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Openreach UK Extends FTTP Pilot of 1.2Gbps and 1.8Gbps Broadband Again

Wednesday, Jun 28th, 2023 (8:26 am) - Score 8,504
ADTRAN-Openreach-ONT-SDX-611Q

Broadband ISPs that were planning to launch faster packages based off Openreach’s future Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) tiers, which push top download speeds to 1.2Gbps and 1.8Gbps (both offer 120Mbps upstream), may have to wait a little bit longer as the operator has extended their pilot test for another 3 months.

The original pilot started on 1st December 2022 (here) and was due to run until 31st March 2023. But Openreach later extended it to run until 31st July 2023 (here) and at the same time expanded the availability of their new tiers from the Swansea (Wales) exchange to also include exchanges in Ipswich (Suffolk).

NOTE: The operator’s £15bn Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network currently covers 10.3 million premises, and they aim to reach 25m by December 2026 (80%+ of the UK).

The latest development sees Openreach confirm that various exchanges in Northern Ireland have now also been enabled for the new service, and the pilot itself is being extended to run until 30th September 2023. “We reserve the right to expand the number of Pilot locations further to scale-up operations and supply chain in preparation for launch,” said the network access provider.

At present the only ISP that has openly announced their intention to launch packages based off the new tier is EE (BT), which earlier this month revealed (here) that they were planning to introduce a 1.6Gbps (average speed) service later this “summer“. But today’s development suggests that this may now slip into the early autumn.

Otherwise, Openreach’s service will be accompanied by two new optical modems (ONT / ONU) – the Nokia G-010G-T and ADTRAN SDX 611Q (pictured), both with 2.5Gbps LAN / Ethernet ports. So even if you already have an ONT from Openreach, then those who order one of these faster tiers will still require an engineer visit to put the new kit into place.

As before, the challenge is that Openreach’s network is still using a Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) platform, which places 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.

At present the fastest FTTP download tier available to consumers on their network is 1Gbps (115Mbps upload, rising to 220Mbps for business lines) and those GPON limitations are the main reason why Openreach may not wish to push uploads beyond what already exists. The operator did once have a plan to adopt 10Gbps capable XGS-PON technology, but they’ve been silent on that for a long time now.

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Mark-Jackson
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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Comments
46 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Pablo says:

    Any way to find out which NI exchanges it has been extended to?

  2. Avatar photo GreenLantern22 says:

    Why does it take an engineer visit to swap the ONT? Sure that’s trivial to do and the customer can self serve?

    1. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      The ONT needs registering and presumably there’s no Openreach self-service system allowing consumers to confirm when they’ve done this. I also wouldn’t trust most people to handle fibre without getting dirt onto the end face.

    2. Avatar photo JamesP says:

      I would imagine it’s just while the trial period is running. Should be easy enough for any competent person to swap the ONT over in future.

    3. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      ONU swaps are going to remain a truck roll for the foreseeable. Haven’t seen anything from Openreach on this changing.

    4. Avatar photo Mike says:

      @JamesP

      Most people are not competent.

    5. Avatar photo qwerty says:

      Largely agree with Jonny when it comes to getting the connectors dirty

    6. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      There’s a market for a self-sealing plug and socket combo that is backwards compatible with normal SC plugs without being a large industrial connector, haven’t seen anything yet that could be standardised on though.

    7. Avatar photo Sam P says:

      @jonny the ironic thing about people getting dirt onto the fiber. After the openreach engineer fitted the fiber at my house, I was getting poor speeds and ping rates. I cleaned the fiber end and it’s been fine since.

    8. Avatar photo Chris W says:

      @Jonny Not sure if it’s entirely what you’re talking about, but the FiberTwist ONTs used by Hyperoptic are apparently designed so they can be upgraded by the user without actually disconnecting the fibre cable (as the name suggests, you just twist the front of the unit off/on). I don’t think Hyperoptic actually make use of that feature though.

    9. Avatar photo Jonathan says:

      I have personally handled more fibre than 99.9999% of the population over the last 18 years. I have in that time only once had a problem with a dirty fibre and that was because the end cap came off while it was being pulled under the raised floor in the data centre. Even then a quick wipe with an alcohol wipe fixed the problem.

      This utter rubbish about looking at fibre twice and it getting dirty needs to stop. It is an urban myth.

    10. Avatar photo John says:

      We need to scan the Serial number so the circuit is updated with the new ONT. Also, there is no self-service portal for it.

  3. Avatar photo SillyOR says:

    This is the reason Openreach are waste of time! Test, Test, Test! Trial, Trial, Trial, Delay, Delay, Delay etc

    1. Avatar photo K says:

      SillyOR:
      Or you could say ‘Altnet’ test, test, launch, go bust a few years later.

    2. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Not your problem though, Phil: you don’t have access to OR FTTP so their testing is pretty academic.

      This is, for a change, one they probably do need to test a fair bit for capacity planning purposes.

    3. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      maybe it turns out that Openreach’s network is larger and more complex, necessitating additional testing to ensure a flawless rollout? They do have to carry important traffic at scale, it’s not some altnet with 10 customers, 7 of whom have it for speedtest bragging.

    4. Avatar photo x_term says:

      well… I disagree because I’ve seen it happen. In Italy 2.5G downstream profiles came out about 3 years ago. After a period with basically no ONTs available (so 2.5G was installed only with integrated GPON routers and they didn’t have 2.5G LANs) they started to deploy ZTE F6005s. They discovered that buffer mishandling + OLT DBA profiles were causing reduced upload and download speeds (the profiles there are 2500/1000 usually) the more the latency towards the test server was increasing.
      Maybe OR hit the same issue but cannot reuse the patches from italian ISPs (hardware is mostly ZTE/Huawei). I guess Nokia and Adtran could be a bit slower to figure out the thing.

    5. Avatar photo Mark says:

      And if they released without testing and trialling and it all went pete tong, you’d no doubt be on here giving them the benefit of the doubt and saying ‘well, at least we got it 3 months sooner, even if it doesnt work.’

  4. Avatar photo Mad Dog Tannen says:

    I would be more interested in parity on upload/download (symmetrical) speed rather then the download being boosted to fairly pointless levels- how many residential customers even get close to utilising the full 1 Gbps?

    1. Avatar photo JmJohnson says:

      I for one often do… games are now into the 100GB download size, stupidly sized updates and we cancelled Sky, replacing it with Netflix across 7 devices.
      2 PC’s, 3 laptops, 2 XBox Series X/S and a PS5 (plus 4 phones).
      BT Fibre 900

    2. Avatar photo charles says:

      Every time I start the Xbox seems to be a 8-9GB download. That would do my head in on FTTC!

  5. Avatar photo Darren McCoy says:

    I wish I could register my interest and possibly get on the trial. Do they just randomly select people on the right exchange or is it employees?

    1. Avatar photo K says:

      Darren:
      click the ‘latest development’ link in the news story above. It has an email link if you want to ask to take part in the trial.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Openreach sell to ISPs, so the sign-up is for ISPs. As such, you’d need to find an ISP that is running such a trial and then ask them. We know EE is one. You’d also need to live in an area covered by the relevant exchanges.

  6. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    “The operator did once have a plan to adopt 10Gbps capable XGS-PON technology, but they’ve been silent on that for a long time now.”
    – says it all. BT. It’s what to expect.

    1. Avatar photo Phil says:

      Yep. BT always keep quiet on many things!

    2. Avatar photo Noname says:

      It’s probably because customers that would be interested in you could count on fingers of one hand per PON. And anyone interested is most likely already on the ethernet side of business

  7. Avatar photo Anuraj Nadarajah says:

    XGS Is On says

    Going to reply all negative comments about openreach.

    1. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Everyone who writes anything positive about them is an employee, remember? So I’m only doing what I’m being paid to in your mind.

      I’m aware they’re evil and can do no right as they refuse to enable your street for FTTP leaving you with only Community Fibre and maybe Virgin Media. Meanwhile a couple of million homes still don’t have access to 10 Mbit over anything other than Starlink. Maybe go complain to your MP again about the injustice of not being in the less than 15% of the UK with multiple FTTP networks right now.

  8. Avatar photo Phil says:

    I never like Openreach because they won’t bring full fibre to Cuckoo Oak area. Saying to me there is G.fast for you! I don’t want bloody G.fast. I want full fibre! Openreach are useless!

    1. Avatar photo Jason says:

      Like you will even notice a difference if you order the same speeds . Just go on Gfast until FTTP turns up then? Never had any issues with Gfast and didnt notice a difference when i went to FTTP

    2. Avatar photo Phil says:

      G.fast are far expensive! Can’t matched FTTP 330/50 price! Not paying Openreach or ISP more for G.fast!

    3. Avatar photo charles says:

      Some of us can’t even get g.fast pal.. Stop whinging!

  9. Avatar photo anon says:

    unremarkable upstream.

    1. Avatar photo Sonic says:

      Indeed. It’s just a marketing stunt, designed to kill off Virgin Media’s claim of “UK’s Fastest Major Broadband Provider”.

    2. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Won’t be for long. Still life in DocSIS 3.1 yet. Expect a 1.8/2gbps package from VM.

  10. Avatar photo charles says:

    I have never seen such whinging and moaning.. Even when BT try to do it right still it’s not good enough!.

    I’d love to get even 1 down 115 up on BT at the prices they want. Some people don’t know how lucky they are!

    1. Avatar photo K says:

      charles:
      I agree – my sister gets 1mb down and about 0.2 up when it works. But then again she lives in the middle of nowhere.

    2. Avatar photo charles says:

      Tell her about Starlink. I am using it right now because I am at a country retreat in the same situation. 100mbps + and it’s honking down with rain.

    3. Avatar photo K says:

      charles:
      She cant afford £75 a month but did you know BT might be pairing with Oneweb for that reason, to provide internet in rural areas that cant get fibre?

    4. Avatar photo charles says:

      if they can do it cheaper and as good of a service then I hope it happens for her

  11. Avatar photo Marty says:

    If they (BT) were to increase their business upload speed in future. Would anything similar happen for resident users in future? For example:
    Business users upload 400mbps
    Resident users upload 200mbps

    ?

  12. Avatar photo Bob says:

    The upload is abysmal! How am I supposed to back up to the cloud with this?

  13. Avatar photo Barney says:

    That upload figure even falls short of the DCMS “Ultrafast Gold Standard” criteria. Lol

  14. Avatar photo Bob says:

    This is a 120Mbps service, that is how it should be ranked. The upload is a total joke. In an age of cloud and backups, what are you supposed to do with 120meg. Utter piss take.

    1. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      Agreed, this makes Openreach-based FTTP pretty useless, some users actually do more than just mindless video streaming 🙂

      You are better off with an altnet which usually offer symmetric fibre.

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