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Broadband ISP Cuckoo Launch New UK CityFibre Plans, Drop Openreach

Monday, Feb 26th, 2024 (8:53 am) - Score 7,040
Cuckoo-Logo-Yellow-Stacked-2023

Internet provider Cuckoo, which plans to become the UK retail outlet for Fern Trading‘s (Octopus Investments) consolidated full fibre networks (Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre, Giganet and AllPoints Fibre), has refreshed their FTTP broadband plans. But at present they’re only available via CityFibre, while Openreach seems to have been dropped.

Cuckoo originally started life around four years ago as a largely independent ISP, which changed in 2022 after they were acquired by Giganet (here). But last year’s decision by parent Fern Trading (here and here), which sought to consolidate almost all of their full fibre operators into a single wholesale network under AllPoints Fibre, also impacted Giganet-owned retail provider Cuckoo.

Under the new approach, Cuckoo is set to become the main retail outlet for all of Fern’s consolidated full fibre networks (i.e. this is where consumers will get their packages) and indeed the process of migrating customers to the ISP officially began this month (here). But despite this, the availability checker on Cuckoo’s website still doesn’t seem to allow those in the newly consolidated network area to order a package – we ran several tests on known postcodes to check this (you currently still have to go to JF, SF or Giga’s websites to order).

The latest change is that Cuckoo seems to have dropped support for Openreach’s FTTP network, which previously supported home broadband packages from £39.99 per month for c.100Mbps and up to £54.99 for c.900Mbps on a 12-month term. By comparison, the new CityFibre based plans start from £28 per month for 150Mbps and go up to £39 for 900Mbps on an 18-month term – these come with free setup and an eero Pro 6E router (more can optionally be added for whole home style mesh coverage – at extra cost).

The eagle-eyed among you will quickly notice that this CityFibre-based pricing has also been aligned across the packages being offered directly via Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre and Giganet, which makes for a nice level of pricing simplification between the four networks. We also can’t help but wonder if this would make life easier were, say, CityFibre to consider AllPoints Fibre a tempting target for their future consolidation plans (there’s hardly any overlap between the networks).

However, the change does put a question mark over the heads of Cuckoo’s existing Openreach based customers, which we assume will continue to be supported (we’ve queried this). Credits to YuGi (here) for spotting the development.

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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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33 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Random Precision says:

    Hmmn I’m an Openreach Cuckoo FTTP customer, I’ll watch this with interest.

    1. Avatar photo Random Precision says:

      Adding to my own post, I put in my postcode on the Cuckoo website and it told me it wasn’t available in my area anymore.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Hence, the “dropped” above 🙂

  2. Avatar photo Anon46738 says:

    These prices look a lot better than the previous pricing structure, which was more expensive than many other companies using Openreach’s network (particularly the top 900 mbps package).

    And the mid tier 500mbps package seems like it will be a popular option.

    I guess they are pivoting towards urbanised areas now?

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      Before this absolute mess of consolidation they’re doing, 500 was their ‘standard’ pushed package, especially via Giganet. (Guessing for backhaul capacity reasons)

      It’s likely they’re pushing that so it’s “the same” for their customers who are on OR and have CF overlap, it’s a “like for like” replacement, only it needs an engineer & then they give you a cheaper price as the cherry on top.

  3. Avatar photo Anon46738 says:

    It’s strange that 18 month contracts have become standard now on Cuckoo.

    We’ve been on their contract free FTTC package for years now.

    1. Avatar photo Alex A says:

      Cuckoo’s model was either monthly with a £60 initial charge or 12 months with a £60 cancellation fee. So either way the same but with the 12 months you might avoid it.

      I’m not really understanding Fern’s acquisition of Cuckoo over sticking it all in Giganet…

    2. Avatar photo Matt says:

      It doesn’t make sense to me either @Alex for me Giganet was the strongest brand (and had the best reviews) – though the reviews tanked shortly before this was announced so likely personnel changes prior to Cuckoo becoming the big brand.

      The same applies to BT dropping BT Residential and trying to move people to EE.

      I don’t get the obsession with moving people to a crummier brand. Cuckoo was always a ‘premium’ brand in comparison, so I understand why they’d want to keep that but IMO Giganet should have kept all of the networks, removed the rest, and then had Giganet wholesale & Residential then kept Cuckoo at a premium-priced ISP, though obviously they’ll have the figures to see if they think that’d be worth it.
      (It works for other players, like BT+PN)

    3. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      The reason they use brands with a worse reputation is because they know that they’re offering a service that they know often gets complaints as part for the course. They’d rather the negativity go on that brand safe in the knowledge that 85% of the population will not immediately associate the two brands.

  4. Avatar photo Alex A says:

    Checker not working for an existing Openreach Cuckoo Customer here either.

    Under the ‘Why can’t I get Cuckoo right now?’ they say full fibre only and not to worry as the entire country is being upgraded. Entire is a bit big, this address has Openreach FTTPand no plans from Cityfibre or any Altnet.

  5. Avatar photo James E says:

    This will explain why my postcode (Openreach FTTP) worked on Monday last week but not Thursday. Did find it a bit strange!

  6. Avatar photo - says:

    This constant ‘half depreciation’ of products must be really messy for them, they’ve still got to support openreach fttc/fttp and keep all the related systems/interconnects/contracts but they are spread across a declining number of customers and if a new customer hits thier website they turn them away.

    It’s a bit mad, it surely make more sense to keep the product in the system, perhaps at a higher price if needed and just not actively market it than do these sweeping changes every 12 months.

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      I suppose it depends on how much overlap there is (or is likely to be by the time any agreements with Openreach expire).

      If they have identified the vast majority of their customers can be moved over to their own network then they might also think it’s worth taking the risk. Though if a customer sees that the firm wants to drill more holes, they might choose to see what their Openreach options are.

  7. Avatar photo Mintminty says:

    I’ve had cuckoo for a few years now and it’s been great. I loved the option of a rolling contract and I’ve had no price rises. I never felt the need to move. It’s a shame they have decided to do this because I refuse to sign lengthy contracts with price rises. I live in rural Wales so city fibre etc is never going to be a possibility. I will be waiting to see what happens next. Cuckoo seems to be delivered by talk talk on open reach perhaps with talk talks troubles it’s the reason. It’s out of my control what happens next I can see myself going back to 5G mobile and scrapping fttp all together.

    1. Avatar photo Random Precision says:

      FWIW-I’ve just been on to Cuckoo CS and Openreach legacy customers will continue to receive the same service, should this change in the future the will notify us well in advance.

  8. Avatar photo Mintminty says:

    Well it would be really stupid to ditch all those OR customers paying potentially £54.99 a month. Until that changes I’m not going to worry I’ve never needed to use their CS and it’s not gone down once even with all bad weather.

    1. Avatar photo Random Precision says:

      I’ve been with them 18 month, the service has been rock solid and the first time I’ve had to speak to CS was yesterday to clarify what was happening as an OR customer. Until I’m notified they’re no longer able to supply me I’m staying with them.

  9. Avatar photo AndyK says:

    As a Giganet Openreach customer, the more I hear about what Fern trading is doing (having still not heard a single thing from Giganet themselves), the more I wonder whether I should just jump ship now.

    Previously I was just concerned that they were going to take the pretty good value deal I have now and dump me on something stupidly expensive, but if they’re ditching Openreach altogether then they no longer have coverage to my property…

    What an utter mess they have made for themselves!

  10. Avatar photo Robert Long says:

    900Mbps Gpon looks set to future proof the ‘last mile’ for landline customers and Open Reach’s monopoly will hold firm here. Lucky city dwellers have these high speed micro cell 5g offerings at much lower cost than landline contracts.

  11. Avatar photo jo s says:

    Another alt-net screwing things up.

  12. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    We speculated a couple of weeks ago that Fern would be a potential target for CF. Just a matter of how much do Fern want to sell and how CF is willing to pay, alternatively they might be willing to do a Toob and partner with CF rather than get taken over.

    1. Avatar photo Getting tough... says:

      I strongly suspect Cityfibre will shortly aquire AllPoints, amongst other things it will result in more redundancies for the guys at AllPoints.

      It’s getting tough out there.

  13. Avatar photo Not a CF fan says:

    Good luck if you have a fault with CityFibre based connection. I was a fault manager for another ISP that used both CityFibre and Openreach.

    Once our support agents had done basic diagnostics with the customers, the following would take place:
    With Openreach, we would run a line test and if it failed, we would book an Openreach engineer. Even till as late as 9pm, we could get you an engineer the next day in most cases.

    With Cityfibre, we can’t run line tests and have to raise a fault to them which involves filling in a form, submitting it, and waiting for Cityfibre to decide whether or not an engineer is needed. If an engineer is needed, they would pass it to their third party engineers to contact the end user and book the engineer visit. Trouble is, their engineers only do this 8am to 6pm so if a fault is raised on Friday night or at weekend, you’re likely going to have to wait till Monday to find out if an engineer is going to visit, and the visit is most likely going to be from Tuesday onwards.

    1. Avatar photo Greg says:

      Interesting insight, thanks for sharing.

  14. Avatar photo Ben says:

    I’m wondering if Cuckoo have genuinely dropped Openreach, or are only supporting it in areas where Giganet have a cablelink?

  15. Avatar photo Chris says:

    I was about to order my broadband with Cuckoo, following a bit of research, then went back to order it and website updated to “You’re not in our coverage area” but was week earlier – now makes sense they dropped open reach.

    1. Avatar photo Random Precision says:

      Yes, only legacy customers on OR…….for how long who knows!

  16. Avatar photo WotMe? says:

    Looks like burning the existing Giganet wholesale platform with its OR support & replacing with the new bright shiny is working out just, ahem, as expected.

  17. Avatar photo JamesBand says:

    Are they actually dropping Openreach customers, or is this some temporary glitch whilst they get their act together after the merger/takeover?

    I understand that Gigabit had their own network and they seem to now be selling CityFibre packages like others (Zen, Vodafone etc). To drop Openreach though which has more overall dispersed “nationwide” coverage at this point doesn’t seem sound surely.

    From what I can understand, existing Openreach based FTTP customers remain with Cuckoo at the original price (same as Zen). To be fair to them, they haven’t increased their price (Cuckoo and Zen have the same price on Openreach by the looks of it), but they haven’t dropped it either. However, they don’t increase prices unlike most of the other providers. The Cuckoo CityFibre package (which is also symmetrical) clearly looks like a far better price for the same download speeds.

    Is this a case of having two different broadband products (one on CityFibre, one on Openreach), or are they going to harmonise the pricing like Vodafone? Or are they actually going to drop Openreach FTTP permanently? In which case what happens to those with them on the Openreach network?

    Shame if they’re going down the 18 month contract route. Earlier they had 12 month and 1 month contracts. I guess market forces should in THEORY (emphasis) end the whole price rises during contract eventually in the entire marketplace come the long overdue (and kid gloves) Ofcom changes in the Summer as the big providers wait for who blinks first to announce packages without any price increases mid contract.

    1. Avatar photo JamesBand says:

      *Giganet, not Gigabit

    2. Avatar photo Random Precision says:

      On OR it’s closed to new customers, legacy customers are still getting a service, for how long is anyone’s guess.

  18. Avatar photo John Baker says:

    As of around 10 mins ago they have just emailed myself to say my service is transferring to Home Telecom part of telecom acquisitions group. i was a 1gb OR FTTP customer with 2 years of service, so it seems they have offloaded the entire OR base, I’ll be leaving and seeking a new provider of my own choosing, not at their whim.

    1. Avatar photo Jim Millen says:

      Yep, same here. I was pretty shocked as only upgraded to FTTP in early January following Openreach rollout in my area. Queried it with Cuckoo CS as initially I thought it was an error based on my having been on a copper connection up until recently, but they confirmed they are only using City Fibre going forward.

      Seems a very weird decision. Like you, I will not be sticking with Home Telecom!

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