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FTTP on Demand Order Capacity Still “Constrained” for All UK ISPs UPDATE

Wednesday, Mar 14th, 2018 (11:48 am) - Score 8,861

Openreach (BT) has issued a new notice to ISPs that sell their Gigabit capable FTTP on Demand broadband product, which reminds them of how “FoD capacity” will continue to be “constrained” by an “industry-wide operational capacity of 20 FoD orders per calendar month.”

The notice proceeds to say that “this is in part due to our recent announcement on Fibre First and our subsequent increase in activity to support major FTTP build across the first wave of eight major UK cities. But also, as you know, FoD is not intended for major multi-sites network upgrade projects, for which there are more appropriate products in our portfolio.”

As a reminder, Openreach recently committed to make their native Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network available to 3 million homes and businesses by 2020 as part of the “Fibre First” programme (here). This is largely separate from the FoD (FTTPoD if you prefer) product, where the end-user has to help pay the significant build costs involved, although any extra FTTP coverage created by FoD does go toward the overall UK total.


A Spokesperson for Openreach told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We haven’t reduced capacity for Fibre on Demand (FoD), we’ve simply reiterated that our maximum capacity for delivery is 20 per calendar month.

That’s more than twice the normal demand we see for what is a niche, bespoke, labour intensive FTTP product.

FoD is still very much open for business but our priority is to focus on an efficient and large scale FTTP roll-out under our Fibre First programme.

We also offer alternative superfast and ultrafast products that are widely available, such as Ethernet Access Direct and Generic Ethernet Access – Fibre to the Cabinet.”

Nevertheless one of the few FoD offering ISPs told ISPreview.co.uk that they’re unhappy with the on-going order constraints and have also been left to wait too long for even the basic desktop surveys to complete. “We are not trying to do major multi-sites networks – just respond to our customers’ demands across our network. … There are locations where FoD should be the solution and Openreach don’t seem to be able to deliver. It’s so frustrating,” said the ISP.

We certainly didn’t expect to be writing a second article about FoD this week, not after Monday’s piece on its hefty costs (here), but that’s where we are. Perhaps one thing that would help is if people stopped requesting FoD quotes merely out of curiosity, unless they are seriously considering an order.

In case it wasn’t clear when we said it multiple times before, FoD is a niche premium solution for small business needs and is not well suited for home connectivity, unless you have some very deep pockets.

UPDATE 15th March 2018


Openreach and BT Wholesale have indicated to ISPreview.co.uk that they do not recognise the delay with desktop surveys being suggested by the ISP above. Apparently it’s always less than three days for an estimate and typically much better.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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55 Responses
  1. Avatar photo virgin says:

    FTTPoD is out of the question for all residential customers. We all stuck at slower, poor and cheaper ADSL, ADSL2+, FTTC for now. G.Fast is a total of waste of time and money unless u have to live with a stone throw at the street cabinet to get maximum speed of 330/50. G.Fast is also far too expensive than cheaper FTTP 330/30. Openreach don’t want any residential customers to have cheaper FTTPoD.

    Also, where is FTTPoD2 as a plan?

    1. Avatar photo Jon says:

      No it’s not. I ordered it and six months later all I have is excuses. Last I heard they were final testing the circuit last week ready for commissioning. This week they admitted they havn’t even pulled in the fibre yet. BS, lies, excuses and frustration is all I have so far for my £5k.

  2. Avatar photo NGA for all says:

    It is good Openreach is getting more honest about the resource constraint. Any notion of B-USO needs to be ditched until BDUK activity which includes supporting FoD is given several years to complete.

    1. What planet are you on? Delay any USO setup/work until BDUK projects finish, which would push it back to 2023 or later since contracts have a wide range of active periods.

      Also can you tell me which BDUK project is actually making use of Fibre on Demand?

    2. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      @Andrew: I think what ‘NGA for all’ talks about are the BDUK contracts. As I vaguely remember (correct me if I am wrong) part of original contract terms was the inclusion of a clause that FTTC had to provide a future upgrade path to fibre. Of course, we’d only know for sure if we were able to see the full terms of the BDUK contracts of the various local authorities. Unfortunately they tend to block Freedom of Information requests with obscure confidentiality clauses. And the current incarnation of the FTTPoD is as good as dead and probably won’t meet the conditions of above mentioned contracts.

    3. Avatar photo NGA for all says:

      Andrew, it is the same resource. Meanwhile BT is sitting on £527m which ought to be applied to solving this problem.

    4. Avatar photo TechServ says:

      It’s not the same resource – that’s the point… increase the capacity for FoD and you have a massive effect on delivery of both BDUK and FibreFirst projects

      Likewise asking FoD delivery team to build big FoD footprints isn’t something they are resourced for.

      As for delaying USO as someone who purports to what more access to SF/UF you are clearly confused – USO is not going to be FoD no matter what you think

    5. Avatar photo NGA for all says:

      Tech Serv – A significant proportion of what Ofcom modelled to estimate the costs of the USO were FTTP-GON extensions. The FoD concept includes some demand aggregation to trigger the PON.
      A non-bodge B-USO would need separate definitions for a B-USO using satellite, B-USO using Fixed Wireless or Mobile antenna, a B-USO using the limitation of copper, a B-USO where reasonable demand is defined for ordering a direct fibre connection.

    6. Avatar photo AndyH says:

      @ NGA

      What is a ‘ FTTP-GON extension’?

      Why are you obsessing with FoD? If we’re going down the route of providing bespoke builds and no expense spared under BDUK, we might as well skip FoD and go for 10G ED circuits.

  3. Avatar photo Mike says:

    Seems the only semi-workaround for FTTC users is load balancing multiple lines.

    1. Avatar photo Joe says:

      While that gets you so far it can just move the technical bottlenecks.

    2. Avatar photo TechServ says:

      Load Balancing isn’t the answer, really you want to bond the connections, in principle there is no limit but 4-5 bonded legs can be deployed quickly with minimal capex and provides greater resilience than a single connection.

      Even with a private circuit / leased line you need a backup if connectivity is crucial.

    3. Avatar photo Mike says:

      Hence I said semi-workaround, I’ve tested it with an FTTC and a 4G connection, worked quite well, only single-threaded applications couldn’t take advantage of the additional speed which didn’t affect me at all. One major benefit is failover.

  4. Avatar photo Robin says:

    It is in deep a niche product but I’d hazard a guess that a fair few of the residential people putting in requests were similar to me in willing to pay a premium to a point. I was quite happy to pay anything up to about £7-10k but was absolutely floored when given a quote of £39k which living in a suburban area with all fttc around and even a fair amount of fttp in surrounding areas I was not expecting it to be that high.

    1. Avatar photo Also called Robin says:

      Yes, exactly. While £10k isn’t cheap, for my situation I would consider it a reasonable investment in a house I expect to live some time in. Unfortunately, I also received a quote for £39k.

      What would be nice, though admittedly unlikely from OpenReach, is if the desk survey process could be automated or the location of the aggregation nodes be made public so that FTTPoD costs could be more easily factored into a house purchasing decision. ROI is maximised at the point of moving in and hence when I could allow for the largest budget. It’s no good rolling the dice on another £39k quote when people clearly are getting what I would consider to be reasonable prices for some locations and we don’t know where they are.

    2. Avatar photo Web Dude says:

      Those are abominable figures. My jaw dropped to the floor at 10,200 and my best option seems to be to move and use Hyperoptic at under 70 quid a month.

      If I was only 30m away from current home in different street I’d have choice of 70+ Mbps from the cabinet behind my home, or VM, but on this street, in this small estate, is “served” by 600+ metres of aluminium, going past 4 (previously 5) blocks of flats.

      My “promised” speed in January was 27.4 Mbps (2016 BT Wholesale checker suggested 32+ Mbps).

      Sync speed right now is 23 Mbps, but when I move I will take (and use) 1000 Mbps.

      I had been hoping for nearer 3 K so business fibre grants might pay for it here, but won’t need “help” for Hyperoptic.

  5. Avatar photo Virgin says:

    Rather surprised me that leased line is much cheaper than FTTPoD quotes.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Yes and no, you also have to factor in the reduced monthly rental.

  6. Avatar photo Bill says:

    At least we have it now straight from the horse’s mouth – they do not intend to allow mass take up of the product.

    Launched to much fanfare several years ago and steadily suppressed, denied and now restricted, welcome to Openreach delivering Gigabit Britain.

    20 orders per month… is absolutely pathetic. I’m assuming that is 20 orders per month for the entire UK, or is it per ISP?

    1. Avatar photo craski says:

      Given how few ISPs seem to actually be offering FTTPoD at the moment, even if it is 20 per ISP it is pathetic!

    2. Avatar photo Bill says:


    3. Avatar photo baby_frogmella says:

      Despite peoples giddiness, FTTPoD was/is never intended to be sold as a cheap, easily available product to the masses. Think of it as an bespoke alternative to a leased line (albeit without the SLAs) but significantly cheaper over the long term, as once you’ve paid off the up front and min term costs its pricing reverts to native FTTP – unlike a leased line where the monthly costs remain in the 100s for life.

      As for Openreach having a cap of 20 FoD orders per month, its not pathetic at all. Around 1 year ago Openreach were “only” getting ~ 10 FoD orders per month (according to my account manager at FluidOne) and that was when FluidOne were the only ISP selling the product and it was cheaper (arguably). So once the excitement/disappointment over the new pricing disappears, Openreach expect the demand to remain the same hence why a cap of 20 FoD orders per month (accumulative I imagine) sounds reasonable.

    4. Avatar photo Bill says:

      Circular argument here; if demand is not expected to change, there is no need for a cap.

      The very existence of a cap is a statement – “We don’t wish to supply more than 20 even if you want it.”

    5. Avatar photo baby_frogmella says:

      The cap isn’t new (hint: “reiterated” in OR statement). Putting semantics to one side, the fact remains that Openreach have coped fine with the demand for FoD in the past and with the new pricing making TCO even more expensive, that demand isn’t expected to rise – it may even fall.

    6. Avatar photo Bill says:

      Openreach have coped well? BTWholesale even stopped selling FOD because Openreach weren’t coping.

      Discussing whether demand will rise or fall is somewhat irrelevant when we are discussing a rigid cap.

    7. Avatar photo baby_frogmella says:

      Ok I will re-phrase: the fact remains that BTW/Openreach have coped fine with the demand for FoD since they started re-selling the service in late 2016/early 2017.

      As for the cap perhaps that’s due to the finite manpower they have? If so, then its a perfectly logical control to put in place. I imagine they also have similar caps in place for leased line orders because, like FTTPoD, they are also very labour intensive.

    8. Avatar photo Bill says:

      Manpower as an excuse? Pathetic. 1+ million planned FTTP connections and 20 FTTPoD connections.

      Same skillset, same end product for both.

    9. Avatar photo baby_frogmella says:

      But native (mass) FTTP work is planned by Openreach months/years ahead and they can allocate resources accordingly. Unless Openreach have a crystal bowl, how can they predict where the next FTTPoD installation will be? How can Openreach predict in advance whether the next FTTPoD installation requires cabling only 500m to the AN or 10km? Like I said all to do with planning in advance…

    10. Avatar photo Bill says:

      It’s an on-demand product.

      When the order comes in they plan a delivery and allocate resources.

    11. Avatar photo New_Londoner says:

      You’re right but are overlooking the point that this “cap” is not a constraint as it’s roughly double the number of orders currently being received each month. Presumably Openreach would put aside more resources and raise the capacity if its customers forecast higher demand.

  7. Avatar photo Mr Pragmatic says:

    This is indeed 20 orders for the whole of the UK per month, not per ISP.

    I think what we are seeing here is a complete lack of capacity industry wide. There is so much to do. Everyone wants FTTP and there is a lot of money from public and private sector being poured into the market but there just isn’t the capacity to deliver.

    One thing is for sure though. Unless you are in an existing area that already has FTTP or you have an installation date it will probably be quicker to find an Altnet to install their own FTTP than wait for FoD.

    1. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      @Mr Pragmatic: “quicker to find an Altnet to install their own FTTP than wait for FoD”

      Very true! The current FTTPoD version only makes sense for community builts, e.g. 10 or 20 users sharing the same fibre cable run. Getting another altnet to do the job is often easier. Or maybe a fixed wireless link can work, too.

    2. Avatar photo New_Londoner says:

      It would be useful to know what level of demand the industry has forecast and whether this is greater than 20 lines per month. Is Openreach constraining supply or is it able to cope with more demand than the industry is forecasting anyway?

    3. Avatar photo TechServ says:

      OR get 10 orders for FoD per month and have capacity for double that – it’s not unreasonable. FoD build is very inefficient- moving gangs around to undertake patchwork builds isn’t the natural method – it needs dedicated planners alone to arrange TM & highways

      Standard FTTP build invokes planning and build of 1000-5000 connections a week…

      FoD is not a short cut, you won’t see quotes passing 10-100 properties which while technically within the capabilities of the PON is not the way FoD is structured – for that go to CFP

      OR get a flood of quote requests 99% of which are tyre kickers and so OR remind CP’s not to waste time

    4. Avatar photo New_Londoner says:

      Helpful, thanks. Presumably Openreach could ramp up capacity if its customers forecast more demand?

    5. Avatar photo John says:

      baby_frogmella Thanks for your reply, but none of those ISPs offer the unlimited bandwidth and bundled telephony elements which BT and Zen do and therefore are simply too expensive, even if the ordinary punter can untangle the offer on their business-orientated websites. Copper telephony is required for reasons of safety. I live in rural Wales where I’m lucky enough to be in the FTTP infill. With an unreliable mobile signal and the possibility of a prolonged power cut I need to have a continued line of communication. Other ISPs are understandably focused on urban areas where there is easier money to be made. So for now, there’s still a lack of ISP choice.

    6. Avatar photo Web Dude says:

      @TechServ “you won’t see quotes passing 10-100 residential properties ”

      My quote says 5 are passed. Between me and the cabinet serving me FTTC there are approx 220 homes. The cabinet behind my house (serving other side of road) is 20 m from my window and a phone line crosses my back garden to a home (different street). I can imagine them counting 1 neighbour in either direction if connection was from that particular cabinet.

      I cannot fathom where the “5” came from.

      VDSL Range A (Clean).. 43.3 31 8.1 5.5 27.4 Available
      VDSL Range B (Impacted) 34.9 18 7.5 4.1 13.5 Available

      FTTP on Demand 330 30

    7. Avatar photo Web Dude says:

      sorry – I somehow inserted “residential” which wasn’t in the original post.

    8. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      the connection does come from the cabinet its a connection from the aggregation node which might be nowhere near your cabinet — it depends where the nearest one is

    9. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      correction – the fibre for the FOd does not come from the cabinet !!!!! its from the nearest aggregation node

  8. Avatar photo John says:

    Isn’t Native FTTP also in the doldrums? For domestic purposes there are really only 2 ISPs that support it – BT (obviously) and Zen. Unless I’m wrong, that position hasn’t changed in over 12 months, despite the 2-3% coverage.

    1. Avatar photo Vince says:

      There are considerably more than 2 players offering residential FTTP. There are however fewer that offer it online and most want you to call.

    2. Avatar photo Joe says:

      The reverse surely. A lot of the difficult spots left are being disproportionately completed with FTTP

    3. Avatar photo John says:

      Vince, name names, please as I’d like to know what my Native FTTP choice of ISP is. I’m aware that PlusNet have put some existing subscribers on a trial, but you had to have an account with them first, and I think the trial may have ended. I’m not aware of any ISP other than BT or Zen who support Full Fibre in the home. Why would anyone do so and not advertise that fact?

    4. Avatar photo baby_frogmella says:

      From the top of my head:
      BT Business (they sell to residential punters as well who require extras like static ip)

    5. Avatar photo John says:

      baby_frogmella Thanks for your reply, but none of those ISPs offer the unlimited bandwidth and bundled telephony elements which BT and Zen do and therefore are simply too expensive, even if the ordinary punter can untangle the offer on their business-orientated websites. Copper telephony is required for reasons of safety. I live in rural Wales where I’m lucky enough to be in the FTTP infill. With an unreliable mobile signal and the possibility of a prolonged power cut I need to have a continued line of communication. Other ISPs are understandably focused on urban areas where there is easier money to be made. So for now, there’s still a lack of ISP choice.

  9. Avatar photo Guy Cashmore says:

    FTTPoD isn’t available in west Devon at any price, so any monthly numbers limit is academic. Quite how were BT/OR going to deliver the USO by 2020 then?

    1. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      ont forget the USO is 10 m/bps you had a range CFP which would a sighter for the FOd the FDO might even ben more –

    2. Avatar photo New_Londoner says:

      At the moment delivery of the as yet undefined USO is a problem for the government and not any of the network operators. In any case, the government’s rhetoric to date suggests that it won’t be implemented before 2020 so the delivery challenges only start then.

    3. Avatar photo Guy Cashmore says:

      @New_Londoner Didn’t BT offer to deliver USO voluntarily by 2020, which was rejected by government? Even 10 Mbps will need FTTP for the majority where I live.

    4. Avatar photo New_Londoner says:

      Don’t forget mobile and fixed wireless were in the mix too.

  10. Avatar photo Phil says:

    BT FTTPoD Quote Software

    if (enquiriesThisMonth > 20) then Quote = £39,000 else something less than £39,000

    1. Avatar photo Mike says:

      if (enquiriesThisMonth > 20) then…. Apply 20 per month cap see we don’t have to do the hard work involved or even bother calculating the price for people…. There fixed 🙂

  11. Avatar photo Guy Smith says:

    You say:
    “one of the few FoD offering ISPs told ISPreview.co.uk”
    Who are the few please?
    Every ISP I have called claims to know nothing.
    It’s like FoD and G.fast are a figment of my imagination.

  12. Avatar photo GreatNutt says:

    Arriving late to this as I am researching ISP’s that offer the 330/1gb service for FTTPoD. My initial quote was over 20k, but I read the fine print, saying you are still interested requires a site visit by an engineer who has to do an honest assessment of the costs and then you have a second chance to walk away. So I said I was still interested, the final quote was under 10k, contracted for completion in July.

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