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Openreach Launch New Website and Broadband Availability Checker

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 (11:55 am) - Score 29,260
openreach_website_2019

Openreach (BT) has launched a new website this week, which cleans things up quite nicely and also introduces a new availability checker for fibre optic based broadband ISP services on their UK network (FTTC, G.fast and FTTP), which now includes a choice of providers and a pre-registration page for non-FTTP areas.

The operator told ISPreview.co.uk that their site has been rebuilt around what Openreach know people are looking for. Since about 9 million people visit their site every year and the bulk of them want to know when they can get fibre then that’s how they’ve designed it, including a strong mobile-friendly layout (although the information has been spaced out a little too much, which means lots of tedious scrolling for those with bigger displays).

The new availability checker also seems to have thrown away the old map display, which is actually something that we found to be quite useful and are disappointed to see it go. Instead the output is clearer but appears to show less information, which is arguably a step back from what we’d like to see (i.e. more information being given to consumers, not less). But others may prefer the clean and simple layout.

However we’re not sure how we feel about promoting availability alongside the theoretical peak speeds of each technology (displayed as part of a check), which could give some people a misleading expectation of performance when looking at results on FTTC and G.fast lines (especially as these are address specific results).

Curiously when running a check the results include a mention of FTTP alongside FTTC, even when the former isn’t available or planned (included alongside a ‘register your interest’ form), yet they don’t apply the same for G.fast which only shows up if it’s actually available. We view this as a reflection of Openreach’s waning interest in future G.fast deployments.

Do you think the new availability checker is an improvement over the old one?

  • No (59%, 291 Votes)
  • Yes (28%, 139 Votes)
  • I didn't try the old one (13%, 64 Votes)

Total Voters: 494

NOTE: Poll output is cached and so your vote may not show up immediately (give it awhile).

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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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66 Responses
  1. Avatar openreach

    Useless worse than old one as it always worked with up to date database. Because I have try enter my property with full address and try telephone number and did not find anything with a message come back saying:

    We need more details
    We can’t tell from your postcode if you can get fibre broadband. We’ll need some more information from you first.

    No database in my area!

    • adslmax I presume. The checker doesn’t work on phone numbers fella. You enter a postcode, then select the address from a drop-down list.

    • Avatar Mike

      Iirc it won’t work with unbundled phone numbers.

    • Avatar GNewton

      This is actually a quite confusing or misleading website.

      As a test, I searched for “fibre broadband”, eventually came to a page where you enter a postcode and address, and we entered a postcode from a town where we know it has no fibre. Yet it came back with 3 results claiming to be fibre when it is not. In our example, the nearest town with fibre is about 20 miles away, from another network provider in a newly built estate.

      So I wouldn’t trust the BT website a bit.

  2. Avatar adslmax

    MarkJ the address with post code doesn’t work. Found nothing. I try next door and try other side house all area with same street and post code found nothing.

    • Avatar adslmax

      MarkJ I find it rather odd as Openreach couldn’t find database for this Address R/O 74, STREET SIDE DSLAM CAB NNAYKN, WILLOWFIELD, TELFORD, TF7 5NT. Rather odd. But BTWholesale Checker does have it not the openreach fibre checker.

    • Yes that’s an odd one, you should be able to get G.fast and FTTC on some of those according to BTWholesale. But the Openreach checker says “not sure” and asks for a form to be filled out. I’ll query that.

  3. Avatar Joe

    Would make more sense to have the ‘can I get fibre’ as the biggest central and first thing. Needless effort to find it quickly

    • Avatar Joe

      On the old info why not just have an ‘advanced’ drop down, for those who want more, if they want to hide it from most.

  4. Avatar Polishing a Turd

    This is what I get
    “Better broadband is coming
    Good news – we’ll be upgrading your area to Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) soon.”
    Notice it gives no timescales.
    I still cannot get close to the maximum ADSL speeds of 8MBit, and this was installed in 2004 (15 years ago!!!).
    The cabinet was upgraded to FTTC about 6 years ago, and until this website change I was getting the “Good news your cabinet has been upgraded to FTTC, unfortunately you cannot get it yet because of the long distance of your line, we are (NOT!) ACTIVELY seeking alternative solutions”.

  5. Avatar t0m5k1

    Great when you read that they have no plans to bring FTTP to my area.
    Guess I’m stuck with FTTC/VDSL with a wonderful speed of 3-4Mbps download.

  6. Avatar mike

    It’s more consumer-friendly than “dslchecker” but I prefer the latter as it is far more detailed. The latter also tells about FTTPoD availability, but the new one just says there are “no plans” for fibre.

    • Avatar mike

      Actually having just checked my home postcode instead of the office, I have to say the new one is simply misleading. dslchecker says I can get around 20-25Mbps on FTTC, but the new one simply says “up to 80Mbps” – it doesn’t provide speed estimates, so what’s the point of it?

  7. Avatar alusufferer

    initial FTTP information stated:

    ‘We don’t have plans to upgrade your area yet. Tell us you’re interested and we’ll update you when things change.’

    when i provide my details to register interest i get an email that states:

    “Great news!

    Your address is part of our Ultrafast fibre rollout programme. We’ll keep you updated throughout the process as your address progresses through our build plan.”

    i’m assuming the email is an automated response when they’ve no actual plans but wondered if anyone else got similar?

    • Avatar hv

      Yours isn’t as hopeless as it can get. At least there is a programme if not a plan. I am on a slow EO line (London SE16) and received this:

      Never say never

      Unfortunately, your address isn’t part of our current rollout programme. But don’t worry, you’ll be one of the first to know when our Ultrafast service arrives in your area.

    • Avatar Malcolm Beaton

      Yes I also got the same result and I also live the SE16 area – we were part of the Hyperoptic Greenland Dock project which is currently on hold – apparently one of the reasons is the lack of bandwidth within the area – probably most of it is used up by all the new properties they are building

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      I also got the same “No plans…” from the checker and “Great news..” in the e-mail. I tend to believe the checker more than the e-mail.

  8. Avatar Moses

    It looks alot better, more 2019 vibe to it to be fair.

  9. Avatar Shaun McDonald

    It only lists BT, EE, and talk talk as providers. There’s many more g.fast providers, such as Zen who I’m with.

  10. Avatar hv

    Seems like an upgrade to me.

    The old website was focussed on FTTC delivery and I do not think they will be doing much more of that. The progress indicator with FTTC steps just wasn’t useful anymore.

    People who go there and check something either want to know if they are in a path away from ADSL or not – and those on slow FTTC lines want to know if there are any upgrade plans for their area. Now they provide more relevant information – although they take a lot of space to deliver it – and have stopped publishing steps most people do not care about.

    As seen on discussion above they have also added some more information to cater for those who are not getting the service they want. Previously you were on the upgrade path or you were not. Now there seems to be an additional “programme” level. I guess for lines like mine when there is not even a programme yet, there will not be any plans either, while those who are in a programme can expect plans to hatch at some point. But you need to register and give your email address to receive this.

  11. Avatar Nobroadband

    I am so ‘fricking’ pissed off with the openreach availability checker.
    I can’t not get a FTTC connection, it impossible due to my very very long line length to the cabinet. I have to complain to the highest level to get it changed. Then three mouths later its back agian saying you can get FTTC at some ludicrous speed.

  12. Avatar Jonny

    They’ve removed the bit that said what exchange/cabinet you were connected to, which seems like a step backwards. It would also be good if they’d start putting speed estimates for FTTC/G.fast in the checker, rather than having to use the BT Wholesale one.

  13. Avatar Alex

    Much better! Really nice design and you can actually find stuff. The help section is clearer, the search function works, it looks good and works on mobile, and they’ve got an expression of interest form for FTTP (finally!).

    You just can’t please some people.

    Can’t seem to vote in your poll though. No voting buttons.

  14. Avatar Andrew

    I like! (Said like Borat).

    Is the vote still open?

  15. Avatar ash

    Why does it say Better broadband is coming – we’ll be upgrading your area to Fibre to the Cabinet. My postcode already has this?

  16. Avatar Marvyn Candler

    Still no use to me. Just get told there are no plans to upgrade my postcode. Still stuck with 2002 broadband but at 2019 prices. Lack of regard for those of us in rural areas is appalling.

    • Avatar Jigsy

      It still shocks and surprises me how people in the UK have virtually no consumer rights when it comes to broadband.

  17. Avatar Darren Page-Thomas

    The old one just asked for your number and gives you some good data.

    The new one gives me a different result depending on whether is put in postcode or landline. And eschews the useful data.

    Not helped by the fact that I already have fibre from Sky (a new cabinet installed and we got moved over and we’re already on a fibre package from Sky) but BT retail and this checker when using address say we can’t even get fttc yet.

    That’s led to both EE and Vodafone saying they initially can take my order (because they are using DSL checker data and seeing we can get 80mb) but then having to cancel it because something at bt/openreach isn’t updated yet so say we can have fibre. Even though I already bloody have it!

    I’m fortunate to be in contact with the Worcestershire BDUK chap who has been very helpful over the last 6 months trying to get the cabinet activated.

    Hopefully before long it’ll all get resolved.

  18. Avatar craski

    It looks like “Better broadband is coming” is the new #ExploringSolutions

    With no indication of timescale it doesnt mean anything. I’ve waited so long for FTTC that now the prospect of it arriving at any point seems like a disappointment in that it’ll be another 10+ years until we see FTTP if at all.

    • Avatar craski

      Meanwhile the totally useless Digital Scotland checker still proudly displays its “BETA IN TESTING” banner across their results map.

  19. Avatar KingRoo

    Rubbish! If you going to update a website why use out of date info…? Postcode and landline both say cabinet being upgraded soon ( it was already upgraded in 2015) And my area will have super fast broadband, ( no it won’t , too far from cabinet) . Completely misleading and plain wrong.

  20. Avatar Rahul

    It is definitely a worse website compared to before. Here’s why!

    It might show on the checker Better broadband is coming
    Good news – we’ll be upgrading your area to Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) soon. Lies, lies last 10 years it has been that way.

    But it does not mention that I am on an Exchange Only Line. It also does not have any journey stages such as SURVEY, CONNECT stage, etc. So you are even more blinded than before as to what the situation is going to be for you on an EO Line. Also no cabinet number so again you won’t know with which cabinet you are connected, how long it is from your property and what connection speeds you will get.

    Now you also won’t be able to show evidence to your building management that “I am on an Exchange Only Line, we won’t get fibre please give us an agreement for FTTP/H with an alternative provider.”

    This is going to be a potential problem now. Building authorities will think that the areas will be upgraded to FTTC and will not bother to grant wayleave for an alternative FTTP/H provider. I don’t know whether this is a conspiracy from Openreach or just pure incompetency.

    • Avatar hv

      The stages are just not very relevant anymore as they are mostly doing FTTP and gfast instead of FTTC. If they ever are going to upgrade city centre EO lines is another question but if they do, they will most likely do it with FTTP instead of rearranging copper. In my area we can now see the “problem” caused by altnets. All blocks of flats are now hyperoptic and all houses between them are ridiculously slow EO lines without any plans or programmes to upgrade them. Openreach probably do not have much of a commercial case to upgrade those as they have already lost the vast majority of lines to altnets and altnets do not have technology to upgrade houses.

      Using the checker to display information about stages they no longer do would be misleading to the vast majority who do not understand anything about fibre delivery and do not even want to know. Skipping this part is not a loss. Cabinet information would be marginally more useful but if and when their focus is in FTTP, cabinet numbers become much less interesting. All this information is still available for those who need it in adsl checker and samknows.

    • Avatar Talatum

      I agree with you . I have had same unhelpful and clearly marketing type “great news your area is part of rollout” . I don’t believe that openreach want to give honest information that is address specific. I can be in centre of London within 30 minutes yet cant get broadband speed greater than 7. Other providers in the area use BT so only as good as BT speed.

  21. Avatar Laurence Parry

    When I do it is says “Up to 80”. Which isn’t much use as I know it can barely do 46.

    However it does offer a Check performance button below which goes to a *somewhat* useful page at Ofcom: https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/broadband-coverage

    It still says “Highest available: 42Mbps”, which is inaccurate, but in line with what the normal 80/20% checker gives for the max on a category B impacted line (which mine isn’t). That’s all still available at https://www.dslchecker.bt.com/

    (It also claims that I can get 330/20 service which while technically correct is practically not as that is FTTP On Demand, and would cost thousands for a build-out.)

  22. Avatar Mark

    Useless – it says our area will be upgraded to FTTC soon, but that was done over 3 years ago! It still doesn’t reach here, as we have 5 km of copper between us and the cabinet. Omitting the exchange/cabinet details is also a very retrograde step. The link to the Ofcom checker is useful, though. We get all four colours within 2 miles of here!!

    • Avatar John Bates

      FTTC we dream about that we get a scorching 3mb on a good day with the wind behind it and the sunshining out of openreaches a…hole. The old checker used to say that they had no plans to upgrade in my area and we should try community funding, now it says they have no plans at the moment but they are working on it. I would just like them to tell the truth

  23. Avatar Jon

    A link to the new checker would be very useful.
    If I have the wrong glasses on my apologies.

    • Click the big ‘Find out now’ button. I’ll agree it would be clearer to just say ‘Check availability’ or something like that.

    • Avatar Paul.

      I think Jon means a link to the page with the big Find out now button on. Doesn’t seem to be one on this page, but others are finding the new checker OK.

    • Avatar Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry

      The confusion comes from the new website being Openreach’s *own* website. Therefore the link is on the first word, Openreach rather than the text you might expect (“a new website”). I got caught out by this as well.

  24. Avatar stub

    It just rubs my nose in the grim truth that they have no intention of improving my 2.8mb connection while splashing the benefits of 330mb fibre.

    Why can’t they give a meaningful explanation of how and when they will get fibre to suburban properties

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      ‘All Things Come To Those Who Wait’

      You may actually benefit within the next 18 months. Those of us on FTTC may remain so for a number of years but with the forthcoming USO and suburban position you are very likely to get FTTP sooner than most. In the meantime you’ll probably find 4G will be cheaper and better until then.

    • Avatar Fastman

      not sure why you think USO will provide FTTP — that’s not 10 meg (that was USO IS)

    • Avatar Fastman

      Finger trouble

      USO is 10 m/bps and that its –

  25. Avatar Tim

    The openreach checker is useless. It says 80Mbps available on FTTC however doesn’t check actual speed available. Reality is FTTC is less than 7Mbps (if it works) and ADSL is 5Mbps.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      Openreach have access to where the technology is, the product settings, actual experienced speeds, sync speed and speed tests. So yes its annoying that this data cannot be overlaid in a precedence order that provides more accuracy by postcode then property.

      My view is that Providers (Network and ISP) should supply information regularly (including WIFI and Outdoor 4G) so that a single availability checker is available giving consumers all options. This should also include committed FTTP rollouts. i.e OR FTTC, VM and Cityfibre in 10 months.

      In addition it will be important that the data correctly indicates those eligible for the 10Mbps USO. Currently you could be excluded if FTTC “Superfast” is present (even if it is underperforming).

    • Avatar Mark

      @Meadmodj – fully agree. This new Openreach site is a throwback to the worst of the old broadband adverts that promoted theoretical maximum speeds rather than reality. It is blatantly promotional and ignores the real performance data that they have access to. It might be worth complaining to the Advertising Standards Agency, as they are promoting a service that customers do not have access to.

  26. Avatar Jon

    Mark, thanks for earlier reply. More like a page advertising potential on a good day with rain in the right direction.

    It seems to suggest I can get up to 80meg on FTC, in reality everyone in my neighbour hood appx two miles from the exchange thinks I’m doing very well to get a max of 4 meg down and 0.7 up jitter is all over the place up to 700ish ms last week.
    I don’t think it’s a true value as so often upstream rate is zero for more than the first 50% of the test.
    Oh and that’s on an updated BT Infinity 1 product

  27. Avatar Bill

    It looks like they’ve removed data that used to be given in the underlying web request too. I used to be able to see the DP that an address was served from however that’s not there anymore.

    Incase anyone didn’t know there were two web requests when you use the form, one to give the list of addresses – indicating the address key, whether it’s validated as a “BT recognised” address – ie. Gold. The next (once you’d selected an address) gives more detail, ie. if it’s got gfast, fttp, the speed, exchange details etc. It used to include a DP field, that’s now gone however the other parameters are still there so you can see the speed stats and if different technologies are in scope.

    This change has broken a few of the well done checkers including mouselike.

  28. Avatar Graham.

    Well that’s speed test told me, everything I need to know about how BT are ripping me and many other customs off, I have purchased, there so called super fast fibre
    optic broadband and just done the test , 25 download and 5.4 upload. And please stop calling it fibre when in fact it’s watered down fibre , part fibre, part cooper wire which is not fibre but a metal strand. He stead of Lanching all these money making schemes, you should in fact, consider providing the service that custom, are being mislead there paying for.

  29. Avatar alan

    So they got rid of their dodgy mapping of places like Salisbury and things on their maps that no longer existed and have no replaced it with a checker that does not know what speeds you can get, in some cases what service you can get and in addition does not recognise some postcodes.

    Openreach and another improvement Bwahahaha. Let the defending and orders to the underlings to vote its better begin.

  30. Avatar JAH

    Interstlingly, I filled in the “Register your interest” form that appears once you’ve done a check and I had an email reply saying “Great news! Your address is part of our Ultrafast fibre rollout programme.”. The Ynysddu excahnge (South Wales) has no standard FTTP or G.fast. Using Bill’s trick above (thanks Bill!), I checked the response data coming back from the checker and that says “Not in scope” for both FTTP and G.fast. So something’s not quite right somewhere.

  31. Avatar Robert leith

    Hello used the website only to be told eo line only , strange as I have had fttp 330 / 50 since December 2017 weird.OR put in fttc and some fttp , virgin are still currently in my estate overbuilding another network which looks like fttp everywhere . I consider myself fortunate to end up with 2 fttp connections should I decide to move never had a problem ,the sooner they get to our friends in rural areas the better

  32. Avatar Darren

    Still have no fibre in the area as Openreach will not turn on the cabinet I’m connected to but if you are a short distance away you can get it

  33. Avatar Graham

    I noticed that they are now saying fttp is coming soon to my roads, which seems better than the old site which said something like we have plans for fttp but follows different process so cant tell you when you will get it. After waiting 5 years for fibre just like to know what ‘soon’ means – is it 6months, a year or another 5 years plus – frustrating not getting any broadtimeframe

  34. Avatar Adam

    I don’t understand how anyone can see this as an improvement. It gives even less information than the minimal information given previously. What I want is to have some estimate of time scales. ‘coming soon’ is meaningless. 2 years ago it said I was at the final check stage for FTTC. Then FTTC disappeared and I have been FTTP planned then coming soon. The new checker has me at FTTC coming soon. As a source of information it’s less than pointless.

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