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Broadband ISPs Prep FTTP Plans for Openreach’s 1.2Gbps and 1.8Gbps Tiers UPDATE

Saturday, Apr 27th, 2024 (12:01 am) - Score 7,760
FTTP External Wall Box Install by Openreach Engineer 2022

Network operator Openreach (BT) officially launched their fastest Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband tiers – 1.2Gbps and 1.8Gbps (both 120Mbps upstream) – into the UK market earlier this month (here). But so far the only ISP to launch any consumer packages using these have been EE, although that will soon change.

The new tiers are designed to squeeze as much performance as possible out of Openreach’s Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) platform, which will ultimately need to be upgraded in the future if they’re to go even faster (e.g. XGS-PON, 25G-PON or 50G-PON etc.).

NOTE: The operator’s full fibre network currently covers around 14 million premises, but their investment of up to £15bn aims to reach 25m by December 2026 (80%+ of the UK), before rising up to 30m by 2030.

The new 1.2Gbps tier is arguably more about enabling ISPs to advertise a true “average” gigabit speed of “1000Mbps+” (median as measured at peak time), which compares with the c.900Mbps that most ISPs promote today on Openreach’s 1Gbps tier. Meanwhile, the new 1.8Gbps option gives them something to offer users looking for a more premium tier, which narrows the gap to those ISPs offering 2Gbps speeds (e.g. Virgin Media).

However, none of that matters a jot if ISPs aren’t making related packages available to consumers, which is usually something that tends to develop gradually – often over a period of months – after the launch of a new product at wholesale. With that in mind, ISPreview set off to survey a broad cross-section of Openreach using internet providers, except EE and Zen Internet (Zen are due to launch something soon), to find out about their plans.

What the ISPs say

Vodafone

The provider said they’ll have some news to share over the “coming weeks“. Vodafone is already a little overdue with their plans to launch a 2Gbps package via CityFibre’s network and we suspect they might seek to introduce the new Openreach tiers at the same time as those.

Pulse8

Sad news as they “haven’t currently got any plans to add those new packages at this time.”

➤ Andrews & Arnold (AAISP)

Currently waiting on BT Wholesale to introduce related tiers (“no indication of time frames have been given“), which will form the basis of their own packages.

iDNET

We’re hoping to launch the Openreach products next month. We already have channel partners reselling our 2Gbps service from CityFibre.

Aquiss

Plans are in the works, but “most hold-ups for us are within the wholesale channels” (i.e. wholesale suppliers aren’t ready yet). Current prediction is for a late Q3 or early Q4 release, but this is very much subject to their suppliers and slippage is possible.

➤ BT & Plusnet

EE are now the BT Group’s flagship consumer brand and already have a 1.6Gbps package, while BT’s Consumer and Plusnet divisions are playing second fiddle. A spokesperson said: “There are no plans to offer 1.2Gbps or 1.8Gbps on BT or Plusnet at this time. If we make changes our customers will be the first to know” (the “no plans” statement is about as useful as a chocolate teapot, since plans do change).

TalkTalk

The provider is known to be evaluating their broadband packages in line with the technology available and their customer’s needs, but they’ve declined to comment on their future plans for adopting the faster tiers. Reading between the lines, TalkTalk may not yet be seeing enough demand for such a launch, although the provider does have a few debt problems to tackle too and new packages cost money to support.

Freeola

Yes we’ll be looking to launch these packages as soon as we’re able to. Though we don’t have an ETA for when that will be unfortunately.”

Uno

We are currently waiting for our wholesale partners to offer the service. Once released, we will be looking to bring those services live for our customers as soon as is possible just as we did with the 1Gb service when that was launched.”

Sky Broadband

Did not respond.

One thing that was very clear above, including from some providers that only spoke off-the-record, is that some of them are waiting for wholesale suppliers to catch-up with Openreach and the expectations about when this would actually happen still seem uncertain. Some ISPs also expressed concerns about the ability or inability of wholesale providers to deliver enough data capacity to support the new tiers.

Speaking of which, BT Wholesale came in for particular criticism, so we asked them about their plans on this front. A spokesperson for the provider told ISPreview: “BT Wholesale offers a wide range of products and services to meet the needs of customers, with full fibre access up to 1GB. We regularly review our portfolio to meet demand and we will update our customers on any changes” (note to BTW: it’s Gb for bits, not GB for Bytes).

Finally, it’s worth remembering that, whatever each ISP may or may not be planning, anybody ordering one of Openreach’s new tiers will require an engineer visit to fit the new 2.5Gbps capable Optical Network Unit (modem). Broadband providers are also likely to ship a new router with similar capabilities.

UPDATE 29th April 2024 @ 12:33pm

After correcting for some out-of-date contact details, we’ve now been able to add Uno’s response above.

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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
42 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jordan says:

    so any ISP selling through BT wholesale are screwed as EE is the only one selling the multi gig plans….

    1. Avatar photo Pro4TLZZ says:

      What other wholesalers are there? Can you explain their role? I thought openreach would be the only wholesaler

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Openreach are the physical layer wholesale provider, but you also have TalkTalk Wholesale, Vodafone, BTW and others that can wholesale Openreach’s lines with other features that ISPs need to work.

      Now ISPs can of course go directly to Openreach too, but then they have to add a lot of these key elements to their own network and that’s a big investment. I’m over simplifying, but you hopefully get the idea.

    3. Avatar photo BT provisioning agent says:

      Pro4 – Openreach (OR) only provide the “middle mile” between the exchange and the customer’s property on their lines. Wholesalers such as BT Wholesale (BTW) rent space in the exchange from OR for their own servers. The internet service provider (SKY, EE, Talk talk) rent server capacity from the wholesaler, the lines from OR, and provide the customer’s equipment, customer service, and so on.

      It is an incredibly fractured system to say the least.

  2. Avatar photo Jason says:

    Far too much speed anyway , id hazard a guess less than 10% of customers would take that option

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      But its great to have the choice on downloads isn’t it for those that want it. Now if only BT could prep an upload increase to symmetric.

    2. Avatar photo Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      Probably less than 1% of households would notice any difference between 1Gb/s and 145Mb/s packages.
      We’re still awaiting FTTP availability on our road, so we’re currently on 36Mb/s FTTC, but I’ll be choosing an FTTP package based more on price than speed. I’ll probably go for something around 100Mb/s to 145Mb/s, dependent on the price difference between the two.
      In our case paying for anything faster than 145Mb/s, would be like renting a luxury car just to leave it in the garage, I suspect over 99% of households have the same requirements as us.

    3. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      So basically as I said, choice. You go for cheap, others go for speed if they download files a lot. Unfortunately, unless an ALTNET or NexFibre connection m(whether by package default or option), people can’t yet have choice of higher upload speeds aka symmetric as BT stuck in slow lane using legacy GPON still.

    4. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

      @Ex Telecom Engineer

      As an experiment, I just downloaded Doom Eternal (a 79GB download) on my 900mbps connection on steam with fluctuating speeds between 500-700mbps in around 19 minutes, using a speed download calculator, I would be looking at about 1 hour 12 minutes minimum at 145mbps in a best case scenario.

      Yeah I noticed the difference and I doubt gaming with digital distribution is limited to less than “1%” of households.

    5. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Ex Telecom Engineer:
      I noticed a difference when i got BT900. I downgraded once but missed the advantages of 900meg so upgraded back after a few days. If you are a gamer or media producer you definitely notice the difference. Its the same old argument – dont buy it if you dont want it. You dont talk for gamers so dont say less than 1% dont need it.

    6. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Imagine that you have a kid that goes to school, and whilst at school the primary game that they play gets a major update that will require a 100GB download before they can play it again. Imagine this is a regular occurrence, which quite frankly it can be with some games these days.

      Imagine you have a 36Mbps connection.

      Your kid gets home from school and immediately wants to play their favourite game.

      7 hours later they’ve finished their download and are now able to play, but now you tell them it is bed time and time to switch off the computer.

      During that time period your internet connection has been fully saturated and you’ve struggled to watch anything on Netflix, or do anything else requiring an internet connection.

      Sound familiar?

      It should do as it is a common occurrence in lots of homes across the country.

      So you decide to get a 900Mbps connection, your kid gets their game update downloaded in 15-20m, and your own internet interactions go unhindered.

      For you to do this you need to spend an extra £5 per month, but you have a happy kid.

      Who isn’t taking that 900Mbps package?

    7. Avatar photo Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      I’m not a gamer so I don’t have to download massive game updates, but if I did I’d just download it overnight while I’m sleeping. I believe lots of gaming will move onto the cloud in the future, to enable a smoother gaming experience on other devices like smart tv’s, mobiles, etc, so there’ll be no need to download huge game updates.Going off the FTTP pricing and disregarding various offers, a standard 145Mb/s comes in at under £30 a month, whereas 900Mb/s would probably be priced somewhere between £40 to £50 a month.
      If every household ordered 1Gb/s packages and utilised the full bandwidth constantly, then the Network routers, servers, and DWDM backhaul’s interconnecting everything wouldn’t be able to cope, and everything would bottleneck anyway. The CP’s selling faster FTTP services rely on the fact that most of the time most customers will use a fraction of the bandwidth available to them, so like I said if you want to pay for a Roll’s Royce and drive it once every blue moon, that’s up you.
      You can never predict the future, but it’s probable that faster packages will see far larger price increases once the current selling frenzy subsides, and the various CP’s feel the need to see higher returns on their investments. If at some point in the distant future I feel the need for 1Gb/s downloads, I’ll upgrade then, in the meantime I’ll just pay for what I need.

    8. Avatar photo XGS says:

      If this was trolling well played: always a reliable post to have some people vehemently disagree and others jump in agreeing.

    9. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Ex Telecom Engineer:
      Wow £10-£12 a month difference for getting a far faster 900mb package. All major ISPS now do 900mb for 39-41 quid a month. As for cloud gaming you contradicted yourself as cloud gaming works better with 900mb speeds, from experience. As for waiting all night for a game to download you must be the king of the party. What are you supposed to do if your friends are over gaming and an update comes through? Like stated if you dont want it dont buy it but there are millions of people in the UK that would give their right arm for a 900mb connection.

    10. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Just picking up a technical point:

      ‘If every household ordered 1Gb/s packages and utilised the full bandwidth constantly, then the Network routers, servers, and DWDM backhaul’s interconnecting everything wouldn’t be able to cope, and everything would bottleneck anyway. The CP’s selling faster FTTP services rely on the fact that most of the time most customers will use a fraction of the bandwidth available to them, so like I said if you want to pay for a Roll’s Royce and drive it once every blue moon, that’s up you.’

      If every household ordered a 160 package and tried using the full bandwidth constantly how do you reckon that would go given average peak usage at the moment is about 5 Mbps? Congestion wouldn’t even get to the wider network: Openreach share about 2.2 Gbit/s of usable bandwidth between 30 premises on the access network and have no interconnect larger than 10 Gbit/s between an entire chassis and a CP.

      Even if that weren’t the case the CPs selling anything above ADSL speeds rely on the fact that most of the time most customers will use a fraction of the bandwidth available to them. Openreach and BT Wholesale rely on it to ensure their networks don’t keel over. This is why broadband doesn’t scale linearly in price per Mbps, part of why it’s so much cheaper than DIA, and why we aren’t on pay per GB of data consumed.

    11. Avatar photo Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      XGS I don’t disagree with anything you’ve stated, it just confirms my view in reference to 1Gb/s packages; The fact I referred to 1Gb/s instead of 145Mb/s is irrelevant, since the same point applies in both cases.
      My personal preference for 145Mb/s, over lower speed packages, is due to higher resolution terrestrial TV channels moving to the cloud, as well as more HD/UHD streaming content becoming available.
      As far as BT’s GPON bandwidth limitation is concerned, they have the option to run XGS-PON, or 25G PON over the same fibre should that be required in the future. I don’t know the specs for the OLT chassis, but I don’t see why backhaul connectivity couldn’t be upgraded to 100Gb/s, or higher with card changes, as long as the backplane’s support the upgrades; The same could be said about Core network upgrades, of course any capacity upgrades anywhere will eventually find their way onto our Broadband bill’s.
      All any of us can do is speculate about what might happen, but due to the likes of Sky, Freely and others moving ever more content online, Network Bandwidth utilisation will definitely increase over time, which explains why BT are developing bandwidth saving technologies like MAUD.

    12. Avatar photo XGS says:

      My point was that we’re all paying for burst and if we weren’t the whole thing would keel over, Sir. The entire Internet is built around the proportion of data travelling across the core not being anywhere near the sum of the either available or sold capacity at the edge.

      It’s been this way since we stopped taking broadband to replace dialup and started going up in speed to get the same things done more quickly. I’m quite aware of the minimum the household needs and what it comfortably needs, our backup line is nowhere near as fast as it could be, however we made the decision to have a really fast primary service and I don’t regard not using it to the fullest as leaving capacity on the table: it’s not my capacity to use and I’m not paying for it.

      Regardless if people want to pay it’s their choice, if ISPs/CPs want to offer it that can only be a good thing. To offer those speeds requires investment in capacity and equipment that benefit everyone across the board.

      I mentioned Openreach as you commented on how everything would buckle. In response you’ve given a series of ways Openreach could upgrade their infrastructure to handle increased load. Same would happen across the board as it always has. In actual fact the speed of usage increase has slowed as the pandemic brought a couple of years of usage forward and working from home while it broke Virgin Media’s cable network didn’t make a dent in FTTC/P.

    13. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      People of the ISP Review world, there you have it. Ex Telecom Engineer would seem to be an ex-BT one with views that everyone is fine on FTTC and that its fast enough. Same line BT used to peddle why they didn’t originally want to do FTTP sooner (before competition made them) and that FTTC was fast enough on good ole copper lines.

      The same people who don’t want to see symmetric on BT’s network quoting that nobody needs to upload and to get an (expensive) leased line.

      Probably why our telcoms infrastructure has been slowing the country down for years.

    14. Avatar photo Bob says:

      @Ex Telecom Engineer, do you still drive your old fleet van limited to 60 or 65Mph? Else your luxury car reference is incorrect as your vehicle will be able to go way above the current speed limits as and when required of course.

      Its a personal choice depending upon your circumstances but the not so heavy users would benefit from a higher capacity connection than is required as it gives them more headroom. Especially if it’s only a couple of quid more per month. Cheapest FTTC 80/20 package I can see if £24 a month. Altnets are offering 900/900 for 30.

      A few years ago the same argument was that FTTC 80/20 was way more than any 2.4 family would ever require.

    15. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

      @Ex Telecom Engineer

      ” If at some point in the distant future I feel the need for 1Gb/s downloads, I’ll upgrade then, in the meantime I’ll just pay for what I need.”

      I doubt anyone has an issue with this, the issue people have had is your insinuation that few if any benefit in the present.

    16. Avatar photo Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      Sorry to disappoint the posters who think I worked for BT,I’ve never worked for BT, I’m actually ex C&W/Vodafone.

    17. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Leaving something downloading overnight is just a work around for a lack of bandwidth. I do that for other things (I’m not a gamer), but only because I can’t do it quickly when I need it… and most people don’t want to wait or plan things in advance.

      I would get a 500 Mbps plan if I could, even if I only need that peak speed once or twice a week.

    18. Avatar photo NE555 says:

      > You can never predict the future, but it’s probable that faster packages will see far larger price increases once the current selling frenzy subsides, and the various CP’s feel the need to see higher returns on their investments

      Whilst I agree with most of what you say @Ex Telecom Engineer, I have to disagree with this point.

      The wholesale marginal cost difference between a 80M and 1G service on FTTP is basically zero – it’s almost all fixed cost – and the market will squeeze the retail pricing down likewise. This is already happening. CP’s will happily discount their top speed tiers if it helps them capture customers.

      For example, I am on FTTP 330/50 and pay £45 per month, but if I downgraded to 160/30 it would be £42 per month. The market makes these differentials so small to tempt users to take a higher bandwidth, since even this small extra is pure cream to them. Some altnets have stopped selling anything less than 150/150.

      In order to recoup investment, they must have a sufficiently *high* starting price point which still allows take-up. Like you say, 90% of people will take the lowest speed offered because that’s all they need. But the remaining 10% who are happy to pay for higher speeds are still price aware, and if you try to screw them when there’s a viable alternative, you will lose them (witness VM renewal pricing)

  3. Avatar photo Sam P says:

    I’m here patiently waiting for 1.8gbps Zen with my WiFi 7 router.

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      What devices do you own that can even connect to a WiFi 7 network?

      Are there any?

    2. Avatar photo Ken B says:

      Yes, there’s a quite a few latest & greatest smartphones which support wifi 7

      https://www.androidpolice.com/wifi-7-phones-list/

  4. Avatar photo Colin Hosking says:

    And moving to the new 1.8Gb service is not a smooth process
    Moving from Sky Fttp was supposed to a 5 minute job on the 16th
    New ONT fitted, but alas no service
    There seems to a be a problem in Openreach switching over to the 2nd generation from the 1st generation
    Multiple problems from what I read online

  5. Avatar photo David says:

    Still hovering just over 100mbps upstream? I would rather that be focused on especially with backups of my nas and other devices.

  6. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

    In regards to the Sky Broadband discount article, is the 900mbps package actually discounted to £41pm? Sky’s website says £42pm and that’s what I was offered the other day or is this another case of the PR being released too early?

    1. Avatar photo clnsp says:

      I was offered it for £31 when I took Sky Stream last month. I checked a few days ago and they are now offering it for sub £30 now if you start an order via stream page.

    2. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

      Not a bad idea, but unfortunately I’ve already got Sky Q.

  7. Avatar photo XGS says:

    I am curious what EE are using to provide 1.8G given BT Wholesale apparently don’t offer it.

    Either EE/BT Consumer set up their own links to Openreach in a thousand exchanges, commissioned them and signed up to the Openreach trial or BT Wholesale offer the product to their own consumer arm only.

    1. Avatar photo Sunil Sood says:

      Don’t big ISPs like BT and Sky deal directly with Openreach rather then BT Wholesale?

    2. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

      IIRC it’s not uncommon among OR based ISPs for BT to offer a particular service first and then slowly the other ISPs adopt it.

      These are the reasons I recall getting FTTC and FTTP initially from BT.

      If anything the weird thing is that BT Retail isn’t offering it, unless this is part of a plan to shift focus over to EE.

    3. Avatar photo 125us says:

      Large ISPs do exactly that. They own cable links and backhaul in all the handover sites and run their own networks. It means that an ISP isn’t tied to BTW’s timescales and feature set.

    4. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Thanks but doesn’t answer what EE are doing. They’re a BT brand and BT’s consumer facing arms have always used BT Wholesale. They’re using BT Wholesale for this, too, I’m curious how though given Wholesale apparently don’t offer it.

    5. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      The simplest answer is likely that it’s BT Wholesale using a product that isn’t offered to anybody else. Maybe EE were the only customer of theirs that could commit to the sales volume required to successfully trial the product?

    6. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

      I find it hard to believe that BT Wholesale is offering a product only to EE as OFCOM’s competition rules include conditions on non-discrimination (like not prioritising its own retail services) and transparency and fairness. If BT is in breach of these rules you can be sure that ISPs will be screaming blue murder.

      What seems to have happened is that EE was heavily involved in the pilot programme and launched 1.6Gbps in October 2023 whilst the pilot was still running and has been quick off the mark again in offering 1.8Gbps.

    7. Avatar photo XGS says:

      You’d best let BT Wholesale know that, Roger. They told ISP Review they don’t offer it, it doesn’t appear on their price list and none of their customers are aware of it being available. Looks like BT Wholesale are sitting on a pilot of it either not open to anyone else or restricted to the interconnect product only BT Group consume.

    8. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      Are BTw subject to any competition rules, or is that just Openreach? My understanding was that Wholesale could do whatever they wanted.

    9. Avatar photo NE555 says:

      I believe it was officially a “trial” and since EE were the ones invited to be on the trial, they got to sell it first. A trial implies things like being able to bypass official ordering systems.

      It’s now in theory available to anyone who wants it, but in practice there are still rough edges to be sorted out.

  8. Avatar photo greggles says:

    I think BTw its a given the new tiers will be added otherwise Ofcom wouldnt be happen on fair competition, its a case of when not if.

Comments are closed

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