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BT’s Landline Phone Bundling Full Fibre Packages Cause Confusion

Saturday, January 19th, 2019 (8:33 am) - Score 6,069
fttp home install outside wall openreach

A newspaper has accused UK ISP BT of “forcing” their “full fibre” (FTTP) ultrafast broadband customers to pay for “unnecessary … landlines they don’t need,” while the provider itself says it only does this because they’re not seeing the “demand” for fibre without home phone lines. But you don’t have to buy FTTP from BT.

One oddity of the Telegraph‘s latest article is that a little over a year ago they were criticising BT for doing the exact opposite. How times change. Back in September 2017 the paper complained that customers of the provider’s Fibre-to-the-Premises packages were being left frustrated after finding that they couldn’t carry over their fixed line phone number to the service or when migrating between other FTTP ISPs (here).

The latter story largely focused on the issue of “new build” home developments, where Openreach may sometimes only deploy fibre optic cables as there really isn’t much need to add copper too. Crucially optical fibres use laser light to communicate and thus cannot carry the electrical signals that older style copper or aluminium phone lines need to function.

However, as part of the Government’s aim to achieve nationwide FTTP coverage by 2033, old metallic lines are now on the long road to retirement. So in the future if you want a voice service then it’s likely to be VoIP based (optional) rather than from an analogue phone. Similarly many people today only keep a copper phone line because they still need it for broadband and rarely make calls, but with FTTP the phone line is no longer strictly necessary.

This brings us back to the newspaper’s gripe, which is really just picking up on a feature of Openreach’s wholesale products that has been available to all ISPs for years (old news). Generally ISPs can choose whether they sell a data-only variant of FTTP (no phone) or a transition product, with the latter bundling the fibre with an old fashioned copper line so that consumers can still keep their old phone service.

As with the Telegraph’s original 2017 article, some consumers do get angry when they move to an FTTP package and lose their old phone line service in the process. So for now BT are often still taking the “transition” approach (where possible).

A BT Spokesman said:

“The vast majority of our customers have landlines and make calls as well as using the internet in their homes every day. When customers sign up for broadband, the price of the service includes the line rental to make the price as clear as possible.

We’re currently not seeing the demand from our customers to take fibre without home phone lines, but we will continue to review our products and services to make sure we’re providing our customers with the best products and services for their needs.”

In focusing on BT the newspaper may also be overlooking the fact that consumers exist in a competitive market and there are other choices available. Some Openreach based FTTP ISPs do only sell the transition product, but it’s still perfectly possible to order such a service without including copper line rental (check out iDNET, Freeola, AAISP etc.).

So you don’t have to go with BT if you don’t want to, but equally don’t be too surprised if taking a data-only package doesn’t end up saving you that much money (if any) over one that still comes bundled with a copper phone line. Sometimes the pricing for such things can be a little odd.

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Mark Jackson
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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13 Responses
  1. Avatar Joe

    “BT’s Landline Phone Bundling Full Fibre Packages Cause Confusion”

    Mostly to the TG!

  2. Avatar 5G Infinity

    I think a bit more education needed here. We have just ported our BT number to VoipPhone, it will complete in 2 weeks, have a dual port ATA so can add multiple phones or a second VoiP number, etc and there are recommended softclient’s, so can use the phone from anywhere in the world (China will mean a VPN).

    • Avatar Fastman

      yes

      this is about new build where there is no copper and so an FVA product needs to be purchased

      I am pretty sure your example is not in a new build with no copper

    • Avatar captain.cretin

      VPN, unless you set up one at home for the phones to use, wont work in China 90% of the time.

      China blocks all popular VPN servers, although sometimes an obscure one slips through for an hour/day or two before getting blocked again.

      Amazon AWS (? I think) blocked the main service people were using to get around the GFWoC last year

      Google could quite easily set up the same type of system to allow its services to get through, but they are too greedy, and want PRC government money, not loyal customers.

    • Avatar CarlT

      China block VPNs at the protocol level, not just endpoints.

      There are, of course, solutions.

      Google have largely abandoned China. There is absolutely no value in them offering ways to evade the Great Firewall or indeed any interference to the Golden Shield Project, though they don’t seem to be participating either.

    • Avatar Bob2002

      @CarlT

      Not really, they still smell money which is why they have project “Dragonfly”.

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/01/18/google_project_dragonfly_london_protest_censorship/

  3. Avatar Meadmodj

    The BT web site is currently confusing in FTTP Post Code areas. I suspect changes are occurring as “Line rental included” is suppressed on some products and not others. I appreciate its complex as BT has FTTP on demand and rollout-conversion where FTTC and FTTP will be present as well as new build. Added to that will be the withdrawal of PSTN and introduction of Digital Voice the customer will be confused whether their phone is over a copper line, ONT socket, hub socket or separate VoIP in addition to all the broadband options.

    Currently it appears BT is not differentiating between the underlying technologies and does not sell a domestic broadband product without a phone “line” included.

    • Avatar Fastman

      nope it never has
      FOD is a bespoke product don’t think BT is even selling it as consumer level
      FOD is FOD is its no Native FTTP and new build where there is not copper will only give you an option of FVA

      In a new build you should not be confused as that is all sorted as part of your handover pack for your house .

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      I meant by “FTTP on demand” that FTTP is available to the kerb but not yet cabled to the house as opposed to house actually converted and the copper being removed. On any rollout some premises may retain their existing services and may change to FTTP later, I didn’t think it was currently a mandatory move to FVA.

    • Avatar Fastman

      fttp on demand does not mean FTTP is available to the kerb it means that premise is an exchange that offers Fibre on demand and you can request a costing form a provider and it it wil cost what it costs from the nearest suitable aggregation node – to the premises in question resolving any issues between that aggregation node and the premise in question

  4. Avatar MrZipf

    As someone who changed ISPs from BT, we have no regrets dropping line rental. Everyone in the house has a mobile and the wider family is now well versed in reaching each other via WhatsApp and others. We save at least £40 per month as a result which comes from the rental itself and no longer making pay per second phone calls.

    Our mobiles have WiFi calling too which works great.

    When Openreach installed FTTP they declined to disconnect the copper when asked despite owning the property. I asked BT about losing line rental but was told that was not an option. Easy money, no unbundling without regulatory encouragement.

  5. Avatar John

    BT don’t sell, have never sold, and probably never will sell FTTPoD.
    That has absolutely nothing to do with BT’s prices looking odd in some areas.

    The difference in prices may be that some areas can only get FTTP and other areas have access to both FTTP & FTTC.

    OpenReach charge different prices for FTTP in areas where FTTC is available you what it charges in areas where FTTC isn’t available.

    https://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/products/pricing/loadProductPriceDetails.do?data=M80QNeH46o4g6JKGD604vTypQOKfNn%2Beo6vmoVhAOBZZ6rNZujnCs99NbIKJZPD9hXYmiijxH6wrCQm97GZMyQ%3D%3D

  6. Avatar Cei

    We just had FTTP installed with Zen. Phone is provided over the old copper lines, but costs literally £1.99 a month for the line rental. Compared to the old line rental cost that’s an absolute bargain.

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