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Openreach Offer New Multiport ONT Service with UK FTTP Broadband

Thursday, Mar 28th, 2024 (2:09 pm) - Score 13,160
nokia_4_port_ont_fttp

Network access provider Openreach (BT Group) is preparing to launch a new service for broadband ISPs, which will optionally allow their customers to choose a Multiport Optical Network Terminal (ONT) device instead of the normal single port unit that is deployed during home installs. But some installs will get it by default.

The ONT or optical modem device is usually installed inside your home or office (wall hung), near to where the fibre optic cable physically enters your property, and its primary job is simply to take the optical signal and convert it into an electrical one that can be connected to your broadband router via a Local Area Network (Ethernet) port. The standard ONT is usually a very small single port device.

NOTE: Openreach’s full fibre network currently covers 13 million premises and is expected to reach 25 million by December 2026 (80%+ of the UK) – at a cost of up to £15bn. After that, there’s also an aspiration to reach up to 30 million by 2030.

The operator has supplied 4 port ONTs in the past (i.e. 1 optical input and 4 LAN outputs), which in the early years was actually the default. Openreach also trialled a 4 port ONT from Nokia (G-040G-B – GPON Multiport 4+0 ONT) back in 2021 (here), albeit only for specific order journeys, such as to replace an existing ONT upon request. The new service appears to be using the same Nokia device, albeit no longer as a trial.

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However, Openreach have now launched a new optional Multiport ONT service for FTTP, which will become available from 1st May 2024. But the new service will attract a cost (pricing). For example, a standard FTTP install charge (like the one you might have in a normal home) for a Multiport ONT will cost £120.05 +vat for consumer packages, which rises to £500 for business tier speeds of 500Mbps (165Mbps upload) and 1Gbps (220Mbps upload).

Consumers who merely want to replace (Box Swap) their existing / older ONT for a new Multiport ONT will be charged £90 +vat (£500 for the 500Mbps or faster business tiers). Existing “Equinox” connection discounts on standard installs, where applicable, will also apply to Multiport ONT first installs.

Openreach Statement

Multiport ONT is capable of supporting up to 4x FTTP services, each with a maximum download speed of 1000 Mbit/s, using a single fibre lead-in. The Multiport ONT is available as an optional add-on at the point of install when ordering a first Openreach FTTP service to an end customer, and will also serve as the default ONT for a specific list of premises types.

For second line installs where a single port ONT is present with an active Openreach FTTP service, Openreach will carry out a Box Swap to replace the single port ONT with a Multiport ONT to host both FTTP services.

The mention of Multiport being the default ONT for “specific” premises is largely intended to cover installs for locations such as education sites, libraries, post offices, petrol stations, hotels and more. But ISPs will also gain the option to override the use of a Multiport ONT on Box Swaps via the Restrict Swap functionality, although this will require them to do some extra work for implementation.

One obvious catch above is that, for some reason, Openreach are launching this without support for their fastest 1.2Gbps and 1.8Gbps FTTP broadband tiers.

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UPDATE 3:32pm

Corrected the pricing as we overlooked the different between consumer and business speed tiers.

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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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54 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Andrew says:

    That seems… Dangerous, unless it itself is acting as a firewall/router?

    1. Avatar photo Ryan Arbuckle says:

      It’s only a bridge to the router, you can’t plug devices into it.

    2. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      it’ll be just like the original multiport ONT that they stopped offering

      each port is individually addressable. it acts like you had four single port ONTs side by side.

      ideal for those wanting a separate WFH line, or shared housing where you don’t want shared internet.

    3. Avatar photo James Brown says:

      Why are they not offering a combined ONT/Router/SIPGW like Movistar (Spain) and Swisscom (rural Switzerland)?

  2. Avatar photo Jordan says:

    Will openreach launch 2.5g ports for this ont? would be nice to have as i have two onts in my house…

    1. Avatar photo Kenneth says:

      How did you get 2 ONTs in your house? Every time i have tried to get a 2nd FTTP line i was told Openreach only support one ONT.

    2. Avatar photo Jordan says:

      Zen spoke to Openreach for me and got it done 🙂 so I had one ONT from Cuckoo a long time ago then i joined Zen and they did this for me which was super nice.

      So I can have two ISPs in one house, may switch to this new ONT if it supports the newer 1.2 and 1.8 plans though.

    3. Avatar photo Matt says:

      @Jordan,
      The article literally states maximum up to 1000. so no, It doesn’t.

    4. Avatar photo Sam P says:

      Do you bond the two connections?

    5. Avatar photo Jordan says:

      i did bond for awhile yea, had 1800mbps with two 900mbps plans.

    6. Avatar photo Richard says:

      I have 2 business fttps with Cerberus networks.
      It is do able. Could I use one of these for both connections? In theory.

    7. Avatar photo Jordan says:

      as long as you got a router that lets you do DUAL WAN, yes you can do whatever you want

    8. Avatar photo Vince says:

      @Kenneth

      Certain providers (like Sky) wouldn’t allow a second order to a site, but Openreach has no such restriction, I used to have several in a previous home… it’s perfectly fine.

  3. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

    I wonder, buy the slower service and pay the lower fee, then upgrade. Would sales/their computer be sufficiently on the ball to bill you the extra installation charge? After all it’s an upgrade not an installation.

    1. Avatar photo Simon says:

      Is it possible the £500 cost is because they will actually supply a 4 x 2.5Gbps ONT instead – i.e. they have a higher spec model for those with multi-gigabit connections?

  4. Avatar photo Matt says:

    I presume these devices are GPON only?

    If so, I really am perplexed by Openreach’s resilience in continuing to offer new products on what I’d class as legacy technology.

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      Same argument as when they announced 1.8Gbps. They think that’s what their customers – the ISPs – want. They have an install base of GPON OLTs and there’s no need to uproot all of that if it delivers the desired performance.

      Openreach also has to come up with something that works across their entire network. A totally different scale to some altnet that feels the need to offer 8Gbps as a gimmick.

      Do any altnets offer multiport ONTs?

    2. Avatar photo Matt says:

      @Ivor

      I sort of get offering a 1.8Gbps speed tier, as you’re effectively offering a boost of speed on the same technology that your customers already have.

      But to deploy new ONTs that aren’t multi-standard just seems like you’re setting yourself up for some technical debt.

      Just my thoughts.

    3. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      Openreach are positioning it as a special thing anyway – so there’s not really any more “technical debt” than there would be for a standard install of a one port GPON ONT. If they made it XGSPON then hardly anyone could have it.

      it does at least make more sense than the present situation of trying to find an ISP who can say the right words to get a second ONT (and presumably second fibre cable) installed, the effect that has on splitter capacity, etc.

    4. Avatar photo XGS says:

      8 Gbps is done at scale around the world: it’s not a gimmick just an ONT with a 10 GbE port and statistical contention.

      AT&T, Google, Bell Canada, Rogers, the Singapore NBN, etc, etc. It’s really not an anomaly and isn’t much different from selling 1.8 Gbps on GPON.

      FYI: there are more active devices on my PON than an Openreach PON is shared between, there are over 40 of us on the port, yet I almost always see 8 Gbps. It works.

    5. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      This isn’t for people to take four multigig services on, it’s to provide a migration path for things like a McDonald’s franchise that might currently have separate WAN connections for the corporate network, monitored CCTV operator, digital sign supplier, and public Wi-Fi service.

    6. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      XGS:

      It’s a gimmick in that it’s not a service anyone actually really needs, it’s just something to do to generate headlines. When you’re an altnet with no other discernable advantages over Openreach (and several disadvantages like a lack of ISP choice) – this is how you do it, knowing that very few people will a) take it up and b) actually “exercise” it. I’m not surprised that you don’t see congestion.

      AT&T does not offer 8Gbps and still does not offer speeds above 1Gbps on parts of its network. Google Fibre is pure gimmickry in itself (and has had to close down its network in one city because it turns out civil engineering is hard for a software company to do).

      Bell and Rogers seem to do it as a kind of arms race with pricing to match – no one otherwise considers the Canadian broadband market to be competitive and its CRTC (ofcom equivalent) is a joke. Bell has recently threatened to scale back its FTTP investment because it’s been told to wholesale at reasonable prices. Users on Canadian broadband forums yearn for what we have in Openreach and Ofcom.

    7. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      and a quick google tells me that Bell has also removed 8Gbps from sale to new customers as a result of the aforementioned dolly/pramming incident.

    8. Avatar photo XGS says:

      By that measure anything above a few hundred megabits is a gimmick, Ivor.

      I’m very aware of the market in Canada: it’s not that long ago that I was in the process of emigrating there to work for a company under the CRTC’s purview.

      I’m increasingly thinking you’re a huge fan of BT/Openreach. I can’t say I understand being a fanboy of an infrastructure provider to the point where you’re unfailingly negative about everyone else but please do you.

    9. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      Finally you’ve said something I agree with – anything above 1G (definitely as you get to 3/5/8Gbps) becomes ever harder to justify given that it increases equipment costs across the board, becomes hard (if not impossible) to try to deliver that speed across wifi given that this is how people insist on consuming it these days, many online services can’t or won’t deliver sustained throughput etc.

      I though the Canadian broadband lesson might have been useful given that it is rather more complicated than “but they sell it AT SCALE” (though they actually don’t anymore, lol)

      I wouldn’t suggest going down the path of accusing everyone you agree with as a BT shill though.

    10. Avatar photo john says:

      Some people are overly fond of telling others what they “really need”. Yes nobody is going to use it all the time, the whole broadband system is dependent on that fact no matter what the speeds are. But the faster speeds do make a big difference when you need to call on them.

      For example if I upload a 50 GB file to a server which I do a couple of times a week it takes 4.5 hours on the 25 Mbit/s upload I currently get with Virgin Media. With Openreach asymmetric FTTP it would take 57 minutes. With true 1 Gbit/s FTTP it would take 6 minutes. At 8 Gbit/s only 50 seconds. These time savings have value. For me I would not pay more to go from 6 minutes to 50 seconds but I might consider it if the files I were uploading were 3 or 4 times that.

    11. Avatar photo XGS says:

      It isn’t more complicated than that, Ivor, it’s about the right ONT, a configuration and capacity planning. If Bell Canada chose to stop selling it that’s their call: AT&T continue to release it to new areas, Rogers in Canada sell it, and a bunch of other localities have the product available over XGSPON.

      The comment on being a shill is based on a consistent pattern of posting where you seem to need to white knight BT and be negative about everyone else at every opportunity. I call people out for being unfairly negative about Openreach so only fair I note your apparent fanboyism.

      Worked out that tunable optics means an optic that’s tunable? Glad I could help with that one.

      I’ll leave you to go back to DSLReports for more material on that note.

    12. Avatar photo greggles says:

      Ivor, XGS just isnt for higher speed products, its also about having more capacity, currently GPON is working out ok, because we are very immature in our rollout, take up is very low, in 5-10 years time, if we still on GPON I would expect to regularly see reports of congestion, as is the case in other countries on GPON deployments with high take up. Although Openreach will probably escape upstream congestion by virtue of them handicapping the product so much.

  5. Avatar photo Yatta! says:

    In NZ multi-port ONTs are the norm, however only one port is active in my (solely domestic installation) experience. They all require the use of routers with DHCP authentication and VLAN tagging.

    1. Avatar photo the hatter says:

      I think the OR install is the same – it’s not a switch, so if you have one FTTP contract, one port is active. If you buy more FTTP drops to your premises, they appear on the other ports. Just means if you plan on 2 or more circuits if doesn’t mean more wall space, more power sockets for the PSUs (and potentially, more batteries if you’re protecting them against power failures). The ability to up-sell a bonded connection to some small businesses, and the ability to have diverse ISPs without having to arrange a second telco engineer visit, are the obvious use cases to me, beyond simply dropping 4 standard home ISP connections into a house with 4 independent residents

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Yes indeed: each ISP is provisioned to a different port on the ONT and internally to the ONT are handled via different VLANs.

      Source: I had an Openreach 4 port ONT with 3 services on it that I replaced with my own so could see the mapping.

  6. Avatar photo Kris says:

    If you have 2 FTTP connections, is that not done for an element of redundancy?

    Therefore having those over the same fibre and ONT to me seems to go against that.

    1. Avatar photo Nate says:

      Depends of course on whether you’re trying to guard against a failure at the ISP level far away or someone digging through the fibre optic cable locally.

    2. Avatar photo Alex Atkin says:

      No, because even if it came via a second fibre into your premises, its likely connected to the same fibre outside the premises.

      The only way to have redundancy is to use a completely different fibre network. Even then its not ideal given most will take the same route so a fibre break of Openreach could very well take out VM and CityFibre too – if they’re in the same duct. Given the likely reason for a break is someone broke the ducting.

      My backup is Three 5G as by my guess of its fibre route, for the majority its completely different to my FTTP, though likely becomes the same duct close to the exchange.

    3. Avatar photo XGS says:

      A CityFibre or VM backup will use their ducting not Openreach fairly early on even if PIA. It won’t be going back to the same exchange.

  7. Avatar photo Fibre Scriber says:

    What happens if you have a Fibrus connection as well as Openreach?

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Absolutely nothing as Fibrus and Openreach are nothing to do with each other as far as ONTs or anything else on the respective networks go?

    2. Avatar photo Fibre Scriber says:

      @XGS: Absolutely correct, except in one respect, Fibrus can use Openreach ducts and poles, PIA, but Openreach cannot use Fibrus own network builds. In fact if you have Fibre and ONT installed by Openreach for whatever ISP and change to the Fibrus Network, then they install their own Fibre cable and ONT. This may change over time.

    3. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Respective digital networks given we were discussing ONTs.

      Your question was about what if someone had connections on both networks and that doesn’t change regardless of the physical network the cabling is installed in.

      How the cabling gets to the property boundary isn’t the customer’s problem or concern.

  8. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

    Imagine paying £500 for someone to screw a small box onto a wall.

    1. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

      You can be sure that the bloke with the screwdriver isn’t getting it.

  9. Avatar photo ioio says:

    So not a router but multi-service ONT in case if someone want two or more ISPs running on OR network. But you can have up to 1Gbps down / 220Mbps up max. which means that it will split between all ISPs providing service to it. Also doing internet access backup on the same last mile wire is not what I am looking for.

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      The service on the optical side is not split between the ports on the ONT. Pay for 2 x 1000/220 you’ll get 1000/220 to each port, capacity on the PON allowing, same as it would if you had 2 ONTs.

  10. Avatar photo Fibre Scriber says:

    The power supply’s for the 1G and 2.5G ONT’s are the same.
    Output = 12.0Vdc 0.5A 6W

    The power supply for the Multiport ONT
    Output = 12.0Vdc 1.0A 12W

    1. Avatar photo Alex Atkin says:

      That’s actually nice to know as I plan to upgrade to 1.8Gbit once its available on my ISP. Nice to see I wont need to replace the wall-wart UPS I use.

  11. Avatar photo anon says:

    1 Gbps ports.
    potentially on more than 1Gbp WAN.
    Smart.

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      No service over 1000/220 provisioned on this kit. 1.2 or 1.8G means a separate ONT.

      Probably a good idea not to have a 1.8 customer sharing fibre to a premises with others: if there are capacity issues can’t split that customer from the others without a new ONT anyway.

    2. Avatar photo Alex Atkin says:

      I’d imagine its a PITA to split off a high user to a different PON to begin with. Wouldn’t they need to splice a spare fibre back to the splitter?

      I’d actually be curious how much spare capacity they typically have back to the exchange from the splitter node? Is there usually any spare capacity to light up a new PON or they’d just have to splice you into a less congested existing PON?

    3. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Customer would be moved to an existing, lit PON. No spare fibre necessary, move the current one cutting it and splicing it to the new tray. At least two ports available on each splitter as 30 premises provisioned on each 32 ports.

      Very rare it happens either way. If it starts happening more often hopefully will speed deployment of XGSPON. Openreach shouldn’t be scared of a little contention as long as they’re fulfilling the SLA though.

  12. Avatar photo Great Scot says:

    Yet they still don’t offer anything that is either rackmountable (as even a smallish business might want to use for a backup) or powered by anything other than a BS1363 plug (that anyone might want to plug into a UPS – means you either step outside BS7671 or the T&C for the ONT install).

    Slow handclap

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Rack mounting is easy enough to get around: install a shelf. Most racks/cabinets I’ve come across have one for kit that isn’t directly mountable.

      The electrical I don’t know enough about. I use PDUs in my cabinets that take regular BS1363 plugs, the PDUs connect via IEC C14 to the UPS. No idea if that’s acceptable.

    2. Avatar photo Great Scot says:

      >> BS1363 plugs, the PDUs connect via IEC C14

      That’s the breaking of BS7671 right there. There is nothing to stop you plugging in a load of greater than the inherent capacity of IEC C14 with no safety device (fuse/breaker). Important when you need to demonstrably comply with Electricity at Work…

  13. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    OpenReach . . . . like Grandma’s knitting, . . . . . drop one, pearl one.

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