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UK ISP Zen Internet Launch 150-300Mbps FTTP Home Broadband

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 (8:00 am) - Score 10,068
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Zen Internet appears to have quietly become one of the first ISPs to begin offering the new 150Mbps and 300Mbps “Full FibreFTTP ultrafast broadband tiers to residential consumers, which can be taken either with or without line rental and the pricing is pleasantly affordable.

Until very recently Zen had been one of the few UK ISPs to offer Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) services to homes (over Openreach’s network), although their previous residential packages were aligned with the top FTTC tiers and that meant they only offered a maximum advertised download speed of up to 76Mbps (19Mbps upload). Faster FTTP packages were available, albeit only to business users and those were much more expensive.

The good news, as spotted by one of our readers (thanks Narindo), is that Zen has quietly updated their range of FTTP packages for residential consumers by adopting the revamped 150Mbps and 300Mbps tiers (note: Openreach show these as 160/30Mbps and 330/50Mbps). The new tiers were introduced (here) in order to align with the forthcoming hybrid fibre G.fast service, which promotes the same performance levels.

As usual the new ‘Unlimited Full Fibre 3‘ and ‘Unlimited Full Fibre 4‘ packages include “truly unlimited” usage, a wireless router (FRITZ!Box 3490), a Static IP address and apply a 12 month contract term. Customers will also need to pay a one-off £55 activation fee. On top of that the additional price increase for including phone line rental is tiny (a WLR3 copper line alongside the fibre).

Unlimited Full Fibre 1
* Download speed up to 38Mbps
* Upload speed up to 9.5Mbps

PRICE (Standalone): £35 per month for 12 months (£42 thereafter)
PRICE (+Line Rental): £36 per month for 12 months (£43.99 thereafter)

Unlimited Full Fibre 2
* Download speed up to 76Mbps
* Upload speed up to 19Mbps

PRICE (Standalone): £42 per month for 12 months (£45 thereafter)
PRICE (+Line Rental): £43.99 per month for 12 months (£46.99 thereafter)

Unlimited Full Fibre 3
* Download speed up to 150Mbps
* Upload speed up to 30Mbps

PRICE (Standalone): £50 per month
PRICE (+Line Rental): £52 per month

Unlimited Full Fibre 4
* Download speed up to 300Mbps
* Upload speed up to 50Mbps

PRICE (Standalone): £75 per month
PRICE (+Line Rental): £76.99 per month

As you’d expect the big problem with FTTP on Openreach’s national UK telecoms network right now is the lack of coverage, which is also true of other “full fibre” providers. However the situation is improving and officially Openreach should have covered 500,000 premises by the end of October 2017 (it’s unclear if all of those are ready for service) and they aim to reach 2 million by the end of 2020.

Most of these deployments will be for new housing developments and businesses sites, although Openreach also aspires to develop a “large-scale” rollout plan that could reach 10 million premises by around 2025. However the plan for that is dependent upon a lot of complicated factors and as such it remains uncertain whether or not the operator will be able to find a solution (here).

In the meantime the above pricing is reasonably attractive and no doubt other ISPs will follow suit as the availability improves. We should stress that this pricing is only reflective of native FTTP deployments and has no relation to the more expensive FTTP on Demand (FoD) service, which is aimed more at business users and requires the end-user to help cover some of the build cost (here). Zen doesn’t offer FoD.

UPDATE 9:28am

Updated the line rental description above. It’s not FVA but rather a normal copper line that you get alongside the fibre.

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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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27 Responses
  1. Tony Pewlett

    Just a shame that some Zen users are still reporting TBB single thread speed issues. Will they ever resolve these issues completely? IMHO Zen are still living on their past reputation…

    • Ixel

      I wonder if their network will be able to handle this without congestion issues, that’s assuming the single threaded speed issues are related to congestion somewhere. One of the reasons I left them was due to single threaded speed issues, but also because my line fault wasn’t resolved (broadband fault). I was asked to email their quality assurance team which I did but other than a ‘thanks I’ll pass it on to somewhere else’ I’ve heard nothing since.

  2. Bill

    This is good news.

    Personally I would like to see a change to the way FTTPoDv2 is ordered when it launches next year.

    At the moment it is upto a handful of ISPs to offer FoD and handle installation on behalf of the customer.

    It would be much more useful if end-users could order the “On-demand” portion (i.e. the fibre link to their property) direct from Openreach.

    Then they could go to a wider range of FTTP providers such as Zen, and simply order the native FTTP package they want.

    • An interesting idea, although Openreach are generally a supplier, which means they don’t usually sell or engage directly with end-users and to change that dynamic may throw up some complex problems. However it would probably be simpler to just change how FoD is sold via ISPs and, as you note, that’s something which is about to be tried.

    • AndyH

      The new FoD pricing should (or could) fundamentally change the way ISPs approach things as it puts the emphasis on them being able to find groups of businesses or individual who are in the same proximity and want a premium service.

      If Zen can find 32 customers in the same area who want FoD and they can be served off the same splitter, we’re going to be talking hundreds rather than thousands for installation (per customer).

    • NOTE: The FoD talk here is nothing to do with Zen, they don’t offer it (so far as I’m aware).

  3. AndyH

    The 80/20 package is quite a decent saving over the BT Infinity package – £46.99 vs £56.49 with BT.

  4. Jigsy

    Nice.

    Won’t come to my town, though. We don’t even have cable. :<

    Still annoyed that I have to pay extortionate amounts of money every month for my super-subpar ADSL service.

  5. Brett Baker

    I didn’t think Openreach had increased the upload speed of FTTP yet?

  6. dragoneast

    I still think we should be honest and admit these high speeds are really only relevant to new builds/urban apartment blocks (who have come late to the party, still if at all) and rare bits of BDUK. Instead, rather like the advertising, it gets mentioned (if at all) in the small print, as as afterthought, at the end to ensure the point is missed.

    That is why to so many (probably the majority) of the public it’s still a minority interest. A perceived lack of honesty, designed only to deceive. It’s hardly the way to sell anything, though every advertising executive will of course tell you otherwise since their jobs depend on it (as do most of the commentators!)

    Surely if you really want Fibre Britain then misleading the public isn’t the right way to go about it? A few fans will get hugely worked up, while the rest (who have to be persuaded to pay for it) ignore it as yet another scam.

  7. Greg

    Pricing is “pleasantly affordable” really? Errr, no, it is not.

  8. voice

    “On top of that the additional price increase for including phone line rental is tiny (a WLR3 copper line alongside the fibre).”

    Surely with a FTTP service any voice service would be provided by FVA rather than WLR3?

  9. Jim

    I would like to make you aware that
    PrimeFibre.london is installing its own FttP network in Belgravia & Mayfair for the Grosvenor Estate, which is providing speeds from 100mb to 1Gb depending on what package you sign upto.

  10. Levente

    I got Virgin. 300Mbps for 45£/month. Effective speed sometimes even 370Mbps.

  11. SJ

    We’ve had full fibre in Cornwall for years. Only issue is choice if providers which is mostly BT (ir in rare cases zen). Telephone line is over fibre rather than copper too.

  12. JP

    I live in the Cotswolds and have pure fibre from Gigaclear delivering between 50mbps and 1gb upload/download. I get 200mb for £46 plus VAT per month.

    Why is it that a tiny startup can build a full FTTP and the mighty openreach are still messing people around and compromising performance.

    BT had a monopoly of all phones, the first mobile network, and all the infrastructure. They threw away the phones and mobile through mismanagement, (they had to buy EE to get back into mobile). Now openreach should be stripped of their Monopoly to allow energic startups to deliver the efficient outcomes our country needs. Openreach are the dead hand on progress.

    I am sure the alternative providers will work out a way to link everything together. After all the British invented the internet.

    • 125us

      I’m not sure the British did invent the Internet. A web browser, yes, but not the network. That grew out of darpanet and was US government funded.

      As for Openreach – what monopoly? Any business can install and operate a network today. If there was a commercially attractive opportunity that Openreach were ignoring someone would be filling it. The lack of fttp in the U.K. is a market problem – not enough people value such a service highly enough to pay the price required for it to be rolled out. As you say, Openreach can be slow because it has a large cost base – pensions to fund and a legacy network to operate – that makes it easier for fleet of foot competitors to jump in, yet few do. Altnets make their rollouts cost in sometimes by using volunteer labour, but also by not wholesaling to other ISPs and only rolling out where there’s proven demand.

      Most customers when given the choice between slow cheap broadband – ADSL – or faster options take the cheapest one. To see alternate networks accelerate consumers need to be willing to pay more than today.

    • Tim Berners-Lee invented the concept of the World Wide Web – the concept of linking a hypertext system with the Internet – along with, yes the first web browser (and editor, and server).

      But he did it in France, working for CERN – a European project based in Switzerland – along with Belgian Robert Cailliau, who started the MacWWW browser; later aided by UK sandwich undergrad Nicola Pellow, who also coded the Line Mode Browser.

      Then there’s people like
      * Henrik Frystyk Nielsen, the Danish developer of libwww (with Jean-François Groff)
      * Norwegian Håkon Wium Lie, who instigated CSS
      * Englishman Dave Raggett, who worked with both on his Arena browser and HTTP.

      There was the Finnish team who developed Erwise (advanced enough for Tim to head to Finland to try to convince them to continue it after graduation); Peter Dobberstein, who toiled in Germany to port Line Mode Mode to MVS (leading to VM/CMS), and more beside.

      So I’d argue the WWW was a European project. I guess the UK can take credit for Tim’s upbringing (albeit via a grammar/independent school and then Queens College, Oxford) – and it probably helped that his parents worked on the Ferranti Mark 1.

      Naturally the Americans got involved, once they saw the potential. ViolaWWW, NCSA Mosaic, Roy Fielding and Apache, etc. And yes, Tim did it on an (American) NeXTcube, and they likely had a few Cisco IP routers around the office.

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