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British Fibre Networks Deploy 1Gbps FTTH to UK New Build Homes UPDATE

Thursday, August 16th, 2018 (10:51 am) - Score 3,369
fibre optic blue strands cosmetic broadband picture

British Fibre Networks, which launched earlier this year (here) with an aspiration to build a new open access 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband ISP network to serve over 35% of UK new build homes by 2020, has now begun its first deployment on an apartment block in North Wales, for LW Group.

The young operator, which has been founded by the former CEO of the defunct i3 Group (Elfed Thomas), claims to have already signed-up over 2,000 homes in the past month. Further work is also set to begin shortly on similar developments in Cheshire and Liverpool.

BFN said they will aim to connect homes “before the occupier moves in” and customers should then be able to choose from a choice of ultrafast broadband ISPs, which are all described as being in “the national top 20 based on reputation.” We have asked which ISPs they’ve partnered with as none are listed.

Instead of being reliant on copper cable line rental, all homes will also come equipped with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system to enable phone calls. “This will be managed by BFN, ensuring consistent connectivity irrespective of whether the customer changes ISP,” said the operator.

We have asked whether the VoIP solution will be optional, so that customers can still pick their own VoIP provider, without at the same time needing to still pay for BFN’s service.

Elfed Thomas, CEO of British Fibre Networks, said:

“For too long, builders and homeowners have been misled by companies who claim to offer ‘full fibre’, when the last tail of that network is actually copper. Even if the new Government proposals for UK-wide full fibre broadband by 2033 come to fruition, the ambiguity around the term will no doubt continue, unless stricter regulations are put in place to prevent misuse of the term. Our approach has surpassed Government policy, and we aim to add value for house builders who can now offer a home with genuine pure fibre connectivity.

We are taking a neutral position in that we are not an ISP; we are simply ensuring new homes have the infrastructure that can connect to a choice of broadband providers. There is no higher service quality than the ISPs we have partnered with.

With our infrastructure, homes will always be connected before the homeowner moves in, so builders will no longer risk disappointing customers. The builders we are working with are ahead of the curve in providing pure fibre connectivity, and we expect many more to follow suit as the benefits to both them and their customers become apparent.”

At present there’s a lot of competition among FTTP/H operators in the New Build Homes market (e.g. Openreach, OFNL / GTC / BUUK, Hyperoptic, Virgin Media etc.), which is partly because it tends to be both significantly cheaper and quicker to deploy if you can get your cables into the ground during the early infrastructure build phase.

On the other hand such a strong level of competition does seem to indicate that BFN may struggle to achieve their 35% aspiration but the important thing is that they’re now building. We will update again later once BFN has responded to our questions about ISP choice and VoIP costs / options.

UPDATE 12:46pm

On our VoIP question we’ve been told: “The VoIP system is a separate option from the ISP. It is designed to accommodate the fact that customers usually change ISP every year or two. As British Fibre Networks is providing and maintaining the VoIP it will always remain consistent despite any changes to ISP. Customers will be able to choose VoIP service from an ISP without paying for British Fibre Networks’ VoIP, so there is no duplication. This is a real neutral, access-for-all platform and we believe this is the way forward to offer freedom of choice.”

We’re now just awaiting an answer to the ISP query as at present it’s unclear who will be selling services on their network.

UPDATE 2:10pm

BFN has informed us that they will be using “aggregators to deliver to customers” and so far those are the UK ISPs Focus Group and Vispa.

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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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5 Responses
  1. Juan

    No chance of 35%. Especially if you don’t secure some of the more well-known service providers. And as many of those providers are building their own fibre networks its very unlikely they will sign up to BFN.

    The key to success is a strong network of retailers.

  2. Zeph

    100m from Telephone Cabinet and I’m on Dial-up as ADSL ceased when the BT Exchange switched to FTTC but missed out my street as I’m one of three residential addresses. BT said it’s not cost effective to update the cabinet and Virgin Media also refuses to supply me because of ‘construction issues’ Eve n though I’m only 5meters from thier Greybox outlet.

  3. Andrew Ferguson

    @Zeph
    ADSL is not normally ceased when other cabinets on an exchange are upgraded to FTTC, so sounds like something else is going on.

    If this really was the case there would be a lot more people talking about it.

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