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ISP BT Launch Second Line UK Dedicated Connection Service

Friday, June 12th, 2020 (8:10 am) - Score 7,702
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UK ISP BT has today launched somewhat of an oddball of a new service called “Dedicated Connection,” which essentially gives your home a second broadband line to help with rising demand (e.g. one line for work and one for domestic needs). Stop us if any of this sounds familiar because second line products are nothing new.

At this point we’ll leave aside the awkward fact that homes wouldn’t need a second line if we all had access to gigabit-capable (1000Mbps+), or even ultrafast (100Mbps+), broadband connections today. As such it’s no surprise to find that BT only appear to be offering this product on their slower broadband tiers (FTTC) up to a maximum theoretical download speed of 80Mbps (20Mbps upload), which unlike G.fast and FTTP has true mass market availability.

Otherwise BT Dedicated Connection includes the usual line rental, free install, unlimited usage and their Halo 2 service, which adds their Keep Connected Promise (they’ll send a 4G Mini Hub if your fixed line goes down), Price Promise (you’ll never pay more than new customers), Complete Wi-Fi, Home Tech Experts (better support), Smart Hub 2 router (if you don’t already have it) and various boosts for BTMobile customers etc.

Existing BT customers will pay from £49.99 per month for this product and that rises to £59.99 if you aren’t already an existing customer. In short, BT appear to be selling the same sort of second line product that you could buy from other ISPs too, but few people ever do (it’s somewhat of a long forgotten option) due to the high cost of running two lines at once (the lack of proper broadband line bonding here is another negative).

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer

“Our new Dedicated Connection service is specifically designed to provide additional reassurance for consumers, regardless of their existing provider. It will allow them to double the connectivity potential in their home, providing a single connection they can use for activities such as working from home, gaming or online schooling – enabling them to get a reliable connection without disruption.”

The new product, if we can even call it new (it’s more like a return to the previous decade), is clearly intended to bank on the increased tendency of people to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Sadly this has put a lot of premises with slower broadband services and bigger family demands under pressure.

Nevertheless buying a second copper line (ADSL or FTTC) remains one of the more expensive solutions and, if you already suffer from slow speeds, then the improvement may not be worth the extra cost. Obviously second line solutions also make even less sense if you’re lucky enough to have an alternative ultrafast option from a rival network (e.g. Virgin Media, Cityfibre etc.) and there’s the option to mix lines from different networks.

One other alternative here could be to offload some of your demands on to an unlimited 4G based mobile (mobile broadband) plan, assuming you can get a good signal and speed at your location. This may actually be a far cheaper and more flexible solution than throwing £50-£60 on the table for another copper line. On the other hand you could probably get a second line for far less by asking another ISP (e.g. Zen Internet, iDNET etc.).

Naturally the best longer-term solution to this is to ensure that, outside of urban areas, the whole country can access something better than ADSL or FTTC broadband. Various operators are working on that and the Government rather optimistically thinks that it can get gigabit-capable broadband out to everybody by the end of 2025, but we’d be very surprised if every home could really get true 1Gbps speeds by that date.

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57 Responses
  1. Avatar The Facts says:

    Or use a second line for a fax machine.

    1. Avatar Oliver says:

      Haha! Love it.

    2. Avatar MikeP says:

      And just last night, I watched “Firday Night Dinner” S2 Ep4 🙂

      Spooky

  2. Avatar AnotherTim says:

    I hope nobody falls for this. For many people working from home the limiting factor is upload speed. A second line won’t help with that.
    Also it means that BT will make more money from two ADSL lines than they would from a single fibre line, so removes any incentive to upgrade poor connections.

    1. Avatar Ivor says:

      Of course it helps – the point is that it’s a separate connection, so your partner or children could be using the existing connection while you use this new line.

      You’re effectively doubling your upload capacity if you already have another FTTC line. If you’re a single user looking for more bandwidth from one machine then sure, this is not likely to help.

      A more elegant solution would be to allow DSL bonding (this is done by VDSL ISPs in the US to get speeds up on long lines) but Openreach don’t support this (and it would require new CPE anyway)

    2. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      BT Business can offer bonding – a few years ago they offered me 4 ADSL Max lines bonded (through a 3rd party provider), but the prospect of maybe getting 24Mbps down and 3Mbps up for £300pm didn’t tempt me.

    3. Avatar Ivor says:

      I’m referring specifically to pair bonding at DSL level – where the modem and DSLAM do all the work to combine two DSL channels into one logical channel.

      Not the same as multilink PPP or some VPN based approach (which is what those who offer “bonded ADSL/FTTC” are actually doing), it’s far more elegant and with none of the issues/pitfalls that come with those approaches

      I don’t think BT Wholesale has ever offered this on ADSL and Openreach certainly don’t do it on VDSL. It is used heavily by providers like AT&T over in the US, though.

  3. Avatar Meadmodj says:

    This is good and makes sense. Many of us will be stranded in the FTTC wasteland for years. You have always been able to avail yourselves of a second line but over time most ISP pricing has been based on ISP changeover and new lines have attracted charges. BT apparently says that it will include “free line install” (assumed SOGEA).

    If this encourages others to join in and we can get towards something like a buy one get one half price then I’m all for it. But people wouldn’t want to pay for the addons and overheads already applied to their first line.

    In a VM area it would probably be cheaper going for a discounted 12 months contract (leaving gaps until the next offer) or worse for BT simply transfer to a higher VM product (if up isn’t the issue). My view is therefore this is targeted at longer term FTTC in non-VM area.

    So are BT going to allow consumer firmware for bridge mode or provide a balanced router?. Time to dust off my Edgerouter X.

  4. Avatar Chris Sayers says:

    That’s a blast from the past, when we got our first internet connection via dial up, I was on it so much that friends and family could not get through, now if my foggy mind reflects BT internet launched a package that gave you access via a freephone number, essentially giving you a always on connection, we had a second line installed.

    Prior to that the first modem I had was an internal modem, well for some unknown reason the modem software would randomly dial a connection, we did not know about this until we got the bill, talk about bill shock, several hundred pound it was.

    That modem was ditched for an external one, sat on the desk switched off after use.

  5. Avatar Simon Heather says:

    No mention of the probable reduced speed on the original line due to increased cross-talk from using the second copper pair?

    1. Avatar Phil says:

      Indeed, when upload speed is the thing that usually needs improving when working from home to help with better video calls, screen sharing sessions and faster sending of files, then cross talk of a second line is likely to reduce that upload speed on both lines. Without bonding, getting the second line for work could see worse overall performance. This second line will not provide more speed, although at least other family members at home can be safely on their on the other “line” to avoid congestion.

      I think BT are just trying to cash in on the fact many companies may now be paying an allowance or all of the cost towards a second line for their home working employees.

    2. Avatar The Facts says:

      The effect of the 2nd pair is only for the short distance from DP to property.

    3. Avatar GNewton says:

      Indeed, increased cross-talk caused by 2nd copper line can be a problem. The fact that it occurs only between a premise and the DP is irrelevant here. It’s still an issue to deal with.

      Also, a 2nd copper line doesn’t really address the issue of the restricted upload speeds. Even with 2 VDSL lines (provided you are using proper line-bonding!) it’s no more than 40Mbps upload combined (minus cross-talk and other overhead losses).

      It’s just another example of how far behind this country truly is, BT should have built fibre more than a decade ago!

    4. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      The cross-talk can be all the way back to the exchange for EO lines, which will typically have the worst speeds in the first place being ADSL2+ rather than FTTC.

    5. Avatar CarlT says:

      I can’t see one additional ADSL service in the EO bundle making much odds for those unfortunate people with no cabinet.

      Crosstalk really doesn’t make much difference. The mass of other disturbers are far more impactful in my experience.

    6. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      Even with no crosstalk impact at all I’m still not tempted.

  6. Avatar A_Builder says:

    Fact this is being dusted off does point to a demand for faster domestic connections. I’m perfectly sure these guys wouldn’t waste their time doing something there is no demand for.

    Trouble is if everyone wanted a second line there isn’t the DSLAM capacity to do it.

    As @MJ rightly points out where there is FTTP this isn’t an issue as you probably have ample bandwidth. Any you could provision more than one FTTP connection over one fibre.

    As I keep saying business are paying homeworkers for connection upgrades or faster connections – I know we do and I know other business owners/MD/CEO’s who are also paying to improve connectivity. Small price to pay for improved worker performance given Boris’ “Work from Home if You Can” edit will be hard for HMRC to tax this as BiK.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      @Phil & @ CarlT

      I beg to differ – our company has got an OR FTTP connection provisioned not by BT and we do have two services over the one fibre – can be done – has been done.

      Something that is essential, in the long run, as homework I g becomes more of a thing.

  7. Avatar Phil says:

    @A_Builder “As @MJ rightly points out where there is FTTP this isn’t an issue as you probably have ample bandwidth. Any you could provision more than one FTTP connection over one fibre.”

    Not something you can do on FTTP easily in reality. It is next to impossible to get a second service over FTTP. For one most people only have a single port ONT so would need a second ONT and another fibre installed which Openreach don’t seem willing to do, and those lucky enough to have a 4 port hub in the days they installed them, so they can get a second service over the same fibre with no engineer visit required, don’t seem to have much luck getting a second service either. It has happened, but by no means something Openreach seem set up to provide.

    Of course FTTP can be upgraded to much faster speeds so it shouldn’t be an issue, the home worker just gets a faster product and if they can, get their company to pay the difference.

    1. Avatar Mark says:

      When I had my FTTP installed last autumn, I received the hybrid cable with the fibre and copper stuck together. For a few hours after install my broadband was still delivered over the copper until someone at BT or the ISP flicked a switch.

      I have wondered about having the copper supplied again from a separate ISP, especially as my fibre leaves my house and goes right towards the exchange and the copper goes left to the street cabinet. I know it won’t provide absolute redundancy but it would provide some.

      Has anyone managed to do this? I have been reluctant to place an order as I suspect it will automatically take over my fibre line.

    2. Avatar A_Builder says:

      @Mark

      Given the greater reliability of FTTP over FTTC I would be inclined to save the money and spend the money on a 4G setup with a decent aerial setup – should you be lucky enough to have FTTP and decent 4G!

    3. Avatar Jonathan says:

      You could install a splitter in the home and install two single port ONT’s. They are few quid on fs.com

    4. Avatar John says:

      I’ve not heard of any issues getting multiple services on a 4 port ONT, apart from BT retail only provisioning on Port 1.
      That’s a quirk of their ordering system, but not an issue for other ISP’s selling FTTP.

      There’s 2 people with all 4 ports active posting on TBB just this week.

      You can still get a 4 port ONT if you ask in the right places.

    5. Avatar CarlT says:

      Openreach cannot provision 2 ONTs on an in-home splitter. Been there, tried that, can’t be done. Screws up their system if they don’t have each ONT mapped to a splitter port.

  8. Avatar FibreBubble says:

    Any other provider would get a different style of editorial for their promotion.

  9. Avatar Tim says:

    Ahh. This brings back memories of having to have a second line for dial up Internet so that the phone could still be used at the same time

    Such a 90’s idea.

  10. Avatar Jonny says:

    I don’t think this is a product aimed at people that are paying for it – it’s a bundled second line and broadband service without the requirement to phone up and negotiate a new price at the end of the contract (the Halo part), as well as the home visit part of Halo 2 to ensure the equipment is set up correctly. I think it’s pitched as a product for people who are getting their connection costs reimbursed by their employer – it’s a dedicated line on a bill and the IT department don’t have to get involved with fixing home Internet issues.

    There are better options if you know what you’re doing, but I can see the appeal.

  11. Avatar Rex says:

    I actually have a 4 port ont and was thinking about getting a second FTTP connection for the kids gaming as watching 2x 4k movies ‘saps’ the ping and speed.

    How do you go about getting a second connection badded?

    1. Avatar joe says:

      Hard to see how upping the speed won’t be cheaper

    2. Avatar Jonny says:

      You’d be much better served by replacing your router for something that can do QoS properly to ensure that gaming and voice/video chat takes priority over other traffic.

    3. Avatar Ivor says:

      this is for people who don’t have FTTP. Openreach do not seem to be able to offer a second service even if you have the 4 port ONT, so you’re unlikely to get anywhere with this.

      it would be significantly cheaper for you to upgrade your speed – even if you went all the way up to BT’s new gigabit package

    4. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      On FTTP and “2x 4k movies ‘saps’ the ping and speed”. I think your issues are elsewhere.

    5. Avatar Rex says:

      Just spoken to Zen, very easy to add a second service to the ont, simply order it and pay the monthly charge. Can be any speed but the main line is limited to 1.2gbps, so 2x500mbps would work perfectly.

      I was cliff noting the example of 2x4k movies, plus I’m only on 80/20 service ATM. Mainly effects the kids Xbox ping, so I’m also setting up QoS for that.

    6. Avatar John says:

      “Openreach do not seem to be able to offer a second service even if you have the 4 port ONT, so you’re unlikely to get anywhere with this.”

      You what?

      There’s probably thousands of 4 port ONT’s with more than 1 port active.

      Every ISP selling OpenReach FTTP can order a service on any port.

      Only issue I’ve ever seen from any ISP is BT Retail can only provision on Port 1.
      Zen, AAISP, Cerberus, BT Business, Spectrum, etc etc can all provide service on any port, using all 4 ports if necessary.

  12. Avatar BT says:

    Another BT grabbing greed money! Not care about our crosstalk speed issues.

    DO NOT SIGN UP!

    1. Avatar Fastman says:

      really (BT) or whoever who are you today

  13. Avatar Polish Economic Migrant says:

    That would make sense if it was possible to have either per packet aggregation (160/40Mbps) or BGP between two ISPs. Otherwise is pointless.

  14. Avatar Sam says:

    Is this not just line bonding? I cant see it on the BT site anywhere?

  15. Avatar Dan says:

    We have two Internet feeds into the house as I record audio professionally and need a dedicated line to deal with this upload demand. However one line is fttc for tv and general stuff and the other is 4g ota for the audio. I would not buy another fttc line as fttc upload is low at 5mb and I can get 30mb ul on 4g.

    1. Avatar W says:

      depends where you live. I have stable 18Mbps on FTTC.

  16. Avatar Meadmodj says:

    re-reading between the lines this is clearly focused.

    “BT will look to ensure their service is optimised for their needs, before installing a second dedicated home broadband line. This includes upgrading to:

    The fastest Super-Fast speed
    Full Fibre, the UK’s most reliable broadband technology, with gigabit speeds that are up to 25 times faster than Superfast fibre”

    A second DSL line can ever only appeal to a few (particularly at this price and hybrid with 4G cheaper) and therefore I think this announcements main purpose is about awareness and to get a sales call going where they can offer a move from ADSL to FTTC, upgrade to higher FTTC products or a move Ultrafast (G.Fast/FTTP).

  17. Avatar Gary says:

    Hmm, So On my very long line back to the cabinet i get standard ADSL at roughly 1M and there’s no spare or functioning pairs.

    Are they really going to direct bury several KM of new line to provision this so I can have a second apalling ADSL connection ? When the Aim is really no new copper.

    Obviously i’m not going to order this Its double the price I pay for an Unlimited 4g solution providing on average 60+ times the speed but it’d be an interesting discussion considering I’ve been told for over 15 years by BT/OR there’s nothing that can be done.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      ‘Are they really going to direct bury several KM of new line to provision this so I can have a second apalling ADSL connection ?’

      Nope. That was easy 🙂

  18. Avatar Mike says:

    Ended up dropping 40Mbps FTTC for 4G, now I get avg. 100Mbps down 30Mbps up, latency around 20ms.

  19. Avatar Matt says:

    Hold ON!

    ADSL is supposed to be coming to end of its life and be on stop sale and FTTC although not limited to one per premises is still short of capacity and they wanna tell people to get two lines per household..

    1st of April has gone …. CHECK

    Is this really all they can do, I would think addiung home office options, (enhanced care and prioty but nope lets just polish a turd.

    The ISP world out to p… me off today 😛

    1. Avatar Gary says:

      I’m sure it’s of interest to some VDSL connections who are looking at years before they get FTTP.

      While they certainly know their network better than I do, I cant see it being able to take any large scale uptake of this surely there just wont be enough pairs available in a large number of cases, I mean how much redundancy/expansion capacity was provisioned to residential areas when the network was built.

    2. Avatar Matt says:

      I’m not saying people won’t be interested, I’m saying the opposite but with the Some existing FTTC Cabinets across the network having capacity issues as it is I can’t see this being a relatively deliverable service and however as you say I doubt theirs the pairs available in the ground for multiple lines never mind the fact they’ll most likely have faults on them.

  20. Avatar Overpriced not needed says:

    Pointless rip off. You can go to numerous providers and pay around £30 per month, per connection for FTTC with line rental.

    Some providers offer the install for free and those that do not typically will only charge around £60 for a new line install nowadays. (voda and talk talk are 2 straight of the top of my head).

    You may as well just change provider and get 3-4 lines for the what 2 50-60 per line will cost you from BT.

    Amazing this is being defended by some.

    1. Avatar Ivor says:

      if you can find an actual like for like service, feel free to show us. I don’t think Vodafone or TalkTalk provide the 4G backup that BT do on their Halo plans, for example, nor do they provide the wifi extenders that are part of BT’s Complete WiFi.

      Maybe you don’t need those bells and whistles, and in this case the product is not for you. But it is far from “overpriced” given the package on offer

  21. Avatar Techie says:

    What a waste of time! When is Ofcom/the Government finally going to mandate that BT/Openreach must rollout FttP?

    Stop trying to fudge solutions and products to fleece the public and sweat the copper network for even longer.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/8762-132-410-premises-with-openreach-fttp-option-found-in-last-month

      It takes time and money to do that. BT Consumer aren’t involved with that aspect of the business.

  22. Avatar CarlT says:

    I’m really not sure about this one. I’m not quite sure I see the point.

  23. Avatar expensive says:

    @IVOR
    4G thing from BT is not really a backup because “(they’ll send a 4G Mini Hub if your fixed line goes down)”. Not much use having your line go down and then waiting for them to send the device to get back online. Hardly a serious “backup” solution, regardless, lets continue.

    Talk Talk offer or did from my memory Plume a wifi mesh system comparable product to BTs complete wifi solution at an extra cost of something like £9 per month, which would still make it at least £10 a month cheaper than BT.

    Vodafone offer voda together which gives you mobile (NOT just as a backup) and home broadband and again with both bundled starts around £10 cheaper.

    It should also be noted apparently with your second line from reading it looks like BT are not giving you a second router or at least not a Smart Huub 2 as the story states Smart Hub 2 router (if you don’t already have it) Your would get a router for each line/subscription from the 2 i mentioned.

    Your BT “deal” you have praised aimlessly throughout is thus still OVERPRICED.

    1. Avatar Lexx says:

      By Business broadband lines that have had contracts renewed I norm setup have the 4g dongle included (for £50-60 a month I expect it to be provided right off the start not actually have to wait for it to be posted to you as sla 48 hour business call-out would of fixed the problem before you got the dongle)

      you just leave it plugged into the router and it falls back to it automatically when hard-line connection fails works quite well and keeps your same ip address (these was on static ip so unsure if same happens on dynamic)

  24. Avatar Philip Cheeseman says:

    I can see this is a great option for those who’s employer is happy to cover it but what about those of us on sub 20mbps that can’t get our firm to cover it? Please just hurry up with FTTP Openreach. I seem to be in one of urban dead spots (rubbish FTTC, 4g is about 8mbps 🙁 ). I’d happy pay a little more for a better connection but going from £30 to £90+ is crazy!

  25. Avatar David Silver says:

    That there’s demand for this shows that VDSL is getting long in the tooth.

  26. Avatar Evan says:

    I’d absolutely love to pay for a second line in order to get an VDSL connection, seeing as there’s a new FTTC cabinet within sight of my window (that all my neighbours are connected to). But no, Openreach insist I can only have ADSL via an exchange over 3 miles away (which works about as well as you’d expect).

    If anyone knows of a way to short-circuit Openreach and get them instructed to lay a new copper line to a property, please share.

    I think 4G beckons.

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