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ISP Sky Broadband UK to Sell Openreach G.fast and FTTP Broadband

Monday, September 10th, 2018 (7:39 am) - Score 31,892

After a period of uncertainty it’s today been revealed that Sky Broadband has done a new wholesale deal with Openreach (BT) to sell the operator’s range of “ultrafast broadband” (G.fast and FTTP) services on to UK customers, which will come at a hefty price discount of up to 40%. Sky now hope to double their customer base.

Over the past year we’ve remarked a few times that Sky Broadband’s strategy in the UK has appeared to be at a standstill, while many of their competitors have moved to build their own “full fibre” (FTTP/H) networks. Part of this has been due to the on-going bidding war for ownership of Sky plc by Comcast and Fox / Disney, which has yet to be officially resolved.

The fact that Sky’s CEO effectively ruled the company out of building their own Gigabit capable FTTP broadband network in 2016 has also set a certain tone (here), albeit an unusual one for what is still the United Kingdom’s second largest broadband ISP (c.6.2 million customers with c.60% still on their unbundled ADSL2+ lines and the rest taking superfast FTTC / VDSL2 via Openreach).

The good news is that Sky has finally made a decision on their immediate future and it involves throwing their support behind Openreach’s national infrastructure, as opposed to building away from it. The deal will involve a wholesale price reduction, which appears to be based off the new volume discount scheme that was launched in July 2018 (here).

We should point out that Openreach’s discount scheme is available to all ISPs – including small providers – that can grow their “fibre broadband” customer base on Openreach’s superfast or ultrafast network by an agreed proportion over a 3 or 5 year period.

According to The Telegraph, Sky are aiming to double their broadband base, but this may be wishful thinking in such a difficult market for traditional customer growth (Sky’s own broadband base has struggled to grow for the past year or so).

A Spokesperson for Sky said:

“Openreach’s deal, with lower wholesale pricing, enables us to accelerate take-up of ultrafast and full fibre broadband across the UK, while ensuring that competition at a network level remains strong.”

One other challenge in all this is the fact that Openreach’s 330Mbps capable hybrid fibre G.fast network and their 1000Mbps full fibre FTTP service are still in their infancy. BT Group reported last month (here) that G.fast has so far covered 1,117,000 premises, while their FTTP rollout had reached 631,000 premises.

Openreach’s current plan envisages G.fast reaching coverage of about 5.7 million premises and FTTP delivering to 3 million premises by 2020, although their full fibre network should eventually reach 10 million by around 2025 if everything goes as planned. Under this strategy Openreach will definitely have the largest FTTP network in the UK and so Sky’s move makes sense.

On the other hand the issue of price could prove to be a headache for Sky, even with the proposed discounts. Many of their rivals are now building alternative FTTP networks and some of those are already offering or planning to offer related services at an aggressively reduced price point (e.g. we expect Vodafone / Cityfibre to do this and Hyperoptic already do the same). Matching this on Openreach’s network would be difficult.

The newspaper article further hints that Sky may not pass the wholesale discounts on to customers due to marketing spend and the extra investment needed to support new network capacity / support systems, which may further weaken their ability to challenge. The key advantage they have though is that Openreach has the scale to build faster, much faster, than their rivals.

This might not quite be the co-funding arrangement that Openreach was hoping for but having the country’s second largest broadband ISP put some weight behind their FTTP/G.fast solutions is still an important development. The race is on and we now await details on the first Sky Ultrafast Broadband packages, which we already know will be supported by a new wireless router.

UPDATE 10:54am

We did ask Sky whether they had a rough ETA for when the new packages would launch but received a “no comment” response.

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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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32 Responses
  1. Andy Mitchell says:

    Just a shame that the idiots at OpenReach decided to scale back the G.fast rollout in favour of FTTP. Perfect for people like myself in a block of flats that cannot get FTTP. And my box was on the upgrade list originally but not anymore…

    1. Salek says:

      Overall I think cutting back GFAST is a good idea, will let them concentrate on FTTP, you can probably look at other technologies such as 5G in the near future with CAT 12 phones now cheap as ever 300-400 mbits should be possible in many places,

    2. Meadmodj says:

      Investment plans of large companies are simply based on commercials not individual premises needs. Openreach have come under heavy criticism for the late and over hyped G.fast based at the cabinet (particularly on this site). With the fall in Fibre costs, the future return and the political pressure for Fibre has finally swung it to FTTP. This announcement is good for both Sky and BT as G.fast and FTTP can have more guaranteed performance. BT can also recoup their G.fast cabinet investment.
      However I still haven’t given up hope that Openreach will review their access options and that FTTP rollouts will include ultrafast FTTB options based on G.fast technologies where cabling will be difficult.

    3. Jonny says:

      If you’re in a block and can do the work to get people interested then it’s highly likely that Hyperoptic will serve you.

    4. Fastman says:

      andy you could co fund a internal cab in your basement with a GFAST card should you wish via community funded programme — with Openreach

  2. Sky says:

    I thought Openreach cut back on G.FAST and concentrate on FTTP more. I think Sky are mistake to agreed with G.Fast (useless technology still on copper)

    1. ... says:

      Well do you not think although not yet announced anywhere that Sky might not end up doing both G.fast and FTTP.

  3. Paul W says:

    5g will be no good for gaming thought right? So a cabled connection such as fttp or fttc would still be the go to for gaming and not 5g,unless I’m mistaken and the ping etc will be good.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      In theory 5G latency should be perfect for multiplayer gaming, heck even most modern 4G services do a pretty good job on latency. A bigger issue is cost vs data allowance, since fixed lines are much better for unlimited usage plans. But this is a discussion for another topic.

    2. Paul W says:

      Oh, OK mark, thanks for the info, didn’t realise it was going to be that good.

    3. Mark Jackson says:

      Some of the test networks are delivering sub-5ms latency times, which is similar to fixed line full fibre networks. Obviously figures will rise once you add in additional server hops and local network delays but it’s a big improvement over 4G and should also be more stable.

    4. Mike says:

      I’ve had no issues gaming over 4G, with an antenna it makes it much more stable, 50ms ping to UK servers on average.

  4. Gary Hilton says:

    If people are so keen on gfast with its tiny area of effect, petition Open reach and see if they will install it for you. Paying for it myself is my only option if I want fttp to get me off sub 1.5 Meg adsl. Sorry but personally I have zero support for gfast expenditure from Open reach until they manage to provide acceptable broadband to the 100s of areas still living with apalling standard connections

    1. Fastman says:

      you could co fund a internal cab in your basement with a GFAST card should you wish via community funded programme — with Openreach

  5. Cdg says:

    It’s about time another major provider offered open reaches Fttp, will look to switch from bt ultrafast 2 when my contract runs out. Paying £59.99 at the minute but I imagine sky will be around the same price including the basic sky q package

  6. Robin says:

    Are sky likely to offer or support customers wanting FTTPoD as fully FTTPoD isn’t currently available in my area.

    1. Jonny says:

      I would be very surprised if Sky were willing to spend the staff hours that FTTPoD orders require for a product that might have single-digit sales each month.

      FTTPoD in its current form isn’t something that I can see having anything other than very narrow appeal.

  7. Gary Hilton says:

    Hopefully Robert, the choice right now is very limited, have to wonder when even BT Internet don’t offer it!

  8. NGA for all says:

    This is good to see. More volume for FTTP and some retail competition.

  9. Jim Booth says:

    Think it’s a bad move for Sky Openreach can’t cope with the standard installations as it is due to Engineer shortages so how will this be any good when you will never be able to get it installed. Sky should backtrack sack off this useless Openreach lot and spend some of their profit billions to lay their own network.

    1. Fastman says:

      crazy you clearly have no understanding of how much it costs to build and maintain a network

      actually openreach is significantly recruiting engineers at present

      but lets not fact ruin a good moan

  10. Alfiescruff says:

    When will Sky start offering FTTP?

    Will you be able to detach the need to order a line rental as there would be no need for a copper line if you take a VOIP service?

  11. walkerx says:

    Our cabinet has had 330 FTTP on demand available for months as shows as available now, yet when check with BT if can get it, it reports not available in your area as yet.

  12. Josh Ward says:

    Any update on this before I re contract with BT?.

    I am with bt but they increased their prices but offering everyo e to re co tract for 18 month to keep the same price – presumably because Sky will be offering t FTTP.

    Are sky anywere near offering FTTP before I recontract with BT, my contract is out next week so was hoping to move to sky with tv and fttp.

    1. Cdg says:

      I’m in the same boat, think I’m just going to carry on with bt after Dec 1st at the higher cost as I’m going to be pig sick if sky offer fttp 330/50 for under £50 in the new year

    2. Cdg says:

      End of the day locking in another 18 months would be silly with sky about too kick start the same ultra fast service that bt offer, now we’ve seen just how much openreach are going to be charging them, pretty cheap in my view and I fully expect deals with the sky q entertainment package and 330/50 for around the same price I pay now which is £59.99.

    3. Josh ward says:

      Thats what im hoping for sqy q and decent fibre. My bt is now £72 a month but dont want to re contract. I have emailed a few sky emails but cant get a date of when they will offer fttp products.

    4. Cdg says:

      I’ve phoned them and i’ve also sent messages but they just say there is no news on when the fttp service will start or pricing of speed options. I expect we will hear something next year when they start offering ip based skyq with out needing a dish.

    5. ... says:

      You should recontract and by the time you contract is up it would be available with Sky maybe.

  13. John Newell says:

    Anybody got information about the FTTP rollout that wa promised by Openreach who had a Contract with the Welsh Assembly Government. One month before delivery, it was cancelled, with trenches dug, fibres hanging off poles and lots of unhappy people.
    A new contract to complete the work is under discussion but ‘commercially confidential’
    Inside info needed, but from whom?

    1. ... says:

      All the information you are looking for is NDA’d so kinda a no go on giving you that.

  14. Josh ward says:

    Reply from sky

    Hi Josh

    Case reference number: 1092919768

    Thank you for your email regarding the availability of FTTP.

    As advised previously, we only have FTTP in York and the Republic of Ireland. We have no plans to provide FTTP in any other areas at the moment.

    Other providers may offer FTTP through Openreach but we do not offer this.

    I hope that this answers your query.

    Should you need any further assistance then please feel free to reply to this email.

    If we do not hear from you within the next 7 days then we will assume that the issues are addressed and will close the case.


    Kind Regards

    Customer Priority Team

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