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Moans After £22.7K Openreach FTTP Quote for 5 Rural Fife Homes

Saturday, May 4th, 2019 (2:30 am) - Score 7,538

Openreach (BT) has faced criticism after the operator quoted a sparse community £22,695 to bring their Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) ultrafast broadband ISP technology to just 5 remote rural homes around Morton Farm, which is south of Tayport in Fife (Scotland).

At present the best that residents can hope to achieve is up to around 2Mbps via older broadband lines. Naturally they wanted something better and appear to have pursued a quote for a “full fibre” network from Openreach but, according to Fife Today, locals have been “astounded” by the proposed sum and branded it as “unaffordable“. The offer was reportedly then rejected.

In fairness the whole reason why the community is still on ADSL today is because, for commercial operators, the area would simply be far too economically unviable to upgrade without significant public subsidy, which we can assume was more than even the original state aid supported Digital Scotland project has been able to stomach (i.e. extremely expensive).

The quote, which works out at £4,539 per premises, may seem expensive but in the grander scheme of things it’s actually not too bad considering the significant civil engineering work that would be required to cater for such a sparse area. Suffice to say that for similar sized communities we’ve seen significantly bigger quotes than that in the past (we assume their close proximity to the town of Tayport may help).

The cost of deploying full fibre, without engaging volunteers to help build the network (e.g. B4RN’s social model), is often simply too big for traditional commercial operators and so it’s little surprise that locals have been given such a quote. This is perhaps somewhat of a reality check as FTTP builds are neither cheap nor easy to roll-out, otherwise it would have been done long ago.

An Openreach Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“More than 96 per cent of homes and businesses in Fife can now connect to a superfast broadband service at speeds of 30Mbps+. There are still some very rural communities which haven’t yet been included in upgrades, either from any commercial provider or existing intervention projects with the public sector. For communities which don’t want to wait any longer, we offer a Community Fibre Partnership scheme where we will work with a local community on a co-funded upgrade.

We’ll also work with interested communities to explore funding mechanisms such as government grants, and some Scottish communities have funded their full fibre upgrades via crowd funding or wind farm community funds. Full fibre is the best technology to future proof broadband for the future.

Proposals reflect the cost of bringing ultrafast broadband to rural communities, and we’re working hard on innovation to minimise these costs. We’ll look in to the specific details of this case.”

Naturally those in the community are right to be frustrated, although without adopting a community build they may struggle to find a cheaper option for FTTP. Alternatively locals could choose to wait until the end of this year when the UK Government’s 10Mbps broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) is introduced.

Failing that the Scottish Government’s £600m R100 (Reaching 100%) programme may offer a solution, although it’s currently a bit delayed (here). Otherwise it’s presently unknown whether the community could take advantage of any voucher schemes to help balance the costs or even if that was already factored into the quote.

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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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63 Responses
  1. Tim says:

    I was quoted £102,690 to connect 33 properties. That’s not going to happen so I’m still looking at possible alternatives.

    1. G says:

      If you have a development of 30 plus houses Openreach will provide FTTP for zero cost.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      @G. You’re assuming Tim’s situation is new build homes and I doubt he’d be posted about it here if it was.

    3. Joe says:

      Tbh Tim’s quote sounds pretty reasonable. (Obviously without full details one can’t be sure but on the face of it at least)

    4. Paul Slack says:

      I was quoted between 44k and 64k for 6 houses that are all within half mile of a fibre enabled cabinet. How is that price justified ?

    5. Mr Jonathan Varty says:

      Hi Tim, I think that part of the problem is the there is this manufactured idea that it has to be fibre. I live in an area that just had virgin media rolled out digging up the street in an area that we already have FTTC a total waste of money, I get 70mbs/25mbs and the virgin rep was harassing people at the door insisting that they would be better with thier 300mbs service even though with everything in the house linked up and in use We never peak more than 20mbs.

      If people post thier post codes I would be happy to explore the possible solutions.

      https://Mimi-net.com

    6. Fastman says:

      paul slack

      because the fibre enabled cabinet is of actually no use to you —

      FTTP needs to get back to an aggregation node and then to a servicing exchange — the FTTC enabled cabinet does not (and the aggregation node might be a number of km back into the openreach core network

      they are designed completely differently

      FTTP does not use any of the fibre provided as part of the FTTC deployement at that cab

    7. Fastman says:

      Tim So how moany of those work for them selves and could claim a 2,500 business voucher per premise – have you even considered that ?

    8. Dean Wade says:

      Put 4G in.

    9. Phil says:

      @Fastman

      Not quite, you just need to get back to an aggregation node, that’s it. The aggregation node is connected back to the exchanged already, once at the node that’s the connection made.

      You are correct in that an FTTC cabinet location isn’t a good indicator of costs/distances. The fact there are FTTC cabinets means BT have aggregation nodes dotted about the area hence the availability to order FTTP on Demand. FTTC cabinets also connect back to the nearest aggregation node. Sometimes aggregation nodes happen to be near or at the FTTC cabinet, in which case installation for FTTP on demand can be cheaper, as the fibre route back to the aggregation node can take the same route as the existing telephone cable, using already existing ducting or overhead poles. When the aggregation node is in a different direction to the existing telephone line route the build costs end up being more, even if the distance is short, as it’s an all new dig to get back to the aggregation node.

    10. Fastman says:

      Phil you still have to find a path back To the Headend FTTP exchange , The aggregation nodes will normally be a significant distance back from the cabinets as they could service anything up to 3 or four cabinets . . FOD does not use any of the Fibre cct that is provided to the cabinet . so you can be very close to an FTTC cabinet and a significant distance from the aggregation node – or you can be close the the aggregation node in distance but have buried cable all the way to your property) both mean eye watering quote for any FTTP

  2. Rich says:

    That actually seems an entirely reasonable price. The product they are buying is effectively FTTPoD, and less than £5k per property is one of the very cheapest such quotes!

    1. Joe says:

      Looking at the average quotes on places like TB it does indeed.

    2. Fastman says:

      for the avoidance of doubt it is no FOD . it is a gap funded arrangement with openreach which allows the premises under the contract to purchase a native FTTP offering from their chosen FTTP provider — .

  3. AND says:

    We have 80 plus houses on our estate at LU5 lake view Houghton Regis with fire line on opposite road and one of the residents has been given the same quote 22K. Completely ridiculous!

    1. And says:

      I meant fiber. Just to add there is no fiber line in whole estate and we all running on 3-4Mbps on average

    2. Joe says:

      Why on earth do you think its ridiculous. Fibre doesn’t get deployed for free.

    3. Fastman says:

      hmmm

      so did the quote and I assume it came from Openreach cover all 80 premises – . or did is just cover one and it was a FOD quote that came from Cerebus

    4. Fastman says:

      riduclous as the gap for 80 homes is 22k ie £275.00 per house to get FTTP !!!!! if If covers all 80 premises

      what part of that is ridiculous

      the Developer only did copper in your recent new build or that you as a community cannot raise the £275 per house either in real money or LLFN vouchers (if your 22k gap covers all 80- premises on your development

      the gaps are individually determined the fact so the 2 examples are both 22 is a concidence as one of them has 5 premises and one of them has 80

    5. ProxyServer says:

      I’m amazed you think that £22k for 80 homes without a fibre line nearby is unreasonable. If every home pitched in that would be £275 each home. Which is insanely cheap considering other quotes! I think you got lucky and just need to convince the other house to join boat with you.

  4. Simon says:

    They did the same where I live did cabinets 1 2 3 5 6 and left out cabinet 4 leaving properties to be left without fibre so number 56 can get it but number 57 can’t its ridiculous and these aren’t rural to far away properties they are all in close contact to the cabinet

    1. GNewton says:

      Are you sure you are talking about fibre? Or is it VDSL? Tye article is about fibre!

    2. Fastman says:

      Simon

      FTTC cabs were done on a vability bases if no 4 was not done it means it did not meet the eligibility criteria for the deploying programme to cover its investment period (that why It was not deployed

  5. Lee says:

    “” This is perhaps somewhat of a reality check as FTTP builds are neither cheap nor easy to roll-out, otherwise it would have been done long ago.””

    No we have Margaret Thatcher to thank for that (1992), bt was going to do a full roll out all on there own but was blocked and 20 years of adsl welcomed and not so perfect cable (because they had no competition they could never be bothered to add more capacity was overloaded at local Street level big cabs only reason cable more or less is good now in most areas because of docssi 3.0 not because they added more capacity ) vdsl is good if your close to it

    But quote seem not bad really in this case, less then £5k a house for what is effectively a lease line

    The other person about £103k quote I guess he has not worked that out per house that’s about £3.1k per house

    1. Joe says:

      Lee; thats a popular claim but it just doesn’t stand up. BT was never realistically going to deploy fibre in the 80s @ scale. The costs and underlying tech was just prohibitive.

    2. Mike says:

      @Joe

      Even if that were the case they could have started a lot sooner and by now FTTP would be more widespread and we’d be using VOIP rather than PTSN still.

    3. Joe says:

      Mike: Its always hard to know but I have my doubts. the costs of running two networks or trying to transition piecemeal are nasty and with early tech and Bt’s frankly poor record on even the simplist things (anyone remember how long it took to even get a line install in the 80s!) the potential for a mess were high.

      I’ve often thought that when other countries started their big fibre rollouts in the 2000s that that was a much better point to have tried this for BT; certainly far cheaper and with better grounded and tested solutions.

    4. Mike says:

      @Joe

      Apparently BT’s plan was to replace copper with fiber.

    5. Joe says:

      Obviously thats the end point but its the getting there that is tricky. You can’t just mix and match copper/fib interchangeably. They’d have all the issues off copper switch off we are now looking at and we’re on a 6yr timeline for all VoIP and 14 yrs for full switch off for copper. Doubtless we’ll manage bits switched off long before 2033 but its a significant process.

    6. Lee says:

      Bt had everything set up and ready to go this was no fluff

      https://www.google.com/search?q=Margaret+Thatcher+and+BT+fibre

      We would have been one of the leading countries right now if that had not been blocked and adsl got unbundled any way witch they could of done with FTTP virtually as they do now with FTTC as on adsl it cost more doing it physically then just virtually

      Now the labour and cost of equipment is far to high to do it (we needed up with FTTC as it was easy to do and most people get at least 20-30mb, distance is all ways the thing with vdsl unless it was g.Fast on the poles)

    7. Lee says:

      Within 5-10 years off bt own back (about year 2000) we would have been completely copper free

      Now its looking around 2030+ before that happens

  6. AnotherTim says:

    The USO isn’t going to help is it?

    1. Joe says:

      @5k/house no they are above the threshold but if they pay the difference over £3,400 they can have it. They may be able to get some grants as well to reduce that further (As Mark says its unclear)

  7. Jonathan Buzzard says:

    This is my neck of the woods, I live in Tayport. These properties are served from a mixture of the Leuchars and Tayport exchange which may well have pushed the price up. While rural they are guesthouse, holiday let and farm, so there should be some vouchers available for them you would have thought. Anyway I agree that the costs of ~£5k per property covered is not unreasonable for FTTPoD

    Interestingly three of the four cabinets in Tayport have been sporting G.fast pods now for eight months now, though you still can’torder a service. The fourth cabinet, a BDUK exchange only breakout, has had a PCP expansion, a VDSL twin expansion on the side for a large Huawei cabinet and in the last month a second large Huawei twin added. One hopes every last penny of BDUK money has been refunded now.

  8. Meadmodj says:

    This merely confirms the real cost of one off requirements instead of contiguous rollouts.

    The real issue here is that both consumers and businesses do not have any definitive information regarding the future options and their timescale. BDUK should be specific as what actual properties will be included in each phase. OR are proposing 100% FTTP rollouts and should clearly state the Exchange areas/addresses. Altnets and VM are not 100% coverage in any given area. The USO definition is low and the eligibility criteria needs to be clearer (is there an effective alternative e.g customer 4G investment).

    Therefore anyone considering their broadband options cannot make proper decisions regarding alternatives or to wait. Some may await an Altnet rollout for 3 years only to find they are in the percentage not covered or await BDUK only to find that superslow is never coming or count on USO only to find your excluded.

    My view is that it should be possible for Ofcom to insist on operators and BDUK publishing their detailed plans (to address level) before making any commitments and woolly PR announcements. That way people will know where they stand and decide accordingly.

    1. Brian says:

      I agree entirely that a major problem for consumers is lack of information. Or worse still when they are given completely incorrect information. I you know what is due to or to not happen, it is possible to make plans.

  9. Phil says:

    I have to agree it doesn’t seem that bad a price at all per property considering the location, you could pay the same or more for a new kitchen and fibre lasts a long time, will upgrade to faster speeds, and no further costs even if it breaks and needs repairs, unlike a kitchen 🙂

    If these are holiday lets than I’m sure that ~£5K investment per property could pay for itself by being able to advertise the complete rural location but with ultrafast internet.

    Perhaps they are hoping some negative publicity might get BT to reduce the price, but I think it sounds pretty reasonable.

  10. Jonathan Buzzard says:

    Well Morton Farm is a farm, Vicarsford Lodge Guest House is a B&B, Vicarsford Farm is a 10 bed holiday let, and there is another guesthouse at Kirkton Barns so at least some commercial activity. Noting the location is a ~10 minute drive to St. Andrews, and the Scotscraig golf course at Tayport is the 13th oldest. Carnoustie golf course is about 30 minutes away by car too. When the Open is in St. Andrews I would imagine that you could get ~£20k for the Vicarsford farm holiday let for the fortnight, if not more.

    Something that I just remembered. In 2010 H2O networks put in fibre ducting from the Tay road bridge to Tayport along the B946. They then started at the other side of Tayport and went along the B946 towards St. Michaels laying a ~2cm thick purple cable which terminates as far as I can tell randomly in a manhole cover on the turning in to Tentsmuir beach/forest! No idea what that was all about.

    1. Joe says:

      On the face of it given its market/location fib looks a good commercial investment for the holiday lets at almost any price. Even more so as a top up when USO starts. The caps exist for a good reason its certainly not fair for other users to overpay for such small deployments

      I was going to lookup the prices but as Fifox has disabled all the add-ons the web is frankly too annoying atm. I’m not loading chrome just for this!

    2. ProxyServer says:

      This could be due to the fact fibre cables used to be run on the stay Road Bridge but the environmental protection agency asked for it to be removed and the cables now run under the sea from Broughty Ferry to a manhole near Tayport and then into Tayport. Also due to cables running between exchanges you’ll find that fibre cables run from Dundee to Cupar via Tayport.

    3. Joe says:

      EPA getting cables removed from a bridge that’s a new one. Not quite sure how they go involved with that one?

    4. ProxyServer says:

      @Joe Yeah unsure of that too but it was one of the environmental government agencies that supposedly requested it.

  11. Matthew Skipsey says:

    Seems like a bargain to me per property, but entirely depends on the circumstances of this community. £5k is a darn site more expensive than £0 for someone fortunate enough to have FTTP rolled out to their community as part of a government funded broadband scheme (BDUK). It’s also a bit of a pain to see areas where FTTP has been rolled out in government broadband programmes for the take up to be dire (however this is another topic in itself I won’t get into – no right/wrong answer).

    £5k would certainly be added onto their house prices due to this investment you’d have thought? If they rent, then surely the landlord could contribute?

    They can get at least £300 per property, or £2500 per property if they are running a business, using the Government’s Gigabit voucher scheme.

    Until there is a USO on ultrafast broadband, then sadly there’s a potential significant cost for individuals/businesses to receive this service in some of the more remote parts of the UK if the market deems it too unviable to proactively build there.

  12. Markdvdman says:

    @Joe – this article states what Thatcher did – she effectively put us back 50 years or more!

    https://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/how-the-uk-lost-the-broadband-race-in-1990-1224784

    1. Joe says:

      I know the claim. BT was not going to spend the money needed to roll it out nationwide. It was a fantasy by parts of BT internally not real world. It relied on either huge spending from debt or government money (neither likely) at a time when frankly the price of fibre cable and its associated hardware was huge.

    2. GNewton says:

      Also, nobody has prevented BT from doing fibre for the past 15 years or so. The Thatcher years are long gone!

    3. Sunil Sood says:

      @GNewton Actually, BT were prevented from rolling out fibre deeper in their network by Oftel/Ofcom regulations – thats one of the reasons why why VDSL/FTTC didn’t really make an appearance until this decade (in volume)

  13. Jonathan Buzzard says:

    It’s not just Thatcher that you should blame. The real blame in my opinion lies with Murdock. He saw a national roll out of fibre as potential competition to his Sky satellite and lobbied hard to that effect.

  14. ProxyServer says:

    This quote is incredible reasonable! 4.5k per house for ultra fast broadband! Considering the work required due to the rural-ness of the houses. They’ll not get a better price from anyone else anytime soon. I live in the village next to them as well!

    1. Jonathan Buzzard says:

      I was thinking last night, if it where not for the fact my cabinet in Tayport has had a G.fast fitted (8 months and not enabled yet…) I would be very tempted to get a FTTPoD quote.

    2. ProxyServer says:

      GFast pods are going on a lot of cabinets just now because they are generally very easy to fit. Its the commissioning and enabling of them which is the hard part and can take time. I got a pretty cheap quote for FTTPoD as I am only like a 100m from an aggregation node.

  15. Bart says:

    I was quoted £6500 and I am just 100 meters away from the FTTP cabinet. Redicules!!!

    1. Gadget says:

      Unfortunately the cabinet location has nothing to do with the cost, the connection has to be made at the Aggregation node.

    2. Joe says:

      You might be 100m from a fttc cabinet but not to a fttp cabinet!

  16. Andy Tanner says:

    We had a similar situation and we just started a community broadband scheme. If BT aren’t providing, do it yourself.

    It’s very easy to do and there are loads of people who will help you for nothing, me included. We now have 100Mb/s for £25 a month.

    Andy

    West Berkshire Community Broadband.

  17. RICK3333 says:

    Dear Customer

    Thank you for requesting an estimate of the installation costs for FTTP on Demand at OL5 0LX.

    We have now received the estimate of the charges from BT. These are detailed below.

    Estimated Build Cost: £16,300.00 ex VAT

    The build charge includes the estimate for the work and materials required to deliver the service. It also includes the connection charge.

    Number of premises passed for FTTP: 15

    Please note that this is an estimated price based on network records. Openreach are not always able to provide an estimate in this way and a full survey may be required. Installation charges are only confirmed by a full survey once you place an order for the service.

    Openreach estimate that the distance to the fibre aggregation node serving your premises is 200 – 399m. The distance to the aggregation node will have an effect on the installation price.

    The build estimate includes a reduction for the number of premises passed as these would be able to obtain FTTP as a consequence of your build. Customers at these premises may submit a linked FTTPoD order to share the construction costs.

    This quote is to my flat – 1 property……. from Cerberus Networks and with V.A.T. would be over 20K The town where i live has roughly 5,000 properties (residential and business) and a population of just over 11,000 . This quotation was obtained in April of this year – oh and you have to commit to a 12 month contract @ £120 per month upfront if residential (no monthly direct debit option as far as i can see)

    1. Sunil Sood says:

      @Rick3333

      The quote is for FTTPoD – which as you suggest is a bespoke solution for your property – and is based on a desktop survey/records.

      If you read the TBB forums, you will see the costs quoted usually fall significantly once a proper survey is paid for/carried out.

      The monthly price you quote would be set by Cerberus Networks who are a business ISP not by OR

    2. Phil Hinton says:

      I’m surprised you were given a quote for FTTPoD living in a flat as Openreach do NOT offer FTTPoD for those in MDUs for obvious reasons.

    3. Phil Hinton says:

      From
      https://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/products/ultrafastfibreaccess/fttpondemand/fttpod.do

      “Any orders received for MDUs or MOUs will be rejected.”

  18. Liz says:

    G – Or… BT give the backhander to the developer.
    £4,539 stays in the bank and their property = £0. Give £4,539 to BT and their house gains a market value – it’s a no brainer. Then there is the monetary value of all the time and hassle saved by getting a working connection.

  19. Stuart Halliday says:

    How much would a Satellite relay cost the area?

    Then you could send it by Wi-Fi to the various buildings?

  20. Bill Brigden says:

    Looks similar to the quote I received under the community Partnership. Originally requested a quote for the 9 houses served Exchange only rather than going a short distance to an adjacent pole that is served by the FTTC cab in the village (we’re inside, but on the edge of the village)

    Openreach added on some extra properties “en route” for the FTTP install – bringing the total for £72,400! Even requesting a quote removing the extra houses, they said the quote wouldn’t be much lower. That’s only £8k per house!

    Pushing the option of re-routing our single pole into the shiny FTTC cab mid village, Openreach were worried of a precedent being set if they re-routed our DP into the village so refused to.

    1. Gary says:

      The seemingly flat refusal to re route lines has left some in a very avoidable limbo since before fttc on regular adsl lines.

      The only reason other than pure contempt for their customers I can see would be the simple lack of engineers to actually do the works.

      It should have been a quoted job same as fttpod.

      Blanket refusal to re route to fttc cabs seems the same, unless there’s some nefarious plan to hold out for more funding

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