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Openreach Prep UK Pilot of Faster FTTP Broadband ISP Speeds

Thursday, Sep 15th, 2022 (7:20 am) - Score 17,968

We’ve had it confirmed from various credible sources that Openreach (BT) are planning to launch a new pilot in the near future, which will enable UK ISPs to test faster broadband tiers on the operator’s Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network. Download speeds faster than 1Gbps are expected, and a new ONT will also be involved.

Openreach’s national full fibre network is currently available to well over 8 million premises via multiple retail ISPs – building at a rate of 59,000 premises per week – and their goal is to reach 25 million by December 2026, which is expected to cost the operator up to £15bn to complete.

NOTE: The new pilot is currently expected to start in early December 2022 and will take place in Swansea (Wales).

At present the fastest FTTP download tier available to consumers on their network is 1000Mbps (115Mbps upload / 220Mbps for business lines), although the advertising rules usually force ISPs to promote this more as a 900Mbps+ package (i.e. median average speed, as measure at peak time) rather than a true “gigabit” tier. The proposed pilot will seek to offer even faster downloads than that, albeit sadly with no improvement to upload.

The details of Openreach’s new speed pilot are still in the process of being planned, but we understand that – once ready – they’ll offer ISPs the ability to test two new speed profiles with download rates of greater than 1Gbps but less than 2Gbps. The official details suggest that there will be a 1.2Gbps and 1.8Gbps product (i.e. the 1.2Gbps tier would enable ISPs to promote speeds of 1000Mbps for a true “gigabit” plan).

As part of this, the operator will also test a couple of new Optical Network Terminals (ONT) with support for multi-Gigabit Ethernet (LAN) ports, which is the optical modem that gets fitted inside your home. The Gigabit LAN port(s) on these ONTs will have a max rate (interface) of 2.5Gbps. We hope to have a few more details and pictures of those very soon.

The trial will also involve different Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), such as routers, since they will also need to support multi-Gigabit speeds. But as we say, Openreach are still in the final planning phase of this pilot and the details may yet change (no public briefings have been issued about it, yet).

The catch is that Openreach will still be using their existing Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) platform, which does tend to place some limitations on how fast their packages can go before capacity becomes an issue. The GPON standard supports a capacity on each trunk line of up to 2.5Gbps downstream and 1.24Gbps upstream, which needs to be shared between several premises.

The suspicion is that Openreach may be preparing the new products to help counter Virgin Media’s (VMO2) own near-term plan for faster tiers. We’ve already seen the latter trial speeds of up to 2.2Gbps on their live network. But many of Openreach’s rivals in the rapidly growing alternative network (AltNet) space are already deploying 10Gbps capable XGS-PON kit as standard now, which will be harder to match without bigger changes.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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110 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Bilal says:

    Sticking to gpon.


    I’ll try move off BT when my contract expires in April. I hope communityfibre have come to my area in that time

    1. Avatar photo Steve says:

      Have fun with that. I’m sure you’ll leave them due to the technology they are using and totally will notice /s. GPON is perfectly acceptable.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      GPON has its limits, but it’s also more cost-effective to deploy, and they can move to XGS-PON or similar in the future when ready. But right now the focus is on coverage.

    3. Avatar photo Iain says:

      If wonder if it’s feasible, in the short to medium term, to upgrade the terminals as and when they’re oversaturated. I remember there were trials about *PON compatibility, but I can’t remember if that was about mixing different manufacturers, or mixing GPON and XGS-PON.

    4. Avatar photo X says:

      Right now the focus is obviously not (completely) on coverage as they are announcing higher speed products and ont. I only hope that the new ONT are xgspon capable. Not doing that would be truly insane

  2. Avatar photo Non BT User says:

    Typical BT, trials and by the time they launch, everyone else would have already launched faster tiers as have some ALTNETS already. They only had a small base of FTTP when the new faster tech came along, but they stalled everything onto old tech until some point in the future when they thought they’d never have to go above 1gbps for years and years….

    I can see the point of 1.2gbps but a 1.8gbps package? That’s a funny old speed tier to offer, you’d expect 2.2gbps as the next one. Once again though, no change in uploads, behind a lot of the ALTNETS again. Once Virgin upgraded their HFC network to FTTP, I can’t see them offering low upload speeds either.

    1. Avatar photo Iain says:

      Good question on what for they chose the tier to be exactly 1.8Gbps.

      I additionally think it’s weird to offer anything that high, or higher, over GPON. That’s two single premises potentially using all of the shared bandwidth.

      And the extreme asymmetry in download vs. upload speeds gets ever more ridiculous.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      On trials, Openreach serves a huge number of premises, so it’s vital to test everything before putting a new service live, especially one that may introduce new capacity pressures in some areas. Altnets must also test their services before going live, but they’re often less open about it.

      On the speed choices. As the article hints, it may be partly down to needing an overhead to cater for the advertising rules and deliver a high median average. However, 1.8Gbps is a bit of an odd tier, but it would at least give them a downstream edge in some areas where, for now, some of their competitors only offer up to 1Gbps. But rivals can respond to it.

    3. Avatar photo Iain says:

      Thanks for the reply Mark. And good analysis, as usual.

      The advertising rules as a reason makes sense. And specifically for 1.8Gbps, you’re right that, at least in the short term, it gives them an edge.

    4. Avatar photo Aled says:

      I would hazard a guess that BT would actually provide a 2Gb tier, with a 10% safety buffer for the advertising teams who will “sell a 1.8Gbs” service.

      I think BT have form with this type of under-promising?

    5. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      They have to run trials at a pace you object to because they have a network that covers over 8m premises, 600 providers, and build at a rate of someone like Zzoomm’s entire network each week. There are internal systems to test, ordering processes that need to be updated, and engineering teams need to be trained to be aware that different ONTs need to be supplied for new service tiers. No doubt there’s also an ONT swap procedure for customers that are upgrading that needs to be tested.

      Huge companies cannot be as agile as small AltNets by definition, but I’m not sure package tiers above 1Gbps on residential services are that common amongst AltNets either – I’ve found Zzoomm, Community Fibre and B4rn that offer it.

    6. Avatar photo Alex says:

      1.8 Gbit/s is exactly 50% faster than 1.2 Gbit/s. If 1.2 Gbit/s is intended to be advertised as 1 Gbit/s then 1.8 Gbit/s is presumably supposed to be for a service advertised as 1.5 Gbit/s.

      (These advertising rules are still very ugh, even with no distance-based speed drop-off. I suppose they did try for once, but…)

    7. Avatar photo Tom says:

      I would imagine that 1.2 will be advertised as 1ig, 1.8 will be advertised as 1.5gig and a 2.4 future product to advertise that as 2gig broadband. 2.4 is the max speed you can get anyway from gpon.

    8. Avatar photo Iain says:

      Ah, that’s a good hypothesis and maths, Alex and Tom.

    9. Avatar photo XGS_Is_On says:

      No chance of a 2.4G Openreach tier using GPON.

      The 1.2G will go a fair bit over 1.1G after overheads, the 1.8G a fair bit over 1.7G. The Ethernet side of the ONT will no longer be a bottleneck so 1.2 cap at the ONT means 1.2 leaving the ONT heading to the LAN. Should make advertising interesting.

      On uploads who’s said there will be no increase to go alongside the new download speeds? I strongly suspect they will be trialing higher upload speeds too, not least because VMO2 have started selling 100 Mbit up on their Gig1 service in some areas.

  3. Avatar photo Phil says:

    Why no change to uploads? They could do that now. If they can offer 1Gig down on GPON that only supports a total of 2.4 Gig to be shared between all those connected, then that means using the same ratio for upload (total available is around 1.2 Gig) should allow for 500Meg to be offered.

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      And impact their ethernet revenue, don’t be silly!

  4. Avatar photo John says:

    With 115Mbps they can compete with Virgin.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      John, they can compete at the rate of upload speed on Virgin as of right now. Work is already going on right now to use DocSIS 3.1 on HFC upstream, I don’t think its far off Virgin offering 115mbps+ for their 1gig customers.

      Then they are upgrading from an HFC network to FTTP to all be done by 2028.

      BT always doing the minimum compared to everyone else. Other companies like to challenge competition by newer services or better service offerings, BT just does minimum to keep up with biggest competitor. BY time Virgin get their FTTP upgrade going they’ll be able to sail away with 10gbps+ if they wanted to while BT get stuck in the mud moaning about having to upgrade the whole network because they just simply implemented the older tech for years during new infrastructure installs.

    2. Avatar photo Vince says:

      Openreach already offers 115 and 220 upload speed products – 115 is common, 220 very much not common at all – they’re well ahead of Virgin on upload.

    3. Avatar photo John says:

      Vince, they are at the moment ahead of Virgin and way behind the altnets.

  5. Avatar photo Matt says:

    I wish they’d push stuff like this onto Centercodes to play with rather than limiting it to a specific area… Guess it limits the changes needed though.

  6. Avatar photo Carl says:

    I just hope the average consumer doesn’t expect the full speed to one device.

    1. Avatar photo WibbledOff says:

      Most new computers come with 2.5gbe network ports now, so when this comes to consumers I don’t think it will be a problem having a device get full speed.

    2. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      Most new computers do not come with a 2.5Gb ethernet port, where do these mad claims come from?

    3. Avatar photo WibbledOff says:

      Poor Jonny hasn’t purchased a new motherboard in the last couple of years then lol

    4. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @WibbledOff, I hate to break it to you, but the only boards that 2.5Gb are higher end ones, other in the hundred quid mark, i did see a MAD based one at £80 that have 2.5, but others still have 1Gb. Even most Apple machines have Gigabit Ethernet unless you pay extra. also, most home devices only have Gigabit Ethernet, not that anything faster is really required.

      Still need a router to support the higher network speeds and how many routers are around that do?

    5. Avatar photo barry says:

      I have an tp-link AX6000 and that does a decent job of putting thorough over 1Gbps – even over wifi 6.It had a 2.5GB WAN port and 8 GB LAN ports and you can get Anker 2.5GB adapters off amazon for about £40 if that’s all you need – and it’s £100 more to get an Imac for example upgraded to 10GB On board NIC

    6. Avatar photo WibbledOff says:

      @Ad47uk All new Asus/Netgear and even Synology routers now come with 2.5gbe wan ports. Looks like you arrived to a party on Monday when it was on Saturday lol.

  7. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    In response to Jonny,

    Ever heard of NETOMNIA? Look them up. 10gbps symmetric. And not just them.

    As been said, BT carry trundling along putting in old stuff whilst ALTNETS put the new stuff, Virgin Media transform into FTTP from HFC, and then BT whinge about tax payer money again to uplift all the old stuff they continued to put in. They could have had majority of their network on XGS-PON and only the older smaller part on legacy PON but no they are doing all their scaled up stuff on legacy stuff right until they’ve done the FTTP programme. They’ll fall behind everyone else. Even those ALTNETS that are currently on older tech will upgrade quicker. BT = snails.

    1. Avatar photo TBC says:

      That’s if Netomnia don’t find themselves kicked out of using PIA some questionable work going on

    2. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      YouFibre’s 10Gb is a business service priced at £250/month


      You can argue about the need for higher speeds and symmetric services but please don’t pretend that there is huge demand from Openreach CPs for £250/month broadband service tiers. These things are often done so providers can claim to be the fastest, or put out press releases.

      I think there’s an FTTP provider that posts on ThinkBroadband now and then about how the 80Mbps tier is by far the most popular FTTP service they sell. Putting the fibre in the ground and ‘only’ putting GPON on the end of it is not comparable to investing in making the copper network last longer, the best approach to take right now is to get as much of the country as possible onto FTTP which will then provide a market for the services that need the faster speeds.

      A lot of the AltNet business models (get VC investment to build headline-grabbing speeds before being acquired) are not ones that large established providers are able to take.

    3. Avatar photo John says:

      Netomnia is a bit phantom ISP in some areas they claim they are live.

    4. Avatar photo dubious says:

      Netomnia need to revist their A-level physics. Their own website makes a very dubious claim that fibre-optics work at the “speed of light” 300km/s. The speed of light in glass/fibre which is more like 200km/s as Glass is more dense than Air. Infact it’s basically the same speed as a signal through Copper or Coax. I would expect a fibre operator to know that and to suggest otherwise is misleading.

    5. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      Netomnia, that’s the altnet with a coverage of 0.7% of the UK and a goal of 3.4% coverage. Right?

    6. Avatar photo barry says:

      Also the one Youfibre use – and some idiots on here claim it’s at their address (like the fool in Leeds), and if it is neither YT nor NetO know about it.

      But got to believe the bull..

    7. Avatar photo Buggs8 Deleted says:


      Back to school for you tomorrow, make sure you take a spare pair of pants

  8. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    and when I say BT we all know its Openreach now…. so no clever quips please….

  9. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    VM may even start snapping up the ALTNETS at some point, then its bye bye BT/Openreach. VM after all have some of the biggest fibre links in the country. BT/Openreach failed once again to keep up/exceed competition. No big complicated phone system as people going to VOIP anyway, makes it even easier.

    The debacle over FTTC – Huawei cabinets just worked (BDUK funded), BT service used ECI and were a complete nightmare. Then BT wouldn’t do any work way back to use a better VDSL profile resulting in slower speeds and no cross-talk protection. They could have done that work in a lot of areas way back where VDSL was majority coverage and ADSL was little. Slow, slow, slow. They’ve only got faster with FTTP deployments because so many other operators are coming in for a slice of the pie, else we’d still be likely sweating an FTTC roll out programme!

    1. Avatar photo Kenneth says:

      You are talking nonsense. VM is that unreliable you are advised to buy your own equipment. And thats before you start talking about latency issues especially when gaming. And what about customer service? I’d rather stay with BT full fibre thanks.

    2. Avatar photo Matt says:

      Agree Kenneth.

      I’ve got VM and BT – both FTTP. (1200/50 and 900/110) The BT line knocks spots off the VM line in every way. (latency, jitter, loaded, unloaded it makes no difference. BT wins hands down. Support is also miles better)

      ECI was the EU meddling in the tendering process IIRC. BT would have done just Huawei if they could.

      FTTP started happening because OFCOM made some concessions (finally) – basically before they were wanting BT to foot the bill for FTTP installation with very little likelihood of ever even recovering costs and making it available to all and sundry at a cheap, locked in price – why would a business do that?

      Check out Peering DB – VM have very little peering for their customer count – you can feel this using certain services- imgur, reddit are all sluggish then “pop”. BT has none of this type of issue. I also suspect some of this is their IWF filtering. They rely on Equinix a lot for peering too.

      BT were (unsure on current figures) rolling out more in a week than altnets combined do in a month.

      I don’t think BT will be too concerned until people start pushing XGS-PON on a large scale – which is something VM have said they want to do but BT can drop in replace kit to support faster speeds anyway. I’d be more confident in BT drop-in replacements happening vs virgin having to swap old coax out. I’m on a “VM bought” FTTP area and the conversion back to coax breaks my heart every time I look at it.)

      The whole “REEE BT is doing slow FTTP” is kinda irrelevant- it was a decent strategy when they started and they’ve just continued that work, guessing because the price point of the equipment in that level of bulk is ridiculous.

      BT is going to be around for a good amount of time with a solid service, regardless what people want/hope happens to them. Altnets might be building with “better” kit – but do they have the redundancy within their networks? and they’ll all run out of steam when the VC money dries up whilst they wait to merge/get bought.

    3. Avatar photo barry says:

      Meanwhile on a BT 1Gbps LL…


      Fast.com shows more – I get 941mbps each way (or 111-112MB/s in actual download terms)

      Probably worse then your FTTP!?

    4. Avatar photo GG says:

      Good points Matt. We also need to remember BT have experience of product lifecycle that the alt-nets don’t – ADSL through VDSL and beyond. They know what takeup at each tier is like, and the costs of these in-service updates.
      They employ a lot of accountants – it may be that their time line for swapping out to XGSPON aligns to when alt-nets will need to refresh kit too, so they might as well take the cheap option now (especially if they know 90% will take the cheaper tiers anyway) and upgrade when the kit is due for lifecycle replacement.

    5. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      Matt: ‘Check out Peering DB – VM have very little peering for their customer count’

      Liberty Global are a tier 1 ISP. BT etc aren’t. VM’s AS is almost entirely behind Aorta now. VM have tons of on-net CDNs and make extensive use of private peering to reach larger content providers which won’t show up on PeeringDB.

      This does produce some interesting routes at times but is why there’s far less public peering capacity there.

      VM/Liberty have interconnects all over the place. The lack of responsiveness is likely for other reasons than sub-1 ms extra latency there. Their own internal network following the cable network geographically, sometimes in a very convoluted way, and their use of DoCSIS with occasional capacity and quality issues are likely contestants.

  10. Avatar photo Phil says:

    Openreach residential customers will never get symmetrical speed to protection their own businesses is nonsense!

    1. Avatar photo barry says:

      Well no it’s not – those people pay 10x what residential do – it’s only right.

    2. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      Perhaps but it makes commercial sense until they start to really feel competition bite.

    3. Avatar photo barry says:

      At which point it’s hoped the prices for a LL will come down.

  11. Avatar photo Pablo says:

    Wearing a mask to prevent catching covid from a cabinet is a perfect analogy to describe BT

  12. Avatar photo Jamie Simms says:

    Well I assume that BT will not be part of these trials as the smart Hub2 will not be able to work with these speeds and it looks like the planned SmartHub3 has been delayed until 2023 or maybe even scrapped and put out to tender again according to some sources.

    1. Avatar photo BT John says:

      The SH3 is in trial. Possibly launches end of this year or early 2023.

  13. Avatar photo Peach says:

    I think some people are forgetting that >99% of regular broadband users will not need greater than 1gbps for a while, therefore the take up for these new tiers is likely to be fairly low and it is unlikely more than 1 per splitter, particularly in residential areas.
    A prime example in Newbury which has been mostly covered by Openreach FTTP, people aren’t going to be going mad for Netomnia just because they provide 10gbps – they will go there if the price is cheaper!

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      actually the price for 10gbps is market leading from Netomnia. OK at the moment, most residential wouldn’t use it, BUT the choice is there for those who pay for it. Their network is not hampered by capped upload speeds either.

      Funny how the BT/Openreach defenders zoom in on the 10gbps bit only – nothing about having the choice for those who do need or could afford it, or the more important fact that all of their offerings are symmetric – no slow uploads to onedrive/dropbox/google etc. and you can run a lightweight server(s) for your own use too including Plex/Emby/Others. If you dont need SLA/Uptime guarantees as not a true commercial service, why would I want out of touch BT telling me to pay for expensive business. On ya bike BT….

    2. Avatar photo John says:

      Anyone with common sense would be happy with competition even if they don’t sign up for the competitor as it keeps pressure to keep prices low

      BT is able to get away with high prices because it has a monopoly in far too many areas

    3. Avatar photo Mike says:

      Every time speed increases are on the horizon you get the same people saying people don’t need it, we’d still be on dialup if it was up to them.

      Do not impose your lack of ability to utilise things on to others please.

    4. Avatar photo barry says:

      “actually the price for 10gbps is market leading from Netomnia.”

      So true! – even with VAT that’s still less than a 1Gbps circuit with VAT added on!.

      If I didn’t live in the back end of beyond..

    5. Avatar photo barry says:

      1Gbps without VAT I meant!

    6. Avatar photo Peach says:

      I wasn’t saying we shouldn’t be looking for increased speeds, more the fact that I believe this is an acceptable stopgap with GPON considering most residential subscribers will unlikely buy anything above 1gbps. The point I was making with Netomnia is that the 10gbps is not going to be the selling point for most users but the price

    7. Avatar photo barry says:

      You are totally right. I wish I could get 1Gbps for the prices they list. it’s very very fast. I am the only person in my town that has a symmetrical connection at this current time. There are no alt nets but there is Virgin. I look forward to the day Virgin go higher – although I still won’t be looking at them I am happy with BT at whatever cost

    8. Avatar photo Rob says:

      I have 900/110 BT fibre from Zen and as a pretty heavy user I struggle to utilise the full speeds. I reckon 500mbit is fine for most households; it’s very rare to get over 50MB/sec except from Steam, simply because most hosts seem to max out around that figure (all devices on cat 6a Ethernet connections).

      I would however be very glad to have more upload capacity.

    9. Avatar photo barry says:


      That’s odd – people have shown 103 on Steam on VM as per this YT video (I can’t watch it for long as her voice grates my soul) and I get 109-111 on my line.

      I always max out – that’s got to be a limitation on BT’s system surely?

    10. Avatar photo barry says:

      Search YT virgin media 1gbps review and it’s the video from tastyPC I was talking about

    11. Avatar photo barry says:

      Also shows how lame it is if they can’t do more than 45% of the upload. Maybe i wont be wishing for them after all.

    12. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      Testing at those speeds it’s tricky to find reliable sources and avoid bottlenecks. Testing to multiple places at the same time it happily goes well over 8 Gbit in both directions.

    13. Avatar photo barry says:

      Yes I can push 100Gbps through my corporate switch – does not mean I am achieving it – show me a speedtest on a 10G (or even a 20G one they are around) and I will believe it then.

    14. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      It’s an Internet facing port on a router.


    15. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      Presumptuous of me to assume you’ll know what you’re looking at with a routing table. This is clearer.


      The D next to the address indicates it was obtained via DHCP, which is how YouFibre roll. On the routing table there are 3 sets of routes, with public addresses.

      The first default gateway is to another router, and is inactive, note no ‘A’ on the left and it’s in light blue. The second default gateway is to YouFibre. That gateway is censored as it’s a small subnet I’m on.

      The first item with a censored destination address via YouFibre-1 is the network I’m connected to via YouFibre. It’s a small subnet so redacted – DHCP means a subnet is involved not a single address over PPP. The second is a route to the public IP on the backup router.

      The rest of the routing table is internal and connected routes. The ones with ‘b’ next to them are received via BGP. ‘A’ means they’re active. ‘C’ means connected. ‘H’ means hardware accelerated. + means the route is eligible for Equal Cost Multipath – if there are multiple paths to the same place with the same distance they’ll be used.

      For completeness Test-ESX is a test VMWare ESXi host on the other end. LAN-1 and LAN-2 are the two physical interfaces on the LAN side. These are bonded to form the logical LAN-PO1 interface. This interface actually, for redundancy, has VRRP running on it so if it fails some of the network kicks over to the backup router, which is the LAN-2116 interface.

      LAN-Bridge is a bridge interface of ether1-ether12 that isn’t in use right now.

      ether-13 is out of band management so on a different subnet to everything else.

      You’re welcome. I’m sure you’d be as transparent and appreciate that this is a tad more convincing than a speed test that could’ve come from anywhere and been done by anyone.

    16. Avatar photo Rob says:

      Hey Barry,

      Yeah I get good speeds from Steam (99 MB/sec or more) – my point was more that’s the only place I really see it. Xbox downloads never reach those speeds (although I have an xbox one x which potentially can’t reach 1gbit). My work VPN on aws is generally limited by our work servers’ throughput and work line capacity.

      Don’t get me wrong it’s nice to have 1gbit, but I think the majority of the public simply won’t notice extra speeds above ~500mbit. Especially as many of them are on badly set up B/G/N wifi links at home, not even ethernet let alone gbit ethernet. Maybe I’m being snooty saying that…!

  14. Avatar photo Mike says:

    I wish they’d stick to speed packages that matched network setups, eg: 100/1000/2500/10000Mbps.

    1. Avatar photo Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

      Due to packet overheads and buffering delays you probably can’t get 1Gbps – and certainly not the MB/sec throughput that people *think* they can get from that – so it’s safer to advertise 900Mbps. Virgin got a fair amount of flack for it for their Gig1 product (didn’t help that their hub at the time only had 1Gbps Ethernet).

    2. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      VM only got flack from people who don’t understand that 4 x 1GbE ports plus WiFi 5 is far more than 1 Gbps.

  15. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

    Interesting. 1.8 Gbps download is quite aggressive, but will probably work fine. I’ve seen full 32 home PONs that very rarely went over 3-400 Mbps utilisation for any length of time.

    Google Fiber in the US happily sell 2 down, 1 up over GPON.

    If Openreach are willing to be more aggressive and sell 75% of the capacity to a single user on the download hopefully they’ll be more aggressive on the upload, too. They are an outlier in terms of asymmetry and it’s not justified by the technology.

    Competition actually helps make these services possible: having a couple of altnets preventing your 30-32 premises passed PONs having 30-32 connections on them brings options.

    Some movement on XGSPON is overdue alongside reducing the asymmetry. Perhaps they’ll go straight to 25GPON and skip XGSPON entirely?

    This is unquestionably good either way. Indicates recognition of the demand from CPs for those higher capacity services. They might not have very high uptake but having them in the pocket is going to be useful.

    1. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      So what are you doing with all your fancy computers? 640K RAM ought to be enough for anybody! 🙂

      And who needs fibre, let alone symmetric? Basic VDSL is good enough for you guys! 🙂

    2. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      I assume that was a reply to me in error and was intended as a response to someone else. It makes no sense as a response to my comment.

  16. Avatar photo Rich Branston says:

    I fully expect to switch away from Virgin Media’s IPv4-limited, DOCSIS-latency and upload bandwidth hobbled service in the next 6-18 months.

    But probably 4-5 years after that, if Openreach haven’t upgraded their network and VM aren’t still hobbling their XGS-PON service with RFOG, they’ll have the more modern network and I’ll switch back.

    And so the flipping between the lesser of two laggards continues.

  17. Avatar photo Paul M says:

    I am on 120M down, 20M up with Zen. I would prefer 100M down, 40M up, I regularly peg my uplink.

    I suppose my only choice is to buy a higher tier of service.

  18. Avatar photo Jimmyn says:

    Be useful if they invested their efforts into availability first. At this rate other countries will be on 100Gbps before we see any sign of fibre here in Essex.

    1. Avatar photo Rocky Balboa says:

      Pretty sure they are doing just that.

    2. Avatar photo barry says:

      No one would need that speed – that speed is silly for someone to have!.

      I think even 10Gbps is overkill (even if you can support it hardware wise like on a new Mac or latest PC)

      I think once people get to the top of the 1Gbps hill they will be happy with what they have – I mean being able to pack away 390GB an hour is enough for most people (I know i’ve been sad and actually measured my throughput)

      ISP’s will not tolerate people doing 24/7 on GPON I don’t think. And even through the office leased line (which is of course AON) I got bored after downloading/Uploading for 6 hours straight – and that was like 2.2TB..

    3. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      This Essex or is there another one I don’t know about?


      Full Fibre (FTTP or FTTH): 37.38%
      Openreach FTTP: 27.72%
      Alt Net FTTP:
      FTTP excluding Openreach, KCOM and Virgin Media RFOG 11.43%

    4. Avatar photo Superfast Essex says:


      You need to go over and visit the Essex Country Council Superfast Essex website, lots of interesting information there.

    5. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      @Jimmyn: If you are talking about the superfastessex.org website, that one is pretty useless.

  19. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

    Kenneth, you are comparing an HFC network on virgin media. The chat was about their next gen FTTP network that will replace all the HFC kit by 2028. Their usual issues of snr, power levels, splitting the nodes all goes away along with latency and jitter unless they screw up. Do keep up 😉

    1. Avatar photo Kenneth says:

      LOL. So you openly admit VM’s non-FTTP network and customer service is rubbish!

    2. Avatar photo Kenneth says:

      And just to rub it in. 62 percent of people reviewing Virgin Media on Trustpilot gave VM one star or less out of five. The comments include ‘how can a company like this be allowed to trade in the UK’, and ‘would give no stars but the lowest i can give is one star’. And thats not my opinion but people that suffer with VM every day reviewing on Trustpilot.

    3. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Yes Kenneth, no one here is defending Virgin Media’s current HFC network and Customer Service is a different thing to talking technically about the service.

      You really must keep up 😉

    4. Avatar photo Kenneth says:

      OK lets talk technical. Virgin Media is rubbish. When you are talking about how ‘great’ their FTTP that doesnt really matter if the router you give you has an Intel chipset in it that is well known to be defunct (technically). Its the ‘Puma’ chipset isnt it? If they were honest they would admit the fault in the customers end equipment and give their customers hubs/routers that are not faulty. So there is no point saying their network is anything else than rubbish (at the minute) until they replace the faulty units.

    5. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

      I’ve got news for you. I’m on the HFC network, got M500 and it’s rock solid, it would be a surprise if it went down once a year. I can get M600 and Gig1 if I chose, and there are millions who would love these speeds. The TV works flawlessly as well.

      I expect that in 10 years from now VM will offer me faster speeds via fibre, but I’m not sure that I’d have a compelling reason to switch.

    6. Avatar photo Humphrey says:

      A lot of people also said the same – and then went to 1Gbps and said they wished they had not so if you are confident…

    7. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      In 10 years you aren’t going to have much choice but to switch. VM aren’t going to leave the hybrid network guzzling electricity indefinitely for the sake of a few refuseniks.

      Given on the hybrid network you’re a single unterminated connector in the wrong place in a nearby property away from upstream problems, the uptime on HFC networks is lower as there’s far more to go wrong, and upload speeds on the full fibre XGSPON solution will be vastly better I’ve no idea why you wouldn’t upgrade.

      I’m delighted your service has been so wonderful. I’ve read you singing its praises on VM’s forums. If you want to roll the dice on it staying that way as it’ll basically be left to rot with no further major upgrades or maintenance programs, only break-fix, as HFC amplifiers and nodes breach their expected lives that’s your call.

      There’s potentially some 20+ year old powered equipment feeding you that had an expected life of 20 years. If it still works it ain’t getting replaced now until it breaks.

      Even capacity issues on the HFC are going to increasingly be ‘resolved’ by encouraging, then compelling, customers to move to full fibre. People with longstanding signal issues on HFC have already been having them ‘fixed’ with a move to RFoG.

      Getting onto the XGSPON network as soon as possible is very wise. HFC in the UK is being put out to pasture and left to die. XGSPON will be with you no later than 2028, by which time the migration programme will be very much underway. VM have been working across the country on the fibre overbuild for months.

    8. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      Quick random look shows VM overbuild work going on from Chichester to Washington, Leeds to Eastleigh, Glasgow to Cambridge, with places like Stratford upon Avon, Coventry and Oxford in between.

      Duct unblocking, new cabinets, new subduct in existing plant, new chambers, connections to Openreach plant where they plan to make use of Openreach’s network via PIA, all kinds of goodness.

      This isn’t some distant thing where 10 years from now VM will be offering full fibre. Chances are they’ll be offering it to you before the end of 2025. They’ll be decommissioning HFC well before your 10 year timescale.

      Why? Almost every HFC cabinet requires powering. XGSPON a cabinet per thousands of premises requires power. They pay licence fees for DoCSIS channels per channel. Getting rid of DoCSIS entirely means they can close a bunch of hubsites and reduce their real estate bill. They can use the same fibre cables and converged access network to handle broadband, leased line and O2 mobile cells.

      The only thing slowing them will be the in-home installations. I’ve no doubt they’ve people working on efficient ways to handle this, and they can draw on experience of other cable companies that have overbuilt DoCSIS with EPON.

      Apart from that bottleneck they’ll be offering then inventivising then coercing customers to switch as rapidly as possible. I suspect by 2032 you’d find yourself in the minority still being on HFC, assuming it’s even available.

      Still if you’re really that attached to coax…

  20. Avatar photo Jason says:

    Ive got 80 meg and 20 meg upload and literally still more than plenty . Makes me laugh how much people hate on Openreach. The few people that want the full fat speeds just go to the little alt-nets . Meanwhile the rest will not even notice the increase in speed unless the odd download and also benefit from the cheaper prices from the many that use the Openreach network .

    Ive been on Cowboy broadbands network and came back to Openreach’s network simply because they racked the price up and there was no noticeable difference .

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      So just cause you can’t max out your connection above “80” mbps, nobody else can or has a need?

      It’s simple why people don’t like BT/Openreach. Left to them this country would be left on ADSL or at best FTTC with dodgy aging copper wires. They’ve dragged their heels for years, even back in ADSL days when ADSL Max was available. That was competition that made use of ADSL2+ that forced them to do something.

  21. Avatar photo Ex Telecom Engineer says:

    Is 10G access really necessary for the average user? My view is it isn’t, and 10G pon is more about marketing than performance and requirement.
    12 years ago the best single customer channel capacity available, on an 8 Tb transatlantic subsea cable, was 10G
    with upgrades since increasing the capacity to 100G customer channels; 1 Terabit is equivalent to 100x10Gb, or 10x100Gb, or 1000x1Gb channels, so XGS-PON fully utilised by 100 customers would take 1 Tb of DWDM backhaul bandwidth and at least a Terabit of router and switching capacity. Clearly 1000’s of customers all utilising XGS-PON would put a massive strain on backhaul and IP infrastructure, but it wont come to that since the average residential XGS-PON customer will utilise no more bandwidth than the average GPON customer.
    XGS-PON might be useful for a select few business customers, but 99% of residential and small businesses wont require anything near that capacity. Currently 100Mb would suffice for most users.

    1. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      Most customer traffic either doesn’t leave their ISP or goes to one of a few CDNs.

      XGSPON allows 64:1 and 128:1 splits to be used with multigig services being sold. Fewer OLT ports required to pass the same amount of premises with more bandwidth.

      Improves statistical contention, too, as each customer has less of the OLT port.

      The driver for XGSPON isn’t faster services on download even though it is on upload, it’s efficiency. Services selling the entire OLT port to a single customer are very unusual. The Openreach 1.8 Gbps service mentioned here pushes GPON harder than the new Community Fibre 5G pushes XGSPON.

      On the wider topic of statistical convention and fat versus skinny pipes there are good reasons why ISPs are selling 40 – 900 Mbit and averaging allocating 5 Mbps of capacity across their cores per customer while having to use a fair bit more on their exchange backhaul / Cablelinks / PONs.

      10,000 500 Mbit connections on a 100G link works way better than 100 500 Mbit connections on 1G, though the overbooking ratio is 50:1 on both. The odds of 10,000 users averaging 10 Mbit/s are way lower than the odds of 100 averaging it when a single customer can draw 500 – way more customers to dilute the usage of those maxing out on the bigger pipe.

    2. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Must be an ex-BT Telecom Engineer then?

      Lets just leave the country at ADSL then. FTTC was (incorrectly) seen as all the UK needed and fast enough originally.

      Choice! For those that want/need, choice!

  22. Avatar photo NA says:

    XGS PON should have been standard by now if it wasn’t for Margret thatcher, here in HK HKT has had 10G for over 10 years (at the cost of £288 per month with a 24 month contract) is it necessary? Not really but it opens up room for everything in between like 2500 bilateral down and upload speeds and 2x 1000M or 4x 1000M respectively

    1. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      Thatcher resigned in 1990 and died in 2013, XGS-PON was adopted as a standard in 2017 so presumably she did this from beyond the grave.

    2. Avatar photo Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

      Hong Kong is tiny, and urbanized. It doesn’t really compare to the whole of the UK. It’s more like London, which indeed is where you see several altnets offering fast speeds to high-rise buildings. We just don’t have that across most of the UK.

  23. Avatar photo Michael Wilson says:

    I just wish I’d get the up to 10mps speed I’m promised, or the minimum of 2 mps that I’m also “guaranteed “. I live in a county town, and will have to wait till 2023 for 75mps. Its a joke.

  24. Avatar photo Scott R says:

    I would rather they just concentrate on expanding the network for current FTTP.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Why not upgrade by dropping some updated kit and not legacy kit at the same time? That’s what the ALTNETS are doing and Virgin Media are doing to convert from HFC to FTTP. More legacy kit put in, the harder it is to upgrade later, but BT/Openreach love that scenario as they can go cap in hand to the tax payer crying for money to do anything.

  25. Avatar photo James Band says:

    Would it not have been prudent for Openreach installations this entire time to include this type of home ONT in the first place (with the 2.5Gb ports) since the start of the “Gigabit rollout”?

    That way wouldn’t they have saved time and money for customers and Openreach without needing yet another Engineer visit. All they’d have to do is flip a switch at the other end to change the line speed.

    I thought the point of the current rollout scheme was that once you’d installed the Fibre wire to properties and an ONT, you’d be all set until the country upgrades to 10Gbps base line speeds.

    It just seems penny wise, pound foolish, not to mention the hassle of engineer visits to change the ONT to have done it this way.

    1. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      Few people will be purchasing 1.2 or 1.8. The cost savings from the cheaper ONT versus sending everyone a multigig port device hardly anyone will use would offset regardless. The cheapest unmanaged 8 port 2.5G switch I’ve found with a very brief search comes in at £160. 8 port gigabit comes in at less than £30.

      There’s also the assumption in your comment that the upgrade to >1G will be free to CPs. Business products with 165 and 220 Mbit upstream still carry £500-£540 + VAT install charges. An engineer visit to replace a damaged or missing ONT will be a single £91 + VAT charge soon.

      Whether CPs pass that cost onto customers as an upgrade charge or spread it across the contract will be their call.

    2. Avatar photo Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

      The real competition is at the lower edge; anything that keeps the cost there down helps. A vast number of people do not need and can not realistically use more than 100Mbps in both directions, let alone 1Gbps. Those who want more (and in most cases it will be a want, rather than a realistic need) can have the cost of a more capable ONT folded into the service.

    3. Avatar photo JamesBand says:

      @An Engineer

      I was trying to think about the medium/long term though. Plenty of people would have ordered Gigabit (900Mbps) services and that number would surely only increase over time. I don’t know when the next “switch” or “upgrade” to the 10Gbps speeds will be, but if that were 10 years away, then surely Openreach (and the consumer as well) is best served by investing in ONT sockets that can handle 2.5Gbps so that it is “one and done”.

      Installing multiple different ONTs requiring many more visits for an upgrade in service would surely be penny wise, pound foolish. Versus having installed an ONT that would be good for 10 years and merely require a flip of a switch in the Exchanges.

      I’m not saying that 2.5Gbps is going to be around the corner as a mainstream FTTP product with ISPs, but certainly having ONTs with ports capable of delivering the full Gigabit negates the need for even more Engineer visits. That is a nuisance for the consumer and a waste of resources for Openreach. The cost of the second installs could be put to upgrading the underlying network and rolling out Gigabit broadband nationwide.

      Given there are going to be economies of scale involved, we should be thinking about the required Broadband speeds in 5-10 years time and not merely what is required for a single 4K stream today. Furthermore, there is still a lot of misconception about what Fibre is (not helped by false advertising of FTTC as Fibre) amongst the general population. The demand for broadband of higher speeds will certainly increase over time. One remembers the days when 30Mbps was considered light speed.

    4. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, James. In 5-10 years time Openreach will be using at least XGSPON and more likely 25GPON or 50GPON, so an upgrade beyond gigabit will be a good time to install a new ONT anyway to get a customer off of GPON anyway.

      Customers were sold 900 Mbit by retailers and that’s what they get. No-one was promised 1000. On the vast majority of 1000 services worldwide there’s a gigabit Ethernet port on the other side and a regulator with different policies to Ofcom involved so they are fine advertising it as gigabit.

      The 1.2 and 1.8 will be new products, not freebie upgrades to existing tiers. Their uptake will be tiny as a proportion of the customer base. At the price Openreach pay for GPON ONTs the extra cost for 2.5G ports for everyone would not be worth it now let alone from the start given how many connections using it will be sold. By the time uptake of >900 Mbit starts getting significant Openreach will have an overlay in place and be selling higher performance products on that, not GPON.

      I’m not aware of any provider that’s sold GPON at scale on anything other than gigabit ports. Google Fiber upgrade their old ONTs on demand to sell 2G: if you order 1G you get an ONT with gigabit LAN connectivity. Singtel sell 2G as 2 * 1G via a 4 port ONT. Not aware of any company selling gigabit over GPON through an ONT with a multigig Ethernet port and not sure why there would be an expectation that Openreach would buck that trend.

      They probably pay less than £20 per ONT. If a 2.5G port adds £2 to the price which it might, they are way more expensive than gigabit, they need 10% of customers to take up >900 Mbit across the entire customer base to make it worthwhile.

      This ignoring the ability to charge CPs for the upgraded ONT and engineer visit. £91 + VAT for a standard ONT replacement I believe, so £100 + VAT all in would cover it.

      No business case for Openreach or anyone else to be providing every customer multigig GPON ONTs so none that I’m aware of ever have.

  26. Avatar photo Sean says:

    I have a 900Mb plus line and it runs at around 200Mb throughout.

    There is no point increasing the speed if we don’t have the capacity in openreach domain and it will be so slow not only in peak times but all the time.

    I only get better speeds at like 3/4am and even then it’s not close to the 900Mb what is openreach plans to upgrade bandwidth to its network or BT for that matter.

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