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BT Set Date for Free ISP Trial of SOGFast – Standalone G.fast Broadband

Friday, June 2nd, 2017 (7:51 am) - Score 4,732

Openreach (BT) has confirmed that the first trial of their SOGEA based SOGFast service, which will allow UK consumers to order an “ultrafast broadband” (up to 330Mbps) standalone G.fast line without also needing to take a phone (voice) service, will begin in July 2017 and run until December 2017.

At this point our regular readers are probably already familiar with the still-in-development Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SOGEA) product for Openreach’s ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) lines, while the comically named SOGFast is merely the G.fast variant of that same solution (more details here and here).

The SOGEA and SOGFast products represent a key shift in how Openreach sells digital communication services to consumers. At present if you want a hybrid “fibre broadband” service from the operator (e.g. FTTC or G.fast) then you first need to have a working copper phone line. However SOGEA and SOGFast will allow consumers to order a line just for broadband, while the voice service can optionally be added later via VoIP.

The new approach is much more in keeping with today’s market, where consumers are increasingly making much more use of VoIP and Mobile for their voice calling needs and often only take traditional copper “phone” line rental in order to get a home broadband connection (where required).

Openreach Statement

We’re pleased to announce the Single Order G.fast (SOGFast) CP trial phase pricing.

The trial will be free of charge (transactions and rental charges set at £0).

Our SOGFast free of charge prices are set in order to encourage necessary CP engagement and volumes. The purpose of the trial is to test deployment and technology capabilities and capture learnings and customer experiences of the Fulfilment and Assurance order journeys.

The SOGFast trial prices will apply from the beginning of the trial (expected to start at the beginning of July 2017), and will be valid throughout the trial phase referred to above.

So far the trials of SOGEA and SOGFast appear to be holding to the operator’s original schedule, which means that they could still be ready for commercial deployment during early 2018. In theory both services might end up being a tiny bit cheaper than the current phone line rental + broadband bundle approach of existing packages.

However we should caution that anybody expecting the full cost of line rental to be magically dropped will be in for a big disappointment. The physical copper line is still needed for broadband and as such most of that line rental cost will need to be merged into the single rental fee for broadband (i.e. the traditional ‘voice’ component of a line doesn’t add very much to what you pay).

SOGFast itself will initially only be available to the small proportion of premises covered by Openreach’s 330Mbps G.fast broadband pilot (initial coverage details), which has only just started to go live.

Leave a Comment
18 Responses
  1. Avatar James says:

    it’ll be the usual places, swansea,sheffield etc.

    Nothing new here, the rest of us have to just feel left out

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      I guess they can only trial this where the pods are. And that’s virtually nowhere.

  2. Avatar adslmax Real says:

    Why do Openreach always doing trial so many times? Just get on with it and start roll on for god’s sake!

    1. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @aR – you don’t understand do you?

    2. Avatar RuralBroadbandSucks says:

      @TheFacts please enlighten us. Personally I think the rollout and general apathy for a decent ‘everywhere’ baseline performance is pathetic.

    3. Avatar TheFacts says:

      The reason for trials is well known and understood by those in the industry. No apathy for ‘everywhere’, just needs a good business case or government funding.

    4. Avatar GNewton says:

      Many of the past BT trials were not really needed in such an excessive manner because it was already well established technologies, and BT could have just copied them from other countries rather than re-inventing wheels.

      However, G.Fast is a relatively new technology, and is genuinely still being developed, hence the need for trials. However, does it really need separate trials just to test broadband lines without a voice telephony component? I doubt that.

    5. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @GN – you clearly do not understand what a trial is for.

      Is there another country which has the same sales, installation, maintenance etc. systems and processes as eg. TalkTalk that integrate with BT systems?

    6. Avatar GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: You don’t months of trials for testing the omission of the voice telephony component. The G.fast trials are mainly about the deployment and technology capabilities.

    7. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @GN – maybe it needs to be that long to get a sufficient number of users.

    8. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @GN – and … and capture learnings and customer experiences of the Fulfilment and Assurance order journeys.

    9. Avatar MikeW says:

      The trials are also about the changes being made in the BT backend operations & management systems – which impact the entire interaction with ISPs – ordering, amending, fault reporting, escalation etc. And, given that those systems have been written to assume that DSL is an addon to telephony, the changes are extensive.

      You just need to watch the progress of those systems in Openreach and BTW’s EIPs etc to see SOGEA and SOGFAST is no small matter. And it is entirely bespoke. No other country to copy.

      “Copying other countries” is no alternative to real testing, it is a road to ruin. And given the ECI/G.INP debacle, even testing isn’t always sufficient. You don’t want your critical telecomms infrastructure to BSOD because consultant @GNewton reckons testing isn’t worth the bother.

    10. Avatar GNewton says:

      @MikeW: As I said, and here I agree with you, G.fast is a new technology and certainly needs field trials as part of completing its development.

      It’s a different situation with the backend order systems software which should not take these excessive amount of trial times. You go through alpha and beta test stages, you have proper test suites, yes, but noting as excessive as BT. If they have to completely rewrite their backend systems in order to be able to support products without the voice telephony component then there was something seriously wrong with their backend systems in the first place.

    11. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Maybe this timescale is for the benefit of ISPs.

    12. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @GN – do you agree that it likely the ~100 ISPs require this time?

  3. Avatar James says:

    I once had FTTC without a phone line for a week, this was back in 2014 so technically I was the first to trial this anyway 🙂

    My phoneline was physically removed from it’s port due to an engineer error – but the FTTC worked fine, the beauty of split to an NGA I suppose

  4. Avatar Jonathan says:

    I live in one of these areas and am currently looking for a new ISP, how would I be able to sign up for this trial?

    1. Avatar Jonathan says:

      I contacted IDNet and received the following information:

      Terabyte (1000GB) Download allowance

      FTTC Gfast upto up to 160Mbps downstream and up to 30Mbps upstream £65.50 +VAT per month
      FTTC Gfast upto up to 330Mbps downstream and up to 50Mbps upstream £110.50 +VAT per month

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