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Openreach Extend 2.5Gbps ONT Trial for Slower FTTP Broadband Tiers

Monday, Jun 3rd, 2024 (1:56 pm) - Score 8,000

Network access provider Openreach (BT) has extended their already nearly year-long trial of 2.5Gbps Optical Network Terminals (ONT) for installations of specified bandwidths on Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP lines. The trial, which was due to end next month, will now run for another year.

Just to recap. ONTs (aka – Optical Network Unit) are usually installed inside your home (wall hung), near to where the fibre optic cable physically enters the property. The primary job of such kit is simply to take that optical signal and convert it into an electrical one, so you can connect it to a broadband router via a standard Local Area Network (Ethernet) port.

NOTE: Openreach’s average FTTP build rate is 78,000 premises per week and they’re investing £15bn to cover 25 million UK premises by Dec 2026 (14m have already been covered). Some 6.2m of those will be in rural or semi-rural areas. The ambition then exists to reach up to 30 million premises by 2030.

Openreach first began offering a 2.5Gbps (Gigabits per second) capable ONT in 2022 (here) – the Nokia G-010G-T and an ADTRAN SDX 611Q – alongside their 1Gbps+ FTTP broadband tiers (1.2Gbps and 1.8Gbps), which only recently became commercially available to the market after a very lengthy pilot phase.

However, the network operator has also been running a separate 12-month trial of the same hardware (here), which began on 1st July 2023 and specifically allowed ISPs to optionally specify that 2.5Gbps ONTs should be installed – by default – instead of the standard 1Gbps ONT for specified FTTP downstream bandwidths lower than 1Gbps (i.e. down to tiers as slow as 55Mbps).

The trial could be seen as a useful way of future proofing (within reason) new installations, thus avoiding situations where somebody might opt for a 1Gbps or slower tier and then later decide to upgrade (this would currently necessitate another engineer visit to install the 2.5Gbps ONT). In an ideal world, Openreach would already be doing this by default (they probably will at some point), but for now the trial gave the option to ISPs and for a small additional cost.

The terms shall apply to [Communication Providers] that opt-in to the trial, and CPs will be charged an additional £10 per connection for the speed tiers they have selected. [Openreach] will rebate CPs participating in the trial £10 for each bandwidth upgrade from the selected speed tiers to bandwidths above 1Gb made within 24 months from the end of the trial, or from when a CP exits the trial if sooner. Rebates will not be made for box swaps,” said the original trial document.

The latest development is that this trial has just been extended, although the public briefing included no useful information. But we’ve since been informed that it will now run for another 12 months in order to allow time for new systems to be implemented.

An Openreach spokesperson told ISPreview:

“Getting it right first time, every time – with minimal effort needed from end customers – is what we’re always striving to achieve. After an initial trial period, we’ve learned that in order to offer a 2.5G ONT upgrade option, we’ll need to implement new systems which offer an even better service for industry, and therefore the end customer. We hope to complete that testing over the next 12 months.”

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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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17 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Kris says:

    My connection installed in December from EE was provisioned with a 2.5gbit ONT without any mention it was a pilot product 🙂

    I’ve got the 900Mbit product.

  2. Avatar photo Jordan says:

    this is good, so a 2nd visit wont be needed anymore. should of done this when the 2.5g ONT was out but better late then never.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      In gold old fashioned BT tradition; it’s like I said previously “never ending trial”; trial after trial. It’s an ONT, as long as it connects and works and is manageable. A trial for this shouldn’t take this long. Its only taking this long because of the way they want to recharge it back out.

  3. Avatar photo Fibre Scriber says:

    The Nokia 2.5 Gbps ONT’s have orange coloured LAN ports, the ones i have seen anyway, not that it makes any difference, other than a quick way to distinguish from the yellow port 1 Gbps version that might be unboxed together in an Openreach van, hopefully with the dust covers still attached! The power supply units are the same for both models, as is the size and fitting points on both Nokia ONT’s.

  4. Avatar photo Mark Tolson says:

    Is there a way to sign up to be part of the trial?

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      The trial is for ISPs to choose and, most likely, if they do engage with it then end-customers probably won’t notice any difference – except that they’ll get the 2.5Gbps ONT on sub-1Gbps tiers instead of a 1Gbps ONT.

    2. Avatar photo Ben says:

      You might be able to ask your ISP when you sign up, although I believe there’s a higher install fee for a 2.5Gb ONT so they may decline your request or ask you to pay a (higher) installation charge.

  5. Avatar photo Paul says:

    With the 2.5gbps download is the upload still limited to 120mbps?

    1. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      There is no 2.5Gbps product.

      Above 1Gbps, the tiers are 1.2 and 1.8, and yes, both 120Mbps.

  6. Avatar photo Matt says:

    Worth remembering that these are still GPON, so no future proofing happening. Just means you’re good to go, should you pick their 1.8gbps package.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Yes, legacy technology and still being deployed…
      Years of trials for BT XGS-PON (just look at this for a simple GPON ONT) and the ALNETS would have moved on to newer tech by time BT start doing a trial for XGS-PON.

    2. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      as has been explained before – when your total footprint is a couple of weeks worth of Openreach build output, and especially if you don’t have any other ISPs on your network, it is a lot easier to make sudden “agile” changes.

      Openreach seems to be doing just fine providing what the market wants, when it wants it.

    3. Avatar photo Martin Warby says:

      I’m not sure you get many ONTs that support XGS-PON and GPON so I’m not sure what your expecting. The PON itself is future proof. I’m sure Openreach will deploy faster technologies over the PON in time, but with the current products, demand (many will be on the lower tiers) and extensive GPON deployed it maybe a while until it makes sense

    4. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Let’s see Ivor. When Virgin Media open up wholesale access to XGS-PON (or better) network with symmetric offerings. Openreach will take years to make any changes, they have to have endless trials first, even on simplest of things like an ONT where they know it works and is merely just capable of going to a higher speed should that be required.

      Have to see how the old congestion plays out as more and more ISPs offer faster speeds and Openreach begin to struggle in trying to offer them. We can ALREADY witness this with limited upload between the 1gbps and 1.6/1.8gbps packages. Barely any extra between them.

      Openreach is hardly providing what the markets wants. It’s a combination of a well known brand with existing customer base vs an unknown brand and change. You ask most people do you want a cheaper price and with same upload speed as download and people would want it over a service that is the opposite. People are scared of changing, and also he hassle of new installation from an ALTNET and because of poor marketing a lot don’t even know what an ALTNET is and whether there is one in their area; let alone unknown brand a new startup.

  7. Avatar photo Phil says:

    It does seem rather odd that a 2.5Gbps ONT isn’t just the normal ONT now they have them, perhaps they cost a few pounds more, but that cost is paid back from then not having to send an engineer later. Maybe they they are already committed to a contract for and/or have large stocks of the 1Gbps ONTs to still get rid off.

    I can understand Openreach and their caution for anything new and the need to carefully trial things, but I think this trial is more about getting rid of surplus stock before they switch to new ONTs.

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      off the top of my head, for any ISP that currently doesn’t take the 1.2/1.8G service:

      – need to do interop testing with their supplied routers
      – need to ensure that their billing/support systems are updated to be aware of the new ONT type, especially those ISPs who deal directly with openreach and not via BT or TT
      – documentation for both their own teams and the customer needs to be updated, eg new port colour or shape/size
      – training for any in-home teams (I believe Sky can do certain work on OR’s network for its own customers now, and some ISPs might have in-home support teams that can’t modify OR equipment)
      – test order journeys

      doable, but easy to see why a trial period might be requested before it becomes the norm.

    2. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      and you think that most of that would take 1 year+ for trial Ivor?

      interop testing with router – its a standard ethernet port to from ONT to ISP router. Yes, check it works; like 30 minutes work.
      adapting billing provisioning systems; most of these have fields for kit required so just a part number change
      Documentation for teams – a paragraph including a picture, maybe an email and change record raised
      Training for any in-home teams – erm you put this ONT in for this order and the older one for less than 1gbps tier. Seeing as skin flints as not just supplying the new ONT for everyone anyway.

      True, simplified, but there really isn’t much in this; the testing with network has already been done by this consumer stage.

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