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BT UK Launch HALO Unlimited 5G and Fixed Broadband Plan UPDATE2

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 11,806
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UK ISP BT is poised to launch a new convergence plan for both home and business customers called “Halo“, which should complement their existing “Plus” packages with a number of new features (e.g. ultrafast 5G and unlimited usage for both mobile and broadband). Free upgrades for ADSL users to “superfast” plans are also coming.

At the time of writing the final details remain unclear, although our sources said that the new plans would be unveiled later this morning as part of a major press announcement and as such we hope to have more details later today. We understand that the planned relaunch of BT TV, which we leaked yesterday (here), will come later.

In the meantime the information we’ve received from our sources reveals that BT’s new Halo plans will add 5G mobile support (via the BT owned EE Mobile network, naturally), although this aspect shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since the operator hinted at this in July 2019 (here).

However, we now know what other changes will accompany the new converged plan, including unlimited mobile data usage, as well as the removal of out of contract price increases and a pledge that existing customers will receive the same or better prices than their new ones (all in keeping with Ofcom’s new Fairness policies here and here, as well as the forthcoming end-of-contract notifications system).

We should point out that BT Plus’s existing 4G orientated “Keep Connected Promise” will already give subscribers unlimited mobile data, albeit only during an outage of your main fixed line broadband service (otherwise they only give you double data).

More Key Changes from BT

On top of that we understand that BT plans to upgrade around 700,000 customers on their slower ADSL based copper line (ADSL) broadband packages to a “superfast broadband” (FTTC) service at no extra cost, which where possible is expected to take place by next summer (2020). The ISP will also confirm that they’ll stop selling copper broadband services where “fibre” is available, which we’re already seeing (here).

Obviously this leaves a question mark over those in copper line only areas and apparently BT’s plan for the final 10% of premises is that they will be able to access broadband via other technologies, albeit primarily 4G or 5G based mobile broadband connections. Granted this works well in some areas, but there are still plenty of locations that ADSL can reach where 4G mobile cannot and 5G won’t get there for years.

Other Planned BT Changes

* BT intends to bring forward their plan to answer every support call in the UK and Ireland by Christmas 2020. Apparently this will now occur a full year earlier than expected (Christmas 2019).

* By the sounds of it EE’s high street shops will soon fully support BT products and services too in a multi-brand approach.

* BT will create a new support team (Home Tech Experts) of around 1,000 people, which will be dedicated toward improving connectivity in customer homes (we assume this will mean diagnosing WiFi problems etc.). Several ISPs are already doing something similar (e.g. Sky Broadband).

Hopefully we’ll have more details once BT have released their official announcement, which (as above) is something we hope should happen later this morning.

UPDATE 11:09am

We can now confirm that what was reported above is correct and a few more details have dropped as part of the official press release.

Highlights from BT’s Announcement

* Launching the UK’s “best converged plan”, Halo from BT. With more than one million homes connected to BT’s flagship converged plan BT Plus, BT is launching Halo to provide even better connections and service to customers across the UK. Halo customers can benefit from unlimited data and calls on mobile and at home, inclusive support from BT’s new team of Home Tech Experts to get all of their technology running, and Plus/Halo customers will be the first BT customers to be able to upgrade to 5G from Friday 11 October. Customers who sign up for 5G and Plus plans will be upgraded to Halo from November. More about Halo will be announced in the coming weeks.

* Upgrading 700,000 homes and businesses to Superfast Broadband by June 2020 at no extra cost to customers (by this they mean an upgrade to their FTTC 40Mbps [10Mbps upload] tier).

* BT will stop selling standard broadband connections on the legacy copper network to 90% of the UK population – and use all available technologies to connect the rest of the UK that cannot get superfast today, including 4G and 5G broadband and Full Fibre.

* Decades old analogue phone lines will be no more by 2025 with the new Digital Voice network (as expected, here).

* Regional Call Routing, where BT will answer customer calls in the customer service centre closest to them wherever possible

* BT 5G mobile plans will be available from Friday 11th October.

* Launching 4G and 5G broadband solutions for small businesses in October that will deliver “fibre-like speeds” to business customers who cannot access Superfast Broadband today or who want an instant connection for temporary offices or locations.

* Improving the BTnet dedicated internet access solution for businesses to deliver even faster speeds, greater coverage and a range of bandwidth-boosting special offers. Complete with entry level capacity of 1Gbps, business-grade security, managed Wi-Fi and cloud-based features, businesses can enjoy the flexibility to grow and support more bandwidth-heavy applications as they expand.

* New converged BT Halo products for homes and businesses (as above).

* Creating the UK’s most personal and local customer service: launching a new team of 900 Home Tech Experts to help people with digital tech in their homes, as well as support in the workplace.

* Bringing the BT brand back to UK high streets in over 600 stores and 24/7 customer support for businesses around the world.

* BT will launch new FTTP full fibre plans in November 2019, which we hope will include the new 550Mbps and 1000Mbps consumer tiers (even though they won’t be live from Openreach until 23rd March 2020).

* The BT brand is returning to the high street, transforming 600 EE stores into dual branded stores across the UK for the first time, providing consumer and small business customers local access to experts who can help with everything from getting online for the first time to the latest in smart home technology.

* BT is also launching a new brand purpose and identity to reflect its “ambitious new approach”, which will be unveiled with a broad internal and external campaign, from Friday 18 October (we’re already using their new logo).

Philip Jansen, CEO of BT Group, said:

“We’re helping families and communities across the UK, and companies in Britain and around the world, to remove the barriers of today to realise the potential of tomorrow.

We’re starting a journey today with real changes that will have a positive impact for people and businesses – connecting more customers to full fibre, boosting customers’ speeds right across the UK, keeping customers connected wherever they are with our new converged Halo products, and helping to give them the skills to make the most of today’s connected world.”

The shotgun blast of information is tricky to write about since there’s so much of it, although the key points have been highlighted above. A wiser provider might have spread these announcements over a series of press releases but we suspect they’ll still do that for each launch. As usual, ISPreview readers heard it here first.

UPDATE 10th October 2019

We had a good question yesterday about the possible impact of BT’s ADSL to FTTC upgrade programme on street cabinet capacity (ports). We asked Openreach about this and were told that they’re aware and are working closely with BT Consumer to work through their migration plans, taking things like capacity into consideration.

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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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22 Responses
  1. Avatar Spoffle

    What I would love from BT would be the option to have a 5G modem that is used for fail over only/specifically without having to have a phone with them.

    Because that would be getting set up on my network straight away.

    • Avatar Milky

      This is coming. Though in order to not have to take the PSTN line you’d need to be in an area with FTTP. Or GEA. FTTC areas would still require a PSTN line in order to make the non-5G broadband work.

    • Avatar Spoffle

      That’s great to hear. Fortunately I’m already on a BT FTTP package. Do you have any more details?

    • Avatar Jonny

      If you’re on FTTP then 4G Assure sounds like the right product for you, though it’s currently only available as a business service

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      @Spoffle. If you are lucky enough to be on FTTP then you have a resilient, reliable and effective broadband. The likelihood of failure should be very small. If backup is important then I would suggest you ensure your ONT, Router and key devices are protected against power failure by using a UPS supply. If you want an alternative Network then you can either get a Router that can accept a dongle or a 4G modem/router with a Pay SIM that you can utilise quickly.

      Hopefully this new product will be an effective solution combining fixed and mobile (balanced). But to pay monthly for a 4G/5G premium product when you have FTTP seems a bit overboard. This product is aimed at those on slower broadband where general browsing/streaming can be achieved over the fixed and the 5G can be utilised for usage peaks or high demand. BT will balance the fact that the 5G will not be hit most of the time and therefore offer a competitive product that can step up. The downside still is that the 5G will probably be hit at the same peak usage times.

  2. Avatar Jason Jones

    5G from BT??, Can’t even get 4G from BT where I am near Oxford, and no Fibre optic either, BT is a disgrace, they charge us more for copper wire BB than their fibre packages.

    • Avatar F19TMG

      Then call them to sort your package. Rather than winge like a typical ‘wipe my arse for me’customer. Prat.

    • Avatar Jacob

      In the Ofcom Broadband Pricing review, it said BT was bringing the price of Copper down for all ADSL customers from Summer 2020 so they won’t be paying more than the entry level cost of fibre.

      This isn’t a BT specific issue anyway, lots of big providers have similar issues. At least BT are doing something about it!

  3. Avatar ChrisD

    “BT intends to bring forward their plan to answer every support call in the UK and Ireland by Christmas 2020”

    I mean I wouldn’t be championing those kind of hold times! 😉

  4. Avatar Jonny

    The bit in the press release about the entry level for BTnet being 1Gbps is interesting – maybe their way to avoid fast FTTP services eating leased line revenue is to simply start the leased lines at 1Gbps symmetrical.

    In any case, it will hopefully nudge the market towards 1Gbps as a baseline for ethernet services.

  5. Avatar Pete

    Is it even possible they’ll offer 1Gbps FTTP before the announced OpenReach date next March? Surely Ofcom would have something to say about that since it’s somewhat anti-competitive to give their own customers a head start. (Mind you, I just signed up for BT FTTP so I wouldn’t complain!)

  6. Avatar dee.jay

    All this should be taken very positively. It is very easy to be cynical and rubbish these announcements (and there’s been a few of late that I’ve seen many forum-dwellers take umbridge with). For once we’re seeing some really positive news about the future of telecommunications in the UK and I for one am very pleased. Now, if I could get FTTP, that would be nice. Just sayin’ 🙂

    • Avatar MikeP

      Seeing a BT Retail promise in a positive light would, for many, be the same as believing the promise of an abusive partner not to do it again.

      There’s decades of history to overcome. Not saying it won’t happen, but…..

  7. Avatar Simon

    In some areas these migrating ADSL customers may exceed current spare capacity in their local FTTC cabinets so will OR deploy new cabinets or more likely upgrade them to FTTP?

    Also there is likely to be increased cross-talking further reducing some VDSL speeds as more neighbours are upgraded from ADSL – expect to see even more complaints on the forums about reducing VDSL speeds.

  8. Avatar Mark

    It will be interesting to see how this is offered to that part of the market that has good 4G but no effective landline broadband (ADSL or VDSL) at all. Will there be a stand-alone 4G offering, or will we be compelled to maintain our BT landlines as well, even if the system is on 4G 100% of the time? Time will tell…

  9. Avatar StillWontReach

    Will this route will be used as the excuse not to upgrade people stuck on exchange only lines to full fibre after the OFCOM USO comes into affect next year?

    Suddenly everyone will have access to 4G/5G speeds for their internet and over the 100GB download threshold (USO statement 3.23 E). Even though for real-world use mobile broadband is a very-poor alternative to fibre (based on my experience).

    The minimum latency mentioned in 3.23 D of the USO statement is suitably vague to allow this to happen. The USO changes seemed to be designed to allow customers to continue to be left off of the fibre network with no recourse, but maybe that’s the idea?.

    • Avatar Mark

      Up to a point… the USO is by design technology-neutral. Specifying fixed connections only would require an unrealistic amount of installation work on a compressed time scale. 4G is a pragmatic interim solution, which can work very well when set up correctly with a decent router and antenna. The test will come on whether BT offer genuinely comparable access via 4G compared to wired (unlimited data at broadly similar cost).

  10. Avatar StillWontReach

    The only USO criteria it might have a problem with is the guaranteed lower then 50/1 contention rate as the comparison becomes difficult with 4G/5G. Some sort of dedicated 4G solution where the user is not sharing bandwidth with the local mobile user base could work.

    Otherwise if you are near any area that experiences shifting numbers of mobile users, it will be hard to guarantee usable speeds and latency at all times.

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