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Ofcom UK CEO Warns BT to “fibre-up, or risk fading away”

Thursday, April 26th, 2018 (2:27 pm) - Score 15,674

The boss of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, Sharon White, has told a conference in London today that BT (Openreach) must replace their “Victorian-era” copper ISP network with a modern “full fibre” (FTTP/H) broadband alternative or “risk losing swathes of customers to [rivals].”

The strong words came as Openreach continues to be put under pressure for a perceived lack of investment in Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP/H) networks. At present the operator expects to bring “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+) connections to 13 million premises by the end of 2020, although only 3 million of that will come from FTTP and the rest is be delivered via slower hybrid fibre G.fast solutions.

Achieving 3 million by the end of 2020 would actually be quite a significant level of progress but the challenge is around what comes next.

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said:

“We’re now committed to delivering FTTP in 40 towns, cities and boroughs and in just a few short weeks we’ve raised the delivery rate of full fibre to over a thousand homes per week in Bristol and in Cardiff.

By the end of May, we’ll be building to 1000 homes each week in each of the eight cities we’ve announced in our first wave. We will double our FTTP footprint this year. And we don’t yet know how fast we can go.

But be assured Openreach will go full throttle, at scale, across 40 cities.

Openreach has previously indicated that they aspire to push FTTP out to cover 10 million premises by around 2025, although they have yet to set this in stone due to on-going concerns over the impact of regulation, disagreements with rivals and cost (£3bn to £6bn) etc.

The operator has previously warned (here) that reaching 10 million may only be possible with co-investment support from other ISPs (difficult since so many are now doing their own thing), as well as softer regulation, reduced logistical barriers (permissions / planning etc.) and the ability to switch-off old copper networks as areas go FTTP (very complex and rivals with an investment in copper services may obstruct).

Selley added:

“Builders like Openreach also need help from Government and Ofcom. I’m particularly encouraged by the approach of the DCMS barrier busting team, because everyone knows that network builders could go faster if there was less red-tape.

But it’s also important for the whole industry that we find a solution to business rates. One that promotes investment and better reflects the long term nature of what we’re all investing in.

Ofcom’s WLA review gives us more pricing certainty, but regulation must promote FTTP investment and take-up, so investors need unequivocal support for the switchover from copper to fibre, and greater flexibility to withdraw legacy products when launching new ones.

In the longer term, we believe the model needs fundamental change to guarantee customers quality and choice. We can achieve that by:

• Incentivising fibre investments that allow a fair return

• Encouraging competition outside urban clusters

• And recognising that a three year regulatory review cycle is too short.”

Nevertheless Ofcom’s CEO has also noted the tremendous progress being made by alternative network (AltNet) providers (B4RN, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Cityfibre etc.), which between them have committed to deliver FTTP/H to millions of homes and businesses over the next few years (see our summary).

Sharon White, Ofcom CEO, said:

“If incumbents who rely on copper don’t change course, they risk losing swathes of customers to full-fibre rivals. Incumbents face a choice in my view – fibre-up, or risk fading away.

History is strewn with once-successful companies that failed to anticipate and act on shifts in customer demands and to innovate. Think Kodak, Polaroid, Palm and Blockbuster.

The UK cannot afford for BT to be added to that list.

Over the next few years, the number of homes and businesses able to benefit from full fibre is set to rise from one to six million. That is one fifth of homes and businesses – good progress.

But some way short of the ambition that full-fibre is available nationwide. So we must build on the early momentum.”

Sharon added that the regulator’s approach would “continue to be anchored” in the principle of the ‘fair bet’ (i.e. the certainty that risky investments will earn a fair return). She separately noted that Ofcom would also aim to extend the time between its big regulatory interventions (market reviews) from 3 to 5 years. Finally, she welcomed Openreach’s “fibre first” commitment but clearly wants them to go much further.

As usual the challenge is with the difficulty of marrying the industry’s many competing interests and turning those into some sort of agreement, which is always easier said than done. On the other hand there may also be something to be said for allowing AltNets time to grow their own networks first (natural competition), without fear of maximum pressure being applied in the same areas by Openreach or radical changes by the government.

AltNets don’t face the same regulatory baggage as Openreach, which is part of the reason why so many of them have been able to build and offer much cheaper / faster “full fibre” services than Openreach. This may also create an additional obstacle for Openreach’s co-investment idea.

Meanwhile the Government could yet throw another curve ball into the mix when they publish their Future Infrastructure Review sometime this summer, which is considering what changes may need to be made in order to boost investment in “full fibre.” One of those ideas could involve a return to the murky world of Regional Franchises (here).

Time will tell but nobody ever said that ‘Building a Full Fibre Future’ would be either easy, quick or cheap.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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66 Responses
  1. GNewton says:

    About the idea of co-investment in Openreach: This is not going to happen, Openreach is wholly owned by BT, and its budget is controlled by BT, and the network assets are owned by BT.

    As regards Sharon’s statement that “The UK cannot afford for BT to be added to that list [of fading away].”: She’s wrong here, the contrary is true. This country will be much better off without a BT.

    1. Kevin says:

      I have to disagree, the country would be far worse off without BT. BT is forced to open its network to other providers with costs controlled by OfCom, something the other networks are not obligated to do.

      We could end up with areas covered by one fibre provider with no competitor… With no pricing controls, they could inflate prices in areas with no competition. Also if BT didn’t exist, some areas could have no fixed line broadband options available to them.

    2. TheFacts says:

      @GN – so just switch off telecomms in many rural areas?

    3. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: Why do you care? Have you had yet any replies to your enquiries for your own line?

      There are other broadband solutions available for rural areas, it doesn’t have to be xDSL. Also, if BT went bankrupt, another more competent company could take over, and it wouldn’t have the huge pensions scheme burdens. In fact, even in today’s poor investment environment some companies like Gigaclear managed to invest in some rural fibre networks, unlike BTs “Can’t Do” culture.

    4. AnotherTim says:

      I disagree that if BT disappeared a more competent company would take over – while I’m not a great BT fan, I do believe they are pretty competent. They have had their hands tied, and they have failed to be as pro-active as they could have been, but they are still the company making the biggest and widest improvements to broadband in large parts of the country. While Gigaclear may be great where they have networks, it will take years for them to complete rollout in areas where they have been awarded BDUK contracts (if there are no delays). Meanwhile BT have upgraded my local exchange to ADSL2+ at their own expense.

    5. chris says:

      just fully separate Openreach from BT.

      make openreach an infrastructure company akin to the National Grid,where retailers like BRITISH Gas Scottish power and SSE / EON have the ability to bill the end customer.

      Job done.

  2. AndyC says:

    Is this the same ofcom that is also stopping bt from doing what it needs to to make fibre a good return for bt??

    The same ofcom that holds bt on a short leash so others can provide full fibre first???

    Can i have some of whatever she puts in her coffee please?

    1. NGA for all says:

      FAIR BET analysis is showing BT doing very well on its £1.3bn capital investment in NGA. Ofcom calculate >15%. If there was more investment you would have made more and WLA prices could be higher. I do agree that BT should be able to agree a Sunset date for PSTN in rural. Northern Ireland looks like a good place to propose an all fibre network and proposed the processes needed. There is a further £150m of monies available on top of the £66m subsidies received. The subsidies have become problematic. In NI and Wales subsidies are greater than BT Group’s capital investment. That is not Ofcom’s fault.

      8k a week which is huge, still leaves a long way short of 3m by 2020? But this a very strong statement of intent. Calling for more is strange.

      BT is also resting on £397m of the £527m Capital Deferral it owes back to Government. When does this get converted into coverage? Handing it back in 2023 does not really constitute a plan.

    2. Joe says:

      “FAIR BET analysis is showing BT doing very well on its £1.3bn capital investment in NGA. Ofcom calculate >15%.”

      Careful you can be very sure that the roll out so far has been the lowest hanging and most profitable fruit. Can’t safely extrapolate how far that will hold out for future works

    3. NGA for all says:

      Joe, on the £1.1bn subsidy so far reported it is clear you can – 40% take up rates, costs reported much lower than portrayed. New Builds & refurbs is no more than substituting fibre for copper.
      The £150m for Northern Ireland to fix c100k non superfast premises provides a good opportunity to at least propose a significant full fibre transition activity as an option beginning in rural.
      It would give BT and Ofcom the chance to overcome their reticence and fears to accommodate such a possibility.

    4. Gadget says:

      ” Handing it back in 2023 does not really constitute a plan.” it is not a plan but a contractual requirement! It can only be changed by mutual agreement and clearly since some monies have been used to extend the coverage it is most likely to be the individual authorities and not BT.

  3. Rich says:

    That’s rich, Ofcom telling BT to fibre up so that Ofcom can force BT to let everyone else use their network at or below cost price.

    It’s like the council telling me to extend my house so they can house people in it.

    1. Adrian Martin says:

      I agree entirely with you. Virgin only operate in towns and cities while BT has been taking fibre for years to rural locations where they cannot make a profit. How will BT take fibre to the home? Huge costs will apply digging up roads, let alone planning constraints. Other ISPs contribute very little to the infrastructure!

  4. Chris P says:

    we need a new head at OFCOM.

    Ms White is completely deluded.

    if she wants Full Fibre, then let BT remove copper at the same time, regulate the consumer price for Fibre at or near the cost of FTTC and add a copper tax or something. Dropping the cost of copper does nothing to stimulate demand. Racing to the bottom does not help with the introduction of new services that need to touch each household.

    Maybe she could maintain a true level playing field and hold the other infrastructure suppliers to the same account as BT/OR. i’d love sky broadband over VM, or better still over B4RN or gigaclear if i could get it.

    1. Paul M says:

      Why isn’t Sky, who’s built a big unbundled network, forced to sell wholesale services like TalkTalk?

    2. GNewton says:

      @Paul M: Because Sky doesn’t own the last-mile access network.

  5. Meadmodj says:

    I agree.

    Ofcom under her leadership has caused the uncertainty for BT to invest. She should be doing more about the parasite ISPs who invest nothing but benefit from the regulatory control of BT.

    She has also caused the mess that is now emerging for the next 5 years where large pockets of UK households will not be able get much more than base copper service whilst others will languish in multiple Ultrafast and Giga options.

    As Clive Selley has stated BT has committed to 40 locations and will cover all streets. I doubt if all the Altnets are taking such a comprehensive approach. Some appear to be targetting multi occupied dwellings whilst passing hundreds of other premises.

    Finally Sharon White also needs to understand that equipment and trained resource don’t grow on trees. BT could have started as long ago as the 80s and we could have avoided the costly (enviromental as well) FTTC distraction. Its only because Fibre products have fallen in price that we are finally making progress.

    BT can only invest where there is a clear line of sight of the forward revenues.

    1. CarlT says:

      Openreach are not covering all streets in the cities in their first wave. G.fast is being deployed as well and some areas will get neither G.fast or FTTP for the foreseeable, even in those cities.

      Openreach have never, as far as I’m aware, claimed either FTTP or G.fast coverage would be ubiquitous.

  6. Rahul says:

    Of-course this is exactly the only way you’ll be able to persuade BT Openreach to lay more FTTP only via competition.

    I do not know if this is a coincidence or not. 5 weeks ago I emailed BT Openreach asking them whether BT will support Fibre in my area. They initially said it’s an Exchange Only line and the goods news would be that they’re looking at a project by diverting the existing line into a traditional cabinet. Anyway, I responded back saying that we are not interested in FTTC and that there are alternative Fibre Optic Providers like Hyperoptic that are very much interested to install FTTP in my building!

    Well amazingly exactly 5 weeks later after my Email on that Tuesday (just 2 days ago), I suddenly checked BT Openreach When can I get fibre and this is what came up…. “Your area is currently in our plans to be upgraded with Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), however we follow a different design and build process for FTTP so you won’t see updates at each stage. Once the engineering work is completed there is a commissioning period of up to eight weeks before an order can be placed. When you are able to place an order you will see the Accepting Orders message.”

    Exchange name: Bishopsgate
    Exchange status: Fibre enabled
    Cabinet number: –
    Technology: Pending – EO Line

    This surely cannot be a coincidence! For 4 years it has been showing up as “You’re in a plan to get Superfast fibre but we haven’t started work yet.
    It’ll be built either as part of our fibre programme or through a partnership with your local authority.”

    But now this has changed to “Your area is currently in our plans to be upgraded with Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)”

    Could it be that BT Openreach got scared when I mentioned to them that Hyperoptic are interested in installing FTTP in my building?! And that’s why they are now deciding to install FTTP? Maybe this is a food for thought!

    1. Jono says:

      Probably not. I don’t think openreach would consider a massive investment because someone tells them someone else might be interested in doing it. This isn’t how big companies like this operate.

      Great news though. Hope it happens soon.

    2. Fastman says:

      that wil have been in plan and being looked for a while those things don’t just happen they take a number of months of design – I would assume there a signifant number of premises on that cable to make it viable to be deployed as FTTP

    3. Peter Essex says:

      I doubt very much that BT got scared by your email.

    4. Rahul says:

      @Fastman: Perhaps that may have been the case. They looked into the situation and was wondering whether to install FTTC or FTTP.
      Anyway this was the email I was sent 5 weeks ago…

      “Hello Rahul,

      Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding.

      I’ve had a look into this for you and can see that your property is connected directly from the (BISHOPSGATE) exchange, without going through a green cabinet. This is called an ‘exchange only line’.

      Sadly, Exchange only lines are one of the small numbers of properties we can’t currently provide fibre to. However, the good news is that there is an ongoing project to divert your line through a traditional green cabinet, which will allow you to order fibre broadband once completed.”

      As we can see from this email the only clue I get is that a new traditional green cabinet would be installed meaning the project was more likely to be FTTC.

      It was only after I told them that first my building is located 800 meters away from Bishopsgate Exchange. FTTC would only be able to deliver 28Mbps and the only way it would be possible for higher speeds is for that new green cabinet to be installed near my building. And on top of that they’ll need to install another cabinet after having read the FAQ on Exchange Only Lines. Other buildings around me who are further away from the cabinet will once again be affected due to distance.

      Perhaps this makes it economically not viable to first build 2 new green cabinets which would cost a lot of money and then eventually in future again to remove those green cabinets and then make it FTTP again. Personally I think it would indeed be a more sensible option to make it FTTP instead even if it takes a longer period of time for this project to complete.

      I’m happy to wait as long as it happens. My area and exchange is located in City of London so perhaps this investment is more worthy of the cost. It was just unexpected to see plans being changed to FTTP all of a sudden. I should also mention though there’s a new Building by Barratt Homes just around the corner that has both FTTP supported by BT Openreach and Hyperoptic supported. I also found that a little strange!

    5. Fastman says:

      not sure why you find that strange — that actually not uncommon in city new build

    6. Rahul says:

      @Fastman: You know why I found that strange? The fact that there would be increased competition between BT Openreach VS Hyperoptic. I find that bizarre when you consider the fact that currently only 4% of the UK has FTTP. Instead of installing 2 separate Fibre Optic cables from 2 different providers in that same building, they could install one of them to some more needy ones who don’t have it at all. The coverage would’ve been greater in percentage.

      The FTTP packages by BT Openreach providers such as Zen, Spectrum Internet, etc are quite expensive. £99 per month for 1Gbps for 6 months and then it becomes £159.99 from Spectrum while Hyperoptic offer 1Gbps for £49 per month. In this case everyone who lives in those particular blocks will all subscribe to Hyperoptic while the FTTP cables installed by BT Openreach would hardly ever be used by any of those residents rendering it a waste of investment.

      BT Openreach say they are worried about investing too much in laying FTTP as it won’t give them a return on investment, yet they laid FTTP in those Buildings that already had Hyperoptic installed, very ludicrous to be honest..

    7. A Builder says:


      I suspect the answer really is that OR are prioritising upgrading ducted EO lines.

      There are probably two drivers for this

      – There is no need to shift people from FTTC so the take up rates will be very very high
      – This gives a nice healthy boost to average speeds

      The issue over generating high take up rates may well be internal politics as if the initial roll out shows a very high ROI then getting funding for the further phases looks more certain.

      If, in a hypothetical world, I was planning it I would start with easy places (good ducts etc) where there would be high take ups too. And to be fair people on inner city EO lines have been suffering for a long time sometimes nearly as badly as those out in the country side. So I don’t really see a downside in this approach.

      This may actually reduce the number of people who are below the USO more than we all realise as at one time EOL’s were desirable and the gold standard product. A lot of EOL was put in for security reasons that are now obscured by the mists of history as it was harder to mess with. So some of the EOL’s go to very strange places: they are not just radiused around the exchange.

  7. Meadmodj says:

    BT is a private company with shareholders. Like any other company it needs to be clear before it invests what the returns will be on a given investment. The Alnets are the same. Except for the local community initiatives these are not charities.

    BT has a legal universal service obligation for telephony not for broadband. Why should it invest in infrastructure if Ofcom keep changing the rules and forcing them to open it up to others to use without contribution.

    My contention is that you would have fibre outside your home before now if Ofcom had not interfered in the first place.

    There are other models available. We have competition in gas and electricity but I don’t see provision by multiple providers in my street and missing houses out.

    Competition isn’t working as BT and the Alnets will avoid each other for probably the next 5 years and the constant threat of regulation on BT just encourages them to place investment elsewhere in content and 5G

    I don’t blame them, I blame Ofcom

    1. Mike says:

      Unfortunately that’s one of the problems with democracy, politicians make unrealistic promises and in order to deliver them generally require messy government intervention in the market.

      BT wanted to “fibre up” in the 1990’s but the government stopped them.

    2. Stephen Wakeman says:

      Competition in gas and electricity? That is an odd comparison to make since it is a widely held view that the energy industry is broken from a competition standpoint, and that Ofgem are a toothless and ineffective regulator (sound familiar?).

      There surely are other market structures and strategies that could be used but surely the energy industry is not a shining example you’d want to replicate…

    3. Meadmodj says:

      @Stephen Wakeman

      Yes perhaps not the best comparison but my point was really about having a single infrastructure model and that there should be a form of USO to ensure black holes aren’t left.

      Whether that is allocating geographical areas to each Infrastructure Provider or a mutual use agreements I am not sure but having FTTC/ADSL, VM and two or more FTTP providers in the same urban streets does not appear to be the best investment approach as any low utilisation of infrastructure just simply gets increases the cost to the consumer.

    4. GNewton says:

      @Meadmodj: Yours is a valid point. Having multiple telecom infrastructures passing the same premises doesn’t make sense. This issue should have been addressed many years ago by the government and Ofcom. It is a bit too late now. The best option now would be for BT to fade away and let other telecoms do a proper job. Perhaps some anti-cherry-picking rules should be introduced so that at least the bigger telecoms always need to serve a mixture of urban and rural in pre-defined regions. Not an easy task to implement though, and I doubt Ofcom would be able to do so.

    5. TheFacts says:

      @GN – is a ‘proper job’ 100% coverage with a single supplier of FTTP to each property with no wholesale?

    6. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: Again, should get in touch with Ofcom or your local ISPs on this, the same as you should do for your constant lines issues.

      Anyway, the question to be asked should have been: Is not having fibre broadband at all a “proper job”? You can’t turn back the clock, your fancy ideas about a nationwide government-funded fibre won’t happen.

  8. MikeW says:

    Sharon White thinks she can achieve her goals with all stick and no carrot. But pushing with just rhetoric and no evidence.

    I suspect BT will hold out until her strategy is gone. And she’s gone with it. Or until their own evidence tells them to jump.

    1. AndyH says:

      She’s like a broken clock. Every few months, it’s the same rhetoric without any definitive planning by OFCOM.

      When it comes down to some important issues, such as planning/wayleaves, no one is bothering to look at finding solutions. Openreach, VM and the Altnets all are talking about the hurdles, no one in OFCOM or Whitehall is listening.

    2. wireless pacman says:

      Agree Andy. She is definitely Prime Minister material! 🙂

  9. Jonny says:

    Cool, so Ofcom will be binning the copper line USO then?

  10. New_Londoner says:

    What has this got to do with a supposedly neutral regulator anyway? Can we please replace Ms White with someone who is competent, let her continue her political career somewhere which is less harmful to U.K. plc.

    She has been an unmitigated disaster, has damaged the UK economy due to an incoherent set of unsound regulatory interventions in the telecoms market whilst simultaneously ignoring TV. We need someone without their own agenda that can make evidence-based decisions, preferably with a sunset clause on the regulator to discourage unnecessary meddling for the sake of it.

    1. Spurple says:

      I wonder. Are all OFCom decisions unilaterally hers, or is it some kind of voting committee for which she is merely the head?

  11. Meadmodj says:

    Unfortunately not. As far as I am aware since rejecting the BT voluntary proposal USO itself is under discussion, who will be involved and how it will be funded still needs to be determined. Only the legislation appears to have progressed.

    I await the detail.

  12. Incognito maan says:

    Sharon is being used as a pawn to destabilise BT. She’s currently on track it seems. A few back handers from sky and talk talk has gotten the position we’re in.

  13. Jigsy says:

    BT only care about their copper cash cow. Nothing more, nothing less.

    1. CarlT says:

      Think you’re mistaking BT for Sky there.

  14. Kelvin says:

    “fibre-up, or risk fading away.”

    Lets hope that BT pick the second option.

    1. Meadmodj says:


      You appear to have great confidence in Ofcom in future. When these Altnets or VM gain Significant Market Power (SMP) are you going to pay what ever they charge? in your area. I am not aware of many cases where private companies reduce their pricing when they are in a dominant position.

      We don’t know what BT’s current strategy is but they will remain a big player either at the front as Consumer ISP or Wholesale back haul. I think currently they are playing a pretty shrewd game as they know Ofcom’s SMP is not legally enforceable if there are alternatives.

  15. JOHN DONALDSON says:

    I live in a small village called Dunure they laid cables to the exchange all the eay up the road and connected the village we have been left out because we have a exchange only line. They got planning 2years ago to install cabinet so far nothing

    1. Fastman says:

      how do you know they got planning — are you the landowner there are a whole number of reasons why the cab might not have been stood — its suggest they ether have had an objection to the location or something

  16. TheManStan says:

    Oh… good grief!!!

    Sharon’s lack of perspective is monumental…

    If she wants the UK fibred up, then in the same breath she needs to say that ADSL is on it’s way out…

    1. A Builder says:


      Well ADSL and ADSL2+ can only be phased out there is a viable not more expensive option.

      This also does mean that where there is no ADSL OR have to commit to VDSL2+/Gfast/FTTP blanket coverage and also commit to cabinet expansion timescales.

      At present with ADSL products it is not OR who set the capacity and it would be maddening and unfeasible to switch off ADSL and leave it to OR’s gift if and when DSLAM/FTTP capacity was increased. That would be madness and there would have to be very very heavy penalties for failure to deliver.

      My suspicion is that you could migrate everyone off of ADSL to FTTC if you offered and better service for the same money.

      Although it is going to be a very very long time before there is NIL ADSL in the UK as it is the only thing that works (other than POTS) over very long copper lines.

      The short term gain of switching off ADSL family products would be the ability to boost VDSL2+ speeds by 32Mb/s pretty easily simply be recycling the lower frequency spectrum – lower frequencies go further on pairs. Also tier 1 VDSL2+ (55Mb/s) would then be available over a wider radius and most places that can get 55 Mb/s now would get tier2 80Mb/s after the down shift in frequencies.

      So I can see this being very attractive, from a regulatory point of view, as it would lead to a big boost in headline speeds for no new tech involved. But those big green cabs need to get to twice the size in a lot of places if take up really is only 50% at present.

  17. Lite Speed says:

    For at least two decades and probably more BT has pulled the wool over the eyes of the so called regulator. From allowing BT to swallow EE to buying PlusNet to avoid regulatory control and then spending hundreds of millions in advertising to queer the pitch for BT’s true competitors. To the dubious practices around the BDUK rollout.
    How much is a swathe anyway? BT still has the lions share of the market and Openreach has several lions share.
    “Over the next few years, the number of homes and businesses able to benefit from full fibre is set to rise from one to six million. That is one fifth of homes and businesses – good progress.”
    Well whoopdidoo. Given we have some 27 million homes and 5-6 million businesses. And in that time how many still won’t be able to get even 2meg.

    1. New_Londoner says:

      “And in that time how many still won’t be able to get even 2meg.”

      It’s probably a much smaller number than you imagine, your speeds are not typical for the U.K., remembering the vast majority of premises (over 95%) can get download speeds of 24Mbps or higher.

      In fact, according to Thinkbroadband the number of U.K. premises unable to get download speeds of at least 2Mbps is currently 0.67%, or approximately 181,000 premises if your 27 million total is correct. That’s today, would clearly be lower by the time 6 million can opt for FTTP.

  18. Meadmodj says:

    Was that her only slide “Closing Comments”

  19. Tony says:

    How about instead of doing fttp you actually upgrade those without fttc first. I’m here struggling with speeds of 0.8 maximum.
    Makes me Fed up to be with bt

    1. Rahul says:

      Usually speaking those who are upgraded to FTTP don’t have FTTC to begin with. There’s an article somewhere I read yesterday with Frequently Asked Questions that those who are already with FTTC are very unlikely to be upgraded with FTTP in near future.

      An example here in my case. My Bishopsgate Exchange is an EO Line therefore it can’t be upgraded to FTTC without having 2 new green cabinets close to the building. But the exchange is very far away (800 meters) from my building so FTTC would only deliver up to 28Mbps. The problem with this is the civil engineering costs which is probably not worth having 2 extra cabinets installed near my building as those further away will be affected.

      A wiser and more sensible option would be to be in for an FTTP upgrade which in my case I’m on a plan to be upgraded with FTTP. In the long run that’s economically better value than to upgrade to FTTC and then upgrade again to FTTP in future, that would be a double cost! I’m happy to wait another 5-10 years for a more quality FTTP service than have FTTC now but have to wait more than a decade before it gets upgraded to FTTP. Ultimately patience will pay off.

  20. jeep says:

    I expect most of the FTTP BT are on about are probably new builds where they can install far easier I would imagine.

  21. A Builder says:

    Well all real fibre investment is good news.

    BT/OR in a strange position clinging to GFast which is soaking resource and effort into a dead end. Personally I would have preferred them to have expended the effort/money on ramping up FTTP faster.

    BT/OR snivelling on the costs model has been blown apart by the Alt Nets.

    Some very sharp investors see ROI in the Alt Nets and investment is pouring in.

    So yes, Sharon is right up to a point, that BT could fade away. Bear in mind the profit tipping point caused by the pension ball and chain then actually BT is in a lot weaker position than they looks as they sit on their hand and let their position become eroded.

    For that, as a BT shareholder, I’m unimpressed with Gavin’s strategy of not investing properly in creating major lasting assets while fiddling around with various bits and pieces. The Quad-Play thing is rapidly unravelling as total nonsense and BT could have leveraged a proper fibre network to put them into the 5G leader spot as a virtual operator for others to piggyback onto. It would have been totally analogous to what OR does for other ISP’s at present.

    As far as I can see the Quad Play concept originated in a banks PR department. Vertical integration anyone?

    Who knows maybe Sharon does read ISPPreview? Quite a lot of her speech actually reflects posts made on here recently.

    1. FibreFred says:

      Cost models for altnets are different to OR.

      They are based on a sign up level before they rollout. Hence they cannot lose.

      Not the same for OR. They are expected to rollout with the hope of sign ups.

      Quad play is needed to survive. It’s about divergence to survive. Especially if the competition are doing it.

      E.g. why did any get involved in broadband and voice?

    2. A Builder says:


      Sorry I don’t buy that line anymore.

      BT bleat about the amount they have to invest being short of what is needed.

      However, they fail to invest in what will generate a recognised level of ROI in their traditional core areas.

      In any business you neglect your core activity and competences at your peril.

      The cost models for BR/OR are not really that different except for the other costs that are bolted onto to them: in most cases with little justification other than accountant don’t like overhead and prefer to try and make as much operational cost as they can.

      If you created a striped back business unit in OR – lets call it OR-PureNewFibre then all of this historical garbage would fall away. My experience of turning businesses around, and I have helped quite a few, is that it is very often necessary to start with a blank sheet new sub unit and refuse to move across historical nonsense costs otherwise all you do is support bloated overheads. The problem with the way OR was formed was that all the garbage just went with it.

      Not all of the Alt Nets expect very significant levels of sign up to cover a few blocks. Actually the sign up levels are remarkably low before they push the green button. Which tells you all you need to know about the economics.

      Also OR could perfectly well, as they did in their Race To Infinity (should really have been named Race to Stay Slightly Ahead of 4G as ADSL Looks Slow by Comparison) deploy on an anticipated demand level basis. OR can also perfectly well figure out from usage levels on DSLAM cards and take-up of Gfast where there is an unfulfilled bandwidth demand.

    3. FibreFred says:

      You don’t have to buy into it. Just point out differences. 🙂

      Another key difference is that these Altnets have no requirement to offer wholesale. So they get the best return on everything they invest in.

      Not the same for BT.

  22. Fastman says:

    not sure what you mean by race to infinity !!!!!! please explina

    1. A Builder says:


      When Infinity was launched BT publicised “a race to infinity” which was supposed to be a sign up driven process to register interest.


      It was probably more just to make it a talking point than a real crowd mover but it gave the impression that BT’s actions were crowd influenced.

      It was when BT was very embattled for being stuck with ADSL. Sound familiar at all?

    2. Gadget says:

      Actually to be clear the “Race to Infinity” was a BT Retail initiative and nothing to do with the Openreach commercial rollout but additional to it. “The competition is based on BT Retail’s promotion and the exchanges will go into the Openreach campaign announced in September, which requires the ISPs to ensure at least 10% of premises will connect to the new fibre-optic network, or possibly fund part of the rollout. Exchanges are expected to be enabled by early 2012.” – https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/4522-bt-race-to-infinity-winners-announced

    3. Fastman says:

      oh that – the most remote and diverse hardest expensive and complex places to get to and will have cost an absolute fortune to cover I would expect that had they not been successful a significant number of those would never have been covered by any programme due to their remoteness and distance from existing fibre network – 100% reason why not to be crowd influenced

    4. A Builder says:


      There was a lot less distinction between the different bits of BT back then. Policy was set and the different bits did it; well sometimes……

      So I suspect the tail and the dog were pretty well sync’d on this.

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