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ISP Sky Broadband UK Could Launch Ultrafast FTTP in June

Monday, May 18th, 2020 (8:58 am) - Score 26,632

Credible sources have indicated that UK ISP Sky Broadband are currently gearing up to launch their first Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based “ultrafast broadband” packages (via Openreach’s platform) from next month, possibly as soon as Monday 1st June 2020, which follows an earlier delay due to COVID-19.

At present Sky’s existing ultrafast broadband package(s) only make use of Openreach’s hybrid fibre G.fast technology, but they were originally expected to introduce “full fibreFTTP during early 2020 (here). Unfortunately that plan ended up being binned after the Coronavirus (COVID-19) began to spread and eventually caused Openreach to stop almost all new FTTP installs (here).

NOTE: Openreach’s G.fast currently covers 2.81 million UK premises, while FTTP reaches 2.57 million (here); a small bit of overbuild exists between these two.

So far as we’re aware Openreach still hopes to start returning their operations to normal from June (or as close to that as social distancing will allow), although this remains a provisional date and is dependent upon how the COVID-19 situation unfolds as the lockdown softens.

Before COVID-19 hit, Sky Broadband told ISPreview.co.uk that they intended to launch FTTP “as soon as possible” and our sources now indicate that they’ve begun training support staff ahead of a launch to consumers occurring early next month. Obviously this also assumes that Openreach won’t make any last minute changes.

Sky’s FTTP packages will ship alongside their latest Sky Broadband Hub (SR203) router (there’s an SR204 too but that’s just the same kit for G.fast lines) and we understand that initially they may only launch it for their superfast and ultrafast 1 packages, while faster plans should follow later this year.

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

Openreach have recently launched their new 550Mbps and 1Gbps tiers for consumers too (here), but so far we’ve had no clear indication (either officially or unofficially via sources) whether those will follow later in the year or not.

Sky has of course previously indicated that they’d like to work with alternative FTTP networks too (technically they already work with the now Cityfibre owned FibreNation project), but for now they’re focused on selling Openreach based products.

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54 Responses
  1. Avatar Mark

    Asymmetrical FTTP is unacceptable

    • Avatar Granola

      For those of us unlucky to be stuck with mediocre FTTC, no alternative and no hint of the situation changing it would be a most welcome upgrade.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      Why? Sky can only offer what the underlying network provider supplies. GPON is Asymmetric in principle. General consumer usage profile is and will remain primarily Asymmetrical. Those “needing” higher uploads can either purchase a symmetrical service or purchase a higher asymmetrical product that has sufficient upload bandwidth to meet their requirement. Symmetrical or better asymmetrical ratios will come as the technology/costs allow.

    • Avatar Jonny

      Keep on waiting for perfection then I guess, I’ll welcome any new FTTP providers into the market

  2. Avatar joe

    have Sky got their call centre staff phoning in from home? As otherwise given they must be short-handed it an interesting time to run a big promotion. Perhaps they don’t expect a big take up.

    • Most have adapted to remote working now, but in any case FTTP has limited coverage and so it’ll probably produce a more manageable increase.

    • Avatar joe

      Trad Sky push their bb hard. Interesting to see how they will adjust given they are at the mercy of OR for installs.

    • Avatar Roger_Gooner

      Sky is already at OR’s mercy for landline and DSL broadband installations. If you want total control build your own fibre network.

  3. Avatar Marcos Gilson

    Hi guys will this be available for me. My postcode is CO3 4BP. When I do a BT wholesale check it says FTTP – NO but FTTP – on demand is available. Does this mean that sky could utilise the FTTP On demand option?

    • No. FTTP on Demand (aka – FoD) is initially sold as a different / premium business class product because the focus is on you paying for the often huge civil engineering costs.

      So what you could do is pay a few thousand pounds to get it installed via a FoD supporting ISP and then, at the end of that contract, switch to a native Openreach based FTTP ISP like Sky or BT etc.

      But you can’t order FoD itself from Sky.

    • Avatar GNewton

      As Mark explained, FTTPoD is almost a different kettle of fish. And from what we know, if it isn’t temporarily suspended again, it usually takes several months from the initial survey to the actual installation. And the few ISPs which support it, usually limit the upload speed to 30 or 50 Mbps.

      I wonder whether someone could order it, and then, in addition to the install charges, pays off the whole ISP charges in one lump sum, and then is free to instantly choose another ISP like Sky etc? Rather then having been tied up to the initial contract length?

  4. Avatar Ian

    Granola I wish I had your problem. I cannot get fibre in my area. Currently can only get basic broadband around 6 mbps and I live in the outskirts of a major city. Very poor service.

    • Avatar Granola

      I feel your pain, I had that T-Shirt for years and at that time could only dream of 6 Mbps.
      I should have typed “or lesser connection” in there.

  5. Avatar Oliver

    Last week I noticed that BT were offering the faster fibre tiers again, so upgraded to Fibre 500. Price is reasonable at 49.99 / month. Ordered on Monday and service went live on Wednesday at 12:00am. Very happy with it so far.

    Perhaps BT are actively managing demand as currently I can’t see the faster packages on the BT website; only essential, Fibre 1 and Fibre 2 are currently listed.

  6. Avatar Mr lw

    Is this the same source that said fttp was due in february?

  7. Avatar Wally1

    Good news. Let’s hope it happens as reported. We have awaited HDR and FTTP
    from Sky for some time now. I’m lucky in having had a FTTP line to the flat
    since late last year as part of the FibreCities initative so hopefully
    Sky’s FTTP may at last be coming.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      I am sure when HDR arrives Sky will offer it without insisting on any Broadband bundling. HDR requires internet connection speed of 25 megabits per second or higher. The more the better. If you already have FTTP then you’ll be fine. More important for Sky is that broadband providers, including VM, will not interfere with its use and if possible assist.

    • Avatar Roger_Gooner

      The high bandwidth requirements are for 4K, HDR mastering (which provides better quality – but no more – pixels) needs very little additional bandwidth.

  8. Avatar john eccles

    Hi, sorry for my lack of knowledge, at present have fttc & i believe our market town is on the list for fttp. Is it a huge job to install fttp by telegraph pole as our side of the street is fed by pole whereas the other is by ducting approx 300m from main box or 6 poles, many thanks for any info.

    • Avatar joe

      You might need all the poles replaced. Depends on the loading. They might use poles or trenching or both for some of the route its very variable.

      All assuming fttp gets to your bit of the town.

    • Avatar Wally1

      Ours was by running the main fibre cable through existing ducting
      under the pavement. Then running side cables up existing and some
      new poles and distributing from the tops of poles alongside
      existing overhead phone lines to houses.

      As our building has an existing underground phone line duct from the manhole across the road,they fed the fibre through that to our basement and then put
      individual fibre feeds up existing service ducts to the outer wall of each flat. We will need a BT/OR visit to pierce the wall and fix and connect an ONT when
      our ISP (Sky) offers FTTP service.

  9. Avatar Tom

    Will be interesting if Plusnet see this as competition and push forward with FTTP

    • Avatar Roger_Gooner

      I’d be surprised if BT were to allow Plusnet to sell FTTP at a price which would dilute BT’s earnings.

  10. Avatar Stuart shaw

    I’m with sky been waiting for fibrenation going live since paths where cut up in Nov 19

  11. Avatar Tyeth

    Got any vodafone contacts you can prod Mark? Been waiting since November for them to announce openreach packages/sale and now that openreach are back in business…

  12. Avatar Robert

    Will Sky’s FTTP be restricted to certain areas? In my Cornwall postcode we’ve had FTTP for 4 years or more, but only BT supply it, at the end of each contact period they push the price up on renewal, with the option accept or revert back to 2 mbs ADSL.

    • That should not be happening. If FTTP shows as available (try the BT Wholesale checker for your address) then you can just switch to another supportive ISP on Openreach’s network, such as Zen, Aquiss, Freeola or various other providers with FTTP options on the same platform.

  13. Avatar Marcos Gilson

    I am hoping that Sky jump on the back of The new liberty networks as I can get virgin media. I live in Colchester, which is a very large town/small city (pop is 200,000 in the borough) but we don’t seem to be getting any fibre laid with the exception of county broadband in the villages and some weird setup from town council in the centre. Why are any of the big boys such As BT or gigabit getting involved ?

    • Avatar Fastman

      Colchester has massive amounts of FTTC so most of Colchester is covered in excess of 30 mgs or greater and has been since circa 2015

    • Avatar CarlT

      Virgin Media aren’t one of the big boys?

      Sky will probably sell the same products Virgin Media do assuming they agree wholesale.

      If you’re in the part of Colchester that has had VM for a while you’ll see virtually zero impact to service from moving to Sky if they resell it.

      You’re not in that bad of a place being able to get Virgin Media and moving from the 350 or 500 that VM offer to a gigabit isn’t going to be life changing.

    • Avatar CJ

      Vxfiber/lila connect recently announced their plan to spend £10m installing point-to-point, gigabit symmetric FTTP past 25,000 homes off the back of the council’s LFFN scheme.

      Cityfibre listed the town in their 2018 report naming 100 towns and cities that would benefit from FTTP. No guarantee, but it’s been a reasonable guide to where they have announced deployments so far. They don’t have a local network to build out from, but could also connect to the council’s fibre.

      I expect BT will announce their plans before too long, to try to scupper vxfiber.

      County broadband mainly target villages but have tested their demand-led approach on a housing development. According to a recent news release it hadn’t yet reached the required level of pre-orders.

      I’m in the part of town that doesn’t have Virgin, looking to upgrade from 34Mbps FTTC, but I don’t think it will be too long before faster alternatives are available even if it’s only 5G as a stopgap until full fibre arrives. I’ll be very happy if the vxfiber point-to-point FTTP network gets built.

  14. Avatar Matthew

    Maybe this will accelerate the plans to do Sky Q over Fibre even though I imagine that could of been done over FTTC as well.

    • Avatar Roger_Gooner

      This was announced in January 2017. It shows that you shouldn’t hold your breath for some new services.

  15. Avatar Faenum

    At last! Im in a new build and there is no net other than fttp, which means Im stuck with BT who cost a fortune. I was forced to half my speeds from my previous place to match the price they are that much more expencive. Couldnt believe Open Reach were allowed to install intrastucture that only BT will provide to, giving them the monopoly. Been waiting for over a year for someone other than BT to provide it.

  16. Avatar Scott Stewart

    Why not get us all to FTTP before offering the few that do a better service? I have FTTC and only get 20-30Mbps despite the exchange being right outside my house.

    • Avatar The Facts

      All? Seriously?

    • Avatar CarlT

      Sky selling it will help with availability for people that don’t have it yet.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Scott Stewart: Your sentiments reflects the majority of users who see fibre broadband, or more generally proper telecom services, as a utility like they do with water or electricity, see e.g. this article: https://telecoms.com/486104/everyone-thinks-telcos-are-utilities-except-the-telcos/

      Some posters here on ISPReview are simply unable to grasp this simple truth and then look down on others or post silly questions in reply.

      The question why there isn’t a near nationwide available fibre broadband available in this country by now, in 2020, is a valid one. There has been more than a decade of failed strategies and policies, and BT has contributed to this mess, having made a number of poor decisions in the past.

    • Avatar James Band

      GNewton

      I concur. Fibre to the Premises should be a utility. Just like you don’t build multiple electricity lines from each company to each household. In 2020 we should have been far further ahead as a nation than we are now. As Dr. Peter Cochrane said (regarding the initial BT rollout that was halted), the whole FTTP rollout should be done nationally with economies of scale.

      It should be mandatory to install Fibre to each and every house that already has a copper line (as well as all new builds). If necessary then like UKPowerNetworks, have one network and multiple providers who lease it and can offer services nationwide to any household. Companies will find a way to make a profit if is mandatory by law to install Fibre everywhere. FTTC should not be labelled as “Fibre” in marketing of products either. Only FTTP should be referred to as Fibre.

      And benchmarking of the FTTP rollout in the UK should be against the top nations on the planet. That will force this rollout to be benchmarked to an actual standard.

    • Avatar CarlT

      The FTTP rollout is being done with economies of scale. Openreach aren’t going to Screwfix to pick up bits of kit.

      I presume you guys can magic up trained staff and extra contractors to do the civils and fibre work?

      Openreach are flat out right now and, while people on here would love to stamp their feet, they are going out of their way to deploy to key workers in most need.

      They have no resources to remedy an issue with the FTTP here for the foreseeable future because of this prioritisation.

      I haven’t thrown a tantrum over it. I just accepted it and left them to it because, you know, priorities and there’s only resource to do so much.

      As far as forcing BT to deploy FTTP everywhere, presumably at their own expense, they aren’t going to find a way to make money out of it without increasing prices, and given Mr Band’s fixation with gigabit pricing I am not convinced paying considerably more to subsidise uneconomic builds elsewhere while other operators cherry pick and undercut appeals.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @CarlT:

      “They have no resources to remedy an issue with the FTTP here for the foreseeable future because of this prioritisation.”

      I assume you are referring to Covid19 situation? In which case it would be understandable.

      However, what about the past two decades? Too many failed policies and wrong decisions by past governments and BT have all contributed to this being such a backward place. While it is commendable that we read stories here about how various local fibre deployment projects have been carried out in recent years, this is nothing special to be proud of. You don’t get excited if a local housing estate gets electricity installed. This whole thinking about fibre broadband by some hardcore BT fans is somewhat twisted here, as if broadband was a special privilege or a matter of being lucky.

  17. Avatar AndyH

    Hopefully it won’t take forever. We got a note through the door last week from Openreach telling us our street was now ready for FTTP but I’m in the middle of a contract with sky so can’t leave till they put the prices up again!

    My FTTC is not great 17mb as we are fair way from the box, so no 4k so really looking for fttp 80mb.

  18. Avatar Richard

    What does a household actually need to stream a 4k TV and run a few phones, tablets or laptops?

    Is this just overkill for what is really needed by the public, that is a good stable 36mbs or similar speed? Even this might be more than what we need.

    • Avatar Ahnold

      People probably thought the same when electricity came in. Oh what’s wrong with candles, they do the job, no one needs to live in light 24/7.

      It’s about future infrastructure, copper has reached its limits. Sure, current content like Netflix can be enjoyed on 10mb, just about. But when 8k rolls around, lossless sound? Decentralised gaming? And a whole host of other technology we can’t comprehend yet? Do we still want to be reliant on forcing signals down copper?

  19. Avatar Mr Stephen G Laing

    I like how people MOAN
    That they only got fttc……boohoo
    While I have only got a EO line with ADSL
    Chin up guys
    Might happen for you yet

    • Avatar Granola

      I have already admitted my ommision to Ian in a previous post.

      I haven’t experienced an Exhange Only line, and so don’t know how bad it is or what the prospects for an upgrade are but I can appreciate your point of view.

      (Next somebody will post they can’t get any connection ?)

  20. Avatar Phil

    When are they going to get the countryside addressed. we’re stuck at 3M download. Even then it’s not 100 percent.

  21. Avatar christopher worth

    I would love to have std fibre! 20years in a new build and still only got std broadband, whilst others within 100 metres have fibre. Sorry but openreach are a joke

  22. Avatar James Band

    If Sky are selling FTTP via Openreach, then why are their packages limited to 285Mbps?

    BT for instance sell packages up to 900Mbps.

    Is there any chance that others like Vodafone, TalkTalk etc start selling FTTP via Openreach sooner than later?

    It would be interesting to see if the price for FTTP for consumers starts coming down.

    • Avatar John

      Sky get to pick what products they sell, as do all they OpenReach ISP’s.

      They simply don’t want to sell the higher tiers (at present).
      They may in the future.

    • Avatar James Band

      John,

      If that’s the case, surely they’d have to price them much much cheaper to look reasonable versus the BT offering (and also Vodafone’s Gigafast)?

      Even BT didn’t announce FTTP 900 at £100 a month as some predicted here. It was much closer to the Vodafone Gigafast price of £40-48 at around £59. Though someone here managed to get BT to do it for £39.99 on renewal.

      It just seems odd that Sky wouldn’t want to go for customers going for fast speeds when the FTTP network of Openreach can mostly go up to speeds of 1000Mbps (normally offered as a consumer product of 900Mbps).

      Hopefully others like Vodafone, TalkTalk etc will also offer services via Openreach asap. High time that prices started coming down with competition.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Sky have technical reasons for sticking with 300 for now.

      Business ones too, not least of which being how few people actually want gigabit.

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