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BT Offering 4G Home Broadband Packages to Fibre Notspots

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 (12:24 pm) - Score 11,640

New customers of BT’s Consumer UK broadband ISP division, specifically those who use their availability checker and are not covered by either their FTTC or FTTP based “fibre” service, are now being given the option of taking a new “4G Home Broadband” service with “maximum” speeds of either 15Mbps or 30Mbps.

The change, which was spotted by Thinkbroadband, shows two packages on a 24-month term that cost £45 per month (Maximum Speed 15Mbps) and £55 per month (Maximum Speed 30Mbps) respectively. Each package also bundles in one of BT’s 4G Home Hub routers, although oddly there’s no mention of any usage allowances (we assume it to be unlimited but this is not confirmed).

On the surface this looks like it could be a more direct promotion of BT’s ability to use 4G as a quick fix for many areas that fall under the 10Mbps+ broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO), but TBB notes that they’ve seen examples where addresses should have access to VDSL2 (FTTC), or slow but functional ADSL2+, and the only option shown is the 4G one.

On top of that there are locations where slow ADSL2+ still shows as the only option, “but that may be because [the] data BT holds on the EE network means they don’t think can deliver a better service using 4G,” said TBB. The promise of delivering a “Maximum Speed” may also confuse some people, since mobile network performance is highly variable and the ASA asks that only an average median speed (as measured at peak times) be advertised by ISPs.

One other oddity is that, if you do come across this package, the small print (legal text) at the bottom of the page doesn’t seem to include any mention of the specific “4G Home Broadband” products. We’ve asked BT if they can share a bit more information about the products, and how they’re being positioned, and will report back if or when they respond.

The change isn’t all that surprising as BT’s mobile division, EE, has previously been offering a mobile broadband based solution for homes in some areas via their fixed line checker.

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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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35 Responses
  1. Alec Broughton says:

    “On top of that there are locations where slow ADSL2+ still shows as the only option”. Damn, I would love ADSL2.. one day… one day… *dreams*

    1. Declan M says:

      Wait till you get FTTP it will blow your socks off

  2. Alec Broughton says:

    I don’t get why it’s so expensive from BT… considering Three can do the same thing, without an upper speed cap and with “unlimited” (fair usage > 1TB) for £10 a month if you catch the right deal

    1. Jonny says:

      Because this is packaged up as a home broadband option, and the Three alternative has you buying a SIM card and your own router and setting it up yourself.

      I think BT are just using this as their way of meeting USO obligations – an address that BT were insisting received a 10Mbps+ service already now qualifies for a USO connection, but it’s via this 4G service.

    2. Ben says:

      Citation needed? I thought these “£10 per month” deals were really “50% off for the first 6 months of your 24 month contract”, which isn’t quite as good…

    3. tanon says:

      @Alec I regularly use >4TB a month, sometimes >5TB and haven’t been subject to any speed restrictions (that I’ve noticed). This is on a 24 month contract at £15pm, which is lower than the standard price of £22pm, however I’ve not seen anything as low as £10pm.

      @Johnny Three don’t charge you for the router, which is quite nice as it’s a Huawei B535 that retails at about £100.

      Without trying to come across as a shill for Three, I can’t emphasize enough the value you get with their offering. Our standard BT contract (we are operating dual-WAN) for FTTC is about £65pm, from which we only get speeds around 20-28Mbps. The Three 4G connection added between 40-60Mbps to this, effectively quadrupling our download/upload speeds. If I didn’t care about ping time (for online gaming) I would seriously consider getting rid of the VDSL altogether.

    4. Buggerlugz says:

      Neither do I. I also don’t understand why BT is offering such a pathetically slow offering either, especially if that have the most advanced 4g solutions. Seems like a cop out to me.

    5. lee says:

      Three can not do the same thing.
      Three’s network is under considerable strain and whereas a few areas show excellent speeds and value for money, in the big cities their 4g speeds are below dial up levels.
      South London and I’m getting download speeds of 0.2meg and 0.7meg on 4g with upload speeds soaring to around 20meg. Their download speeds have been deteriorating slowly over time to the point its now below dial up level. Their promised network upgrade never materialized.

  3. Mark says:

    Will package contain all the equipment required? A lot of the area around here would require a professional install, external antenna etc. 4G would never penetrate thick Cotswold stone walls and narrow syreets

    1. Peter says:

      I was thinking the high cost might be due to this work needed / extra equipment.

  4. Sam says:

    BT are expensive for everything I dont get why… I mean I am with EE who BT own and they are cheaper!

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Because whilst they’ll not admit it, the company appears to be doing everything it can to increase revenue just lately.

  5. John Holmes says:

    Confirm this rip off is available to my address.

  6. Zakir Hussain says:

    I Rather stick with Three Broadband much cheaper I get 5G signal in my area E3 London faster speeds

  7. TheUnacknowledged says:

    Recently cancelled my 4G contract with BT as this was marketed as the USO option for me. Originally was marketed at average speed 30Mb but it is capped at 30 by the network which given that I can get near perfect signal isn’t good enough for me. They do use a different part of the spectrum to mobile customers so speeds are very consistent in comparison to three which slows down to a crawl at peak times. But for me definitely not worth the price especially stuck on a 24 month contract with 5G being rolled out.

    1. John says:

      “They do use a different part of the spectrum to mobile customers ”

      Care to expand on that?

      I’m not aware of any unused spectrum owned by EE.

      What magical chunk of spectrum have EE just acquired or have they moved mobile customers off a chunk of spectrum they were previously using?

    2. TheUnacknowledged says:

      John please see Annex 1 point 1.9

      Perhaps spectrum was the wrong word as they specifically site capacity it the above document but regardless they do state:

      Where available, FWA consumers are assigned to capacity on existing base stations that is not
      currently used by traffic generated from mobile devices. If capacity upgrades are required,
      these follow the path of deploying additional spectrum. The assessment of the need for a
      capacity upgrade is more stringent than the 50:1 contention ratio that forms the USO

  8. Meadmodj says:

    The example provided by TBB is Deal in Kent. Interesting as this is an OR FF area InPlan/Progress.

    My first thought was that it makes sense that BT would not want to sell any new ADSL or FTTC (if there are capacity issues) as they will be offering FTTP by end of 2022 to address immediate sales, the price reflecting short life 4G Router and that users would be offered mid contract upgrade to FTTP. However this example is an apartment block and the EE 4G is outdoor only.

    So it has to be a data error.

    1. A_Builder says:

      It would certainly make more sense to BT to get a customer on contract and then market them a better solution.

      So I do see value in BT, from BT’s perspective, in offering the 4G options and then allowing the customers to upgrade within the contract period.

      Hey, you know, it provides another option on the table.

      Ultimately as FTTP really is coming to 85% of the country quick cheap sticking plasters are needed for where the copper is useless. And sure that does depend on getting a range of 4G masts in the right places.

  9. Big Turd says:

    BT are always trying to milk the british public especially those who are disadvantaged. They NEVER following the honourable path unless it is by accident or because another player is taking their customers by putting the customers first.
    The BT mission statement must be, profits first, customers last!

  10. Ian says:

    In France, Bouygues Telecom offers a 4G+ service (I’m getting 160 down and 60 up) for 33 Euros a month, including a Huawei 4G router. The 4G Box service is also unlimited on monthly data usage. This makes the BT offering look miserly indeed.

  11. C27078 says:

    Interesting, BT Wholesale checker for the address says it ‘can’t determine ADSL availability’, but Plusnet seem to think it can provide broadband there with Minimum Guaranteed Speed of 2.9mb… Is it a case of Plusnet accepting the order and cancellation later once it realises it can’t actually supply it?

  12. Leigh says:

    When I first looked into the USO the only option BT offered was 4G. I get ~2mb on landline. We did get connected to FTTC 18 months ago and the speed went to 6mb and we were overjoyed. But it slowly dropped to 2mb again. They have installed FTTP 5 lamp posts away so I thought we could get that extended. No. 4G sir. Take it of leave it.
    We are semi rural but discovered I can get 5G outside so installed a Huawei router and aerial and got a 5G EE sim for £22/month with video data pass. Plenty for me and quite stable. Slow ping though but I don’t really game so not a problem.

    Think we will be cancelling the landline.

    The USO is a joke if the offer was 4G at £45/month when other providers are a lot cheaper – even EE which I am on. I can get full speed unlimited 5G data on EE for £37. I am 1.5k from the green box and there is also FTTP 100 yards away. I’d pay that for FTTP but not 4G. There is no incentive to roll out fibre if 4G is available.

    1. André says:

      If it’s a Line of Sight 100 yards, have you thought about having a word with the possibility of making a Microwave link to the FTTP premises?

    2. Leigh says:

      Andre: I have thought about paying for FTTP to the farm down the road and setting up a wireless link. Once the EE contract is up I may look into it. I have also started a community fibre enquiry to try find out why they have rolled out fibre around us but not to us. Most of the hillside where I live now has FTTP capability but we are physically connected to a different ‘green box/exchange’ so they have not updated ours yet. I think that is why they wont extend the fibre from the farm 100 yards away because we are on different exchanges. Surely it is cheaper to extend the fibre 100 yards than install new to the green box 1.5km away or the exchange 4km away.

    3. Nathan says:

      vening leigh, it may of already been done but it could be worth raising a fibre availability request with a CP to find the location of where the nearest node terminates. Once this has been found a request for fibre for order can be made with a business supplier. Usually costs for ducting for FTTP costs around £120 a metre at the higher end from quotes I’ve dealt with. Unfortunately cheaper provision options such as DPs with a drop wire down to the property aren’t normally approached when surveying a fibre line install.

    4. Leigh says:

      Nathan: It is all overhead fibre here although I have discussed with the farmer about running fibre through the field to terminate close to the last overhead fibre point so it could be an easier connection. When I check the Open Reach site there is a list of providers. I may try contact one of them rather than BT. The default USO site takes you to BT.

  13. NGA for all says:

    On this WPQ Matt Hancock confirms Openreach is paying back clawback to avoid interest payments. https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-12-08/126868

    Let’s hope these payments are not capitalised and subject to cost recovery.

    I guess these 4G accounts will count as a transition away from copper.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Certainly don’t look like BT is doing as well as its accounts are showing, does it people?

    2. John says:

      *Matt Warmam, not Hancock.

      The Health Sec generally doesn’t answer broadband questions.

  14. Brendan says:

    We were offered this at the beginning of lockdown back in April/May last year.
    From memory it was capped at 500GB per month and £50 per month.
    House is rural and about 1.5 miles from mast.
    Signal strength was fine according to router generally full strength.
    All seemed good for a couple of weeks then fell off a cliff.
    Speed was all over the place – constantly dropping and I assume signal was shared with all mobile phone users in the vicinity.
    Eventually they agreed to let us go back to our old slow but reliable 2MB wired ADSL connection. Honestly avoid.

  15. Stew says:

    What a miserable deal from BT. I feel for the people who actually take the them up on this without knowing the other options available.

  16. Darren Smith says:

    They need to sort direct debit dates you can only have the 15th and you can not change it

  17. Jack says:

    Interesting they are staging it has “Unlimited Usage” when you go through the order usage, no doubt a hidden FUP somewhere though. Although I suspect the 30mb speed cap is to limit masts becoming saturated.

    Anyone appears to be able to order it too, not that it’s advisable.


  18. Mark says:

    According to the BT checker, we are 1 Mb/s ADSL (>10 km from exchange, 5 km from cabinet) and this 4G option is available to us, but only on a “without landline” deal that means giving up the landline altogether! What’s going on here? Enticing us to give up the landline prior to PSTN switch off? To add insult to injury, it will connect to exactly the same mast that gives me “unlimited” data from EE for £25 pm on a phone SIM contract and typical speeds around 40-50 Mb/s off-peak and 10-15 Mb/s peak times.

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