back to article BT to up targets for FTTP rollout 'if the right conditions are met'

It's been an eventful morning for BT's new CEO: he upped targets to roll out fibre broadband to more Brit homes, talked up cost savings and clipped sales and profit forecasts for the next year. Under the new proposals (PDF), the telco's fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) ambitions have grown from three to four million by March 2021 …

  1. AndrueC Silver badge
    Unhappy

    It might have been better if they'd given up on G.FAST when it became clear that it wasn't going to work as a cheap and cheerful 'not spot' fix. Continuing to assist with development and then deploy it has led to short term coverage gains at a time when most people don't really want it. By the time demand for something better than FTTC is ramping up it'll be time to pull the G.FAST kit out and move to GPON fibre. This is because the reach of G.FAST is naff (probably less than a third of lines on a typical cabinet can see any benefit). So to get decent coverage of 'something better than FTTC' means FTTP at which point the G.FAST kit becomes obsolete.

    Short term thinking to appease the bean counters :-/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >It might have been better if they'd given up on G.FAST

      Indeed, over shite decades old rotten bell wire not fit for purpose.

    2. Adam Jarvis

      Pointless G.fast...

      It's not as though some of us here haven't said as much from the very start, having understood the technical limitations of 'Pointless G.fast'. Credit to cyberdoyle too, "Do the job once, do it right".

      The trouble with BT, they always return to form - "the drunk blocking the pub doorway", blocking others from getting a full-fibre pint. Occasionally they sober up and see sense after entering Ofcom's expensive but otherwise useless rehab facility, but more often than not, they relapse back to type.

      Take everything BT's says with a pinch of salt, it has more spin than a Dyson cyclone, set to suck up any handout on offer from the Government's technically clueless, unfortunately holding the purse strings.

      (A 10Mbps USO was always a pointless paper shuffling exercise too, it should have always been a 30Mbps USO from the start).

      1. I. Hardon

        Re: Pointless G.fast...

        Who is stopping anyone else from doing what openreach wouldn't?

        If the fly by night alt nets wanted to splash some cash on FTTP they're completely free to do so. They've been finding out quite recently that it's not as easy as they used to claim.

        1. paulf
          Terminator

          Re: Pointless G.fast...

          The problem is that as soon as another company moves into an area un[der]served by BT; the OpenRetch zombie wakes up and, by complete coincidence, decides it's suddenly viable to upgrade that area/exchange/cabinet. That buggers up the challenger's business plan because BT, as the 800lb gorilla in the game, can easily undercut them. Considering the number of people who sign up to Broadband from companies like BT retail and ShitShit it's clear that price is by far the only consideration for most people.

          Competition? Yes, we've heard of it. And when we do, we snuff it out as quickly as possible because profits.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pointless G.fast...

            The telecom sector in this country is competitive and for profit. Should openreach be banned from upgrading their network because some fly by night alt net has cherry picked the area? Hardly fair. The threat of an openreach deployment is a risk they'll have to take, just as openreach themselves are feeling a competitive pressure from virgin or alt nets.

            Yes, people do select on price. That's why we're not all paying hundreds a month for Andrews and Arnold lines with generous 100GB caps.

            1. Dr. Mouse

              Re: Pointless G.fast...

              But all this is because Openreach have and effective monopoly. Monopolies are treated differently because they can and will crush competition in order to keep their monopoly.

              In this instance, Openreach decide an area is not profitable to deploy to. It is still not profitable for them after their competition has rolled out in the area, but it is worth the loss for them to drive their competition out of business. Such actions do need to be regulated and controlled, so yes, Openreach should be banned from upgrading such an area (at least for a limited amount of time) in those circumstances.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Pointless G.fast...

                The fact that others can deploy means that openreach is not a true monopoly. They definitely aren't one once a competitor is operating the same area.

                If openreach come in afterwards then that to me is the textbook definition of competition. If we're going to persist with the idea that we must have competition in the local loop, then it works both ways. You can't rig it against the incumbents.

                1. Dr. Mouse

                  Re: Pointless G.fast...

                  It's the textbook definition of abuse of monopoly.

                  They already have a vast infrastructure, but refuse to upgrade it in certain areas. A competitor comes in and spends a huge amount on infrastructure, costs it needs to recover, and provides the service that Openreach won't.

                  Suddenly Openreach decide they will, and undercut the newcomer by a significant amount. They know that they will not make a profit doing so, but run it as a loss leader in order to drive the newcomer out of business. This is the whole point of deploying to that area: to drive the competitor out of business by making a loss, as well as discouraging other newcomers, reducing competition and defending their monopoly in the long term.

                  Textbook abuse, not competition. I cannot believe you are defending this sort of behaviour!

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Pointless G.fast...

                    The alt nets have talked a very good game about how they'll be better, cheaper, faster than openreach. Let's see them live up to those promises. They wanted to compete with openreach, they should get it. If they offer a better service they'll win customers. The free market that the alt netters kept crowing on about.

                    Rural dwellers got screwed over last time BT were forced to knobble themselves in the name of "competition", namely their rigid wholesale pricing which was held high to protect the nascent LLU "competition". Why should we allow it again?

                    Can't complain when openreach refuse to deploy and then complain again when they do.

                    Let's also not forget when BT had FTTP ready to go and were blocked by a government that was obsessed with competition and a desire to protect the cable franchises they'd handed out. How well did that work for the general public?

                    1. Dr. Mouse

                      Re: Pointless G.fast...

                      Can't complain when openreach refuse to deploy and then complain again when they do.

                      Why not, when the entire reason they do so is to kill competition? I'm not complaining that they refuse to deploy or that they do deploy, I'm complaining that they are doing so with the entire intent of destroying any competition, using the benefit of massive amounts of publicly-built and cheaply-sold infrastructure and doing so by abusing their (at least near) monopoly position.

                      They refuse to deploy because it's uneconomical to do so. It's still uneconomical when they change their mind later, but they want to put a competitor out of business. It's unethical in the extreme, and discourages other "alt nets" from even starting because they know they'll just be bullied out of the game before they even get a chance.

                  2. paulf
                    Meh

                    Re: Pointless G.fast...

                    @ Dr Mouse "I cannot believe you are defending this sort of behaviour!"

                    I can - I think the AC and probably a few others on this topic are BT shills. Seems to be quite a few down votes sloshing around on any comment that doesn't praise BT for being simply superb in all ways. And yes, you're right - it's classic abuse of monopoly power and definitely not competition.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Pointless G.fast...

              2TB for £45 a month for 80/20 as it happens, with rollover of 50% of unused allowance.

          2. AndrueC Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Pointless G.fast...

            The problem is that as soon as another company moves into an area un[der]served by BT; the OpenRetch zombie wakes up and, by complete coincidence, decides it's suddenly viable to upgrade that area/exchange/cabinet.

            I don't think that happens very often. In fact I'd be interested knowing in how/where this has happened. I'll ask on a more authoritative site - ThinkBroadband - as it would be interesting to know. I vaguely recall that there was a network in Yorkshire that suffered something like that but I thought that was the result of the Alt.net failing first.

            Most Alt.nets are rolling fibre out where BT can't afford to go.

            But returning to my original post from one point of view G.FAST does make sense. In terms of raw numbers of 'who can get it?' v. 'how much is it costing?' G.FAST is a pretty good solution. The problem with G.FAST is that covers so few lines of each cabinet it's installed on. Install an FTTC cab and you get 90% of lines an uplift. Attach a G.FAST pod and you get perhaps 30% of lines an update.

            And the next move after G.FAST has to be FTTP because, frankly, a mythical 'G.FAST+' would uplift even fewer lines. And if you install FTTP to the area a given cabinet serves the G.FAST service becomes surplus to requirements.

            And if anyone is wondering if they might be eligible for G.FAST in the future the answer is relatively simple. If you can't currently sync to your cabinet at 80Mb/s you're almost certainly out of range of G.FAST. Some people with a sync in the high 70s can get it but find that the upload is worse than what they got with VDSL.

            1. Dr. Mouse

              Re: Pointless G.fast...

              I can't remember the full details, but it has been reported on here and other sites more than once (I remember at least 2 about small villages). A newcomer offers to rollout to an area (e.g. a village) OR have determined to be too expensive/not profitable enough, or the village decides to make a "community" broadband deployment because OR refuses. The rollout is completed, and OR suddenly decides it's worth their investment, rolls out FTTC and undercuts the newcomer/community project by a decent margin. Most consumers are lured away by lower prices, and the newcomer/community project can no longer make enough to cover the massive initial investment (which OR doesn't have due to existing infrastructure and economies of scale).

            2. Adam Jarvis

              Re: Ofcom's "Technology Neutral" stance regards G.fast.

              BT's own figures yesterday showed Pointless G.fast has only 1.2% take up.

              Weasels Ofcom state their policy is to be "technology neutral", yet lives are dependent on the underlying type of technology deployed across the national network, specifically, its robustness.

              G.fast is not robust, cheap cross-talk signal generators can/could take out G.fast cabling links. It's also prone to interference from low-level pump noise in and throughout Industrial areas. Put it this way, you shouldn't build a strategic safety critical network based on G.fast technology, on which lives are dependent.

              Ofcom shouldn't have stood back, pretended it's not their problem "oh, we're technology neutral" when BT's sweated every last ounce of their "up to" obfuscated legacy copper carcass. There are safety implications of building national infrastructure on such technology, that Ofcom's policy is clearly ignoring.

              -----------------

              It's is exactly how we got to Grenfell, don't worry about the specifications of the insulation panelling, how it looks to the consumer is more important, that's pretty much the stance Ofcom are taking regards the statement 'technology neutral'.

              -----------------

            3. AndrueC Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: Pointless G.fast...

              Update: I asked the question and so far those in the know are not giving it much credence.

          3. Captain Hogwash

            Re: who sign up ... companies like BT ... price is by far the only consideration

            Au contraire. I signed up to BT because any other company denies responsibilty when something goes wrong and sends you off to BT because they own the network. BT then deny responsibility and send you back to your ISP. This goes on ad infinitum. Much better to remove this avenue of buck passing by being with BT and giving them nowhere to hide. If it worked any other way I'd leave them in a heartbeat.

            1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

              Re: who sign up ... companies like BT ... price is by far the only consideration

              No they don't. Zen are superb at ownership.

              1. Captain Hogwash

                Re: Zen are superb at ownership

                Maybe so, but when the choice at my location is BT, TalkTalk & Sky I really do have a point.

                1. AndrueC Silver badge
                  Meh

                  Re: Zen are superb at ownership

                  I really do have a point

                  Maybe. If you're just saying that some of the other CPs fob their customers off then you are probably right. Generally the cheaper the service, the greater the fob. However if you're trying to imply that BT retail offers better technical support (the mere suggestion of which will probably make some people chuckle) because it owns the underlying network then you're probably wrong. Under the terms of its license BT has to provide equivalence of input. That means BT retail (who you are claiming to be a customer of) is not allowed to be treated any differently to other CPs. If it were proven that BTr had access to better tools or communication channels than Sky or TT there would be hell to pay.

                  Since you have access to BT products you must also have access to AAISP, Zen and IDNet. Any of those three will offer superior support to BTr and will likely fix problems faster and more completely. The downside is that you'll have to pay more.

                  1. Captain Hogwash

                    Re: if you're trying to imply that BT retail offers better technical support

                    I am absolutely NOT trying to imply anything of the sort. I am simply stating that they can't pass the buck when something goes wrong; that, in my experience, the others all do this; and that, for me, this is worth staying with BT for (at least until the field of players at my location changes significantly.)

  2. steelpillow Silver badge
    Devil

    Fibre to what?

    Do they still claim that fibre to a cabinet just too far away from the subscriber premises is FTTP? I got that last year and it was so totally ineffectual I switched to a 4G/LTE router and got a serious speed boost. Saved money too by ditching both BT landline and ISP for a single "Mobile" contract.

    BTW, in my experience "if the right conditions are met" means, "if somebody pays us enough".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fibre to what?

      in my experience "if the right conditions are met" means, "if somebody pays us enough".

      Well, d'Uh. What else would it mean to a commercial business? BT isn't a charity.

      1. steelpillow Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Fibre to what?

        "Well, d'Uh. What else would it mean to a commercial business? BT isn't a charity"

        How stupid of me. It couldn't possibly mean that "given a sufficiently stupid government, we can get them to pay upfront for the growth of our monopoly for us." That would not be commercial, that would be bloodsucking. No, you are right, BT would never stoop so low.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Fibre to what?

      They did my local exchange FTTC. The cabinet for the whole village is just outside the exchange, My 6km of cable went from 2.4 to 2Mb! Everyone in the village itself just took the free upgrade (they were all on 17Mb anyway) and I think 2 businesses went to 70 for while. All paid for by the local council!

      Mine is now down to 1,2Mb and I'm trying to get 4G - the government Better Broadband scheme should pay for the installation of an external aerial which should cost £100 but for some reason through the scheme the free aerial only comes with an 18month contract that costs £180 more than the contract I can have if I buy the aerial myself!

    3. I. Hardon

      Re: Fibre to what?

      They never did. Virgin started the whole "our existing network is fibre now", the rest of the industry did the same, and then alt net operators tried to sue to stop that because they needed some PR to cover their own deployment failures.

      BT themselves now use "ultrafast" whether it's g.fast or FTTP.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Premises passed

    As ever with anything BT and fibre and promises it will be marked by 'premises passed' not premises where a service can actually be ordered and provided. Still as long as it keeps the grubby competition away, and those premises served aka 'the chosen ones' get super mega/giga/tera fibre broadband whilst everyone else is crawling along with a faked USO sync with throttling 8759.99 hours per annum to sub dial up speeds then all is well and the bonuses for the directorate are fully assured.

  4. Noodleman

    BT should focus on rural roll out, rather than increasing speeds to those areas that already get a good speed. had 150Mb, here have 300! what about those still on 1Mb who can't get anything other than basic ADSL?

    Stop knee jerk reacting to other ISP roll out and just smash FTTP everywhere

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      BT should focus on rural roll out, rather than increasing speeds to those areas that already get a good speed

      While that's an admirable idea unfortunately that's not financially viable. If you were running a company and had £2m to spend would you spend it in an area that created 100,000 potential customers or an area that created 5,000 potential customers?

      Even a government is going to struggle justifying the latter option.

  5. cb7

    FTTP

    When is FTTP not Fibre To The Premises?

    When it's Fibre To The Pole.

    That's why they say homes passed :-D

    If you then replace the drop wire with Cat 6, you could in theory get 1Gbps symmetric at home. But they're only aiming for 300Mbps to start with because they're too cheap to replace the 60m odd of twisted pair copper dropwire. And of course the analogue phone service still needs to run. For now. That's another Universal Service Obligation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FTTP

      The USO doesn't mandate copper service. Where openreach has deployed FTTP to new builds, there is no copper, the fibre ONT has both an ethernet port and a phone port. In areas where FTTP exists alongside copper it's the ISPs choice as to what to provide.

      I'm not really understanding your argument. If openreach have fibre to the pole, that means FTTP can be ordered and supplied. Until they switch off copper it's pretty obvious that not everyone will take up the service. Why is quoting premises passed a bad thing?

      1. cb7

        Re: FTTP

        Yes, it mandates voice service not copper, but why else would they develop a compromised product that relies on the existing dropwire from a fibre pole instead of replacing the dropwire with something better?

        It seems like penny pinching.

        "Homes passed" can portray a false picture of how many homes could be on Superfast broadband. It doesn't help when your local cabinet has fibre, making your home one of those "passed", but you're the 325th customer from that cabinet who wants VDSL but you can't have it because the cabinet only has capacity for 324 lines.

        used to paint a better picture of how many homes could get faster broadband rather than how many actually do. Sometimes there isn't

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: FTTP

          Are you confusing g.fast with fibre to the premises?

          When openreach says FTTP they mean the latter. It isn't a compromise.

  6. Juan Inamillion

    Downvotes

    I'm curious about the downvotes posted to the comments here. It seems anything criticising BT gets a few downvotes... Even though it's generally agreed that BT are the source of much of the problem with broadband roll out in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Downvotes

      Probably because some of it is justified. It's very easy to sit on the sidelines and snipe that BT hasn't done enough but their competitors are just as happy to talk a big game and fail to deliver.

  7. lsces

    Where do they actually offer FTTP?

    Having been battling continual dropouts on the 'fibre' since it was installed a couple of years back , and attempt to get an answer on how much 200mts of fibre from the cabinet I can see down the road to replace the problematic copper has just been blanked. HOPEFULLY they have now finally fixed the the problem with 30cm of copper around the top of the pole. But the MAIN complaint is why does it have to take 10 or more minutes to reconnect after a dropout the analogue broadband would be back up in a minute at most? Or in the case of a Hub6 ... not reconnect at all until you power cycle it the next morning!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of disproportionate downvotes for anything giving BT a kicking because just about everyone I know despises BT so there must be a few BT employees here who really should be sorting out why my broadband is shit rather that hanging around a Reg forum on company time.

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