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USO Launches this week!

Noodleyman

Regular Member
YAY, for those of us stuck in the dark ages, it will be a long overdue step in the right direction. However, I am finding very little information related to the launch of the USO on Friday.

One thing that has had me puzzled since reading the USO T&C's is it is not clear who to contact on Friday. my ISP, who is BT, or openreach?

It may be too early to know, but thought I would check if anybody else is aware of the process to raise a USO request with BT from Friday?

For reference, we are in mid-Devon, stuck on a long line which contains Aluminium in sections, our exchange is still on old school ADSL, no ADSL2 or 21CN there yet. we get on average 1.8Mb sustained, unstable speeds via classic ADSL. those closer to the exchange are lucky to get FTTC, but us long liners are too far away. we tried FTTC once, it too 2 days to sync and finally negotiated 2 bits down, 0 up.

We currently use 4G with an external antenna via the Three unlimited data package, but this only gets us 6Mb down, 0.5Mb up depending on which way the wind blows and if the sun is out.

Fibre on demand quoted at over £90,000 to install and £2,500 per month ongoing cost, the last community scheme I had priced up was about £9,000 per property. I am hoping the cost per property came down since so we qualify for the USO!

We've had no service over the line for 4 weeks as of today since it got hit by lightning in February... fun times. Really want some fibre!

Exchange code: WWMBSH

1584374520388.png
 

sheephouse

Pro Member
According to the EE coverage checker, you should get an EE 4G signal (maybe with an external antenna for best results). That is almost certainly the USO solution you will be offered. EE now offer unlimited data, and the monthly cost is below the USO cost limit. I find EE significanlty faster than Three, so there is a chance you will too (it only needs to be 10Mbps for USO).
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
I actually asked Ofcom about their planned processes for this earlier in the month and they gave a fairly general reply:

"BT will be writing to potentially eligible households to make them aware of the USO and offer advice on next steps. I believe they will have advice on their website, as will we. We'll be promoting the fact the USO is now live, so look out for more information from us on this too. So there will be lots of information available for people who could be eligible for a USO connection," said Ofcom to ISPreview.co.uk.

We await to see what all of this will look like, in practice, on Friday.
 

Noodleyman

Regular Member
According to the EE coverage checker, you should get an EE 4G signal (maybe with an external antenna for best results). That is almost certainly the USO solution you will be offered. EE now offer unlimited data, and the monthly cost is below the USO cost limit. I find EE significanlty faster than Three, so there is a chance you will too (it only needs to be 10Mbps for USO).
4g with external antenna gets us 6MB down on a good day, and up varies between nothing and 1.5 depending on the time of day. lots of hills around us and no line of site. other providers like Airband said they couldn't supply us without a relay tower which they refused to look into. we currently use 4G as our temporary measure waiting for the USO. Our BT landline uses the BT 4G backup solution which is over EE and gets lower speeds than the Three 4G solution, probably due to the Antenna.

Thanks for the extra info MarkJ, I guess the old "wait till Friday" approach. I wonder if they will write to us.. something tells me no, we're often forgotten out here in the middle of nowhere
 

Noodleyman

Regular Member
A good start to the morning I start making calls to file my USO request...

Call 1 to my ISP to check if I can file the request with them. (BT) The support team "do not know what the broadband USO is so can't help". However, they are researching and will call back :)

There is a web page available from here:

However, for me it says 4G is the solution and tries to sell me a 4G service which I already have and doesn't meet the USO criteria..... waiting on their team to follow up :)

I got a phone number for the "Broadband USO Helpdesk",
0800 783 0226 - BT USO Helpdesk
Note: after looking it up, this appears to be a sales number

I called them... and they also didn't know what the Broadband USO is, however did try and take some details and pass me on to another team. the hunt for the USO team to process the request manually continues...........

On to team #3, who surprise surprise has not been told anything about the USO and doesn't know what it is..

At the moment, it appears there "is not" a manual process, however I was told multiple managers are currently trying to figure out what to do and I would be given a call back.

Me thinks BT has not actually done their prep work beyond an automated form on the website for this USO launch.

1.5 hours of phone calls so far and time to wait for a call back.. I would like to point out though that the majority of the people I have spoken with at BT so far have been pleasant to deal with and are trying to help as best as they can with the information they have been provided (nothing).

I got sent a text message with a new number to call, 0800 028 2020 for USO enquiries... so, on to call number #4. after being on hold for a while with the "we're very busy" message over and over, my call gets dropped.

on to call #5 after hitting redial and rejoining the queue. the next team doesn't know what the broadband USO is but again they are trying to be as helpful as they can and recommended me back to another team.

I then got a new number via SMS. 0800 783 0223 and told it's a dedicated number for Broadband USO again. so on to call number # which the automated message suggests this IS THE CORRECT NUMBER.

My final revision here. I managed to partially file my USO request, however there are some "problems sending the request to openreach/ofcom at the moment". All details taken and waiting for a call back later today to continue the process.
 
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Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Yeah they really haven't seemed to be all that well prepared and there's no excuse for that, they've had a very long time to get ready. Oddly Ofcom hasn't issued a press release to announce the launch today.
 

Noodleyman

Regular Member
USO request formally submitted and I have a reference number for it to be tracked.

Hopefully the number I have shared above will be useful for others who need to apply and save you the multiple hours of ping/pong calls :)
 
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Noodleyman

Regular Member
Thought I would share my progress. I got an email from BT at 5AM today saying that there is a cost, but no price yet. I am hoping it's going to be reasonable otherwise the long wait for the USO will have been for nothing and missed the target audience of the most hard to reach locations :/

1585383124661.png
 

Randomcastle

Casual Member
Thought I would share my progress. I got an email from BT at 5AM today saying that there is a cost, but no price yet. I am hoping it's going to be reasonable otherwise the long wait for the USO will have been for nothing and missed the target audience of the most hard to reach locations :/

View attachment 241
Yeah this is what I got. I suspect this is how it will go: BT says it will cost £76k to connect you to gigabit fibre and you have to pay that full cost since no one else on your spur has asked under the USO obligation. (I know it's £76k as I did a CFP for this not-spot area last year). Do you want to proceed? The USO only covers you up to £3400, so I'll have to say No thanks. Case closed.
 

inthesticks98

Casual Member
same here, an email and then a call this morning at 8am! but the call said we aren't sure of the price yet so will get back to you...
 

Noodleyman

Regular Member
Based on what I read in the USO paperwork, and based on a conversation I had with somebody at ofcom earlier in the year, I think Openreach has to consider in the region of 60-80% of the people on the exchange, considering they would benefit and use their USO funding towards the overall build as well. I've pretty much decided that this will have to go the boots on ground stage for a refined quote.

I found the reference, noted 5.78 in the delivering the USO document from Ofcom:
We explained our view that the most effective means of aggregating demand (in order to determine the extent of shared costs) is to use a forecast of take-up of USO connections, as this would minimise the delay from waiting for actual USO connection requests. We proposed to set a 70% take-up forecast for the purposes of calculating the cost of provision of a USO connection.

You are lucky to get an 8AM call! I tried calling the number in the email, but they don't open until Monday 9AM :(

For clarity, you don't have to accept any charges at all at this stage, if you ask they have to get the more refined quote for you to make a choice.

Item 5.120 in the delivery the USO document from Ofcom says:
BT said consumers whose estimated costs exceeded the £3,400 reasonable cost threshold should be provided with a detailed quotation, which would be based on a full survey. BT proposed that it should have 60 calendar days from the date of the consumer’s confirmation that they would like to proceed to undertake a full survey and provide the quote to the consumer.

In other words, if they want to charge you they need to do the survey and give you the detailed breakdown. After which, THEN we can all REEEEE at Ofcom via complaints processes if necessary :)

It should also be noted, Ofcom was unable to confirm at the time I asked them, IF we can stack other schemes on top of the USO. There are still various voucher schemes open and I am hoping that those can be used towards any costs Openreach want.
 

Noodleyman

Regular Member
Well. there we have it. the initial cost for ME TO PAY for the USO connection, falls into the £25,000 - £50,000 bracket. So, if I want a better connection I'll need to stump up at least £25,000 based on current estimates.... Thanks BT.

Naturally, I'm asking for a refined quote anyway so will know more once the additional information is available.

It's looking like the USO has entirely missed the target audience at the moment. :(.. Nevermind, at least those in fibre only areas who qualify due to the price point T&C will be able to get gigabit for less money. :mad:

I guess, just wait 5 years for the copper (or in our case, Aluminium!) network to be replaced as part of doing digital.
 

inthesticks98

Casual Member
just got the same call 25K to 50K, we live in a rural area, and work from home often, directly in-between two fttc exchanges ~3km from both. Guess we have to stick with the old copper for now :(.
You don't realise how good fast internet is until you don't have it, I was on virgin whilst at uni getting 100mb down for £27/month. Now back home it is £26/month for below USO standard!
 

Noodleyman

Regular Member
I was hoping it would be less for us because our exchange has dark fibre, so the route into the exchange is there is needed. so it's then a case of adding the kit at the exchange & the delivery from exchange. Based on a previous call with Ofcom, the USO cost per property isn't just for the delivery from exchange though. it can be used for the exchange equipment itself. Considering our exchange hasn't been updated since 2004 and we still don't have have 21cn (for those who would benefit from it), I've not really been expecting a positive outcome from the USO process.

The person I spoke to this morning wasn't sure if the price provided included the 70% forecast for the exchange (as per earlier update).
 

Noodleyman

Regular Member
Our exchange serves roughly 420 properties. I know at least 15 of them nearest us do qualify for USO. however the clarity about the 70% forecast is still a little unclear.

I'm assuming it's not 70% of 420, multiplied by USO fund, but rather "70% of customers on the exchange would upgrade to full fibre if made available, and we would earn X from that". in which case, as those numbers are internal to BT we will never know if they got applied or not and if they did, what impact it had.

The other thought, is that it's 70% of those on the exchange that would qualify for USO, and add that together for the total funding. The issue with that is the information about who qualifies already is unreliable as I found out at the start of the process 10 days ago.

does anybody know how the 70% take-up forecast actually works?
 

sheephouse

Pro Member
I had a fear that most non-4G USO builds would be way over the £3400 limit - that's why they haven't had improvements already. Has anyone heard of any USO application that has resulted in an offer of FTTP for a low cost yet?
 

Randomcastle

Casual Member
This is pretty much exactly how I thought it would play out. What on earth was the point of it? Like Sheephouse, I'd be interested to hear of any application under this so called obligation that actually resulted in an install. I can feel a FoI request coming on in a few months!
 

Randomcastle

Casual Member
BT quoted me the same figure as everyone else - £25 - 50K, despite having quoted £76k last year in response to a CFP request. They are just making this up and hoping people will go away. Have asked for a full survey
 

JTScotland

Casual Member
Just so I'm clear, is the figure quoted your portion of the overall upgrade cost or is it the total cost for 70% of the community connected to that exchange?

Our local exchange only has approx 50 lines so I've applied plus one other neighbour so far. Will they base the cost only on the people requesting a USO upgrade?

(Our exchange is exchange activate which hasn't been upgraded to 21CN so can only deliver 0.5mb fixed connections)
 
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