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ISP Sky Broadband UK Set for Imminent Openreach FTTP Launch

Thursday, February 6th, 2020 (12:10 am) - Score 35,741
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After a long wait our sources inform us that Sky Broadband (Comcast) are imminently due to add support for Openreach’s (BT) national Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to their range of both “superfast” and “ultrafast” packages, which looks increasingly likely to go live later this month (provided some issues can be ironed out first).

At this point readers may recall that Sky Broadband officially launched a new range of ultrafast packages last year (here and here), although at the time we noted that those were only based off the hybrid fibre G.fast technology. Back then our sources indicated that their “full fibre” (FTTP) based variants had been delayed to early 2020.

NOTE: G.fast currently covers 2.72 million UK premises, while FTTP can reach 2.16 million (here); a small bit of overbuild exists between these two on Openreach’s network.

According to sources, one of the main reasons why it’s taken Sky so long to introduce FTTP is because they’ve yet to finalise their safeguarding plans for customers who need a reliable landline phone, which obviously works differently on FTTP where an IP-based voice service (e.g. VoIP) is required. Were it not for this then Sky’s FTTP may well have gone live last month. Officially Sky would only tell ISPreview.co.uk that they now intend to go live with FTTP “as soon as possible.”

We should remind readers that the new Sky Broadband Hub (aka – Sky Q Hub 2 or SR203/204) router includes two phone ports for VoIP (note: the SR203 version is for ADSL/VDSL2 lines, while SR204 only works on G.fast). We assume the SR204 will also be used with their FTTP products, although Sky has yet to confirm that.

According to our sources Sky’s FTTP based packages will also offer higher average advertised speeds than their current FTTC and G.fast based plans, which is to be expected given that full fibre lines don’t suffer from the same performance caveats as copper. At the time of writing we don’t yet know the pricing for these but the assumption is that they will be similar, or the same as, Sky’s current tiers.

Sky’s Planned FTTP Packages
Superfast – 80Mbps (c.20Mbps upload)
Ultrafast 1 – 150Mbps (c.30Mbps upload)
Ultrafast 2 – 285Mbps (c.50Mbps upload)

Just in case anybody asks. At this time there’s no concrete information to confirm whether or when Sky will introduce a 550Mbps or 1Gbps package to match the expected launch of Openreach’s new consumer tiers on 23rd March 2020 (here). But for the time being we’ve assumed that they won’t roll this out until later.

Separate to all this, perhaps, is the interesting question of Sky’s expected launch of the new Disney+ channel and content (BT TV are also due to get this), as well as their long awaited plans to introduce a dish-less Sky Q service over broadband in the UK (i.e. like NOW TV but much more extensive and with Sky’s full line-up of channels/content). Disney+ is due to go live in March but Sky has yet to set a date of its own.

In theory both may be set to follow soon after the launch of Sky’s FTTP products, possibly in March (Disney+ is due to launch then), although officially Sky are not yet commenting on such plans or any related speculation. We do however note that some new functionality is coming to Sky Q soon, including voice control from inside related apps and a trigger word for Sky Q so that customers don’t even have to use the remote.

Suffice to say that the February to March period this year could be very interesting for Sky. Meanwhile there’s the question of whether Sky Broadband will be able to do a deal in order to take advantage of Virgin Media’s network (here and here) alongside Openreach’s. The outcome of that is expected soon, although it may take longer to actually launch related products (a lot of R&D is needed to adapt to new networks).

UPDATE 1:47pm

One of our sources has confirmed that Sky’s FTTP service will actually ship alongside the SR203 rather than the SR204 router (i.e. the one made for ADSL/VDSL2 lines rather than G.fast). Since the two devices are virtually identical, from the perspective of an FTTP service, then this is not a significant difference.

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53 Responses
  1. Avatar Ray Woodward says:

    Sky (Comcast) and Disney are in discussion, but no agreement has yet been announced. (No idea as regard BT).

    As to the rest, time will tell I guess …

  2. Avatar Jimbo says:

    If sky can arrange a deal with Virgin to use there network,would this open the door for other isp’s like BT to use virgins network?

    1. Avatar Archie says:

      I’m wondering whether you’ll be able to use your own modem! That would be a blessing!

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      You will not be able to use your own cable modem on any Virgin Media / Sky venture.

      There are really, really good reasons why cable operators force customers to use their modems or, if they are obliged to allow customers to bring their own, they immediately take control over the ‘modem’ part.

  3. Avatar NGA for all says:

    This is overdue and welcome.

  4. Avatar Andrew Ferguson says:

    NOTE: The 80/20 FTTP product will not produce average speeds of 80 Mbps in case anyone is thinking that. There are still protocol overheads to consider.

    1. Avatar joe says:

      Although they seem to have some in hand. Not hard to get over 20 on UL for a speed test.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I did wonder about that too, but waiting to see if they carry the plan across to official launch before taking Sky to task over it. Normally see the 80Mbps tier being given advertised averages of 76-79Mbps on other FTTP ISPs, although they’ll probably deliver close enough to 80Mbps for the ASA not to care.

    3. Avatar Andrew says:

      Which providers are saying 79 Mbps average download speed on openreach FTTP using 80/20 product

      Upload does perform slightly better but difference in download from on top of cab vdsl2 and fttp is minimal.

      Someone needs to check how they are measuring things and check that people are quoting tcpip throughput rather than connection speed

  5. Avatar Simon says:

    Interesting Sky is waiting for VOIP to work over Openreach.

    In Leeds (Fibre First City) I’ve just had FTTP installed by Openreach on a BT Fibre 250 contract (£44.99/month 2 years), however, I was surprised when the engineer installed a new dual fibre/copper shotgun type cable from the pole. I thought the telephone service would be provided via VOIP using one of the telephone ports either on the fibre modem or the router, however the engineer installed a traditional BT socket as well. The fibre worked as soon as it was connected giving 290/50, however the engineer spent the next hour between the street cabinet and up the pole trying to get the copper to work!

    The Openreach engineer told me they hadn’t rolled out VOIP yet over the network and so for the time being they were installing copper as well on new installations…

    1. Avatar Shaun says:

      I’m om the plusnet FTTP trial and have the “siamese” cable installed too. I requested they not install a socket and tuck the copper away in the ONT, which they engineers did. I dropped the line rental as soon as I could and use VOIP with my FritzBox router via an app on my phone.
      I’ll be watching the Sky announcements – keen for more speed. Currently on 80/20 and getting ~74 down ~22up.

    2. Avatar Phil says:

      Same on our FTTP, this was an underground feed, the fibre is run alongside the telephone copper cable and you keep both and use the existing copper cable if you want a land line. I think this should be changing now as BT have what they call ‘Digital Voice’ so they supply a landline over VoIP. We of course dropped our landline and just went with VoIP which doesn’t really get used anyway and costs us nothing per month.

    3. Avatar joe says:

      The sooner they offer cost matching or lower on voip so they can start pulling the copper the better. The ran a vast amount of copper to mine – crazy i’d have had voip if they’d have offered it at a sane price.

    4. Avatar CarlT says:

      Not sure which Openreach engineer remarked on them waiting for VoIP to start working on their network but they quite simply aren’t offering it.

      The ISP/CP’s problem to offer voice as of 1st April – VoIP over FTTP withdrawn from new sale.

    5. Avatar chris says:

      I’d suspect the delay is more down to Sky having to interally build and integrate their own VOIP system, rather than using an OR supplied one.

    6. Avatar Oliver says:

      This is odd – my FTTP line (installed May 2018) has the phone plugged into the ONT, which I assume is VOIP. I only have a fibre line. My old copper ADSL line is disconnected.
      BT did have significant problems trying to port me over from ADSL to Fibre, so I had to loose my number to put the order through.

    7. Avatar John says:

      VOIP via the OpenReach ONT is called FVA which only BT ever sold.

      OpenReach won’t sell this after March 2020 but existing lines will continue to work.

      Sky will use their own VOIP for FTTP via the Sky Hub (not the ONT).

      They already do this with their G.Fast lines.

      The hold up may be that they are using the older SR203 for FTTP rather than the SR204 used for G.Fast.
      Sky certainly have VOIP working.

    8. Avatar nathan says:

      I just had Sky installed over normal FTTC and our phone connects to the router. In Wakefield

  6. Avatar John says:

    Sky already do this and it works perfect.

    Every single Sky G.Fast service is provided using SOGFast, which is G.Fast with no PSTN.
    Voice is done via Sky’s VOIP via the ATA port on their new Hub.

    They are probably ironing out their own issues on their Hub with FTTP rather than anything OpenReach related.

    1. Avatar nathan says:

      yeah got this on just FTTC put in Monday

  7. Avatar Micheal Andrews says:

    The Micheal Andrews is we like About few weeks back Have we been able to get any further information on soon please and how much would it take to get the money back in our bank account to pay the rent very quickly so that we can have something

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      You need to reset the spambot.

  8. Avatar Cheshire_Pete says:

    I was able to end my relatively slow (38Meg) last February when Sky increased my price. I was able to start a new 12 month contract with them cheaper, however, this ends on Feb 28th! The previous month (last year) OR had just ran Fibre past my house. Sky anticipated I’d be able to upgrade ‘later this year’ which came and went. I like UHD streaming so 38Meg is just about tolerable.

    12 months have now gone and this news although interesting, may have come too late! In a week – on Feb 14th I need to give Sky 2 weeks notice to end my £22 38Meg, otherwise from March 1st is goes up to £40.99! They have started offering me to stay for another 12 months @ £25 but the Ultra Fibre is still ‘greyed out’ and they’ll only let me commit to another 38 Meg contract. I will not be locking into that again this time round, based on ‘it’s coming’

    At this moment in time my only option is to go with BT to get either 150Meg or 300Meg. I’m not being led up the garden path again by Sky! So unless I know they are launching in the next week then I’m going to have to lock into BT for 24 months.

    I don’t get the Phone Line nonsense, whether Copper or VoIP. I know you have to pay ‘line rental’ with the incuberants, but I’ve never plugged a phone into my socket for years and would never use it. Why did Sky think they’d hold up FTTP because of this? It doesnt make commercial sense to make we want to have a Phone Socket I’d never be using and this stopped me getting Ultra Fibre from them for longer than necessary. How many other people actually want a Phone Socket!? Not many I imagine. I especially don’t want 2 sitting on my wall doing nothing!

    1. Avatar JmJohnson says:

      Because there’s legislation that means the vulnerable must have a phone line that operates during a power outage. Openreach stopped deploying FTTP with battery backup which left Sky in that predicament.
      We as a society have these laws in place to protect the minority, so that they aren’t forgotten or ignored by what the majority wants.

    2. Avatar Oliver says:

      Why is that your only option? Surely you could do nothing and continue out of contract for a couple of months at the higher price in order to see what FTTP products are launched by Sky and BT? (new speeds and potentially cheaper prices could come from both).
      Failing that, I’m sure that if you did buy the sky package then you could just upgrade when the new fibre product launches?

    3. Avatar CarlT says:

      That’s quite a whinge over having FTTP available to you – something only a fraction of the country have access to.

    4. Avatar Paul M says:

      Having a phone as reliable as the old copper service is not nonsense.

      We still have an old fashioned wired phone plugged into the phone socket. We regularly get power cuts, so a cordless phone relying on a router with no battery backup would be unreliable. Mobile coverage is very poor here.

      If my son has as asthma attack, I don’t want to be worrying about whether the phone will work if I need to call paramedics.

    5. Avatar Peter Rawlinson says:

      Oliver, Sky might roll it out postcode bu postcode, so no there is no option whereby I’d want to chance waiting for Sky from March 1st to launch at an unknown date. BTs prices have come down somewhat anyhow. Last February they told me it was coming soon, and I waited a year. Not again I don’t think!

    6. Avatar John Uncle says:

      Surely it would be prudent to avoid having multiple Fibre lines to the same place, and instead focus all resources to get the WHOLE COUNTRY having fibre lines to all premises (homes and businesses).

      It would be better if the government nominally owned all the infrastructure that connects exchanges/nodes/satellite links/whatever to people’s houses. And at that point, either one operator (like Network Rail/UK Powernetworks) either owned by the government, or with a significant taxpayer stake, then builds Fibre to replace all the copper.

      That way every single home would have the copper line replaced with a Fibre one. This should be a RIGHT and not an option. Anyone willing to pay for a telephone line should get a Fibre line FULL STOP.

      If necessary, then the government should own the “National Fibre System” and then tender out the contracts to any private bidder (Openreach, CityFibre, Google, whoever) to convert parts of the National network to Fibre in the same way that contracts are tendered out to build airports.

      Retail ISPs can then offer services nationwide and pay rents to the single network on a contract whereby the National System is obligated to maintain it. It’s the same as when a power cut happens, UK Powernetworks deals with the fault (hopefully quickly).

      This entire mess then won’t happen where the vast majority of the country have no fibre, the fraction that do are beholden to one operator, and the prices are simply ridiculous no matter what is available to you.

      As bad as the mobile operators are, at least there is competition and a degree of fairness versus the various regional, or business monopolies and lack of progress in FTTP.

      There should be:
      1. A law that sets a fast target (2025) for ALL existing copper lines to be replaced by Fibre
      2. A law that sets a global benchmark set target to put us on par with the likes of South Korea in terms of speeds within a period of no more than 10 years.
      3. A law that prohibits the use of the term “Fibre” in marketing any broadband product UNLESS it is FTTP/FTTH. No FTTC product should be labelled as Fibre.
      4. A law that sets the minimum “acceptable” speed provided by ISPs of 50 Mbps download TODAY for households and any speed below that gets a significant discount on the advertised price. That minimum speed should go as Fibre comes online – if it’s FTTP, the minimum acceptable product should be 330. Any product marketed as 330, should be 330, and not “guaranteed speed 150”. Any “Gigafast” product should be 1000 minimum.
      5. A law that mandates a symmetrical nationwide FTTP network within no more than 10 years for the entire country, with the freedom of consumer choice to choose speed at ANY property (i.e. properties should not be restricted to 330 download, but can choose the speed they want and ALL ISPs have access to the same network).

      Bottom line is that ANY provider should be able to offer Fibre anywhere. Fibre products of 330, 550, 1000 should be available to anyone anywhere. And we should be avoiding under-building where people don’t have fibre, monopolies where one company builds substandard non symmetrical lines with little choice, and overbuilding where some places have multiple fibre lines which is pointless given the previous two aforementioned situations.

  9. Avatar wayne thomson says:

    in my area we dont even have copper lines bt scrimped back in the 70s and put in aluminium cabels instead and i have had so much problems as the wires keep snapping as there so fragile the openreach engineers have had to splice the cables twice now

  10. Avatar Oliver says:

    Whilst OR don’t do this as standard anymore, do the newer ONTs not have the option of being connected to a battery backup for those that need it? Surely that would help the resilience issue?
    Or does the battery backup only support Fibre Voice Access and not data (and therefore VOIP).

    1. Avatar Tony says:

      Come June this year, voice, including VOiP responsibility will be the remit of your provider, not Openreach. (FVA via the ONT is different but this will be phased out).
      If you want a battery back up for the ONT the provider requests OR fit a BBU, however you will also need a UPS for the router and for the phone if it’s a powered model.

  11. Avatar Jack says:

    Just wondering if anyone would have rough estimates on what the prices may be. It’s good to finally see some more FTTP competition jump onto the market.

    I know this is also a little offtopic but do you reckon they would be able to install it like how BT are able to install it for you if you get locked into a 2 year contract?

    Cheers guys

  12. Avatar Marcos says:

    Can anyone answer a question for me ? When I go on the openreach availability checker it say FTTP 330/30 but under the table it then says FTTP not available. Will sky ultrafast be available to me ?

    Postcode is Co34bp

    1. Avatar Subject says:

      FTTP on Demand not FTTP at that postcode.

    2. Avatar Subject says:

      sky ultrafast will not be available to you

    3. Avatar Subject says:

      No BDUK investment for that postcode either

  13. Avatar rbz says:

    FTTP available in my area, but sold by BT only. Other providers show – FTTP not available in my area.

    1. Avatar Oliver says:

      This will change when Sky launch their FTTP service, which is what this article is about. New higher speeds also launching on the 29th of March.

  14. Avatar Arthur says:

    Sky and virgin already install voip telephone over Broadband I changed from BT copper line to virgin and engineer said virgin stoped installing coper phone lines it’s a easy cheep way out
    I still prefer old phone if I lose power or BB I loose the phone and to install voip is inconvenient your old phones sockets are all in the wrong place phone has to be connected to router hard to access behind the television or inconvenient location

  15. Avatar John Uncle says:

    Surely it would be prudent to avoid having multiple Fibre lines to the same place, and instead focus all resources to get the WHOLE COUNTRY having fibre lines to all premises (homes and businesses).

    It would be better if the government nominally owned all the infrastructure that connects exchanges/nodes/satellite links/whatever to people’s houses. And at that point, either one operator (like Network Rail/UK Powernetworks) either owned by the government, or with a significant taxpayer stake, then builds Fibre to replace all the copper.

    That way every single home would have the copper line replaced with a Fibre one. This should be a RIGHT and not an option. Anyone willing to pay for a telephone line should get a Fibre line FULL STOP.

    If necessary, then the government should own the “National Fibre System” and then tender out the contracts to any private bidder (Openreach, CityFibre, Google, whoever) to convert parts of the National network to Fibre in the same way that contracts are tendered out to build airports.

    Retail ISPs can then offer services nationwide and pay rents to the single network on a contract whereby the National System is obligated to maintain it. It’s the same as when a power cut happens, UK Powernetworks deals with the fault (hopefully quickly).

    This entire mess then won’t happen where the vast majority of the country have no fibre, the fraction that do are beholden to one operator, and the prices are simply ridiculous no matter what is available to you.

    As bad as the mobile operators are, at least there is competition and a degree of fairness versus the various regional, or business monopolies and lack of progress in FTTP.

    There should be:
    1. A law that sets a fast target (2025) for ALL existing copper lines to be replaced by Fibre
    2. A law that sets a global benchmark set target to put us on par with the likes of South Korea in terms of speeds within a period of no more than 10 years.
    3. A law that prohibits the use of the term “Fibre” in marketing any broadband product UNLESS it is FTTP/FTTH. No FTTC product should be labelled as Fibre.
    4. A law that sets the minimum “acceptable” speed provided by ISPs of 50 Mbps download TODAY for households and any speed below that gets a significant discount on the advertised price. That minimum speed should go as Fibre comes online – if it’s FTTP, the minimum acceptable product should be 330. Any product marketed as 330, should be 330, and not “guaranteed speed 150”. Any “Gigafast” product should be 1000 minimum.
    5. A law that mandates a symmetrical nationwide FTTP network within no more than 10 years for the entire country, with the freedom of consumer choice to choose speed at ANY property (i.e. properties should not be restricted to 330 download, but can choose the speed they want and ALL ISPs have access to the same network).

    1. Avatar TheTruth says:

      Thank you Mr Corbyn

    2. Avatar John Uncle says:

      TheTruth

      I had to laugh! But trust me, Corbynista’s plan was not what I suggested above. Rather, adopting a Hong Kong MTR model to the National Fibre network here.

      What I am saying is to carve off Openreach from BT. Give the British government (the taxpayer) a veto on ownership/serious changes with a 30% stake, and let one Openreach network manage everything like UKPowernetworks manage our grid. Openreach (which can be rename British Fibreways if you want) will then lease out/tender out the development of EVERY section of the existing copper grid right NOW.

      Any private company, from the existing Openreach business to CityFibre, to Hyperoptic, to Google, to the Italians, to whoever, can bid on competitive bids to “Win” the construction of fibre lines in demarcated places – you could use counties for example. That way THE WHOLE COUNTRY would get updated simultaneously.

      I’m suggesting one infrastructure system like Network rail. ISPs will still all be private and be able to access ONE fibre grid. Thus the consumer gets a choice of ANY provider no matter WHERE THEY LIVE.

  16. Avatar Wally1 says:

    It’s just over a month since this report. Any sign of it happening?
    Openreach FTTP to my home is in place and I am currently with Sky but
    considering moving to BT if Sky do not commit.

  17. Avatar sianie says:

    anyone know if sky are actually going to take over BT FTTP, I need sky 🙂 Hate BT and was reluctant to go with them but not much choice 🙁

  18. Avatar Nathan Heron says:

    Also interested in this. Been watching it a while now. Need an update please

  19. Avatar Rex says:

    Any update on this? I’ve seen BT have launched their 500 & 1000 service, but not seen anything from Sky yet?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      COVID-19 has thrown a bit of a spanner into the works. Sky’s teams under a lot of pressure (sport TV downgrades etc.), so we’ll see what happens in the next week or so but sales/new products are not getting much attention right now.

  20. Avatar J says:

    Guess not that imminent then. Were do ispreview get their information?

  21. Avatar Meteor says:

    Does anyone have any update on this?

  22. Avatar Matt Wallace says:

    I have spoken to sky today via telephone and they advised me that they are not offering FTTP over the Openreach network at this time. The current Ultrafast Broadband product that they offer is via Openreach G.Fast Technology only.

    Sky are unable to say when they are likely to Offer FTTP services in the near future via Openreach Nationally. Surely this is misleading, as their online advertising does not clearly differentiate between FTTP and Hybrid FTTC. I have Also found out that their is a similar situation with TalkTalk UFO. What do other people think?

  23. Avatar neil says:

    Any way i can use a SR204 with only super fast and not ultra fast
    can i change any settings
    as brought one from ebay

  24. Avatar neil says:

    Currently got super fast sky and using older sky hub with purple asdl socket and also have newer sky Q hub.
    now routers have been in same place for past 6 years but since i got super fast
    im having wifi issues when by im have to reset router every 2 days (either one )
    and getting no signal up stairs.

    so decided to by SR204 which i did but just found out only works with ultra speed
    can i change any setting to get it to work

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