demand but with flexible pricing which doesn’t fit well within the GEA-FTTP model.

    7. Avatar CarlT says:

      Hi Steve,

      Yes I get you and entirely agree. There does seem to be a huge gulf between the pre-built and on-demand FTTP products.

      There is.. kinda a solution. Self-funding of a small FTTP deployment can be done, although in my experience the costs per premise are insane.

      It would be in Openreach’s interests to have a more viable product for sure. Any time they can get some subsidy towards building out of FTTP it’s a bonus to them given, you’d assume, that many premises will have FTTP at some point.

    8. Avatar NGA for all says:

      AndyH, you wish to portray as two separate infrastructures when so much can be shared particularly in rural. The handover points have been paid for, the AGN’s have been paid for, the GPON switches are there, the COF 205’s can be shared but I guess you can lay more cable if you want.

      BT have installed significant numbers of small clusters of FTTP in Cumbria, Devon, Surrey, Wales. c7% of BDUK is FTTP and the budget is there to double that.

      The state aid is fixable. The Oxera report for instance records phase 1 as more than 5.6m NGA premises so even as originally notified we are 1m million short compared to the current reporting. Phase 1 BDUK seems to have lost 1m between Oxera (May 2015) and todays reporting.

      On WLA 2017 I hope we see a specific volume on FTTP with an incentive to invest to facilitate FoD2. It is interesting there is a FoD2 and the development is being with held.

    9. Avatar NGA for all says:

      AndyH – on costs. Currently the underlying cost recovery for PSTN new provides is £200. Ideally, WLA 2017 may create conditions where BT is incentivised to invest the first £500 with an associated volume, the rest will need to be a mix of remaining subsidies and customer connection fees.

      The real issue is resource and BT’s willingness to turn up and do more. If there is a benefit to the separation of OR, it might be this, but I cannot see the link. But WLA 2017 could help.

    10. Avatar CarlT says:

      This has already happened. Where premises are too far from the cabinet to receive the superfast speed in the contract Openreach have deployed FTTP. Still ongoing, too. This is a business as usual operation for BDUK projects, nothing arcane.

    11. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @CarlT It is happening in places, but every area needs to get in the habit of doing some so it can be productised further.

    12. Avatar AndyH says:

      @ NGA – What you have is a nationwide fibre footprint now, the building point for the future. You have two different technologies supplied off that fibre network: FTTC and FTTP. Both are very different in terms of how they are built/designed and deployed. You seem to imply that because someone lives near a fibre DSLAM, it makes for simple FTTP deployment – it doesn’t.

      We will not see widespread rural FTTP deployment any time soon. BT have made it clear their commercial investment in FTTP will be in areas where it makes economic sense: Businesses (business parks/retail parks/high streets) and Residential (New builds/MDUs/large urban areas). I don’t think any other telecom operator in BT’s position would do it differently.

      Rural FTTP deployment will be covered by BDUK and community led projects.

      BT have always made it clear that they will invest if it makes economic sense with the right regulatory conditions. I do believe we will see some form of FoD that requires investment by consumers, but is an affordable product. When this will be, I cannot say however.

      What is this “underlying cost recovery for PSTN”?

    13. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @AndyH – BT created have a footprint up to the AGNs and I guess it is a design issue if you include the CoF 205 to a chamber adjacent to the CaB.

      All I am suggesting is that with the funds available and the budget was designed for this, is that there is room to do another 100K FTTP in Phase2/3 (already planned) and monies exist in the underspends/ capital deferral and balances in each LA investment account to do another 500k premises.

      The scope of BDUK and the 18 months it took to gather the money together in the middle of a LA budget squeeze, did not mean another digital divide created by Cabinets. FoD was not over prescribed but the principle of extending fibre was described enough to be understood. The fibre footprint was to be extended as far as possible, not stopped because it was convenient to stop.

      A good job has been done overall and we do not salute the engineers enough, much budget is left which is why we can keep going if there is a will do so. But switching to a demand led approach may be needed, but there are plenty of examples.

      It is a success, but a bigger success is possible.

    14. Avatar Steve Jones says:


      It is clear that as gainshare/clawback and underspend comes back into the local BDUK projects it is being used to extend broadband coverage, and looking at the gap-funding per premises on the latest extension contracts, then it is clear that there must be a lot more FTTP involves (albeit that FTTC solutions involving network re-arrangement are also expensive as are small, remote cabinets). Just how much money will come back from re-investment that way, we won’t know for a while, but I can easily see it topping £500m – maybe more. I suppose that could be translated into about 400k FTTP premises given we’ve recently seen extension projects at around £1.2-1.3k per premises, but costs do tend to go up disproportionately as you get into that last 5 percentile of properties.

    15. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Steve Jones – Hallelujah! DCR states more fibre, the Minister wants ‘full fibre’ so here is a huge chunk of tricky, ugly bits – but mostly funded. All is needed is the wherewithal to stop some folk giving Treasury the opportunity to take the money away.

    16. Avatar Steve Jones says:


      There is no mechanism for the Treasury to take the money away if it is re-invested by the local BDUK programmes.

    17. Avatar CarlT says:

      The cash will go into FTTP I imagine much the same as it has been already. Nothing new, exotic or exciting here.

      Obviously it won’t go into overbuilding FTTC, except where FTTC is lower than the contract’s stated superfast aim.

      With this in mind I’m not sure what the relevance to FoD is. Openreach have been doing such FTTP uplifts of slower FTTC premises for a while now.

    18. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Steve, a proportion of the returned funds heads back to Central Gov. It is this bit that will be vanish. As the Capital Deferral grows and your forecasting at least £500m, then the amount will be large.

      SA. 40710 has nothing stating there is a £130m EU limit on clawback. This needs lifting. Can you provide a reference? Can Parliament or Select Committee unlock?

    19. Avatar CarlT says:

      Actually something I’m curious about is why you’d need to construct lots of small access networks. Could you explain that one please NGA?

    20. Avatar NGA for all says:

      CarlT – sorry phraseology, what I am attempting to describe are multiple ‘ribbons’ or extensions which are serviced by a suitably configured at the handover point.

      If there are now 78,000 cabs served from 1,300 handover points. Your now likely to be designing 1,200 overlay FTTP access networks, and these ribbon extensions I am attempting to describe form part of those networks, in-filling where the cabinets run of juice.

      Some swictches can be configured to support Ethernet for private cricuits, FTTP GPON and I assuming each CAB has a form of Ethernet -hence GEA. You can tell if in rural BT treble up on the kit or use one.

      The same applies to Gigaclear networks or can do.

    21. Avatar AndyH says:

      @ NGA

      Passive optical networks and point to point fibre networks are not interchangeable! They are built and terminated completely differently!

    22. Avatar NGA for all says:

      AndyH- who mentioned P2P fibre? Co-locating FTTC and FTTP-GPON is happening all the time, it is in BT network diagrams.

    23. Avatar AndyH says:

      @ NGA – “who mentioned P2P fibre?”

      Erm you did above?! You said “some swictches can be configured to support Ethernet for private cricuits, FTTP GPON and I assuming each CAB has a form of Ethernet -hence GEA” which is not correct. Ethernet circuits (P2P) and GPON are not interchangeable!

      “Co-locating FTTC and FTTP-GPON is happening all the time, it is in BT network diagrams.”

      You’re going to have to show us all these diagrams.

      You have been told multiple times before, that FTTC DSLAMs have an active 1Gig P2P ethernet connection (sometimes multiple 1GigE) that goes back to the OLT in the exchange. There is no PON involved at all with FTTC.

    24. Avatar NGA for all says:

      AndyH, Your being pedantic rather than being helpful. Your passives which account for most of the costs are shared. Switches can support both functions, the cabling to the AGN can be shared and it a matter of choice and design from there.

  4. Avatar Bill says:

    I thought we were on the verge of FOD2 which was supposed to address some of the issues with FOD… any news on that front?

    1. Avatar AndyH says:

      If it comes (which I hope it will), I think will be at the same time as the G.fast commercial rollout is announced. I don’t expect anything to come until OFCOM complete VULA though.

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      I’ve no idea about a different product but I’ve heard FoD based on connectorised fibre, as with the Swindon trial and the current brownfield deployments, is FoD 2. No change to pricing, just a lower deployment cost for Openreach.

    3. Avatar Lee says:

      If suh was the case it wouldn’t be called FoD2. The addtion of the 2 indicates it’s a different product. If it were just a cost trimming exercised for Openreach, surely it would still just be FoD.

    4. Avatar CarlT says:

      Openreach can call it whatever they want internally, doesn’t mean they have to change the name for external consumption.

  5. Avatar adslmax Real says:

    Pretty daft to have FTTP, FoD and FoD2. Too much confused. G.Fast are probably the better one to have it cheaper than FoD and FoD2.

  6. Avatar fastman says:

    Gfast is dependant on being on an enabled cab and that cab beinc close enough to you and the commericials of that cab warranting gfast — nothing to do with FOD in any shapr or form

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      Think his point, Sir, is that if you have the option of both, and I’m sure by now some do, FoD makes little sense.

      On that score he does have a point. When it’s more widely available it would make far more sense for a company to use G.fast as its primary solution with a lower bandwidth leased line as a backup than to buy FoD.

      FoD is not a business grade solution but comes at horrific prices. Taking into account the install fee it’s possible to get 100Mb leased lines for a lower cost of ownership over 3 years than 330/30 FoD now, which is ridiculous.

    2. Avatar AndyH says:

      It’s cheaper to get a 1Gig circuit installed now than FoD.

      Something has to change with FoD. Ethernet services have moved on and are very competitive, FoD is just too niche and expensive to be a mainstream product. I think it certainly has potential to be a mainstream premium FTTP option for residential and business end users, but at a price that makes sense for all parties.

    3. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @AndyH , apart from ESS what makes it premium? What component is not standard? The positioning and price is out of date but it was from the day it changed.

    4. Avatar AndyH says:

      @ NGA


      The fact that it is a custom built network for a single circuit makes it niche!

    5. Avatar NGA for all says:

      AndyH There is your problem. FoD as a single circuit is not even part of a Broadband Infrastructure. It is not a sustainable way of extending broadband.

      Before it became a circuit in 2013, what was it?

      FoD2 I hope takes us back to a demand led FTTP GPON service.

  7. Avatar baby_frogmella says:

    Perhaps a 1 gig leased line is cheaper than FoD if you live in centre of London/Manchester/Leeds but certainly not in Inverness. Here the cheapest quote for a 1 gig line is ~ £1300 pm whilst FoD 330/30 is £300 pm. No prizes for guessing which option I’ve gone for.

    1. Avatar AndyH says:

      The installation of a 1Gig line will most likely be cheaper for you (obviously the monthly cost is high for those outside of key areas).

    2. Avatar Bill says:

      Do tell… who is your ISP and are you happy with the service?

    3. Avatar baby_frogmella says:

      Signed up with Fluidone but currently waiting to have the FoD service installed – survey was carried out earlier in the week.

    4. Avatar Bill says:

      @baby_frogmella Thank you,

      It would be good to know what the service is like once you are all set up.

    5. Avatar baby_frogmella says:

      No worries Bill, I will leave feedback on thinkbroadband forums once my FoD service goes live.

    6. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @Baby-frog.. Did you just want a better Broadband connection or did you want a private circuit?

      Ae there others around in a similar position that could be served from a single splitter?

    7. Avatar baby_frogmella says:

      Yes, primarily wanted faster speeds and also to futureproof my connection. Did consider leased line but was put off by the very high monthly costs (4 digits).

      Neighbouring residents are content with ADSL2+ (18/1 meg) & VDSL2 (80/20 meg) speeds so not much appetite for FoD on my street. No idea if a new splitter will be installed for my service or if an existing one will be used.

    8. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @baby-frogmella Thanks even you find 3 others you could push the issue. I sure some BT folk would force FoD2 out on a trial.

    9. Avatar MikeW says:

      What makes you think there is something special about 4 premises off one splitter?

    10. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @bf – why did you want to ‘futureproof’ your connection?

    11. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Mike W – if we treat the single circuit FOD as something that was designed so no one would order it, 2013 -BT pulling away from FTTP, -G.Fast was the panacea.

      In the single circuit form it not compatible with the BDUK requirements or the state aid . It is not even Broadband. It is a private or partial private circuit, not something that should feature in any rural network architecture.

      What would be compatible and what is consistent with BT fibre architecture. FTTP-GPON extensions are.

      Why 4? Well it could be 10 or 20! But 4 because it not an unreasonable place to start. It is not unreasonable to take the current FOD costings(not prices, not the circuit) and divide that by 4 and use it as a proxy for FTTP_GPON extension.

      4, because that might be informing FOD2.

    12. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @NGA – the build to the property is the expensive bit so how does your divide by 4 work for 4 properties scattered across an area?

  8. Avatar baby_frogmella says:

    No worries Bill, I will post my FoD experience on the thinkbroadband.com forum once the service goes live.

  9. Avatar Rory McCune says:

    I’ve just started going down the Fluidata line as out in the Scottish Highlands any leased line option has a prohibitively high monthly cost. FoD (if it ends up being available) is likely to be £1000/month+ cheaper than a leased line out here, and will end up being almost the same price per month for 300/30 as I currently pay for 12/1 via 3 bonded ADSL2+ lines.

    Surprised to see only one ISP interested in providing this as there’s quite a few rural businesses in Scotland who are not going to get good speeds from VDSL due to line length but want a better connection, and can’t really afford the monthly costs of a leased line

  10. Avatar Sam Machin says:

    Been trying to find an ISP to offer this for a few months as our new house has a poor FTTC speed but is within an enabled area for FTTPoD and the ducts run past the premises so install isn’t too bad, (Band B) Also its the ‘forever house’ so I’m quite happy to make an investement in connectivity for the long term, so far this is what I’ve found trying to get someone to take my money:

    FluidOne have quoted £2300 install and £300/mth (Both +VAT)
    Spectrum Internet arn’t interested as I’m outside their area, (20mins SW of Bristol) and then tried to upsell me a leased line.
    Waiting on a call back from Interoute

    FTTPoD is the right product for me because:

    I’m not really interested in Bonding VDSL lines that doesn’t feel like a long term answer
    Paying a higher amount up front and for 36 mths for `oD is fine as after that I just have a regular FTTP connection and can shop around amongst more ISPs (and even the 500meg or 1gig services)
    I don’t want a leased line as in 3 years time the costs will still be the same as they are now and will go on being expensive, also its just me working from home and domestic use, the usage profile of decent broadband suites me fine.

    I know that in 3-5 years BT will have X but given this area only got FTTC about 2 years ago we won’t be high on the list for the next cool thing (G.Fast) and given that I am connected to a cab much further away from my house than the nearest one I don’t see better FTTC speeds really helping that much. I’d much rather sort the physical layer out now and jump ahead a generation or 2 rather than be playing catchup for the next 15 years.

    I cant’ be that unique in my requirements? why are there so few ISP’s willing to offer something!
    I’m gonna sit tight for a month or so anyway and get the move out of the way but it looks like I’ll be giving FluidOne my business sometime in May

    1. Avatar Sam Machin says:

      Small update, I heard back from Interoute and they don’t offer FTTPoD.

      So looks like its FluidOne or nothing then!

    2. Correct, Fluidone is currently your only option for a 330/30 FTTPoD service. I’ve got this service on order and expect to have it installed by mid May. Cost me 3700 notes in construction it’s and 300 per month in service charges.

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