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A Quick Price Comparison of G.fast Ultrafast Broadband ISP Packages

Saturday, April 20th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 9,719
gfast openreach sidepod install

Several UK ISPs have now launched packages based off the new 160Mbps and 330Mbps capable hybrid fibre G.fast “ultrafast broadband” technology from Openreach (BT), which means that it’s time for us to take a closer look at what you can get for your precious pounds.

The G.fast (ITU G.9700/9701) technology works in a similar way to existing Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) based services. In this setup a fibre optic cable is run from the exchange to your local PCP Street Cabinet. The cabinet is then fitted with an extension “pod” to house the new G.fast line cards and after that the service reaches your home via existing copper cable.

Originally Openreach had intended to deploy this service to cover 10 million UK homes and businesses by the end of 2020, but last year this plan was scaled-back to c.5.7 million premises (here) as part of work to put a greater focus on “full fibre” (FTTP) technology. At the last count they had covered 1,708,000 premises and rising (here). The increased focus on FTTP now leads us to suspect that they might not even hit 5.7m (here).

Suffice to say that G.fast is still in an early roll-out phase and as a result few ISPs are putting much money toward advertising it. Nevertheless we have now seen packages surface from BT, EE, TalkTalk, Zen Internet, Freeola, Cerberus Networks, uno, iDNET, Giganet and a few others. Meanwhile Sky Broadband, Plusnet and so forth still seem to be waiting.

Caveats of the Comparison

In an attempt to simplify our comparison we’re only going to compare residential ISPs (prices include VAT) that bundle an unlimited G.fast service with copper phone line rental. On top of that we’ll just be looking at the prices for the cheapest G.fast 160/30 tier, which is more widely available and generally offers a maximum of 160Mbps download (c.140-145Mbps average) and 30Mbps upload (c.25-29Mbps average).

NOTE: At this stage anyone who takes G.fast will be opting for an engineer install, although a cheaper self-installation option is currently in trial (details here).

Other Key Points

* Customers that need a new line installed may face an extra charge of between £0 and £120, which has not been included into our totals since most consumers will be migrating via an already active line and such charges are not unique to G.fast.

* We haven’t factored vouchers (e.g. pre-paid Mastercards or store cards) into the total costs because they’re very hard to compare and can change dramatically on an often weekly basis, but we do mention them.

* The prices we use are assumed to be the cheapest. As a result no extra charges for Paper Billing have been included and we’ve adopted the assumption that people will pay by Direct Debit. Different payment methods may sometimes attract a small additional charge.

* We’ve chosen not to include any packages if they also required the customer to take a third primary service (e.g. TV or Mobile) because that wouldn’t be fair to the other providers. We’re not examining triple or quad-play bundles.

The Comparison

A lot of ISPs tend to discount their prices for the first 12 to 18 months of service and as a result we’ll show a total cost for 2 years. After that we’ll also highlight the post-contract (year 3) price in order to reveal the impact of being a longer term customer (discounts don’t usually extend to year 3), although you should assume that the year 3 price will rise beyond our stated figures due to future price hikes (usually c.+4-6% per annum).

The following data is based on the publicly available information provided via each providers website during early February 2019. We attempted to uncover all of the relevant mandatory charges, but do let us know if we’ve missed anything. Any discounts applied are detailed underneath the tables.

BT TalkTalk Zen Internet
Package Tier G.Fast 160 G.Fast 160 G.Fast 160
Included UK Calls Unlimited Weekend Standard Call Rates Standard Call Rates
Contract Term 18 Months 18 Months 12 Months
Setup Fee £9.99 £0.00 £55.00
Included Router Yes Yes Yes
Monthly Cost (First 24 Months Averaged) * £56.24 £40.00 £52.00
Monthly Cost (Post-Contract / No Discounts) £59.99 £40.00 £52.00
Year 1+2 Total Cost (Discounts Applied) £1,359.75 £960.00 £1,303.00
Year 3 Total Cost (Post-Contract) £719.88 £480.00 £624.00
TOTAL Cost for 3 Years £2,079.63 £1,440.00 £1,927.00

 

Freeola iDNET Unchained ISP
Package Tier G.Fast 160 G.Fast 160 G.Fast 160
Included UK Calls Standard Call Rates Standard Call Rates Standard Call Rates
Contract Term 12 Months 12 Months 12 Months
Setup Fee £0.00 £90.00 £116.40
Included Router No No No
Monthly Cost (First 24 Months Averaged) * £55.98 £49.80 £56.39
Monthly Cost (Post-Contract / No Discounts) £55.98 £49.80 £56.39
Year 1+2 Total Cost (Discounts Applied) £1,343.52 £1,285.20 £1,469.76
Year 3 Total Cost (Post-Contract) £671.76 £597.60 £676.68
TOTAL Cost for 3 Years £2,015.28 £1,882.80 £2,146.44
NOTE: BT charged £54.99 a month for 18 months (£59.99 thereafter), but they also offered a £150 Reward Card (Prepaid Mastercard) that we didn’t include above. Meanwhile the upfront charges for iDNET tended to be listed as £90 or £120 when coming from an LLU or cable line, but it was unclear what the transfer charge is on a non-LLU line (their order system still listed £90 when selected).

Overall TalkTalk are the clear winner for price and at £40 per month they seem to be focused on rapid growth, which doesn’t leave a lot of margin for investing in future network or service improvements. At present if you were to re-contract at the end of your term then the price should be the same but the ISP may change that in the future (we couldn’t see a higher post-contract price listed anywhere).

NOTE: Since writing this article TalkTalk has dropped the price from £40 to £28 per month for the first 18 month term, making it even cheaper!

Interestingly the next cheapest ISP, iDNET, also happens to be one of the best quality providers but the obvious caveat here is that you don’t benefit from an included router. However Openreach’s engineer installation does include a G.fast modem, which can be plugged into an existing router, so you could grab a mid-range router and still be saving.

Otherwise most of the early packages tend to follow a similar level of pricing and that’s largely because there isn’t a lot of flexibility in Openreach’s current G.fast wholesale model. Equally our comparison is simplistic and doesn’t reflect the other differences, such as any extras on BT’s packages (public WiFi etc.) or the Static IPs included by Zen. Placing a value on extras is tricky and somewhat subject to personal preference.

The biggest difficulty with G.fast though is that you’ll only get the best speeds when living within around a couple of hundred metres from your local PCP cabinet, which tends to hinder its availability and performance. The same problem also makes G.fast much more susceptible to any problems you may have with poor home wiring.

As ever this is a new service and we’d expect more ISPs to join the fray as availability improves. Just remember that price isn’t the only consideration and some ISPs may offer better service quality (e.g. iDNET and Zen Internet,) than others (e.g. BT and TalkTalk).

NOTE: Other ISPs like Giganet, Distant Voice, Cerberus Networks and Trunk Networks etc. also offer G.fast but appear to be more aimed at businesses or were very expensive. But home users can still take these if they want.

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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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25 Responses
  1. Avatar A_Builder

    The only thing missing here is whom or what you are dealing with when it all goes wrong.

    You pay more for the likes of Cerberus but you generally email a real named person who has brain cells and things and speaks something close to comprehensible English: as well a knowing what they are talking about.

    The polar opposite is BT business. BT have cleverly constructed a very effective customer repulsion mechanism. Whereby when you get off the phone from BT’s ‘help’ you are actively looking for any other CP to mitigate the Helldesk experience.

    Sadly as a BT shareholder I now do not have a single BT business line other CP’s now manage OR’s copper connections as they seem able to communicate….it is sooo odd as I find dealing with EE sooo easy as I do have a named contact there who replies to emails and answers the phone and stuff and am quite happy with that. It isn’t that hard really….

    • Avatar Mike

      You are aware EE is owned by BT?

    • Avatar Joe

      Not that relevent Mike. BT and Plusnet are pretty different in support terms.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Mike

      That was why I commented that it was “sooo odd” that another part of the business does proper business customer service and yet the original core bit bleeds customers because it is soo soo soo appalling.

      Honestly BT could makes loads of money out of business broadband and have a bigger share of the market if it just got it customer service sorted out.

    • Avatar Jim Weir

      EE Business / Corporate was the first element merged into an existing BT Group division – and it happened nearly immediately after the takeover

      It’s more likely you have a decent account manager / dealing with a named support contact / channel, as opposed to contacting a call centre – that is going to be down to the products / services purchased rather than any legacy EE / BT business difference.

    • Avatar Jim Weir

      EE Business / Corporate was the first element merged into an existing BT Group division – and it happened nearly immediately after the takeover

      It’s more likely you have a decent account manager / dealing with a named support contact / channel, as opposed to contacting a call centre – that is going to be down to the products / services purchased rather than any legacy EE / BT business difference!

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Jim

      Honestly I have no idea……

      All I can say is that A is a dream and B is a nightmare. And that we used to spend more on B than A.

      So I have to interpret the difference in customer service as how much the divisions want our cash. I have responded accordingly.

  2. Avatar Shonk

    Just ordered G.fast with talktalk (replacing my Sky Fibre Pro)
    he seemed quite supprised i could get 330 and 160

    was £28 for 160 and £50 for 330
    im hoping i can add a £10 option after install for 330

    Engineer visit booked for may 9th
    Hoping to get a new nte and or modem

    Its actually super cheap just couldnt say no at the price

  3. Avatar FibreBubble

    “Just remember that price isn’t the only consideration and some ISPs may offer better service quality (e.g. iDNET and Zen Internet,) than others (e.g. BT and TalkTalk)”

    Please advise what metric you are using of GFast services to make this determination?

    • Consumer ratings / feedback and 20+ years of experience reporting on and analysing this market.

    • Avatar FibreBubble

      Okay, thanks, no evidential support. You just made it up.

    • Avatar Joe

      There are various consumer surveys of bb providers. We have data of who has good customer service and who doesn’t. We also have more data on speeds/ contentions and the like. Mark isn’t making it up

    • Avatar YouAvinMeOn

      Trying to pretend Bloated Turd are better or equal to the likes of Zen is just pure delusional.

    • Avatar MikeP

      @FibreBubble. Plenty of anecodotal evidence. And when every single personal anecdotal experience with BT matches A_Builder’s experience, whilst IDNet have been stunningly good in driving Openreach to keep my piece of wet string operational, it’s far, far, far more than “just made up”. And when the good stories about BT (retail) are few and far between.

      BT example – ongoing issues for months with a small business DSL line. Call Centre hell every time. All attempts at escalation failed. Finally, someone promised to take ownership. Gave me his name. Said I’d be able to get him on the call centre number. Problem recurred. Called. “Oh no, he works in a different call centre and we can’t transfer you”. BT clearly never heard of eating their own dogfood.

      IDNet example – ongoing issues whenever it was wet. Openreach poked around, finally found the full-of-water junction box thanks to a particularly wet week earlier this year. Once line fixed, IDNet unprompted took the interleave off the line, told me they’d done it, and asked me to contact them if it caused any issues. Can you really see BT or PlusNet or TalkTalk doing that ? Really ?

  4. Avatar adslmax

    G.fast are a waste of time and money. Far too expensive. Another rip off by BTw & OR.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      Where GFast is within good operational parameters it works just fine.

      I think the comment would be better rephrased in that it helps so few people that it is a waste of resources.

      FYFY

    • Avatar Martin Pitt - Aquiss

      @adslmax You have been saying this with every technology that has arrived in the past 10+ years.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Bet you still order it when it becomes available to you though, Mr Max. Going by how you’re religiously reporting on the progress of every cabinet on your exchange you seem quite excited about it all.

      At some point you are probably going to have to start paying a little for broadband though rather than blagging deep discounts by playing the disabled card and having referrals take up most of the remaining strain.

  5. Avatar Neb

    Pretty sure I read this but wanted to ask again. The G Fast pods, are they limited to cable lengths of 100m or 150m? And also limited by ports at the street cabinet?

    • Avatar Neb

      Should expand on the cable length question – it was in relation to ISPs rather than BTOR in relation to quality I believe, in the sense of their “customer speed promises/guarantees of atleast 100Mbps download only” – similar to Vodafones, seen your slower! Call us/report and jump through a burning flamed circle like a dog and you’ll get £3-£4 (15%) back… just for that month.

    • Avatar Joe

      OR make connectorised lengths in set amounts but you can manually make up almost any length. if you mean the distance G.fast works its in theory ~500m but in the real world OR offer out to about 300m

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Joe

      What have connectorised fibre lengths got to do with GFarce?

      I rarely disagree with you but am struggling to to see the connection 🙂

  6. Avatar Lewis

    Happy Zen customer here. 160/30 product at £52 month incl line rental. Get the full advertised speed.
    Absolutely get the the point of GFast – I live in an established fttc area, no virgin media, no likelihood of fttp anytime soon. GFast steps in and provides a viable upgrade path.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Lewis

      I have GFast too and I get 290/48 ish

      As I posted above it work very well where it is well within the usage parameters.

      The trouble is that if you look at the number of lines on each PCP that really benefit from it the economics start to look a bit shaky. By the time you totally discount the lines over 200m, remove anything that has even slightly dodgy wiring the applicable solution set is a % generally less than half of the lines connected to the PCP.

      I suspect that OR have cut back GFast deployment to those PCP’s where the demonstrable FTTC performance is excellent for over half of the lines.

      The stats on this would be easy to get out of the publicly available checker.

  7. Avatar dee.jay

    G.Fast is great for those who can actually get it – and therein lies the problem. The original plan to deploy G.Fast down to distribution nodes was excellent – I’d be sat on 330MBit via G.Fast too and BT could keep their FTTP for a while longer. The fact that they are now only deploying it at cabinets is a shame for those, like myself who are 600+ metres away and unable to take advantage.

    However, if by dropping this extra work it means I can get FTTP sooner – then, I think I can live with that. As soon as FTTP is available, it’ll be mine. Just, when?

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