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Openreach Extend SOGEA Standalone FTTC Broadband Product Trial UPDATE

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018 (2:32 pm) - Score 5,277

Openreach has decided to extend the UK ISP trial phase for their new Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SOGEA) product until 1st October 2018, which will one day enable consumers to buy a standalone FTTC “fibre broadband” (VDSL2 or G.fast) line without the voice (phone) service.

The existing trial has already gone on for a fair bit longer than expected (here), which was partly because some providers needed more time for testing and preparation (it’s a big change for them). We had been expecting that the 3rd trial phase would come to an end on 30th May 2018 but instead it’s today been given a several month extension to October (here).

In other words, the final pilot phase won’t now commence until late 2018 and a commercial launch is thus more likely to occur during the first half of 2019 instead of in 2018.


We’re happy to confirm an extended CP trial for the new Single Order GEA and Single Order GFast products and associated free of charge pricing (transactions and rental charges set at £0). The CP Trial provides a trial opportunity for CPs to test the latest deployment and technology capabilities and capture learnings and customer experiences of the Fulfilment and Assurance order journeys.

A SOGEA and SOGFast pilot will commence following a successful trial outcome (estimated pilot start is 1 October 2018). Connection and rental charges for trial orders placed during the trial period will be free of charge. Rental charges will remain free of charge beyond the trial period until at least 30 December 2018.

We’ll update Industry later in the year with information for pilot and launch pricing.

SOGEA represents a different approach to broadband provision from what we’ve seen before. Previously consumers had to buy their phone service alongside line rental and then FTTC broadband was optionally added on top. Today few people use their landline for making phone calls and thus SOGEA reverses the aforementioned approach, making it possible to buy a copper line just for broadband.

Consumers will of course still be able to add the voice feature as an optional add-on. In theory this could produce a cost saving for those who don’t take the phone (voice) component but in practice any savings would be tiny because most of the cost is still in the core line rental and broadband delivery side.

The service also introduces a new front plate for the latest NTE5C Master Socket, which where necessary is designed to prevent analogue voice being reinjected onto Openreach’s network from the end users premises (SOGEA’s technical details). All of this will help to support a future direction where voice calling is largely handled by VoIP.

NOTE: Some ISPs have cleverly managed to hack together a similar sort of product where you can buy a line without the analogue voice calls component (i.e. just for broadband), although Openreach’s SOGEA solution should simplify things and do it correctly.

UPDATE 3rd May 2018

A couple of readers wanted to know where the trials are taking place. I’ve written these before but here’s a reminder..

SOGEA over VDSL2 Locations:

Technical Trial –
* Swansea, Ipswich, Brentwood (TBC), Thurso, Newcastle, Leeds

CP Trial 1 –
* London
* North West (Manchester, Merseyside)
* Midlands (Birmingham)
* Yorkshire (Leeds, York)
* Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh)

CP Trial 2 & 3 –

Limited exchanges, on application, in:
* Technical Trial areas
* CP Trial 1 areas
* Colchester & Ipswich
* Northumberland and Wearside
* Romford
* Southern London

Pilot Locations –
* North East General Manager’s Area
* East Anglia General Manager’s Area
* South East General Manager’s Area

Leave a Comment
24 Responses
  1. Avatar Skyrocket says:

    Trial, Trial, more Trial. Get a life Openreach! G.Fast trial could last forever!

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Would you rather they and ISPs sold you a product that didn’t work correctly?

    2. Avatar Bill says:

      Sorry to be cynical Mark, I couldn’t help it. BT/ISPs have been selling us products that don’t work correctly for years!

      FTTC is a classic case, where a poorly performing line cannot even be flagged as a fault because the speeds are within the (outrageously large) “acceptable” ranges.

    3. Avatar GNewton says:

      The subject of BTs excessive trials has been discussed before on the ISPReview forum.

      Naked DSL has been around in many countries for years, it’s not a new technology (except for BT perhaps). Also, some ISPs like AAISP have been offering naked VDSL for quite a while now, though it’s not SOGEA based.

      Probably the main reason for BTs excessive trials are not the technical side of it, rather it is quite slow to adapting its ordering systems and customer services for this, it uses poor quality software for this.

    4. Avatar Gadget says:

      It’s not just Openreach that has to get its systems modified and tested but all the ISPs as well, to cater for the new provisions, changes, repairs, billing. Confirmed in the final sentence of the first paragraph of the Statement above

    5. Avatar MikeP says:

      @GNewton – indeed, it seems that once products go out to “trial” from Openreach or wholesale, it’s all about trialling and (maybe) improving the admin processes for the product rather than anything technical.

    6. Avatar CarlT says:

      Didn’t realise you were an expert on Openreach’s CRM and ordering system, GNewton? I presume you have either used it or seen the code for it?

    7. Avatar TheFacts says:

      And not just dealing with one ISP but 10s.

    8. Avatar GNewton says:

      @CarlT: Have you ever dealt with BTs ordering system, as a BT developer, or as a CP user? If so, please explain why you believe BT needs such long trials over so many months. We have been involved in ecommerce systems development for many years, and if BT doesn’t have technical issues with the SOGEA itself, then something must be wrong with the way it handles its ordering system.

  2. Avatar Paul Wigfield says:

    will this bring the price down on my gaming service from Idnet? I currently pay 62 quid. 16.80 of that is for the line rental.

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Not quite. Still need the D side pair. All that is being excluded is E side pair and the local PSTN connection. BT are changing from PSTN to VoIP and this actually may help them on some exchanges.

      Technically easy but issues regarding sales and operational processes. Easy to mix up a working VDSL pair with a spare one or reverse with another persons line so I hope the guys are being issued with a simple tester. With no phone number to verify if you are on 78Mbps and get unintentionally swapped with someone on 38Mbps not easy to detect or rectify.

      I think I’ll keep my dial tone for now, previous experiences with VoIP were not good and I can still ring my Mum when the power is off.

    2. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Unless OR or BT Wholesale have a URL you can use to verify Account etc?

  3. Avatar Peter Jones says:

    Could removing the phone part of the connection reduce line noise and Potentially boost internet speeds?

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Yes primarily any bad house wiring and phones. But you are right if you happen to be on a bad E pair presumably this would not be there (noise or crosstalk).

  4. Avatar Ryan Amos says:

    I’m getting tired of this too be honest.

    I have a friend is NL that lives in a village/small town and last year he got g.fast to 200Mb/s and this year (July) they told him they are going to up the speed to 400Mb/s. Presumably next year they’ll jump to 1Gb/s.

    (He’s not on DOCSIS or other similar tech, he’s using DSL routers still.)

    Whilst the UK (where I live) I can’t get VM’s DOCSIS and only BT ‘up to’ 80Mb/s where I only get 69Mb/s note I’ve had this for 3 years.

    When will BT give us something better because Jesus Christ were falling behind in terms of infrastructure greatly.

    Another example, a friend that lives in a rural area in Spain has direct Fibre (FTTH/P) up to 1Gb/s he only paid for 100Mb/s.

    We’re at a point where our infrastructure is worse than NL and ES. God know what other countries.

    Come on BT you keep getting loans from government and you don’t do shit with it.

    I want to see something done in my area. I’m happy to pay £100/m for 1Gb/s. GIVE US FTTH/P.


    1. Avatar GNewton says:

      The good news is that the lack of widely available up-to-date fibre products, or even G.fast products, will cause other fibre network providers to take over, eventually driving BT either into extinction or into a gradual decline. There are many extinguished tech dinosaurs in the industry: Remember AltaVista, Compuserve, IBM etc?

      Your best bet is to club together with other users in your local community and get another provider to build a FTTP network.

    2. Avatar Frank Duffy says:

      You’re lucky Ryan. I live 5 minutes from the centre of York and can only achieve *up to* 8mb/s, in reality that is 5.8mb/s.

    3. Avatar A Builder says:


      Absolutely club together with local SMEs as there is a £3k gig voucher and then get as many households in on the act at £500 per fibre voucher as possible. If they don’t have to come too far with the backhaul £30k for two blocks is about right for installation. And that is a real number from a real project which is about to deploy. So get 10 businesses signed up and a few residents and you are off to the races.

      Trick is to find an Alt Net who has backhaul close by and the detective work is not always that easy.

      A group of SMEs has a lot of vouchers = power to get this sort of thing done and the Alt Nets are happy to take the vouchers to build out their networks.

    4. Avatar MikeP says:

      @GNewton – the issue with this is the timing and the risk.
      We’re in a CDS Gigaclear area. Unfortunately at the very end of the rollout – build Q3 2019 completed Q2 2020. So lets add at least 2 quarters to that…..
      So, do I organise my neighbours (10-12 properties within about half a mile), sort out wireless links and backhaul down to the village hall (all quite feasible with one intermediate point across the valley, who could join in too) or will it turn out to be worth waiting ? Will it actually be more like a year late ? Will Gigaclear have wayleave problems ?? etc., etc….

    5. Avatar CarlT says:

      Ryan: you may be happy to pay £100 a month for 1G, chances are most of your neighbours begrudge £27 a month to Vodafone for up to 76.

      Ofcom deserve all the credit for ensuring Spain left us in the dust on full fibre.

  5. Avatar TheFacts says:

    Is it definite there is no E-side? How does line testing work and does the 50V come from the DSAM?

    1. Avatar Sam Skellern says:

      Battery is not needed on a digital line, battery is only needed in a analogue PSTN lines. Im wondering the same, will the dslam be upgraded to provide CPI tones and test the D side? I heard a rumour that the E side will still be their, providing dial tone and line diagnostics, 17070 etc, with a circuit number, but will not be able to dial out or in on that E side.

    2. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      If that was the case then the process is surely easy.
      Broadband with new number
      Broadband with existing number
      Broadband with Out Going Calls Barred

      That wouldn’t require a long trial would it?

      I would have assumed BT would rather want to remove the dependancy on the PSTN line card. If they are not going to generate call revenue from the line then they would want to eliminate broadband only lines and shrink any future requirement for the new exchange equipment in preparation for their VoIP from a more centralised location.

      People really need to think about dialing 999 when the power is out. Some FTTP carry back up for the phone line but you still need to power the phone itself. If people are going to depend on FTTC and VoIP only they need to understand the issue and that you might not have time to find where you put your mobile.

  6. Avatar Graham says:

    Talk about pathetic BT / Openreach put new poles new fiber to within 64 ft of my home
    October 2017,loopback test 330mb , great placed order December 19th 2017.
    BT cancelled and reinstated my order 4 times (without telling me )
    Came to finish Fttp (fiber to the premises) 31st January..left without doing final hook up.
    Been back to openreach planning. No Sir you cannot speak to openreach only BT can ..!
    Promised weekly updates, had one , then went to monthly updates,had none ..!
    Now 4 months later still nothing …
    How long does it take to run fiber 64 ft ..too long
    The have the necessary powers”Ofcom Electronic communications code 2003 ”
    updated December 2017 (very interesting reading)
    Might have to go to satellite Broad band at least no wire to run to house
    That BT cannot connect …!!

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