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Openreach Rivals Warn Ofcom NOT to Allow Big Fibre Price Cut

Monday, August 16th, 2021 (8:41 am) - Score 9,216
tank pointing at bt openreach engineer long

Alternative UK network providers have heavily criticised Ofcom’s provisional decision not to oppose Openreach’s (BT) proposal for a “major” price cut to their wholesale Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband products, which they warn could impact competition by discouraging ISPs from adopting rival networks.

The discount scheme, which is now better known across the industry as the “Equinox” offer, was officially unveiled last month (details) and looks set to make Openreach’s FTTP products significantly cheaper for retail ISPs to adopt (i.e. resulting in cheaper services for consumers), while also giving those same providers some long-term pricing certainty – lasting for 10 years. Needless to say, this approach has divided the industry.

NOTE: Pending regulatory approval, the discounts will go live from 1st October 2021.

Ofcom requires 90 days’ notice to assess such major changes, partly so they and the market have time to assess the impact on competition and other factors. Despite this, the regulator’s provisional view, as issued earlier this month (here), is that Openreach’s proposed discount would NOT have a “material adverse impact on competition.”

Naturally, ISPs that are much more reliant on Openreach’s services and which have only limited interest in building their own fibre (e.g. TalkTalk, Sky Broadband and Vodafone), were found to be “generally supportive of the Equinox Offer.” But the same cannot be said for alternative network (AltNet) builders. A mass of AltNets have now responded to Ofcom’s new consultation on the proposed change (due to close on 6th September) and they’re almost universally opposed.

Many of those AltNets are acting as both the network builder and retail ISP for their respective deployments, although some of them (e.g. CityFibre) are merely acting as the network builder and aiming to attract third-party ISPs at wholesale to sell their broadband products on to consumers. But all fear a negative impact from Openreach’s products becoming cheaper, particularly while they’re still vulnerable, due to being in the early stages of trying to grow competitive network coverage and investment.

Summary of INCA’s Response

NOTE: INCA’s view is supported by Zzoomm, County Broadband, Full Fibre Ltd, Truespeed, Fern Trading, CommunityFibre, ITS Technology, WightFibre, Persimmons, Digital Infrastructure, and Airband.

Equinox will almost certainly lead to medium- to long-term consumer harm, due to it having caused a reduction in competitive fibre infrastructure investment and deployment, reducing choice and innovation and likely resulting in higher prices for end consumers.

The Equinox Offer (Equinox) is a complex, long term discount scheme with several elements that separately and collectively result in strong loyalty-inducing effects on CPs purchasing wholesale fibre broadband connections across the UK.

The consequence of the strong loyalty inducing elements of Equinox is that CPs will be disincentivised from purchasing fibre broadband connection from altnets at the wholesale level and make it significantly harder for altnets to compete against the CPs in the retail market due to the very low wholesale prices resulting from the various Equinox elements.

Summary of KCOM’s Response

KCOM has significant concerns in relation to the Equinox Offer. We consider it raises sufficient competition concerns to warrant further consideration by Ofcom with a view to determining whether to issue a direction to prevent the offer.

Openreach’s Equinox Offer strongly disincentivises CPs from using alternative FTTP networks. In turn, this reduces the incentive for alternative FTTP network operators to make additional investments in FTTP.

Summary of Virgin Media’s (VMO2) Response

Openreach’s new price plan (“Equinox”) is likely to harm competition and undermine Ofcom’s strategic objective.

Applying the logic of Ofcom’s Existing Openreach FTTP offers consultation, it is clear that Equinox is geographically specific in its impact, and on that basis, must not be introduced by Openreach without Ofcom’s express consent. The effect of the discounts between new to BT network “(NTN)” and other customers (“non-NTN”) is discriminatory – both in the sense of being geographically targeted and because it prices the same processes at different charges, with the clear object of lessening competition. The overall effect is that an already-dominant provider will be able to exert even more pressure to narrow the scope for alt-nets to enter and expand.

Given those effects, it is vital that Ofcom undertakes a thorough review of the Equinox pricing proposal. That review should focus on assessing the effect that Equinox will have on competition in the market.

The stakes are high in this first consultation under the new WFTMR pricing regime. All stakeholders will be looking to Ofcom to clarify its approach, both procedurally and analytically. Openreach’s competitors, and their investors, will be seeking confirmation that Ofcom will enforce the safeguards it established in the WFTMR. Openreach will be looking to understand where the boundaries of the regime lie. Many years of experience should lead Ofcom to expect that Openreach will be as aggressive as Ofcom permits it to be.

Summary of CityFibre’s Response

CityFibre has serious concerns about the process under which Ofcom is carrying out its assessment of the Equinox offer. It appears that Ofcom is proposing to reach a provisional view on the basis of responses to a 10-working-day Call for Inputs. That Call for Inputs contains no analysis or evidence from either Openreach or Ofcom. Ofcom must carefully consider the signalling effects of any provisional decision to approve the terms, including the potential for undermining its stated policy objectives.

It is striking that while Ofcom’s stated framework requires Openreach to have provided its views on the potential impact of the offer on alternative networks, the Call for Inputs provides no reference to this analysis. Plainly, Ofcom must consider not only Openreach’s analysis of the potential impact on alternative network providers, but the views of the alternative providers themselves. This requires putting the analysis and evidence gathered from Openreach to alternative providers before forming any view, provisional or otherwise, on the compatibility of the proposed commercial terms with the strategic objectives set out in the WFTMR Statement.

For its part, Ofcom, which once again finds itself having to conduct a very difficult balancing act between the vested interests of opposing sides within the industry, has recognised that “altnets are likely to face stronger competition” as a result of Openreach’s offer. But at the same time, they do NOT believe that it will “create a potential barrier to using altnets” and should result in “better consumer outcomes.”

Ofcom will also be mindful that the outcome of giving Openreach a “fair bet” on FTTP (i.e. softer regulation to help foster deployment) is that the operator, which already covers 5.16 million UK premises with their gigabit-capable network, has now committed to invest £15bn in order to reach 25 million premises by December 2026 (c.80% of the UK) – including c.6.2 million premises in rural and semi-rural areas.

The regulator has also previously highlighted how their “analytical framework is concerned with the promotion of competition rather than the protection of competition as under competition law.” Nevertheless, Openreach’s discount looks set to make their FTTP broadband products much more price competitive with rival networks, and that will clearly have its pros and cons.

Consumers will no doubt be happy to see FTTP getting cheaper, which will in turn boost the take-up of related products and help to move away from legacy (copper line) infrastructure. But on the flip side, AltNets will face greater pressure on their investment models and may need to build even faster, not least because growing market share among consumers will become more of a challenge. One tactic AltNets often deploy is to be very aggressive on pricing, but that’s a tougher sell when the dominant operator is able to play at a similar level (assuming retail ISPs pass all those savings on).

Naturally, Openreach itself “consider there are no grounds for competition concerns and that the offer does not create a barrier or disincentive to CPs placing orders with or moving existing customers to alternative networks should they wish to do so. Our Offer allows for fair competition on the merits.

Time will tell how this all plays out, but for now Ofcom seems to be happy with what has been proposed, even if a growing chunk of the AltNet market clearly feels the opposite way.

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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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49 Responses
  1. New_Londoner says:

    So Inca members are pushing for higher than market prices so that consumers effectively subsidise their network investments. Hopefully Ofcom will disregard this input and allow the price reductions to proceed.

    1. Peter says:

      Majority of them aren’t even building where Openreach is building.

    2. occasionally factual says:

      As ever the so called do gooders of FTTP aka Alt Nets show that they are only out for themselves.
      I hope OFCOM ignores them and doesn’t make the vast majority of FTTP consumers pay a price premium. This is anti competitive.

      P.S. I have access to both Openreach FTTP and a toby box for CityFibre that I could order a service on today. But seeing how CityFibre wants to play, I’m not inclined to use their services at all.

    3. Mattp79 says:

      Essentially what VMo2 says is correct, Openreach will be as aggressive as they’re allowed to be. This isn’t just about FTTP, it’s the long-term future of telephony.

      Openreach have deep pockets and can afford to sell close, if not at, cost price for an extended period of time. This isn’t for your benefit. It’s an anticompetitive action. It closes out competition who need near-term return-on-investment to repay debt and to continue expanding. With competition subdued or eradicated, Openreach maintain their monopoly and will eventually raise their prices such to recoup lost income.

      As Mordo in the Marvel movie Dr Strange correctly says, “The bill always comes due. Always!”

    4. New_Londoner says:

      @Mattp79
      The flaw with your argument is that Openreach pricing is regulated so it can’t simply price companies out of the market and then push for a substantial increase. If it did then Ofcom would have to be convinced and even then the CMA could intervene.

    5. CarlT says:

      CityFibre are in a position to sell a wholesale service that allows Zen to charge £40 a month for symmetrical gigabit over their network while they charge £62.99 for 900/100 via Openreach.

      I think they’ll probably be okay. As will VMO2. Of course they won’t be happy nonetheless.

  2. Anthony Goodman says:

    I agree with the Altnets on this. Their concern is medium to long term not short term. If Altnets and Openreach FTTP is around the same price in the same street almost all ISP providers and end users will go for Openreach. This means Altnets are only viable until Openreach get around to your street which for most people is by end of 2024. So 3 years and then your billions you invested around the country are worthless.

    1. Jonny says:

      If their USP is just that they are cheaper then they were always working on borrowed time. The point of an altnet should be that they can differentiate themselves and react quickly – that could take the shape of delivering multiple VLANs for live TV service without the usual streaming delays, symmetric services, layer 2 VPN, upgrading to go beyond a gigabit etc.

      If, for example, CityFibre are easier to deal with than Openreach and provide a better service then why wouldn’t an ISP like Zen default to using them where available, regardless of any small cost increase?

      I doubt the investors in networks like CityFibre were assuming that they would only be competing on price, and that the regulator would ensure that price advantage stayed in place.

    2. MattP79 says:

      @Johnny Their USP is symmetrical line speed. BT/Openreach have wafty upload speed not appropriate for gamers and content creators

    3. A says:

      @MattP79 the upload speed is fine for gamers, games barely use 1mbps upload. Content creators maybe but it isn’t a massive market and most are used to just letting youtube take a while for videos to upload.

  3. Martin says:

    Openreach’s offer appears to include a stop sell on copper products in their exchange areas.

    Openreach could argue that they are expected to cover 100% of copper product costs in the areas that Altnets provide service. Legacy copper service gets more and more expensive as the base shrinks in Altnet areas.

    Are the Altnets going to be willing to take on the proverbial POTS older customers who are the last copper customers in Little Wittering on the Marsh?

    Being a legacy provider has advantages but also disadvantages.

    1. Shaunhw says:

      Allowing altnets to sell services vastly cheaper than Openreach based ISPs can isn’t just unfair to Openreach and thier resellers, it’s unfair to end users like me who can only get Openreach FTTP, and those who will only get those services in the future. No Virgin here, and no altnets either, and no compulsion to those suppliers to provide services to everybody as much as is possible. Virgin cables run past our house (a built up area) to the next village and didn’t connect anyone round here. Cityfibre have cabled up a lot of our town, but have no plans where I live at all.

  4. A_Builder says:

    The fundamental issue is a reduction in return on investment that make the long tail longer.

    While the structure of OR’s offer is great for uptake it is essentially a rolling lock-in for CP’s.

    Where I am concerned is the effect this is going to have on the less investable FTTP cases. Cash is only flowing into FTTP because the ROI works. If the ROI goes off the cash will stop pretty quickly.

    I am surprised the OFCOM are allowing an earthquake in an environment that is actually moving pretty smoothly towards achieving stated policy goals on FTTP provision and take up.

    The copper switch off is on OR/BT’s balance sheet interest and I am absolutely sure it will happen PCP/DSLAM by PCP/DSLAM in a systematic manner. There will be a lot of PCP’s left around for a long time and I can see some of the existing DSLAM’s being recycled to provide ADSL2+ from the cabinet (as opposed to the exchange) where for some reason FTTP is in the long tail and FTTC won’t work due to line lengths. This will allow the exchanges to be handed back to the PropCo and that cost shut off as they can be released for redevelopment.

  5. Ig Og says:

    Photo: if that’s a vm guy “FIRE!”

  6. A says:

    Prices need to come down for FTTP, I’ve seen loads of CBTs on poles which often have nobody connected or only one or two. Some of that will be people not bothering with a new contract or being locked into a long VDSL one but part of that will be that FTTP prices are insane at most ISPs. At BT its 35.99,45.99 and 55.99 for 150,500 and 900 respectively, that is a lot better than what it used to be (£50pm for 330mbps was a joke) but that is still a lot when someone has previously been paying £25pm for VDSL which is fast enough in their opinion.

    Under the new pricing FTTP plans will be cheaper and there is incentive to move customers to FTTP from FTTC even if its the same speed.

    1. Jonny says:

      I don’t think it’s necessarily that FTTP prices are high, it’s that the bargain basement suppliers competing purely on cost with 40/10 tiers aren’t offering FTTP. The end result is similar, granted.

    2. Winston Smith says:

      Once the PSTN switch off happens in 2025, Openreach will be aggressivley pushing FTTC customers onto FTTP to reduce their network maintainance costs.

    3. A says:

      @Jonny that is fair, plusnet currently aren’t offering FTTP. TalkTalk are and their prices are reasonable but most other ISPs have high prices.

      Most ISPs seem to have forgotten that the speed is much better but most buy their internet based on price rather than speed, it doesn’t matter if its only say 72/20, if they are paying around £26-27pm selling them an expensive FTTP package is difficult no matter the speed.

      Worth noting that some ISPs (e.g EE) will do the VDSL packages at the same price on FTTP.

    4. NE555 says:

      BT (retail) will sell you FTTP 55/10 or 80/20 at the same price as the corresponding FTTC. Indeed, the products themselves don’t even say whether they are delivered as FTTC or FTTP.

    5. Joe Pineapples says:

      A good incentive for someone like myself would be if BT offered for a one off setup/installation fee, to swap my current fibre 1 service, and deliver it through fttp for what I pay now. That’s assuming my current average 30mbps would jump to the full 50mbps (or whatever max they set fibre 1 to). Looking at the pole, I think 1 house out of 12 in our road, has taken up fttp.

  7. CarlT says:

    The politics and PR of this are a minefield. It can very easily be spun as others wanting customers to pay more.

    Ofcom can be accused, if they agree, of the same. Struggle to see how they can do anything other than carry on with their previous position.

    Surely those altnets in more rural areas with high prices were expecting Openreach to rock up at some point?

    Virgin Media O2 are okay. CityFibre may find this challenging depending on the products Openreach offer.

  8. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

    What the various commentators and vested interests seem to forget, is that BT are building an entirely new network from scratch. Since Altnets have access to BT’s Ducts and poles under the PIA scheme, there’s little difference between the new build between Openreach and the various Altnets. BT are investing £15 Billion in the new access network, and it is completely separate from the existing access network, up until the data hits the core Switch Routers. OFCOM are unlikely to alter the Equinox offer, since they’ve pretty much dismissed all the objections anyway.

    https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0032/222989/Equinox-condoc.pdf

    1. MikeP says:

      PIA is of no use in areas where the final bit of the network is DIG (Direct-In-Ground) with no ducting. There’s more of that than you’d think.

  9. Meadmodj says:

    So what is the view from ISPA?. I thought the proposal gave ISPs big and small some business certainty in the long term.

    Openreach need to encourage people off copper but they are not intending to run their rollout at loss, will continue to have high legacy overheads and continued decades for more than a decade. So if Altnets are worried about OR’s pricing perhaps they need to look at their business cases again.

    I would have thought their biggest threat would be that VM that could (if they chose to) offer Ultrafast products cheaper at a stroke and challenge them directly in the future with an XGSPON overlay very easily.

    As for take-up my view is that they should be looking at areas where OR and VM will not be battling it out, instead choosing areas where only one of them exists. i.e Cityfibre in Worthing are up against OR and VM whereas Cityfibre are only up against VM in Crawley for the foreseeable (FW also present).

    More importantly they should look to actively open up their networks now so that ISPs of all sizes have access to select an underlying network by post code, product and premise. Just saying they will offer wholesale in the future and restricting it certain ISPs is hardly going to help visibility and adoption.

    1. Meadmodj says:

      continued liabilities

    2. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      “I would have thought their biggest threat would be that VM that could (if they chose to) offer Ultrafast products cheaper at a stroke and challenge them directly in the future with an XGSPON overlay very easily.”

      My understanding is VM are currently at the tail end of the DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade, but will be moving to an PON model in the future, rather than upgrading to DOCSIS 4. The problem for VM, is that they’re going to have to run two different networks side by side, the old DOCSIS network alongside the new PON infrastructure, until all users are migrated to PON. BT are retiring the old copper network alongside the PSTN switch off, as FTTP is rolled out so should have lower operating costs, since the old copper network will be scrapped as areas are moved onto FTTP. The reasoning behind the Equinox offer, is to encourage wholesale ISP’s to migrate their users off FTTC and onto new FTTP asap, or at least that’s my understanding. VM, will need to encourage their customers onto PON at some point too.

    3. Meadmodj says:

      Customers choose broadband mainly on the Brands they recognise and the cost. Not many will understand or care about the underlying technology and their data needs are not typically high.

      There is no reason why OR FTTC will not remain competitive against an Altnet and VM could easily retain customers on HFC for years and run smaller amounts of fibre out to distribution cabinets to supply the 10-15% that may “need” the Giga products.

      Altnets may promote their higher product speeds and symmetrical but if the cost is higher or they don’t recognise the ISP brand they not migrate unless there is some misleading coercion.

    4. CarlT says:

      Ex Telecom Engineer Openreach have to run both networks side by side for a while. They can only stop selling copper, they haven’t mentioned anything about forcing their customers off it.

      The nature of VM’s network means that there are a fair few common components between PON and DoCSIS. XGSPON can be used both to feed customers directly and to feed HFC nodes providing DoCSIS service. VMO2 are deploying a D-CCAP architecture so the headends get dumber, the cabinets smarter and they’ve the overlap mentioned.

      There’s actually no reason beyond capacity management why an operator couldn’t use the same XGSPON port to both serve a D-CCAP node and some end users.

      3.1 on the upstream on the VMO2 network should start appearing in the not too distant, and that alongside spectrum upgrades in progress will be all she wrote for VMO2 and DoCSIS.

      It’ll be a long time before either VM or Openreach are switching off their legacy networks and it’s easier for VM – they have already switched off older standards on the cable network in the past while Openreach are still carrying ADSL and providing WLR.

  10. FibreBubble says:

    I’m starting to feel sorry for the monster sized investment bankers that are funding the altnets.

    1. CarlT says:

      They’ll be all good assimilated into CF / VMO2.

    2. MikeP says:

      Absolutely, in the medium term. Or even short term.

    3. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      “The nature of VM’s network means that there are a fair few common components between PON and DoCSIS. XGSPON can be used both to feed customers directly and to feed HFC nodes providing DoCSIS service. VMO2 are deploying a D-CCAP architecture so the headends get dumber, the cabinets smarter and they’ve the overlap mentioned.”

      CarlT, I don’t disagree that Openreach have their own legacy issues, as they transition from copper to a full PON operation, but as BT progress they’ll move to majority passive access infrastructure. If I’m understanding it correctly, the vast majority of BT PON will be truly passive from the “Head End” to the customer premise, so there’ll be no street furniture to maintain and power, whereas VM will require large numbers of powered street cabinets.
      Since Openreach will have OLT’s at the “Head End”, ONT’s in the customer premises, and everything in between unpowered (passive), Openreach’s network should be easier to maintain, and cheaper to run than VM’s access network using a D-CCAP architecture?

    4. CarlT says:

      VM will be almost all passive once they’ve switched the HFC off, too. A single powered cabinet per 3000 premises passed and fewer headends than Openreach.

      VM will always have the advantage that if they want to switch the legacy network off they don’t need permission from Ofcom and the agreement of their wholesale customers – they aren’t putting any on the legacy network.

  11. Jason says:

    Sooner the end of the patch work Full fibre network the better . Reduce the price and let the consumer feel the benefit . Bye bye Alt nets

    1. CarlT says:

      No. They provide services Openreach won’t. They may have to start selling based on other things than cost, though.

      Fully symmetric services might be good – see a switch in advertising to informing customers they can send as fast as they receive via CityFibre/VMO2 wholesale products or at 1/9th that via Openreach.

      With their reach, network and cost to build VMO2 can be very, very competitive.

    2. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      “VM will be almost all passive once they’ve switched the HFC off, too. A single powered cabinet per 3000 premises passed and fewer headends than Openreach.”

      BT are looking at reducing their building footprint to around a thousand by the early 2030’s. I’ve seen the articles stating 3000 potential VM customers per VHUB cabinet, implying at least 5000 powered VHUB cabinets, some Head End buildings. and many more distribution cabinets to serve the 15 million premises within VM’s current Franchise areas.
      VM are at a disadvantage to BT/Openreach, in relation to wholesale business, since BT have been accommodating wholesale customers since the early 2000’s, and VM haven’t even started yet as far as I know. Openreach are now looking at passing 25 Million premises by 2026; In the meantime, VM’s current speed advantage is only useful if they can attract FTTC customers from Openreach’s wholesale customers, such as Sky. For VM to expand outside of their existing Franchise areas they depend on Openreach PIA, accessing BT’s ducts and poles, which benefits Openreach due to PIA rental income. I’m not saying that VM wont do ok, but BT/Openreach wont sit on their hands and the Equinox offer definitely encourages wholesale business onto Openreach, which OFCOM doesn’t appear to mind, since it appears Openreach is being pushed into becoming the Telecom equivalent of the National Grid.
      VMO2 will start out with around £18 Billion in debt and half the revenue BT generates, so they won’t generate any profit for their owners for the next 8 years minimum, as all their profit will have to be directed into upgrades and expansion, with pricing competition hurting everyone’s bottom line. It will be interesting to see who the winners and losers will be 10 years from now, I expect there’ll be some carnage on route.

    3. Roger_Gooner says:

      @Ex Telecom Engineer: “BT/Openreach wont sit on their hands”
      VMO2 isn’t sitting on its hands either and its shareholders have agreed to spend £10bn over the next five years on fixed line and mobile network upgrades. The number of premises passed should reach about 16m next year and there are plans to add a lot more premises and to wholesale its network but nothing concrete has been announced.

  12. Mr.TB says:

    Ofcom shouldn’t allow BT to provide these discounts.

    Thought the current market conditions are meant to encourage FTTP coverage, market growth and employment not the opposite. My local altnet is offers their entry 100Mbps symmetric service at the same renewal price of the 80/20 on Talk Talk… no need to touch the market pricing. Unless the plan is to put altnets out of business, people out of work and prefer to funnel UK £1’s to offshore investors?

    1. CarlT says:

      The Openreach 80/20 product is changing from £17.44 a week to £14.75.

      Won’t make a massive dent.

      So you want everyone on Openreach FTTP to pay higher prices to protect your local altnet’s profit margin?

      It’s not irrational but neither is it popular, especially with people like me stuck with Openreach and nothing else likely to be available for the foreseeable.

      Your altnet isn’t my problem much as Openreach aren’t yours.

  13. Craig says:

    At a time where wages are at a low and rpi, bills and everything else is at a an all time high, from a consumers point of view this is great news. Of course it is. From the altnets position, of course it isn’t. But their quality of service and strong infrastructure should be what makes them stand out from openreach. As after all, many of us have had issue after issue with them and would be happy for a change.

    1. CarlT says:

      Guessing you weren’t alive in the 80s when inflation was in the teens, Craig?

  14. kuro68k says:

    I’d much rather they improved upload speeds. 100mbps is a joke in 2021.

    1. The Facts says:

      What’s your applications that need more?

  15. NW London Person says:

    On Community Fibre. My local exchange, Colindale, is not in OR’s programme for fibre and many exchanges locally aren’t.

  16. Bob says:

    Greedy B*stards. Why should we be paying for some 2nd rate fly by night cowboys altnet service infrastructure.
    Keep prices down.
    Stuff the altnets.

  17. chris conder says:

    If it wasn’t for Virgin (an altnet) then this country would still be on dial up. If it wasn’t for the new range of altnets then this country would be stuck on FTTC for another few decades. Competition is king. Long live the altnets, building a fibre digitialbritain. OR will milk their obsolete copper assets to the end.

    1. Winston Smith says:

      VMO2 really aren’t most peolple’s idea of an altnet considering the size of their parent Liberty Global.

      VM were definitely responsible for bringing high broadband speeds to much of the UK but Openreach would be rolling out PON based FTTP by now anyway as it’s just so much simpler and cheaper to run than any alternative for most of their network.

      OR just want to get rid of copper as quickly as possible now.

  18. Tim Dawson says:

    However it’s wrapped up, this looks like an attempt by a near-monopoly operator to price others out of the market. Short term gains for consumers, perhaps, but higher prices and poor service likely down the line. Who remembers the days when the phone service was run by the GPO (General Post Office, owned by government) and we were made to feel grateful for having a phone line at all. Don’t want that to come back.

    1. James Smithson says:

      At least in those days we all had the same service at the same price. Now, much like public transport, gas, water and electricity, it all depends on where you live. Live in the wrong area and your choice is restricted and you may have to pay more. The Thatcher ‘ideal’ was always going to lead to the have and have nots coupled with a lot of foreign ownership. The only problem with a nationalised industry was the lack of control. Maybe the answer is a form of nationalisation with a 50/50 government/private investment and control. It is never likely to happen so for those of us living in the ‘wrong’ area hopefully Openreach will continue to prosper.

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