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UPDATE BT Wholesale Broadband Checker Adds Options for VRI and NTEFaceplate

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 (9:45 am) - Score 6,625
bt wholesale broadband checker july 2017

The BT Wholesale Broadband Checker has recently added two additional rows to its output for the customer premise environment (‘VRI‘ and ‘NTEFaceplate‘) and so far as we can tell these only show when testing with a specific telephone number (i.e. not specific address or postcode checks).

Some readers may note that a third option for ‘Bridge Tap‘ also exists, although that has been present for a couple of months now and was explained back in May 2017 (here). Sadly the two new options carry no useful descriptions on the output. In addition, we’ve also got a new field for ‘Last Test Date‘, which should be fairly self-explanatory.

NTEFacePlate and VRI

This is a reference to the ‘Faceplate’ that tends to fit on top of your home NTE5A/B or newest NTE5C Openreach Master Socket. For example, some Master Sockets in the home will only have a single port faceplate for a handset (phone), while others will have two ports for a phone and DSL (broadband) cable.

However more modern services, such as the forthcoming Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SOGEA or SOGFast) product (i.e. standalone FTTC or G.fast broadband without voice/phone), may under certain circumstances (e.g. extension wiring and CPE stops working) also require an “isolation faceplate” for Voice Re-Injection (this is what VRI means and it should allow continued use of extension wiring). Last we heard this only works with the newer NTE5C Master Sockets. The alternative being IP telephony.

We recall an update to Openreach’s External Information Points (EIP) sometime ago that introduced new SOGEA related service test dialogues for FTTCfibre broadband” lines, which added “additional output parameters … for the detection of Voice Reinjection, Faceplate type and NTE5c” and so this is likely to be what the BTWholesale change reflects.

Much as Ofcom said in 2015 about SOGEA, “The SOGEA Voice reinjection solution uses the tool-less faceplates on the new NTE5c. This avoids the need to send an engineer to rectify alternative complex home wiring or external isolation solutions where a SOGEA line is being reverse migrated to copper. Openreach developed this solution based on a requirement from Sky.”

We have of course asked BT Wholesale to give us a more concrete answer and are awaiting their reply. NOTE: The response options are usually N for ‘No’, Y for ‘Yes’ or U for ‘Unknown’ (this reflects our simplification of the meaning).

bt wholesale broadband checker july 2017

UPDATE 29th August 2017

Sadly we never did get a reply from BT on this and due to being very busy I forgot to chase it up. However one ISP has been kind enough to send us the list of possible responses, which reveals a few extra outputs beyond what we expected to see.

VRI detected

Y – Reveals that the voltage from VRI is also coming back onto the Openreach network. It ultimately means that VRI is in use and has NOT been isolated to the home environment.

D – Reveals that the voltage from VRI is also coming back onto the Openreach network and due to the positive reference to earth of this voltage, the Openreach Network is now exposed to galvanic corrosion. It ultimately means that VRI is in use and has NOT been isolated to the home environment.

N – This is the ideal value and indicates that VRI is either not in play or has been successfully isolated. Alternatively ‘Not Detected’ can be returned, if the another condition on the line is masking the ability to detect it.

U – The last routine test was inconclusive

NTE faceplate detected

P – Refers to the SOGEA isolation faceplate (or switch position) that provides physically separation of extension wiring coming off the front plate. This plate needs the modem-router to be plugged into the master socket, for maximum broadband speeds. Please note that the SOGEA isolation faceplate (or switch position) if left in situ will block a narrowband voice service (WLR/MPF).

F – Refers to the SOGEA isolation faceplate (or switch position) that includes of a high pass filter. This plate will allow the modem-router to be plugged into an extension socket, with some reduction in broadband speeds. Please note that the SOGEA isolation faceplate (or switch position) if left in situ will block a narrowband voice service (WLR/MPF).

O – Refers to the CCU switch position intended to support an narrowband voice service (WLR/MPF) or b) the position intended to support SSFP VDSL2 service

N – Provides confirmation that the service test did NOT detect a faceplate signature. Not all faceplates can be detected, so please refer to ‘NTE faceplate recorded’ to check if the faceplate was recorded in the inventory by an Engineer. Alternatively ‘Not Detected’ can be returned, if the another condition on the line is masking the ability to detect it.

U – The last routine test was inconclusive

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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.
Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. Avatar Tom Bartlett

    I don’t get it. Why not just look at your master socket to find out what type of faceplate you have?

  2. Avatar dave

    I bought an NTE5C MK4 unit off ebay and installed it myself. Unsurprisingly this link says that i don’t have an NTE faceplate as i fit it myself.

  3. Avatar MrWhite

    Mine says ‘N’ for the faceplate, however Openreach installed a new master socket plus faceplate about 4 years ago, so no idea where they’re getting their data from.

  4. Avatar adslmax Real

    I have NTE5c and the checker say no. Waste of time.

  5. Avatar ultraspeedy

    It shows four “U”‘s at the end for me, yep a U for the test date also.

  6. Avatar Michael

    I also have an NTE5c and the checker also says ‘N’ for me.

  7. Avatar Dave

    I don’t understand what this checker is for. Most of the information on it is false and has no relavence to my line what so ever.
    Another Openreach device used for ‘bullshit’

  8. Avatar Bob de Builder

    The status of my “NTEFaceplate” has now changed from “N” to “O”, whatever that means?

  9. Avatar Walter G M Willcox

    Given the estimator has a long career you can’t always rely on it. Even when you have VDSL installed some estimates DON’T show jumper fitted and those that do seem to put it on the ADSL estimates and not the VDSL ones. All part of life’s rich tapestry !

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