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Trials of 1000Mbps Full Fibre Broadband Spotted at UK ISP BT

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 (1:27 am) - Score 8,005
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A number of BT’s broadband customers have been invited to trial their future “Full Fibre” packages, which appear to be based off Openreach’s new top consumer Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) tiers – 500Mbps (75Mbps upload) and 1000Mbps (115Mbps) – that are due to go live on 23rd March (here). But there could be a catch.

At present BT offers two “Full Fibre” tiers (also available via G.fast) – Ultrafast Fibre 100 (based off the 160Mbps down / 30Mbps up tier) and Ultrafast Fibre 250 (based off the 330Mbps down / 50Mbps up tier) – and we’ve long been expecting them to be one of the first ISP’s out of the gate with the new 500Mbps and 1Gbps based consumer tiers too (possibly by early April).

Most recently we’ve spotted that some individuals have just been accepted on to a trial of BT’s new Full Fibre packages, one of which is called ‘Full Fibre 900 HALO‘ (average download speeds of 900Mbps or more). The indication we’ve had from other sources is that BT may initially launch this as a top-end premium package for customers who already take their HALO service.

NOTE: HALO is a paid feature that gives subscribers access to BT’s Home Tech Experts, a Smart Hub 2 router, the Complete Wi-Fi guarantee (mesh system), a mobile data boost, faster mobile speeds and a mobile broadband backup if your fixed line goes down.

The trial itself also runs off an 18 month term (as opposed to the 24 month contracts being offered to new customers) and those taking part will not be charged anything for their service during the trial period. But BT does warn trial customers that they may test connection upgrades, downgrades, re-provides and even cancellations on their service during the testing phase.

Hopefully when BT launches the new tiers they won’t restrict it to only those who take their HALO service, since not everybody wants to pay the extra for that. Likewise it might disadvantage them in areas where rivals (e.g. Cityfibre, Virgin Media, Hyperoptic etc.) are able to offer potentially cheaper gigabit speed connections.

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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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27 Responses
  1. James says:

    Interesting regarding Halo. I want to move from Superfast to Ultrafast as it’s now available in my area but BT are insisting I need to take a more expensive Halo package which I’m not keen on as don’t want or need it.

    1. NE555 says:

      Just leave BT and go with one of the other ISPs who sell OR FTTP, e.g. Zen or Aquiss
      http://openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fttp-providers

      Sky will be shortly joining the list.

    2. CarlT says:

      You can move to 330 without taking Halo. The 500 and 1000 aren’t available yet.

    3. James Band says:

      The Halo is marketed well, but it seems a bit inferior to a Powerline Mesh network right? Because ultimately a Wifi mesh will spread a wifi signal which can dissipate, versus power line delivering the original ISP signal from another distribution point (and adding a Mesh to that is somewhat superior).

      The BT Wifi Guarantee only guarantees 30Mbps from what I can see, so a 330, 500 or 1000 FTTP service wouldn’t be best served by that guarantee surely. Pretty sure you should be aspiring for at least half the speed by Wifi.

      However if someone wanted the Wifi Mesh kit, then it makes reasonable sense in the context of paying monthly versus upfront for the physical product for a 2 year period (but not after that).

      However the pricing for the actual Ultrafast 900 surely has to be maximum of £55 a month to look competitive and maintain/attract customers versus Vodafone’s £48 a month (2 year), or £40 a month (18 months)?

    4. David Shepherd says:

      Competition:. Well, if it hadn’t been for the cheap sell off to OLO’s in the 80s, Fibre would have been in more business locations and home sooner. Here we are 40 years later still squabbling about the enforced high price for a non-vital service (on-line shopping & Games). Where have all the little companies gone ? Swallowed up by Branson’s VM, not paying his Taxes ? and not supplying to the Rural Community, unlike BT having and wanting to under the Law.

    5. David Shepherd says:

      Well, that’s competition for you ! Choices at differing prices for what should be an industry standard. Who goes into the Network to fix or repair the faults, Yes BT & it’s contractors. The UG (underground) network should have been left to BT and not sold or rented to poorly trained competitors. VM have inherited a shambles of Green ducts filled solid to the brim and poorly laid, causing big problems. Hawaii should now be allowed to remain the main provider for the Digital Infrastructure, we should be friends with China, after all, we helped start to build their Networks in the 70s. Look at the size of their Army, Digitally & Regimented trained. Powerful.

  2. BlueHorizonUK says:

    So if we are already on 330mb, do the new tiers launch for everyone on the same day (23rd March)? Or is this being Rolle out and even though I currently get the 330mb package, I wont be able to get the 500mb or 1gb?

    1. CarlT says:

      The new tiers will, I believe, launch for everyone in eligible areas on the same day.

      However there’s no guarantee that’ll be 23rd March. It’ll be when BT’s supplier, BT Wholesale, release it and when BT Consumer are ready to go.

      BT Wholesale are scheduled to release on 23rd March, no idea when BT Consumer will.

      However, you should be aware that the pricing is looking like the 550 will come in at around £75 a month and the 1000 at over £100, without Halo.

      The Wholesale pricing means £60 a month on 550 and £90 a month on 1000 to get to the ISP’s network without any usage or other costs.

      I can think of a poster that will be super upset with this.

    2. Jed P says:

      @CarIT: According this earlier report BT Wholesale is ± £33 & £37 incl VAT respectively… meaning BT Retail price should be much lower than your numbers? Unless you have seen something specifically different

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2019/09/openreach-prices-new-uk-consumer-550mbps-and-1gbps-fttp-tiers.html

    3. John says:

      That’s the OpenReach price.

      OpenReach sell to BT Wholesale who in turn sell to BT.

      BT Wholesale will add their cut on top.

      I expect Carl’s guess of the price to be much closer than your own.

    4. James Band says:

      Jed P & Carl T & John

      Surely competition will force BT to sell their 500 and 1000 products at levels closer to £40-50 a month. BT wholesale cannibalising its consumer business would be cutting off the nose to spite the face.

      Vodafone are selling 900/900 for £40-48 a month to the consumer. BT will look foolish selling it for £100 a month. Also the “Wifi guarantee” on their website for “Halo” is only up to 30Mbs which is pitiful for a FTTP 330 to 1000 service surely.

    5. New_Londoner says:

      @James Band
      The price that Vodafone sells its City Fibre-based services at is not really that relevant given that the City Fibre network footprint is so much smaller and doesn’t all overlap anyway. Yes those people offered both products may well go with Vodafone but that leaves an awful lot of premises not served by City Fibre now nor likely to anytime soon.

    6. CarlT says:

      Most people don’t have any alternative. While that remains the case BT Wholesale can do whatever they want.

      Direct your frustration towards TalkTalk, Sky and Vodafone. They are the ones sitting there allowing Wholesale a monopoly on FTTP in 10% of the country and in turn BT Consumer a virtual monopoly.

    7. James Band says:

      New_Londoner & CarlT

      I concur on the fact the others (ISPs) should bid and competition will then drive prices down. But the fact is any pricing by the likes of BT, Vodafone, Sky whoever, will be NATIONAL pricing. It’s not going to matter to the consumer whether it’s Openreach, CityFibre, or Google Fibre that builds the Fibre. What the consumer is going to pay attention to is the service and the price.

      Even if CityFibre’s footprint is smaller, BT are going to have to try to justify why they want to charge a higher price than Vodafone in national marketing campaigns and to the consumer. And as time goes forward over the next year, and certainly in the next few years, then it is only going to get more competitive.

      It would be extremely short termist and foolish to start BT’s “Gigabit” Fibre product off to a greedy start, which would surely lead to loss of customers very quickly afterwards or no new customers. Some may even wait it out and stick with 4G or whatever alternative they have used to copper broadband thus far until BT are willing to offer Vodafone like pricing (or better).

      Even if BT have a monopoly on rural areas for instance which are FTTP ready, the mere fact that they would be losing out new customers to the likes of Vodafone in a CityFibre area would surely mean they want to match the price. I would have thought BT would want to lock in the customers on an Openreach network BEFORE Sky, Vodafone, TalkTalk etc get their paws on Openreach. Being an early bird who treats customers right, versus a greedy pig is more likely to result in new customers staying on for the long term which would make far more money in the long run.

    8. CarlT says:

      BT Wholesale seem to be doing their own thing.

      I remind that different bits of BT are supposed to be separated by regulatory barriers.

      Wholesale do their thing, Openreach theirs, Consumer, Enterprise, etc, theirs.

      Wholesale are under no obligation to support Openreach or Consumer beyond business pressures and indeed appear to have little interest in doing so in this case.

      I would speculate that Openreach uptake is of FTTP full stop, doesn’t matter about the tier, and most would use 80 or below anyway.

      Andrew Ferguson can probably point to an indicative product mix based on his speed test data.

    9. CarlT says:

      I just asked Andrew. He is currently traveling and in and out of cellular coverage but gave me the following:

      ‘New build is best case 25% on better than 80 product. 47% on superfast1 55/10 or slower q42019 data’

      ‘In bduk type areas 12% on higher than 80. Big 70% on 55/10’

      ‘Would add recent price drops may cause a shiftvahead of the mass migration eg salisbury’

  3. Wonderdog says:

    I have no interest in the HALO bundle – I just want affordable high speed fibre. I do hope they get this released to Retail ASAP, and don’t pointlessly restrict it to bundles. I’m under a VDSL contract presently, so need to use BT as I can upgrade to the (freshly laid) FTTP within contract.

    I thought the Openreach wholelsale price was only ~£31 for 1gbps, so even with margin and VAT etc, £100+ to the consumer is mental.

    1. Rural FTTP says:

      Openreach’s prices and BT Wholesale prices are different. Wholesale is for ISP’s who aren’t doing their own back-haul aka everyone but Sky and TalkTalk.

      BT Wholesale have put the price for the 1Gb FTTP product as £75 per month. Once you add the ISP’s costs + VAT it will be >= £100 per month. Also the Operative date is the 23rd, believe they are available to order now, but it would be silly for anyone to start selling them given its 19 days before they could be installed / go live.

    2. James Band says:

      I concur. It seems beyond insane.

      Vodafone are selling their FTTP 900/900 product (Gigafast 900) for £40-48 a month. How the hell are BT going to market their Ultrafast 900/220 product for anything more than let’s say £50 a month without having eggs on their faces?

      The idea of them charging £100 a month.. no BT sales employee or management will able to walk around with their trousers on to even suggest that.

      The wholesale business would only cannibalise BT Retail, lose considerable goodwill from existing customers, turn away any new customer, and be cutting off the nose to spite the face. A markup on the Openreach price should mean prices either equal to, or slightly higher than Vodafone’s. The “Halo” Wifi guarantee seems irrelevant since BT are only seemingly saying they will deliver 30Mbps Wifi which seems abysmal versus a 330 to 1000 download speed.

  4. Marty says:

    Well if they restrict the 1gbps tier the same way they restrict contract’s lengths. Expect a lot of people to migrate away from them. If they wonder why. They only have themselves to blame in restricting the service to begin with.

    1. James Band says:

      Not to mention, they will look foolish. Imagine the flak from TV adverts showing:

      1. BT selling “Ultrafast Fibre 900! Only £100 a month!”
      2. Vodafone selling “Gigafast Fibre 900 with the UK’s highest upload speeds… for £40 a month.”

      If BT have even one atom of decency and common sense left in the greedy short termist entity that it is, they will see that such pricing would spell their doom and drive the share price even lower.

  5. James Band says:

    Will they offer a rational Ultrafast product lineup? If Ultrafast 450 and Ultrafast 900 are offered for £35 and £50 a month respectively, then maybe FTTP will have finally arrived.

    Vodafone offer Gigafast 900 for £48 (24 months) or £40 (18 months). So to actually maintain market share, gain new customers and look competitive and claim to be “the best”, BT will surely have to match.

    I want an Ultrafast product that works, is rationally priced and at least on an 18 month contract.

    As far as the “Halo” offering goes, hopefully they won’t force people to buy that – the guaranteed speed of just 30Mbps for a 330 to 1000 download on the line isn’t exactly ambitious. You’d be aiming for at least a 50% of the line speed. I’d also have thought a Powerline Mesh network would be preferable to a pure Wifi mesh? If BT were offering 1000/220, Internet TV via multi room boxes (with recording on the cloud), Powerline mesh, a speed guarantee of 700Mbps wired and 500Mbps wifi, for £70 a month, they’d be gaining customers by the dozens across the land.

    Vodafone’s pricing should be the benchmark here I reckon.

    1. New_Londoner says:

      @James Band
      From memory, most of the mesh products do not use wifi to interconnect the various units.

      I’m sure that you’re right that they would indeed sell decent volumes of your suggested bundle. Whether or not such a bundle would make any profit is a different matter of course.

    2. CarlT says:

      I’m not sure that gaining customers by the dozens is really something an operator the size of BT consider a priority.

      Until other large operators pull their heads from their collective hindmosts with Openreach FTTP BT are in a privileged position.

      The best thing that can happen now is for TalkTalk, Sky, Vodafone, etc, to offer wholesale access to Openreach FTTP and in turn ISPs to switch en masse.

      Wholesale need competition which will in turn feed retail competition as wholesale prices will come down.

      Ignoring the less realistic bits of the post.

    3. James Band says:

      New_Londoner

      Yes, I was looking into that. But a Wifi Mesh system, merely connects each unit (in BT’s case, each “disc”) with Wifi right? It’s not actually taking a fresh signal from the router into each disc as far as I can see. Whereas a Powerline node will take the full signal (assuming good wiring and it’s rare to lose much signal via wiring) and then blast the full signal out over Wifi.

      From what I understand, there are “Powerline Mesh” systems which have the Powerline node/disc sending out the full router signal and then MESH together to give the benefits of a mesh network. That to me, sounds like the ideal option, and if BT, or anyone sold that on a monthly basis, they’d do far better.

      As for the bundle I suggested, yes. I mean BT could take on Sky if they did that, and Freesat. I feel like telling people to pay for Freeview seems a bit pointless on their part! But what I was getting at was for anything above £70 a month, you’d be expecting the BT package to come with a free “money printing” machine that automatically prints and sends money to your bank account as well. I just can’t see the BT management/sales people telling you that the thing Vodafone offers for £48 a month, they will sell you for £100 a month, and still walk around with their trousers on as the saying goes.

    4. James Band says:

      @CarlT

      Well we’re talking about FTTP here, so BT could gain a lot more customers who aren’t with BT, or who have left by offering FTTP. Losing existing customers would surely be considered a priority. And if they’re going to offer the same thing Vodafone is offering (for £40-48 a month) for a price of £100 a month, then they may not just lose customers, but not gain new ones, and look totally silly in the national marketing campaigns, consumer reviews etc.

      BT can surely markup the Openreach wholesale price and be roughly the same as Vodafone – e.g. £50 a month. It would otherwise be an open goal to competitors to state that their FTTP is superior.

      Whilst other ISPs taking up the Openreach FTTP product will help, nevertheless there is still the obvious elephant in the room of the price seen by the consumer. The marketing campaign won’t be able to justify why they are selling something for over twice the price of Vodafone. I don’t think adding the “Halo” product into a hybrid “Ultrafast Halo 900” will help justify it, when the Halo guarantee from what is on their website appears to be just 30Mbps. That would only make it sound worse:

      1. Vodafone Gigafast – the UK’s fastest download and upload speeds, the future.. for starting from £40 a month (£48 a month on a fixed contract)
      then rolls up the BT advert
      2. BT Ultrafast 900 Halo – be part of the future. The fastest broadband in the UK with a guaranteed speed of 450Mbps and Wifi guarantee in every room of 30Mbps… all for just £99 a month. (Noticeable small print… Prices may change during contract. BT owns your equipment. Line rental will be subject to price changes at any time)

      Certainly over the next year, if BT try to charge £100 a month, I think there wouldn’t be much uptake.

    5. CarlT says:

      I’m talking about FTTP, too.

      Most of the households on this estate where FTTP is the only option are on 40/10.

      550 / 1000 being extortionate is frustrating but isn’t going to be a gamechanger for BT Wholesale or BT Consumer for the foreseeable.

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