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BT Wholesale Publish 160Mbps and 330Mbps G.fast Broadband ISP Pricing

Monday, September 4th, 2017 (4:46 pm) - Score 6,659
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BT Wholesale has published an updated price list (effective from 1st September 2017), which gives us a useful glimpse at the wholesale charges that UK ISPs will need to pay if they want to buy the operator’s 160Mbps (30Mbps upload) or 330Mbps (50Mbps upload) based G.fast broadband service.

A few months ago Openreach (BT) also published their first Early Market Deployment (EMD) prices for the new service, although a lot of ISPs will purchase the product via BT Wholesale rather than go direct to Openreach. The updated price list (MS Excel Spreadsheet) lists the two tiers as Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) products, albeit G.fast variants rather than the more familiar VDSL2 options.

Just for a rough comparison, here’s what BTW charges for both the new G.fast tiers and some of their more familiar VDSL2 and FTTP options (only focusing on the monthly rental). Take note that for FTTP the ‘Transition Product’ means that you have to take it alongside an existing line rental service (WLR or MPF), while Data Only is just for the fibre.

Product Rental +vat (Month)
FTTC 80Mbps VDSL2 £16
FTTC 160Mbps G.fast £19
FTTC 330Mbps G.fast £23
FTTP 160Mbps [30Mbps upload] – Transition £19
FTTP 160Mbps [30Mbps upload] – Data Only £28
FTTP 330Mbps [30Mbps upload] – Transition £44
FTTP 330Mbps [50Mbps upload] – Transition £46
FTTP 330Mbps [30Mbps upload] – Data Only £53
FTTP 330Mbps [50Mbps upload] – Data Only £55

As usual ISPs will have to add their own costs on top of this for service delivery, VAT (20%), line rental, profit margins, data capacity, extra services and so forth in order to create the products we all buy. As a comparison, Sky Broadband charges about £43.99 inc. VAT per month for their unlimited ‘up to’ 76Mbps FTTC service (i.e. the 80Mbps VDSL2 tier above) and Plusnet will charge £38.98 for the same thing (includes line rental and excludes discounts).

We can clearly see above that the 160Mbps G.fast service has been positioned to make it very attractive for those either already on the 80Mbps service or anybody who may be considering an upgrade from older FTTC or ADSL2+ services. Mind you consumers may change their thinking once Ofcom starts forcing Openreach to dramatically cut the price of their 40Mbps FTTC tier (here), but that’s another story.

Similarly we note that the 160Mbps FTTP price is quite close to the G.fast price point (identical on the transition product), which is despite the notably higher cost of deploying the “full fibre” network vs G.fast. However this changes for the 330Mbps tiers, where FTTP pricing jumps significantly higher than the equivalent G.fast option.

Under the current plan Openreach’s existing G.fast pilot should become available to 1 million UK homes and businesses by the end of 2017 and it will then aim to reach 10 million premises by 2020 (here). G.fast is considered by many to be an interim solution and there is already a consultation about taking “full fibre” FTTP up to 10 million premises by around 2025 (here). Credits to Carl for pointing out the change.

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Mark Jackson

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.

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59 Responses
  1. MikeW

    When comparing the Sky and Plusnet monthly costs, the conclusion was “roughly a little more than twice the wholesale price”.

    Don’t forget the wholesale price actually charged to Plusnet will include the wholesale voice charge too: £86pa or ~£7pm, +VAT. Not just the wholesale price for broadband.

    • Steve Jones

      In addition, Sky, TalkTalk etc. reclaim the VAT. VAT is not part of a company’s turnover, just acting as an unpaid tax collector for the government.

  2. PaulM

    “For example, Sky Broadband charges about £43.99 inc. VAT per month for their unlimited ‘up to’ 76Mbps FTTC service (i.e. the 80Mbps VDSL2 tier above) and Plusnet will charge £38.98 for the same thing (includes line rental and excludes discounts); roughly a little more than twice the wholesale price.”

    Its closer to 2.5 times if you want a rough idea of what it will cost joe end user per month.

    FTTC 80Mb wholesale price of £16 x 2.5 = £40 which is almost exactly in the middle of the Sky and Plusnet example pricing and similar to what 76Mb will cost you from many (excluding special offers).

    If that follows for other products then joe user is looking at about

    G.fast 160Mb wholesale of £19 x 2.5 = £47.50 p/month
    G.fart 330Mb wholesale of £23 x 2.5 = £57.50 p/month

    An about £10 difference for the 2 tiers to joe user would also make sense.

    Co-coincidently or to back that up a little more £10 difference for the end user is currently the difference between 52Mb infinity and 76Mb infinity 2 options for joe user from BT. (now doubt a special offer being £29.99 and 39.99 as i type for new customers currently).

    £47.50 and £57.50 is personally too rich for my blood, id only pay that if i were going to get the full or near full 160Mb/330Mb speeds which i and anyone around 400M from the cab won’t.

    The 330Mb G.fast is fairly priced against FTTH 330Mb (IE a considerable £20+ cheaper) bit sickening to see the 160Mb product costing basically the same as FTTH though.

    About what i expected pricing wise. I suspect once you get near to the £50 per month mark it marks things too expensive for many, at least we have an rough idea now though.

    • Asrab

      My cabinet is around 150 – 200 meters from my property can anyone guess the approximate speed i would get for G.FAST ?

    • Bob2002

      >£47.50 and £57.50 is personally too rich for my blood …

      Essentially my thoughts as well, having said that BT typically offer massive cashback for signing up – typically around £160, then maybe add a £100-200 voucher/Mastercard – and it might be higher for G.fast. Throw that all into the mix and G.fast might be effectively affordable.

    • how-long-can-BT-sweat-these-assets

      “The 330Mb G.fast is fairly priced against FTTH 330Mb (IE a considerable £20+ cheaper) bit sickening to see the 160Mb product costing basically the same as FTTH though.”

      Agreed, especially for those outside the ~350m sweet spot that this particular technology was intended to be used for, in conjunction with bringing fibre closer to the end user that OR seem to have conveniently forgotten about.

      Does it seem reasonable that, despite being served by the same exchange, somebody who is lucky enough to receive FTTP may potentially pay the same for a service that works at 160mbit as a somebody on G.Fudge who may struggle to get 100mbit, or even 40mbit on VDSL2?

    • 125uS

      It does seem reasonable, yes, if the retail prices are based on the cost of deployment.

      The cost of a sports car is broadly the same in Germany and the UK, but it can be driven much faster on the road in Germany. The cost of making and selling the car however is the same in both cases.

    • Alex

      “The cost of making and selling the car however is the same in both cases.”

      Unless you are saying the cost of making and selling FTTH is the same as G.Fast i fail to see what point you are trying to make. If that is your point and the cost is the same they should had just done FTTH.

  3. New_Londoner

    @Asrab
    Based on the recent ISP Review article, somewhere between 250 and 300Mbps download, 40Mbps upload.

  4. Fastman

    also depend if you cab is deemed commercially viable for GFAST (at an Exchange and Cab level)

  5. Blair

    For clarity of readers, the article didn’t reflect that these prices are for circuit rental before a single bit of data is put on them.
    The bandwidth per megabit (just from BTW to the ISP, not even talking about transit cost of putting it on the internet) is a sizeable cost on top of this, depending on the size of the ISP.

  6. Marty

    I’m guessing the pricing doesn’t include the cost of the engineer to fit an openreach modem for a new subscriber or does the 2.5% increase from an ISP normally factor that in?

  7. gfast distance

    What is the maximum line length that OpenReach are prepared to attempt to install a G.Fast service on, is it only those which it expects to be able to stably deliver above the 100mbit sync speed that has been suggested as the fault threshold?

    • MikeW

      We can’t predict well enough for now, but it will depend on what variant of G.Fast the hardware supports. It could be as low as 250m, but it could be as high as 400m.

      Raw G.Fast can go further, if Sckipio are to be believed, but probably not if it has to coexist with VDSL2 – ie If it could make use of the first 20MHz of spectrum.

  8. Brett Baker

    It’s great that the government keeps talking about having ultrafast broadband available everywhere, which I think is right, but most people can’t afford the prices it comes with.

    Also for most household needs like streaming a movie and some web surfing (which all most of the population do) you don’t need 300mbps.

    • 125uS

      And therein lies the problem Brett. Most people don’t want to pay the price required to make the widespread roll-out of very high speed Internet Access a commercial success. Businesses that spend a lot of money building stuff that people won’t pay for tend not to last very long.

    • Alex

      Why are BT bothering with G.fast and FTTH at all then?

    • 125uS

      I’d imagine it’s because the wealthier customers who are prepared to pay more will migrate to the higher speed services offered by Virgin if BT don’t offer something comparable and that some element of subsidy of lower priced services will be lost if those customers go.

      That’s certainly true in other industries.

    • Alex

      Would make sense if they were actually rolling out products to wealthy areas where the wealthier customers are.

      I would not say the town of Gillingham which was the first G.Fast trial area is wealthy. A look on google maps at the area and surrounding roads from…
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/03/first-330mbps-bt-g-fast-broadband-pilot-customer-goes-live-kent-uk.html

      Certainly does not look wealthy. A few google searches results in property being pretty cheap for the south east, It seems to suffer from a immigration problem (though thats the media so might be untrue). The hospital in the town seems to have been in trouble and special measures at various points and the high street from google maps looks full of takeaway chicken, kebab takeaways along with bargain shopping stores.

      It may well be a very nice and friendly place to live, many smallish but busy towns are but based on what i have saw when looking around the web it certainly does not in any way resemble an area which has its share of wealthier people.

      PS the rolling in areas to combat people moving to VM would also seem to indicate they are rolling out to areas that already have “ultra” fast options from VM. It also makes little sense as the 200Mb product from VM has been around since 2015, i imagine anyone which was waiting for BT has moved on already, unless they are super patient and waiting more than 2 years when they could of had vastly superior to ADSL back then.

  9. NGA for all

    FTTP 160/30 transition was £12.75 a month now £19. It looks like all FTTP have risen so much for full fibre. Others comment please.

    • MikeW

      Wasn’t £12.75 the Openreach price?

      Looking at the BTW spreadsheet that Mark links to, the only changes here are the G.Fast ones.

      Remember that Openreach have a 12 month reduction of FTTP 330/50 prices starting in October.

    • NGA for all

      Thanks, thought so, £12.75 is the Openreach price for the option stated. This £19 is the WBC variant.
      What is actually different technically in the transition product to data only? What actually changes if the MPF is removed? Why not a one off cost to ‘port’ the telephone number to a call server?

    • NGA for all

      Is the £19 WBC less the £12.75 a proxy for the bandwidth resources from in this case the handover point to one or more internet nodes?

    • NGA for all

      Carl T -what is in the £6.25 a month?

    • MikeW

      Transition pricing applies if you have a voice service through copper. I guess the difference is how the cost for maintenance gets allocated when you take 1 or multiple services.

      The WBC cost allows for some of the backhaul cost, but likely only the portion of connecting from Openreach to BTW within the head-end exchange. Maybe some of the cost back to the core.

      A major proportion of the overall wholesale cost comes from the charge made to the ISP per Mbps for handing over your traffic into the ISP’s network. £48.55 for each Mbps; an ISP needs to buy enough for their peak (9pm) demand. Plus the cost per link carrying this traffic. This presumably covers the cost of the core, at least.

      The “proxy” you ask about is a mix of these two costs.

    • MikeW

      The other questions related to transition and MPF are complicated. The voice-over-metal USO still applies, so can’t just be removed. The next occupants might not want broadband, but do want TalkTalk.

      Until that USO gets a termination plan, there is no point strategizing too much.

    • NGA for all

      MikeW Thanks – do have reference to that £48.55 Mbps/s per month (I assume). That looks inordinately high compared to international rates. I had a lower reference point.

    • CarlT

      Quite surprised you aren’t aware of this already.

      The numbers are in the BT Wholesale WBC / WMBC price lists. The more the ISP commits to doing the cheaper it gets. WMBC dedicated is cheaper than WMBC shared, WBC is cheaper still.

      BT Wholesale cannot price too low. LLU must remain the most cost-efficient option.

    • NGA for all

      Carl T -reducing the price lists to indicative unit costs – like a peak hour bandwidth cost per second per month is informative. We are not getting there in this exchange, not yet anyway. It is good to cross reference.

    • AndyH

      “do have reference to that £48.55 Mbps/s per month (I assume). That looks inordinately high compared to international rates.”

      Which international rates would those be? In most countries, the ISP is responsible for connecting their POP to an exchange. In the UK, ISPs can buy nationwide coverage without needing to buy a connection from the POP to the 1000s of exchanges.

    • NGA for all

      Any H The original question which has not been answered concisely, what do BTW give in exchange for the extra c£6+ a month (160/30 FTTP) over and above the OR rental of c£12.25. I assume there is some managed bandwidth components not covered by other managed bandwidth products and rentals.

    • MikeW

      An Openreach circuit will get NGA data from the end-user to one of 1,200 head-ends. If you want this price, you need a presence in each of these 1,200 locations.

      A WBC circuit will get data from the end-user to one of 20 regional interconnects (mostly colocated with a core node). The WBC price list is open (and Mark links to it), and looks like it has prices of £40 per Mbps. If you want this price, you need a presence in each of these 20 locations.

      A WBMC circuit will get data from the end-user to a single interconnect to the ISP’s network, so extends the WBC circuit through the core, and on to the ISP. The WBMC price list is protected, but I have a link to a piece below. The £48.55 figure for “WBMC Total Best Efforts Contracted Bandwidth” is also discussed on Kitz quite a bit.

      https://studylib.net/doc/6813819/appendix-1–definitions–wbc—bt-dn–to-be

      There are, of course, monthly fees to be added on top of these.

    • AndyH

      They buy L2S ports at every FTTx handover point in the country. Increased bandwidth means they will have to buy 10G ports, which is 5x the cost of connection as a 1G port.

    • NGA for all

      Andy H, MikeW Thanks, that £48 is a 2013 price and is sometimes referenced as an excess bandwidth cost. The contracted rate ought to be much lower so 500Kbps-1Mbps throughput per registered customer(not active) can be supported.

    • MikeW

      To counter most of your points (You really don’t trust information I give you, do you?):

      I think that price is actually a 2010 price, and hasn’t changed since. It is still being quotes in discussions on Kitz 9 months ago.

      The problem is that it is in a protected document, which doesn’t escape much. You see only a 2013 snapshot, because it is rare. But that doesn’t mean it has changed recently.

      As a comparison, the £40 “contracted total bandwidth” shows in the current WBC price list as being set on 1st Jan 2012, and hasn’t changed since. Looking at historical price lists, I can see it was actually set in Jan 2010.

      I don’t believe the £48.55 figure needs to be smaller to cope with individual end-users who use (say) 500kbps. It is an amount that the ISP contracts for in aggregate, summed over all the users.

      So, where an ISP contracts for 20Gbps aggregated across all its users at peak 9pm, then it will be paying BT £971,000 per month. It doesn’t matter whether the total is consumed by 20 users averaging 1Gbps, 20,000 averaging 1Mbps, or 200,000 averaging 0.1Mbps.

      I also believe the £48.55 figure represents the standard contracted rate, not an excess rate. Look back at the WBMC document, and see both the mention of “Contracted Burst Bandwidth charge” on page 3, Note 4 on page 4, and the text description in section 4.4 on page 5.

      It should be clear from the table on page 4 that £48.55 is the lowest possible charge per Mbps, while £83.55 is charged for bandwidth clearly above the contracted rate. With some adaption based on time of day.

      Meanwhile, the WBC price list has clear entries for the excess costs:
      – Contract rate is £40 per Mbps
      – Bandwidth above contract rate by 0-5%: £40 per Mbps
      – Bandwidth above contract rate by >5%: £75 per Mbps

      The last two values have also been valid and unchanged since 2010.

    • MikeW

      Incidentally, parts of that document suggest that BTW have a different rate: £51.40 per Mbps.

      I suspect that value is used if you choose to be billed by a “95th percentile” regime.

      That is obviously worth doing, if your 95th percentile bandwidth is considerably lower than the 100th percentile. The table for burst charges shows that there is a downside though … that you lose some flexibility if you go over the contracted bandwidth by between 0 and 5%. A clear statistical calculation needed for that one…

    • NGA for all

      MikeW – It must matter, 20,000 or 200,000 as it impacts the customer experience for all users. But thanks for outlining this.

    • NGA for all

      MikeW – it not an issue of trust, your source is fine, it might be cost v price. It makes a joke of the differential rates for 80/20, 40/10. The end to end resources available need to be understood.
      The emerging practice of prices informed or set by by the limitations of copper gain technology breaks the link between price and cost.

  10. joe

    What guesses if any of the knock on effects are these changes going to have to FTTP/FTTC prices or base level speed of the lower tiers. We’ve already risen from 40 to up to 52 for free already on the base packages fro example.

  11. Chris P

    So now wholesale prices are out, when will reseller ISP’s be publishing their products and when can we order?

    I’m looking to hold off moving of VM while the cab ~150m down my road is finished off. It’s not my my cab, mine is over 1km away, but I’m hoping the 5 homes here at the end of the road could be rerouted (prob highly unlikely).

    • adslmax Real

      Anytime from October onwards

    • Fastman

      there wont be a reroute you will remain on the cab you are currently connected to

    • Alex

      “I’m looking to hold off moving of VM..”

      I was also but now not so sure. I am 650 metres away from my BT cabinet which has just had a G.fast pod attached, could anyone with more expertise give a rough idea of speed i would get on G.fast.

      From what i understood previously 650 metres was a pretty short distance to be from the cabinet compared to many other people, now i am not so sure.

      I currently pay VM £44 for Vivid 300 and i get 315Mb day and night. Hoping G.fast will be able to deliver at least close to the same for what looks like what will be a similar price, give or take £10 or so.

    • MikeW

      650m is quite long. From 2008 statistics, three-quarters of lines are shorter. TBB have updated their statistics, given that BT have been adding infill cabinets for long lines, so it might be a greater proportion now.

      I’d estimate your G.Fast speed to be zero.

    • CarlT

      Indeed. BT won’t provide an estimate unless >100Mb. No chance at 500m let alone 650m.

    • Alex

      Oh that is a bit disappointing, does that basically mean you will have to live a max of 300-400M of cabinet to even be allowed the product?

      What is BTs future plans if any for the 1/3 to 1/2 the country which will not meet that criteria? Will they just be left with FTTC as the only option for many years to come?

    • MikeW

      That is indeed the restriction for now, @alex.

      BT know that they need to do more, so the presentations by their chief engineers/architects routinely mention the extra cabinets that will need to be deployed (along with more fibre), taking the service closer to those on the longer lines.

      The problem (as it always is) is how much it costs for the extra lengths of fibre, and the extra sources of power. I don’t think BT have sorted out their strategy on this front yet, so I don’t think we’ll see much over the next two years. I suspect BT might then announce pilots for that stage of the rollout, building to a proper rollout from 2020.

    • Alex

      Apologies in the delay responding. Thank you MikeW and CarlT for your responses. I have decided to stick with my VM service and i imagine that is how it will likely stay for at least 5 years or until BT based FTTH comes to my road. I was looking forward to G.Fast and maybe even saving a little money, still a bit disappointed.

      Since last posting i also looked into the possibility of saving £3-5 per month by going from my VM to a FTTC service, unfortunately for me at 650 Metres from the cabinet it will only do 30-38Mb (depending on which company i feed my details to for the line check) I thought it would be better just never previously bothered to check. Obviously not enough of a saving when im getting 315Mb from VM. I guess im one of the lucky ones that at least can get VM. Thanks again guys for your answers and encouraging me to investigate further.

  12. Cookie

    The upload speeds look improved, but still poor. FTTP connections should be 1:1 D/U – Nothing more, nothing less.

    • RobertT

      No it shouldn’t. That doesn’t represent anywhere near the usage profile of the average user. You want a private circuit, buy a private circuit.

    • GNewton

      In other countries like in the United States companies are indeed offering widespread symmetric fibre broadband as they have seen a market demand for it. See for example Verizon’s FIOS product witch packages from 50/50 up to 500/500 Mbps. Even in this country some smaller niche providers like Gigaclear have gone the same route. The way BT has arranged its G.Fast and FTTP offers won’t stimulate much market demands for them, for the majority of users current superfast download speeds are sufficient, why would they want to pay extra for something they won’t need?

    • CarlT

      Openreach are delivering what their customers are asking them for. That’s all they can do as, unlike Verizon, AT&T or the FTTP operators in the UK they cannot sell to end users, so don’t have the cable company to compete against directly.

      If their customers ask for symmetrical services and are happy to pay the prices needed to ensure those upstream speeds can be achieved on the Openreach GPON / XGPON network they’ll get them.

    • Regis

      Wasnt it also the fact the gov of the time wanted “american style” cable company’s that caused all this mess in the first place. If they had kept there hands to themselves we would already have universal ftth and be arguing about the need for 10gig connections.

    • GNewton

      @Regis: The ban on BT to do cable TV streaming services was lifted in 2001, and for many years nobody has prevented BT from doing fibre, nor from doing their own TV. There are other reasons why the UK is still way behind many other countries in terms of fibre broadband. BT as well as Ofcom (or Oftel years ago) have their share in this farce, so do the various BDUK projects which were really a waste of taxpayer’s money.

    • AndyH

      @ GNewton – The ban may have been lifted, but BT had already been forced to sell off its TV division. The same goes with fibre. BT was one of the first telecommunications companies to deploy a residential fibre network, but it was deemed anti-competitive so their fibre division was forced to be sold off to Japanese companies.

      I wouldn’t call BDUK a waste of tax payer’s money. It’s helped the UK reach some of the highest deployment rates of superfast broadband in the world. Where would many rural areas be without it? If you go to Japan or South Korea, you will still have ADSL speeds in rural areas.

      Openreach does not have a carte blanche to do as it wants, it is tightly regulated and has to go through processes of lengthy consultation with stakeholders. This regulatory environment is a barrier to investment (along with the issue of funding).

    • GNewton

      @AndyH: You are talking about ancient history here. BT sold off its 2 fibre plants to Fujitsu and HP back in the early 1990s. That was many years ago, things have moved on since then.

      The BDUK has been a rip-off for many areas, I know of cases where BT falsely claimed it couldn’t commercially serve densely populated towns of 10 000, deceiving the local council into spending money at a time where the council should have focused on more important issues like schools, social services, and other public services.

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