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ISP Vodafone UK Unveil Openreach FTTP Home Broadband Plans

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 (8:40 am) - Score 18,169
vodafone gigafast broadband router front

Vodafone UK has today revealed a new range of “gigafast broadband” packages that will only be available via Openreach’s new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool (360,000 premises). In other locations you’ll connect via Cityfibre’s “full fibre” platform.

At present Vodafone’s existing Gigafast FTTP packages (here) are only available via part of Cityfibre’s new network, which aims to cover around 1 million premises by the end of 2021 and then 8 million premises across 100+ cities and towns (c.30% of the UK); the latter is expected to be “substantially completed” by the end of 2025 (here).

NOTE: Existing Vodafone Pay Monthly mobile users can save an extra £3 per month off the Gigafast prices.

By comparison Openreach are separately (here) working to roll-out FTTP to 4.5 million premises by March 2021 and then 20 million by around the mid to late 2020s (2025 – 2030). Naturally Vodafone want to harness both networks (i.e. using Openreach in some locations where Cityfibre have yet to reach) and so toward the end of last year they reached a new agreement to enable this (here).

Mixing different network platforms is an inherently complicated business due to all of the differences in wholesale products, cost and service flexibility, but they already have some experience via their “superfastFTTC packages. Nevertheless, Vodafone’s original plan was to start making products based off Openreach’s FTTP available in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool (Cityfibre aren’t building there) from spring 2020.

Suffice to say that COVID-19 put pay to that launch and instead the ISP ended up targeting a summer launch. The good news is that they’ve today gone live across those three cities, expanding to over 500,000 premises by mid-2021 as Openreach extends its infrastructure.

NOTE: Gigafast via Cityfibre’s network is available in Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Coventry, Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Peterborough, Southend-on-Sea and Stirling.

Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone UK, said:

“Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool now have some of the fastest mobile and broadband speeds in the UK. Great news for consumers with the latest 5G devices but also for each city’s future Vodafone Gigafast Broadband and Vodafone 5G will form crucial foundations for the cities’ continued economic growth. Gigafast cities are the cities that will proudly play their part in shaping the future of the UK.”

The press release notes that prices start “at only £55 per month” for their top Gigafast 900Mbps plan, which is the same as they charge for Cityfibre’s network. In fact, all of the prices seem to be the same as Cityfibre, although we’re currently checking postcodes to see if different prices come up in the Openreach (BT) areas.

However, at the time of writing none of the Openreach FTTP postcodes we’ve tried in Birmingham (e.g. B67 5AZ) have returned anything but a result for slow FTTC technology, so their order system may not be fully live yet and thus we can’t confirm that the prices are indeed identical. We’ll do some more testing and update again later.

The coverage of their Openreach based plans – outside of Cityfibre’s area – will continue to be expanded as the network grows, although they haven’t yet revealed which of the network operator’s other locations are due to join this club in the future. All of this could of course also start to become a little bit confusing for consumers.

UPDATE 8:53am

The order system just started working and for Openreach FTTP areas we got the following results, which does indeed adopt the same pricing as Cityfibre’s areas and that’s a positive development.

Superfast 1 (FTTC)
£23 a month for 24 months

Superfast 2 (FTTC)
£25 a month for 24 months

Gigafast 100
£28 a month for 24 months

Gigafast 200
£35 a month for 24 months

Gigafast 500
£45 a month for 24 months

Gigafast 900
£55 a month for 24 months

At present the only catch is that you can’t order their Openreach based Gigafast packages online and are instead asked to phone, which will probably discourage some interest. We also found that if you checked an Openreach FTTP area from the main Gigafast product page then you’re redirected to the superfast broadband page and the availability check is reset, which was a bit confusing but hopefully they’ll iron this all out soon.

One other area that Vodafone needs to improve here is their presentation of upload speeds. The Cityfibre Gigafast packages are all symmetric speeds, while Openreach is asymmetric with slower uploads. In other words, the 1Gbps package might be the same price, but on Openreach your uploads will only be 115Mbps instead of 900Mbps+. At present they don’t make this aspect clear.

Leave a Comment
34 Responses
  1. Avatar jamie moulding says:

    Fttc now being installed in toftwood hope this approach is adopted as already on VF

  2. Avatar ianh says:

    Interesting that they are charging the same price, i wonder if they are spreading some of the cost to the cityfibre connections. Openreach have the bigger rollout and more engineers so id expect they are charging more.

    1. Avatar Kyle says:

      Yes they are

      when i first had taken my gigafast 500 package it was £33 then £35 now its £45

  3. Avatar James™ says:

    That’s some attractive pricing. Love seeing more and more ISPs offering FTTP

    1. Avatar James Band says:

      The only thing is that they started off their Gigafast 900/900 product at £48 a month.

      This went on offer at £40 a month at one point. Now it’s gone up to £55. Vodafone customers get a discount if you have a mobile with them already.

      It would be good to see the price come down to at least £40 on all providers.

      What is saddening is that Vodafone don’t appear to have launched FTTP via Openreach at all Openreach FTTP premises. It’s restricted to these cities only? If at least one (preferably two) large names like this offer FTTP on Openreach alongside BT, that’s when things will begin to get interesting.

  4. Avatar Peter says:

    It’s not nation wide only Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool then?

  5. Avatar Chris Sayers says:

    Can anyone shed some light, why is OR asymmetric and not symmetric

    1. Avatar Peter says:

      Because people are seen to not require as much upload as they do download

    2. Avatar RR says:

      Probably more to do with not undermining their business products

    3. Avatar TC says:

      Because of the technology in use. Most residential FTTP is not dedicated fibre or bandwidth. Cityfibre and Openreach both use types of ‘PON’ contended optical technologies, but of different types. The cheaper PON technologies are not symmetric so you can’t offer high upload speeds to your customers, the way you contend or ‘split’ the fibre also has an impact on potential speeds you can deliver. For similar reasons this is why is some areas the maximum Openreach FTTP speeds are still only 300Mbps and not 1Gbps that some other areas offer.

    4. Avatar John says:

      “Cityfibre and Openreach both use types of ‘PON’ contended optical technologies, but of different types.”

      They both use GPON with a 32:1 split.
      Cityfibre have simply taken the marketing decision to offer symmetrical speeds.

      “For similar reasons this is why is some areas the maximum Openreach FTTP speeds are still only 300Mbps and not 1Gbps that some other areas offer.”

      The 330Mb limit is for completely different reasons.
      They are both GPON with a 32:1 split.

      The 330Mb limit is because of ECI OLT’s being used in the exchange.
      They do not have the 10Gb ports required to offer the higher bandwidth packages.

    5. Avatar CarlT says:

      CityFibre can have congestion on their network so can sell all the upstream to a single user, Openreach show any they get strung up.

  6. Avatar Matthew says:

    Now if only Vodafone had a solid IPTV option like BT do with there BT TV.

    1. Avatar James Band says:

      I wondered that too. Vodafone do IPTV in Ireland don’t they? I don’t know if anyone will offer TV over the internet in the UK. There was something a while back about them doing that then pulling out of it.

  7. Avatar Dan says:

    Really annoys me that they’ve hiked the pricing of the 500 to £45, when it was cityfibre only it was £38 and went down to £30 at one point

    1. Avatar James Band says:

      I had a feeling that they were increasing the price gradually to match a price they would offer the Openreach product at.

      The 900 product started off at £48, went on sale to £40. Then gradually started increasing to £55.

  8. Avatar Ryan Scott says:

    The FTTP via openreach with Vodafone is now available in Whitburn area of Bathgate and it’s been confirmed by Vodafone advisors that I can get gigabit broadband to my premises, got email from Openreach this morning saying that the FTTP is now complete in my area.

    1. Avatar James™ says:

      Stange!, I just checked that and not showing
      The West Calder exchange isn’t showing available either on Vodafone yet.
      I’ve checked a few other FTTP postcodes and not showing.

    2. Avatar John says:

      Vodafone seen to think otherwise.

      Do you have an example postcode Ryan?

      I tried 3 different postcodes in Whitburn that have access to OpenReach FTTP.
      Vodafone say it isn’t available.
      The lovely lady on the phone wouldn’t check any more addresses than that.

  9. Avatar David J says:

    I’ve recently moved to York and have a city fibre port outside of my house but only TalkTalk are offering FTTP at the moment with it. Will Vodafone be utilising other areas City Fibre network in the future?

    1. Avatar James™ says:

      Yes, York was originally built by TalkTalk but has sold the network to City Fibre.
      Vodafone will utilize it in future and vice vera TalkTalk will get access to all City Fibre too.

    2. Avatar David J says:

      Thanks for the reply. That’s what I was hoping for!

  10. Avatar Coco says:

    Finally looks like we’re seeing some sane pricing of FTTP products! IIRC, Openreach wholesale prices are coming down in September, so I might hold off for now. 2Y contracts are also not ideal.

    Anyone know if you can get a static IPv4 address with Vodafone?

    1. Avatar James Band says:

      I think you can with their business broadband (just like with BT’s business product). Vodafone have a separate “Business” section of their website. There is a tab at the top where you can click between Consumer and Business I think?

    2. Avatar ToneDeaf says:

      Residential Vodafone broadband subscribers can request a static IP via their helpline

    3. Avatar Coco says:

      @ToneDeaf any idea how much it costs?

  11. Avatar James Band says:

    Sad to see that the price gradually moved upward from £48 a month (went on offer at £40 also). But sadder to see that Vodafone is releasing this product for these few cities only. It would have been wonderful news to hear that they would offer FTTP via Openreach at ALL Openreach FTTP properties.

    If just three of these big consumer names (BT, Vodafone, Sky, Talktalk) offer FTTP at all Openreach FTTP locations, then things will get interesting.

    Another thing, Vodafone surely shouldn’t sell Openreach non symmetric FTTP at the same price as Gigafast?

  12. Avatar Ryan Scott says:

    James

    That’s cause only bathgate area got upgraded to FTTP which includes Whitburn as out postal town is Bathgate. West Calder will be under Livi which isn’t part of the FTTP rollout yet

    1. Avatar James™ says:

      Ryan:
      You might want to double check that.
      Whitburn has its own exchange and most house are connected to that apart from the new builds that are directly connected to Bathgate as they had FTTP before the Fibre First rollout.
      West Calder has its own exchange and was part of the roll out. They can get FTTP from any other Openreach provider that offers it.

      https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fibre-first

  13. Avatar Asad Mehmood says:

    Just ordered gigafast 200 for £32 (existing mobile customer) in Birmingham. Got a text saying a City Fibre engineer will come out on the 21st September. I assume that’s just an error on their system as they confirmed it’s 200/30 so it’s openreach.
    Also they don’t take over your copper landline and offer a landline “through the broadband”. I assume VoIP and not Fibre Voice Access. Which is good as I still have a couple of months on my talk talk VDSL contract. So I’ll have one month overlap with two broadbands.

    1. Avatar John says:

      It must be VOIP as FVA can no longer be sold. It had a stop sell put on it back in April.

      The only people with FVA are those who already had it prior to April.

      The Nokia ONT’s don’t even have a telephone port. They couldn’t introduce these ONT’s until FVA was no longer sold as the ISP can’t see what Vendor of ONT will be provided.

      BT were the only ISP I know who ever sold FVA.

    2. Avatar NE555 says:

      Just beware you won’t get any overlap if you ask Vodafone to port your existing phone number from Talktalk. The phone number transfer will cease the Talktalk line (phone and broadband).

      If you don’t care about landline numbers, you can just get Vodafone to issue you with a new one.

      If you do care, then you can transfer the landline number to a VOIP provider at a time of your choice, instead of transferring it to Vodafone.

    3. Avatar Asad Mehmood says:

      Just an update. I cancelled this and re ordered gigafast 500 for £30 (£33 without discount). Only changed the activation date to 24th Sep

  14. Avatar S says:

    They should also improve their customer Service as well as their Technical support…

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