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Openreach Reveals Price of New 0.5Mbps Fibre Broadband Tier

Friday, February 21st, 2020 (5:11 pm) - Score 19,366
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Openreach (BT) has today revealed how much it will charge UK ISPs to use the new 500Kbps (0.5Mbps) “low bandwidth speed tier” on their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) and SOGEA (standalone FTTC / VDSL2) based broadband lines, which might sound silly by modern standards but it has a specific purpose.

Much as we reported last year, when details of the new service first started to leak out, the new tier is effectively designed to act as a “voice only” replacement product for the old Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) solution. The service is now set to launch on 23rd March 2020 (alongside OR’s new FTTP plans) and will no doubt support prep work for Openreach’s migration trials in Salisbury and Mildenhall (here and here).

Nobody should be surprised to find that they’ve priced it in a similar way to the old phone line service, which means to say that it will attract a one-off connection fee of £98.48 +vat (this oddly goes live on a different date – 1st April 2020) and an annual rental charge of £92.44 +vat (£7.70 per month). Naturally this is the wholesale charge, which comes before an ISP has added its own costs on top in order to create the retail price (e.g. VAT, profit margin, service features, network capacity etc.).

Despite the focus here being to create the foundation for a voice-only alternative via broadband, consumers who take the 0.5Mbps product would still be able to plug-in a router and get online. But trying to surf the modern web at 0.5Mbps is NOT going to be a very pleasant experience. VoIP of course doesn’t need a lot of bandwidth, thus 0.5Mbps is perfectly fine for that.

Just as a recap. Openreach’s current plan is to stop selling the old WLR/PSTN services to ISPs from 2023 (after the aforementioned trials have completed), with a “forced migration” process expected to start from spring 2025 (likely to annoy some older landline-only customers) ahead of complete withdrawal by the end of 2025.

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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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41 Responses
  1. AnotherTim says:

    Will there be a ADSL2+ version of this for lines that don’t have FTTC/FTTP available? They won’t be able to replace ADSL2+ by 2025.

    1. Him says:

      Yes it’s called SOTAP

  2. ianh says:

    I remember going from dial up to 512Kbps….felt like a rocket back then!

    1. dave says:

      Dialup –> ISDN –> 384Kbps ADSL for me

      The latter should have been amazing, 3 times the speed of dual channel ISDN!

      However, the dominant telco where I was living at the time screwed up their network build so badly that it would often drop to sub-dialup speeds at busy periods.

      All at a price of around €150 per month too!

  3. Adam says:

    What is even the point of this with the 10mb USO ?

    1. NE555 says:

      For the (few) people who want landline without Internet.

    2. Mrcfodder says:

      The USO means that 10mb must be available, but if it is not wanted this is a cheaper alternative.

    3. Shaun says:

      It’s also to help cut costs by switching off parts of the frame and also saving on openreach carbon footprint, most new orders are for broadband now and not for phoneline.

  4. Gary Tulie says:

    This could be good for landlord data lines used for things like collecting heat meter readings from District heating where the data demands are light, and certain other Internet of things applications.

  5. Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry says:

    On the plus side, it’s symmetric!

  6. dave says:

    0.5Mbps = ~60KB/s transfer speeds. Will take rather a long time for webpages to load. Fine for voip and email though.

    1. Steve Pettifer says:

      Which is entirely the point. The article clearly stated that.

      What surprised me is that they have the brass neck to charge the thick end of a hundred quid to connect this when people who have only a voice service already seem likely to be forced to change. Why should they pay to replace a service that already works for them with something that will do nothing more? If consumers are to be forced to change the delivery method for the same service when it comes to voice only then I don’t really see why they should be forced to pay. It’s debatable whether data customers should either, but at least they will be getting something more for their money.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s a special offer on that to aid migrations in the future, since you are quite correct. Any enforced charges of that scale during the migration would cause uproar.

    3. Shaun says:

      Customers that have already been on a voice only line PTSN will be transferred on to and broadband connection, as the PSTN connection are being switched off to save the company money, I would think the nearly £100 charge will be for new connection, you’ll probably find that it will be cheaper just getting a broadband connection

  7. Mark says:

    Just out of curiosity, we have a 12 km line to the exchange, so ADSL doesn’t sync at any speed. It’s still 5 km to the cabinet, so conventional VDSL is not available either, but would that be capable of supporting 0.5 Mb/s? We are on 4G, but there are plenty of older people in the village who don’t use the internet and are perfectly happy with just a voice service.

    1. Download says:

      I wouldn’t think so, looks like there’s no new kit planned. If it doesn’t work now then it won’t with this service. Your area is more likely to be included in a FTTP build or an additional cabinet.
      It’ll be interesting to see how they force people onto a DSL service when they were happy with a basic landline!
      Who’ll pay for the migration?

    2. Robert Smithy says:

      It doesn’t matter if they are happy with their current landline. It’s being permanently removed.

  8. Roger says:

    If a free 60kbit data channel is provided in the price its a step up from the 16kbit D channel that ISDN2 lines should have had and BT never enabled.

    1. Roger says:

      Make that 500kb (even better)

    2. MartinConf says:


      ISDN2 worked as 2B+D, the D channel did work as designed as its only purpose was to support the service. The D channel was never for customers own data.

  9. Meadmodj says:

    The product needs to be considered as yet another facilitator to the main objective which is to encourage the removal of last remaining LLU and ADSL so that OR can start to empty local exchanges and can continue the migration from 5,600 to 1,100 Fibre handover points. By pricing the product below basic copper line rental there is an incentive for providers to move all their customers to a common VoIP/VoBB solution off of copper fibre starting with FTTC and as FTTP increases.

    The product could also form the basis for a landline in conjunction with a 4G broadband service and the data channel for alarm circuits and other products. I can see lots of business uses.

    The demographic of residential land line is constantly changing and most will elect for either higher speeds or other solutions however copper will probably remain longer than most expect in certain situations.

  10. Gavin says:

    You might as well get a sim only deal for this price.

    You could get unlimited calls texts and 2 GB of data for £8 a month. Which could be used at home and out and about.

    1. Meadmodj says:

      OR is a network provider. It is the default product which reflects the base cost to OR to provide it. ISPs will no doubt wrap it and up sell or combine with other products. It is more an enabler than something that will be promoted.

      Those on landline only can already move to mobile (including corded phone).

      There will remain Mobile black spots and service suseptable to weather.

    2. G Cot says:

      Could be a problem if you can’t get a 4G signal, we don’t all live in cities.
      Also if your fire alarm, care call, flood monitor etc. relies on a good connection, you just have to hope you don’t get an emergency on sat New Year’s Eve when there is high contention to get a mobile link.

    3. Down with 5G says:

      Some people still don’t like having portable microwave emitters next to their brain… go figure…!

  11. TheFacts says:

    Everyone happy that without standby power it all stops when the power fails?

    1. James says:

      Either way if the power fails or the broadband is down you don’t get service.
      VM provide a BBU but that’s only if the broadband goes down if my power goes out I can’t use the landline phones anyway.

    2. Duncan Ross says:

      We don’t get power cuts often enough to care. Plus those deliberately choosing not to have even a simple mobile phone with a few prepaid pounds on it are beyond foolish, and wouldn’t have made it this far in life were it not for natural selection no longer being applied to the human race

    3. John says:

      Duncan Ross. I take it you are looking forward to old age, or to a mental illness when the operation of even a basic smartphone is impossibly stressful. I take it you won’t be moving to an area unserved by a signal? Your remarks are crass.Remember, no-one deserves their disabilities…

  12. André says:

    Maybe I’m being harsh but £10 for half a megabit seems extortionate…

    1. Gary says:

      But in this scenario that’s your line rental, you’re not really paying for any internet it’s so they can migrate you off copper and onto fibre Voip.

  13. Occasionally Factual says:

    Question for Mark:

    If you have a working phone line today is it guaranteed that you will get it replaced with FTTP regardless of installation cost?

    I’m thinking about those people on rural lines which are only able to support voice calls. (This isn’t an issue for me, more of a general interest query)

    I know the USO broadband has a cap cost but this isn’t USO broadband.

    1. NE555 says:

      No. This service is for properties which are already within range of ADSL, FTTC or FTTP.

      By the time the PSTN is switched off in a few years time: if someone is still on an analogue line which can’t even get ADSL at 0.5Mbps up and down, and they still want a fixed voice service, then I expect they’ll be upgraded to whatever technology the USO provides for their area.

  14. chris conder says:

    I can’t see any point at all in ISPs giving customers ‘free’ email then holding them to ransome when they change providers. They should charge for email from the start then the customer can choose. My guess is most would go for Gmail with the massive free storage, or a domain name if they want to be posh or maybe have a business name, but as previous commenters have said, these can be redirected to gmail easily and cost less than £6 a year.

    1. Gary says:

      I think you replied to the wrong thread Chris 🙂

    2. Gary says:


      If they’re moving to Voip with a smidge of data capacity, they could add Email to that and keep the price minimal.
      Given that Email is pretty much expected these days as a communication method, So rather than a broadband and phone deal you have Email and VoIP as the basic.

  15. CarlT says:

    Enjoying the assumption a data service will be available through this.

    As a service provider I would simply block everything that isn’t VoIP.

    It’s a small amount of bandwidth but better to keep phone service as phone service than deal with a data customer. Whomever you’re purchasing service from can provide a non-routable IP address that may only reach their voice network.

    It’s line rental for voice. No need to allow reachability to any network besides the one terminating the voice service.

    1. Gary says:

      You’re right of course Carl, It’s entirely speculation, what a provider chooses to do with the Access product from OR is their decision.

      There are other things that a low bandwidth connection could be very suitable for however and limiting the connection to Voip only would also limit the technology to pre dialup functionality ruling out all the applications like Alarm monitoring etc, which has been one of the concerns raised since the switch off of copper networks started to be discussed.

      Of course lots of people have looked at VoIP modems to work round this, but that’s a nasty cludge on a digital fibre solution.

    2. CarlT says:

      So most of those, Gary, are broken by VoIP anyway and need an alternative solution. That solution being a data line, not a voice one.

      I don’t really see a downside to an operator in telling people they need to purchase a data solution for such things. It’s been made abundantly clear for years that VoIP is not a like for like replacement for POTS and shouldn’t be treated as such. There has been ample opportunity for companies to work their way around this through a combination of data, cellular and ‘in-band’ voice applications.

    3. Gary says:

      But the OR product IS a data line Carl. Their own product breifing states it is a low bandwidth connection.

      You’re now calling it a voice line and its not. As for it being made abundantly clear VoIP isnt a replacement for Pots, that would seem to be exactly what this low bandwidth offering is capable of.

      Sure if it’s a VoIP only service thats ordered then I agree theres no requirement for any Data facility to be enabled, just means those people with the need for Pots device replacement will have to go to providers who do offer the low bandwidth data functionality.

    4. Gary says:

      Cant edit so thought it’s best I clarified my above comment, as Carl seems to think i’m unaware of the time these 3rd party device operators have had to find modern solutions to the changes.
      When I say in para 2 this product is capable of replacing Pots, I did mean Pots reliant systems other than Voice that have been updated to function via a data connection.

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