back to article Openreach out and hike prices on legacy fixed-line products: Broadband plumber pulls trigger after Ofcom gives the nod

Openreach has said it will raise the cost of installing and delivering certain “legacy” wholesale products, including FTTC and copper, in order to spread the cost of the ongoing full-fibre rollout. The move follows this month’s publication of Ofcom’s 2021 Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review (WFTMR), which gave Openreach a …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    This is exactly what I feared from all those pushing for the FTTP that they wanted - that the rest of us, using FTTC or whatever is perfectly sufficient for our requirements, would get our bills increased to subsidise this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it's not private infrastructure

      This logic ignores the fixed costs of supporting your "requirements"?

      If some grandpa just wanted dialup, I'm not sure it makes sense to maintain that just because it "meets their requirements" on a cost basis when it was a volume product.

      For all public/shared infrastructure it would be what meets most people's requirements.

      And infrastructure has to be forward looking, the UK has already been squatting on copper for long enough.

      You'd have a point if newer infrastructure did not meet your needs, not your wants.

      There is a chicken-egg problem here - incentivising the move to FTTP makes sense, FTTC is not future proof and is legacy.

      If 10 engineers on FTTC can be made to work on FTTP, then FTTC paying for the legacy attention it needs makes sense.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: squatting on copper for long enough.

        You can hardly move around here for all the people protesting and obstructing the installation of fibre, demanding instead that we stay on the extant substandard copper connection. Yes, that's really how it is. One cannot count the number of failed attempts to upgrade us[1].

        -

        [1] This has two possible meanings - either (a) the attempts are so numerous we have lost count, or (b) there have been no attempts at all, so there is nothing to count. Guess which one is correct!

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: squatting on copper for long enough.

          Nobdy's saying you can't have FTTP. Just put your hand into your own pocket instead of somebody else's and pay for it yourself.

      2. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: it's not private infrastructure

        And infrastructure has to be forward looking, the UK Openreach has already been squatting on copper for long enough.

        FTFY.

        I am on a landline that struggles to get 1 Mb down so I rather think I should not be subsidising those who may already have orders of magnitude better data rates to get even better data rates.

        1. jason 7

          Re: it's not private infrastructure

          Have you pulled your bellwire out yet? Worth a look.

          1. Steve K Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: it's not private infrastructure

            Have you pulled your bellwire out yet? Worth a look

            Won't be downloading anything worth doing that for at 1MB/s... (oo-er matron)

            1. jason 7

              Re: it's not private infrastructure

              Well I'd take going from 1Mbps to maybe 1.5Mbps for 5 minutes of effort if that's all you can do...

          2. gerdesj Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: it's not private infrastructure

            A bellwire is for analogue extension signal ringing and I haven't seen one for some time.

            You get A and B direct from BT and they reverse the polarity to signal ringing. The bell wire is used to pass on signal ringing to extensions. If you don't have any further wiring then the bellwire isn't doing anything, even if it exists. If you do have analogue extensions and a bellwire then it *might* act as an aerial and bugger up your ADSL a bit.

            If you still have party lines and that over internal wiring then join the C21 and discover DECT (at least.) Otherwise run your ADSL into a separate dedicated line from your steampunk analogue nonsense.

            1. jason 7

              Re: it's not private infrastructure

              Yeah it adds noise and still remains hooked up in many many telephone master sockets.

              I have done the removal for people and seen a decent boost from it. Those stuck out in the sticks going from 2Mbps to a more stable 3Mbps is nothing to sniff at for free. The alternative is fix a ADSL/VDSL faceplate but this takes all of 5 minutes.

      3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: it's not private infrastructure

        incentivising the move to FTTP makes sense

        Great! Consider me incentivised! I'll adopt FTTP.

        Sorry, it's not available where you live.

        When will it be available?

        Dunno, but we expect you to pay for it all the same.

      4. ThePalsyP

        Re: it's not private infrastructure

        I couldn't get FTTC until 2019 until another ISP, Glide, installed their own cabinet.. I don't even live in the middle of nowhere either.... Some people still can't get FTTC let alone FTTP!... The problem with BT/Openreach, is that they want to run before they can walk.

        1. NeilPost Silver badge

          Re: it's not private infrastructure

          So if you don’t live in the sticks what about Virgin Media?

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: it's not private infrastructure

            Speaking for someone I know, (not the op) but the town of Caerphilly is hardly 'in the sticks'* and Virgin is only now - as in 2021 - beginning to dig up the pavements. At least I assume it's Virgin - it's certainly fibre. The vans are not marked Virgin, nor Openreach, but I suppose it could be OR rolling out FTTP.

            Bear in mind that Cabletel cabled up Cardiff (which is bang next door) and Pontypridd (bang next door the other way) some 25 years ago (I was working in Cardiff at the time) and as far as I'm aware the network - which became NTL then Virgin - has stayed static ever since.

            Who knows when it will go live, and at present it looks as if it is confined to the centre of town anyway.

            M.

            * I always assumed the expression was 'out in the Styx'. Am I wrong?

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: it's not private infrastructure

        This logic ignores the fixed costs of supporting your "requirements"?

        Either those fixed costs are being met at present or BT has its billing wrong. Inflation might raise those costs in the future. That's not what's being suggested here. What's being suggested is cross-subsidy. Back in the day cross-subsidy in BT was frowned upon by the regulators. That was to stop BT simply squeezing smaller competitors out of the market. It appears that when the subsidy it only working against consumers and not competitors it doesn't matter.

        BTW, can you explain a good reason for those quotation marks? You seem to be implying a fault in the argument which you can't articulate, maybe because it's not there.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: it's not private infrastructure

          "requirements" the quotes are to highlight the absoute and relative sense of it. The quotes are to cover the subjectivity when people declare their requirements, as if their individual wants trump the wider needs. The relative nature (i.e using yourself as the reference) makes it seem significant, but in an absolute sense, it has significantly less weight.

          You did emphasize the personal nature of your "requirements". There's a problem in calling it that if most people need something else. Not want, need.

          You want things to remain at FTTC, so I take it your argument is that your broadband speed today is plenty as per your assessment. So your 40 MBps is enough, you don't need 100 MBps.

          Contrast this with people here unhappy about only getting 1 MBps and need to take video calls. And then someone else can say that they only use the lynx browser, and so 1 MBps is fine, they don't want to upgrade to ADSL2.

          I don't see how this lynx browser person, who defines their "requirement" as a max 1 MBps speed, is a realistic requirement (without the quotes) when considering shared infrastructure. Your FTTC is the same to me. You are the FTTC lynx browser user, stopping the HD multi channel video AR video session.

          I'm ok with the principle that sticking to legacy infrastructure can cost more, if that infrastructure spend is competing with other "progressive" spend. This "2G/GPRS/dialup/ADSL/FTTC is good enough for me" argument, that keeps coming up in these forums, is not a meaningful way to define shared infrastructure requirements.

          I'd imagine people said the same thing when electricity came and they were happy with their kerosene lamps, because electricity could kill and their candles were plenty bright.

          For the other side of the argument (i.e not enough speed) and the cross-subsidy comments, it is a different matter to stop competition between providers (which affects all consumers). Here the subsidiy is still being used for consumers not to stop competitors. What people are actually expecting here is that some consumers should get a bigger pie of the infrastructure spend (because they are remote/tough terrain/sparsely populated, etc)

          In my area, NIMBYs on some streets did not like "the look" of the telephone poles for FTTP. They are old people, retired, with lots of time, so write to councillors and so on. So the FTTP service was actually taken *down*. These muppets are saying they are happy with just Virgin media. These same idiots in a few years time will be complaining that VM prices are too high and they have no choice. I suspect someone moving into the area will complain that BT Openreach did not "invest" in their area, but the truth is different.

          So short of someone identifying exactly *why* they don't get good speeds, and how much it would cost to connect them, I can't comment or take sides that Openreach aren't doing their thing. I do not expect them to spend £2m to wire up 10 people, when it can be spent that to wire up 2000.

          Basically we need both sides of the story for the specific "no speed/not spot" cases.

          I suppose where there is no FTTP or alternate provision avaialble, the increased charges should be skipped. But where both are available,the concept of using legacy infrastructure to fund/incentivise progressive infrastructure I think makes sense.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: it's not private infrastructure

            Substitute "needs" for "requirements" if you must. Read it as "does everything they want" if you like. But the point is that if somebody simply has a POTS phone and nothing else because they don't need, want or require any sort of internet or somebody else has ADSL or FTTC and nothing else because they don't need, want or require anything fast why should they have their prices raised because you want Netflix for yourself and your kids to watch two different films whilst another of your kids plays online games and you don't want to pay the full whack for that?

            The plain fact is that you're asking for a subsidy. If BT/Openreach take out loans to install an FTTP network for those who want it the interest and capital on those loans should be paid by those who are making use of that network and not by those who aren't. If, when those loans and interest have been paid off, the economics of the maintenance of the two systems might look different and FTTP might well be cheaper than the legacy network. Loading the costs of building it onto those who do not intend to take it up is simply inequitable.

            Frankly a better way of investing would be to continue rolling out a better service to those who cannot even get a decent ADSL connection. That's the other side of the argument. Upgrading the existing better connected areas will inevitably take away resources from extending the existing fibre network. Living in the country I can think of a number of premises where FTTP might well be a sensible option - properties are so thinly spread that FTTC isn't going to work well. Fine, subsidise those who live and work there rather than have them subsidise those who already have a good service to get an even better one.

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: it's not private infrastructure

              why should they have their prices raised because you want Netflix for yourself and your kids to watch two different films whilst another of your kids plays online games and you don't want to pay the full whack for that?

              Good point.

              I can see that at some point, as people move off "legacy" products they will become uneconomic to maintain, but that emphatically does not mean that people who choose to stay on those products - certainly in the short to medium term - should be forced to pay substantially more to continue to receive the service.

              Or, to put it another way, if Openreach wants to move people away from legacy products, first they need to provide an equivalent product on the new technology and at broadly the same price.

              When I moved from dial-up to ADSL I actually saved money because I no longer had per-minute call charges, even if the monthly fixed cost was higher.

              When my 512k ADSL service was swapped to "ADSL Max" and because I was a few hundred yards from the exchange, I suddenly started getting 8Mbps, it didn't cost me anything extra at all, and at the time I had absolutely no use-case for 8Mbps.

              When they swapped out the "legacy" ADSL DSLAM for an ADSL2 unit, I wasn't expected to pay for it.

              One of the things which has kept me from moving to FTTC is that the "broadband" part of my phone-and-broadband package would double (38Mbps) or triple (76Mbps) and until recently wouldn't have brought me any real benefit. To put that in numbers, ADSL costs me around £5 per month on top of line rental. FTTC would cost me £11 or £16 with the same supplier. It is getting to the stage where I do need a faster connection, but for the foreseeable future 76Mbps (not for the d/l speed but the u/l) will be more than enough. I would be perfectly happy* to be moved to FTTP if they could offer similar speeds at similar prices, but they don't. At the moment a basic FTTP package looks as if it will cost somewhere north of £35, depending on supplier.

              Or to put it another way, if it is in Openreach's interest to move people off "legacy" products and they insist on installing FTTP while many people don't need or want or maybe can't actually afford the extra speed on offer, they should be required to provide an equivalent service at an equivalent price.

              M.

              *One thing I really am not looking forward to is losing my landline. There is something very reassuring about a physical line back all the way to the exchange with batteries and generators on hand. I realise FTTP kit does have a battery and I actually already support my own kit with UPSes, but we have quite a lot of power cuts around here and only last weekend our power was off for a solid two hours, which the small UPS powering my modem, switch and DECT base station couldn't quite manage. The bog standard phone plugged into the landline was (of course) absolutely fine.

            2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

              Re: it's not private infrastructure

              > The plain fact is that you're asking for a subsidy. If BT/Openreach take out loans to install an FTTP network for those who want it the interest and capital on those loans should be paid by those who are making use of that network and not by those who aren't.

              An alternative way of looking at it is that as a ADSL/FTTC user you are helping invest in a network that you will (most likely) one day use, and in doing so are helping bring the cost down so that it can start to come to a price-point you'd be more comfortable with.

              I disagree with Openreach calling Copper/FTTC legacy too, but there is some truth in the idea that that will one day be the case - you'll be on FTTP (because that's all that will really be available, outside some edge-cases).

              Early adopters tend to bear the costs of newer connectivity - which is fine, it comes with being an early adopter - but at some point you start to need cross-subsidies to start towards achieving economies of sale in your pricing.

              As Bloor noted in TFA - the ISP could quite conceivably end up still maintaining a DSLAM for all of 4 users. If you're hot on each user paying for their own requirements, why _shouldn't_ they be charged more to cover the upkeep of that?

              > The plain fact is that you're asking for a subsidy

              The networks we have wouldn't exist without subsidy. They're a product of a (large) group of people funding it - that's how large interconnected projects tend to work. "I'm only paying for mine" doesn't really translate well into a functioning outcome.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: it's not private infrastructure

              >> The plain fact is that you're asking for a subsidy.

              But this is the same difference?

              As the ISP provider says "Eventually you reach a point where you’re running and supporting a whole DSLAM in an exchange for four customers."

              You want legacy infrastructure to be maintained at the same price. You are asking for a price hold. Why is preventing legacy tech price increases not a subsidy? The support contracts to the infra vendors would be priced higher for example. Why should copper based exchanges be maintained when ethernet based voip is cheaper?

              You actually are arguing for entirely parallel technology investment, which is more expensive and wasteful given the newer tech supports all the features of the earlier one. Why should they spend extra and train a separate set on engineers in the newer tech, and then just make the older tech engineers redundant when the time comes? It would be best to transition the existing engineers so that the long term view is supported. Those savings can be used on the new infrastructure instead of supporting parallelised execution, with less time spent on legacy. Legacy pricing, derived from economies of scale, should not be sustained this way.

              As for your "expand older tech rather" argument, the timescales for infrastructure bringup is far longer than the tech that uses it. Your strategy is asking for a reactive deployment, which would have the UK behind on deploying FTTP, when other nations are teaching their kids with VR and immersive environments, perhaps giving those nations greater literacy and math outcomes.

              Remember that prices are currently held by regulation, otherwise there would connection charges that would be address specific - a tougher terrain or sparser area would be charged far more to reflect the actual costs. Connectivity in rural areas are *already* heavily subsidised from income in more dense "cheaper" deployments. What regulation is doing here is to be forward looking. This is why the US is so far behind in both cellular and broadband.

              The strategy has to be what is forward looking for the majority. It must be ready for what most people *will* likely to use. Infrastructure spend can not wait until after the fact. Most people stream Netflix on their 5 screens, and will expect new Teams and Xoom features to work when the time comes..

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: it's not private infrastructure

                You want legacy infrastructure to be maintained at the same price. You are asking for a price hold. Why is preventing legacy tech price increases not a subsidy?

                Or you could do as I suggested and move people to the new technology, but provide an equivalent service to the old tech at an equivalent price. Yes, it is technically feasible, even if no-one currently does it.

                It's a general rule in pretty much every area of commerce that unless you are a monopoly, people will not pay (large amounts) more simply in order to continue to receive the same service, and if the existing service is sufficient for their needs they will not appreciate being forced to "upgrade" for no benefit.

                To take this to an extreme, I have an aunt who bought a new Mini Metro back in the 1990s and caused great consternation at the local garage when she refused to have a five-speed gearbox because the four speed box was cheaper and very nearly all her driving by then was around town and short journeys where she wouldn't benefit from fifth gear anyway (actually, the four-speed was probably more efficient). The consternation was caused because they had the model she wanted there in the garage with a five-speed box, but had to order the four-speed from the factory.

                If this had been anyone else the analogy would have continued like this; so the garage offered her the five-speed model at the same price as the four-speed model and they both went away happy because my aunt hadn't paid over-the-odds for a feature she didn't need or want, and the garage had a satisfied customer who would come back for servicing, probably begin to understand the benefits of a fifth gear and buy her next car from them without complaining.

                As it was my aunt, I doubt such tactics would have worked. Knowing her she would have just walked down the road to the next garage, which is where the analogy fails, but you get the drift.

                There are three ways to move people off "legacy" products:

                • stop offering the product so they don't have a choice but to move, this is guaranteed to create a lot of angry customers, particularly if the new product is twice the price of the old one (as is currently the case for FTTP)
                • increase the price of the legacy product so that hold-outs can grumble but take the hit, while others will grudgingly move (shades of Windows extended support!) to a product they don't really want or need. Eventually there will be so few hold-outs it won't cause major problems forcibly to switch them
                • offer them something as similar as possible to what they currently have, at a price they can afford, but also give a deadline for moving - this is a bit like the digital TV switchover once Freeview was a thing (by the mid 2000s you could buy a box for £25 from Tesco to "convert" your TV and you'd get all the same programmes, plus several more, for no additional cost), or the swap from analogue mobile phones to digital, or even (to go much further back) the swap from Leaded petrol to unleaded or from town gas to natural gas. It can be done, and has been done time and time again without inconveniencing too many people.

                other nations are teaching their kids with VR and immersive environments

                If there is one thing I've learned about schooling over the last year, it is that remote learning - however well delivered - is not a patch on face-to-face learning*. One of the schools my children attends has suggested making "device" ownership mandatory even when things are back to normal, and that these devices should be brought in to school daily for use in class. You can bet we were quick off the mark with dissenting emails and phonecalls, and from the silence which has followed that suggestion, I imagine the overall response wasn't 100% positive from other parents either.

                As an occasional supplement, fair enough - but the school has Chromebooks they can use for that sort of thing - but not as a regular feature of daily learning. Might as well not bother with sending the kids on the bus and just have them blobbing out in the study instead.

                M.

                *of course, this is something that many people (us included) predicted when the whole thing kicked off last year, but it is fair to say that under extremely testing circumstances the schools our children attend have risen to the occasion remarkably well, if a bit slowly in the case of one of them.

  2. msknight
    Trollface

    "Openreach has said it will raise the cost of installing and delivering certain “legacy” wholesale products, including FTTP and copper, in order to spread the cost of the ongoing full-fibre rollout." ... Am I missing something here? This reads like FTTP is a legacy product. At least this Thursday is a Friday by proxy this week. In the UK at least :-)

    1. Captain TickTock

      certain “legacy” wholesale products, including FTTP

      Almost certainly a typo

  3. Jim Willsher

    And for those of us who can't even get FTTC, we must be on the legacy legacy legacy kit. And who has responsibility for that? Yep, Openreach.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Other Communication Providers exist. Have you contacted any of them to ask if/when they are coming to your area?

      Don't overlook the price reduction that openreach announced. That will incentivise those other CPs.

    2. ThePalsyP

      I had to wait until another ISP installed their own cabinet to be able to get FTTC!

  4. Oh Homer
    Unhappy

    That's me fscked again, then

    Greetings from what has apparently been designated as the last muddy outpost in Blighty scheduled to receive fibre broadband, probably several decades after every other household in the country.

    I look forward to the prospect of subsidising everyone else's gloriously high speed internet, while I remain involuntarily stuck on "broadband" speeds roughly comparable to using 2 tin cans connected by a piece of string.

    As the proud owner of an "Exchange Only" line, in the middle of a vast wilderness populated only by myself, a geriatric postmaster, and several sheep, I suppose I should be accustomed to paying through the nose for services I'm denied the privilege of enjoying, such as any form of public transportation, public road maintenance, or even a council dustbin, so this latest move fits perfectly.

    I shall now begin a Patreon campaign to fund moving home to an inner-city slum, so I can reap the rewards of a 21st century lifestyle.

    1. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

      Re: That's me fscked again, then

      I live in one of your so called inner city slums (Brixton - albeit highly gentrified now) and we don't have FTTP or FTTC for that matter. The new block of flats they built behind us gets fibre but we don't. This isn't an urban vs rural battle.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's me fscked again, then

        It is usually driven by the uptake of past infrastructure upgrades. The flats allow for a much lower investment per household, so the takeup they need to justify the spend is far less as well. Also connection setup per household is practically free.

        If most people in an area did not choose ADSL2 when it came, then AIUI the areas are not a priority. And if VM is there (anecdotal).

        Similarly if there is any history of NIMBYs or neighbourhood groups stopping infrastructure upgrades, such as poles or underground cables, or if certain key routes are privately owned. Much of these are lost on most of the homeowners of an area, but it actually only take a very noisy few, with a lot of time, to make areas go to the bottom of the queue, due to the risk of legal hassles. This happened near my area, resulting in an odd FTTP "hole" in the coverage map.

        If Openreach spends three months upgrading, only to have to undo it all for another three months, it affects their coverage targets and obligations. They might as well focus on those areas without the red flags, and get more work done, and save money.

  5. Simple Simon

    We've switched to LTE

    We have premises in the city centre of Edinburgh. The only fixed line connectivity that is available to us is ADSL. We get 6Mbit/s down and 0.5Mbit/s up. On a good day. There is literally no other connectivity available from any provider on any infrastructure - and no roadmap or plans for that to change.

    This is not some remote community. This is in the centre of the capital city of Scotland!

    We finally gave up, and have recently installed a fixed LTE [1] modem. We get between 10Mbit/s and 20Mbit/s up and down. Bye-bye fixed line...

    [1] it turns out there aren't yet any sensible options for fixed, external 5G modems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We've switched to LTE

      CityFibre are currently deploying in Edinburgh and will offer a 1 Gbps symmetric service - https://www.cityfibre.com/gigabit-cities/

      1. Simple Simon

        Re: We've switched to LTE

        Thanks for the suggestion. But, I checked. No coverage, and no plans.

    2. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: We've switched to LTE

      "There is literally no other connectivity available from any provider on any infrastructure - and no roadmap or plans for that to change."

      Starlink? Pricey, but it should be fine for your latitude.

      1. Simple Simon

        Re: We've switched to LTE

        Nice idea - and thanks for the thought. We already looked into it. Coverage is intermittent, price is high, and deployment is impossible (most of Edinburgh city centre is a conservation area).

    3. leexgx

      Re: We've switched to LTE

      Openreach is in the process rolling out fttp so you should get it eventually (aim is 2025 for 95%, I would say closer to 2030 before completion) , especially areas that only get ADSL, openreach is planning on going compleat fibre removing all copper (probably be around 2030-35 before that happens)

      but might be 1-7 years old before it happens rolling out fibre to the premises is a Significant undertaking

      1. Simple Simon

        Re: We've switched to LTE

        Honestly, OpenReach have no such plans that they're able to share with us.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: We've switched to LTE

          "Honestly, OpenReach have no such plans that they're able to share with us."

          Depending on how high up the totem pole you can get to ask your questions, it's worth specifically excluding the word "plan" in your questions and using words like "intentions", "road map" and so on. "plan" can have specific legal meanings when discussing business that could lead to legal implications when said "plans" don't materialise.

    4. ChipsforBreakfast
      WTF?

      Re: We've switched to LTE

      Ah yes, Edinburgh. The place where you might get ADSL, IF you're lucky. The problem there is the physical cabling - it's old & from what I've been told portions of it are actually made of aluminium and not copper which doesn't work with VDSL. Combine that with the almost herculean difficulty of replacing said physical plant in a city where you only need to look at traffic to cause a tailback and random 'conservation areas' making it difficult to install cabinets and you have the perfect storm.

      Some areas are lucky and get Virgin Media service. Most don't Leased lines frequently carry stupidly high 'civil works' costs and thus are out reach for many.

      Yes, I've fought that war.. many times. I feel your pain.

      PS... Starlink isn't too badly priced although coverage is still patchy. 5G/LTE is workable but as you've found there are few options for routers (try Vodafone - the one they offer is probably the best of a bad bunch currently).

    5. Dolvaran

      Re: We've switched to LTE

      Have a word with Commsworld or City Fibre - they've carried a major rollout across Edinburgh. May also be worth while speaking to the city Council to see if any help may be available. They funded part of the rollout.

  6. Pete B

    OFCOM should have set this up so BT were only allowed to increase the surcharge on "Legacy" products if the line in question actually had a valid, more up to date, alternative available for it.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Not a terrible idea but don't overlook the fact that openreach pricing affects all communication providers indirectly. Raising the price of your legacy connection makes you a more attractive target for altnets because it closes the charging gap and reduces their costs. It becomes easier for them to offer you something better at a price you might accept.

      Eg;

      Current situation:

      £20 for FTTC. £30 for FTTP. Typical consumer doesn't want to pay £10pcm extra just to stop the kids moaning about game downloads.

      Then the cost of your legacy product goes up and the cost of providing an alternative goes down..

      £25 for FTTC. £25 for FTTP. Suddenly it's a no-brainer and consumers switch in droves. Sadly they are still bugged by their offspring because that's life.

      If openreach was forced to charge low prices for legacy products it makes modern products look more expensive. And the market is very clearly price oriented. Anyone looking at the business case for laying providing a service will be well aware of that.

      1. NeilPost Silver badge

        I think many of your ‘typical’ would pay that willingly. I’d even take the halfway-house of G.Fast FTTC but it is not available.... or being clear was available but has been withdrawn/paused (in my enabled area) whilst FTTP drive is on (no that’s not available either).

        Many contractors and OR dragging fibre all over town so fingers crossed.

  7. jason 7

    I really do wish...

    ...I could get paid tens of millions over and over again for doing a half-arsed job over and over again.

    Fabulous business model.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Adam JC

    Cheeky bastards

    Openreach have a phenomenal amount of audacity in raising prices on 'legacy' products to subsidise FTTP deployments when they're quite happy to cream the government handouts from grants left right & centre for a huge majority of their expansion. Not to mention that calling a product 'legacy' when it's still in such massive widespread use and FTTP is still a massive minority in comparison to actual live circuits, I don't really think it's fair to call time on a service and anyone who thinks copper is going to be pulled entirely from service in 2025 is living in a dream based on current timelines.

    I know SOGEA is here to bridge the gap, but as a service provider it's a steaming pile of turd and from all the Openreach engineers I've spoken to, they are absolutely dreading it as it's a logistical nightmare to try and identify spare pairs with no dial tone on. I dread to think how the Kellys/Quinn subcontractors are going to deal with it as they're a nightmare for stealing pairs to complete a job with a clearly audible dial tone, let alone an active line WITHOUT a dial tone on it!

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Cheeky bastards

      How else do you expect them to pay for it??

      Stand-alone it fails a return on investment model. That’s why in comparison Virgin Media’s network has such poor geographic reach- esp. anywhere even the mildest sticks.

      Fundamentally the consumer pays for it via end user prices or general taxation rerouted as government subsidies enabling earlier adoption.

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Cheeky bastards

      nightmare to try and identify spare pairs with no dial tone on

      'twas ever thus.

      I've told this story here before, but when I worked in ILR in the 1990s we had analogue lines into the local sports stadiums for our match commentators to use. These lines carried baseband audio with no line voltage and it was almost guaranteed that checking the line just before a big match would reveal that some twit at the other end had nicked our pair for a temporary phoneline for some foreign broadcaster.

      And it wasn't even that difficult to check. Instead of looking for line voltage, all they had to do was stick a handset across the line and they would have heard our programme coming through - we kept the lines permanently live and looped-back at the stadium end to make the job of checking them easier for us.

      M.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. AndrueC Silver badge
    Meh

    In general, customers who can get FTTP take FTTP. At least, in our customer base.

    Well yes but that's because most of your customers are discerning and demanding and already prepared to pay a premium for a better service. Out in the greater world I very much doubt that's true. Most people are buying on price and just aiming for 'good enough'. Those customers won't give AAISP (or other top shelf ISPs like mine - IDNet) more than a passing glance. They will similarly dismiss FTTP until/unless it is actually cheaper than the alternatives.

    Ofcom have proven this strategy before (and this is openreach doing what Ofcom allows rather than openreach randomly raising prices). They know full well that this market is price driven. We've known pretty much since the early days of DSL that price is how you move customers. People don't buy on speed. They work out how much they can afford then they pick a service. So the intent here is to price legacy products to extinction.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Well yes but that's because most of your customers are discerning and demanding need, or at least think they need, and already prepared to pay a premium for a better service. Out in the greater world I very much doubt that's true.

      FTFY

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So the intent here is to price legacy products to extinction.

      Whatever price a customer is charged for the "legacy" product has absolutely no bearing on whether infrastructure is upgraded; upgrading shared infrastructure is not a choice a customer gets to make.

      Increasing the price on legacy just means that the customer pays more for the same product, and with the legacy product now magically raking in more without any investment having been required, there is now less (or perhaps even no) meaningful financial incentive for the "legacy" infrastructure to *ever* be upgraded.

      What might be priced to not-quite-extinction is probably the customer's wallet, not the "legacy" infrastructure, which can now make more money than before.

  12. AndrueC Silver badge
    Happy

    On the pricing front another thing to consider is that the less BT charges the harder it is for alternative providers to get a look in. If you make BT operate at a loss then other CPs will have to do the same thing and their pockets are not as deep.

    To understand pricing changes there are two things you have to realise:

    1. Openreach cannot arbitrarily change their prices. They are subject to legal regulation by Ofcom. BT are adjusting their prices because Ofcom is allowing them to. There have been cases where BT was forced to raise prices specifically to help their competitors.

    2. The marketplace is price driven. This might come as a surprise to some but it absolutely is. Only a small minority want 'the fastest connection I can get'. The vast majority want 'a connection I can afford'. Simply making FTTP available does not guarantee a sale. Nothing like. Very few people currently pay for the best connection available to them. Virgin Media has several times closed down older products and given people a free upgrade because it was the only way to make them move.

    In that scenario making legacy products more expensive while holding down pricing on new products (and assisting alternate providers) is not a bad solution.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "On the pricing front another thing to consider is that the less BT charges the harder it is for alternative providers to get a look in. If you make BT operate at a loss then other CPs will have to do the same thing and their pockets are not as deep."

      The plan here seems to be to make FTTP operate at a loss and cross-subsidise it from POTS and FTTC. Cross-subsidy was a no-no all the time I worked at BT.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can see a ‘new’ openreach ‘fibre first’ pole from where this is being typed, it’s been there for well over two years, it provides service to absolutely no one.

    No FTTC here, FTTP still as distant as ever. Current fastest connection speed test? 2.7Mbps / 0.3Mbps speed test all over copper ADSL

    Like I said above, it’s in a ‘fibre first’ location, a location marked as ‘completed’ is not the arse end of nowhere otherwise I’d have a connection fast enough to download the entire internet twice before dinner.

    Lies, damn lies and openreach fibre claims

    1. David Roberts

      Unused FTTP poles

      I know two locations (one outside here) where there are the knobbly things on top of the poles ready for FTTP.

      Two years or more and no sign of any service offering.

      I have no idea why.

    2. mark4155

      Are you a neighbour of mine. I live in Manchester (Miles Platting) about 1.5 Miles from the city centre. No FTTP, but like you can see the pole across the other side of the street, no FTTC, poor 4G and no 5G. I've emailed Openreach, Ofcom, local MP and every man or woman with a dog.

      To no avail. No dates or anything useful apart from a helpful message asking me to go round the neighbours with a begging bowl to cough a few thousand to have FTTP provisioned.

      I'm currently on Mr. Musks waiting list for a Skylink dish.

      I suppose I should be grateful for 7mb/0.70mb.

      Try running a business on these speeds!

      Toodle Pip.

  14. a_builder

    I appreciate that nobody at El Reg understand broadband delivery. You know it is only a tech journal so why would you expect it to be better fact checked than the Daily Fail?

    Here goes.....

    “ including FTTC and copper”

    But FTTC is delivered over copper.

    “Price protection on FTTP is not expected to kick in.....”

    On the low tier FTTP products up to 40/10 are price protected

    “Citing an example of ADSL via a DSLAM versus a more modern fibre to the cabinet”

    FTTC is provisioned from a DSLAM connected via the PCP - so the comment makes zero sense as it stands and is quite misleading. Is this perhaps a muddle with the next paragraph where he is talking about the DSLAM in the exchange provisioning ADSL?

    As a fine point you can provision 24/1 (sold as 18/1 the equivalent of good ADSL2+) quite easily from an FTTC DSLAM so perhaps this is what this muddle means? But then the two paragraphs make even less sense.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      On the low tier FTTP products up to 40/10 are price protected

      Who offers such products? FTTP is a distant dream where I live, but in all my looking at the situation I haven't seen anyone offer 40/10 as a FTTP product. About the lowest speed I've seen is 160/30. Since 40/10 is the same as low-tier FTTC, if it really is available and if FTTP enables Openreach to withdraw all Copper-based products and therefore save money, surely it makes absolute sense to move everyone from Copper to this basic FTTP tier and keep the costs the same? Over time people will move to faster products and will not have any trouble doing so as all it will require is a configuration change - no new modem or engineer install just "thank you for your payment, I've sent the change request off and you should see faster speeds before lunchtime".

      Sorry, I know I'm a bit naïve

      M.

  15. Paul

    Last year, BT wanted £600/house to lay fibre in our village to be funded by government subsidy. They missed the deadline to get funding.

    With a new fibre subsidy scheme offering £1500/house, BT told me that they will lay fibre for £1500/house.

    Funny how the cost BT has calculated has risen to the maximum available subsidy!

  16. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

    BT Chairman, Virgin media chairman and Boris had a meeting the other day. How to achieve "project gigabit", namely 85% UK coverage of 1000meg broadband. I suspect things are going to be turbo charged for the next two years, as BT have committed to 10,000 FTTP home connections installed per day. Crazy figures, but apparently a real target from this month.

    1. Dolvaran

      Ah! The amazing 'targets' set by government. You could consider comparing the success (or rather, lack of) of the smart meter rollout. That was supposed to have been completed years ago. I think the last figure was 34%?

      1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

        I agree, but technically they have already achieved 40% nationwide coverage, if you include Virgin's new DOCSIS network.

        BT finally serious about fibre. Can only be a good thing

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's only a target, not a commitment.

      Targets are only for political purposes.

  17. irrelevant

    Not spots

    In in one of those inner city slum areas. Except we're being dragged up by new apartment developments all around us. Phone lines are delivered by underground cable that is so bad that BT originally refused to supply their launch 512Kbps service! ADSL2 got us a max of 6Mbps, and VDSL/FTTC we now get a moderately unreliable ~30Mbps. There's some ducting NYNEX put in in the 90s but never progressed, and Virgin still says no plans to deliver in the area. I'm waiting for FTTP to be available at a sensible price.

    A relative moved into a new-build "affordable housing" a mile away, which had FTTP and Virgin Media cable both pre-installed.. I'm intensely jealous.

  18. Roger Anderson

    If only it was that easy

    I've been fighting to get FTTP for 3 years but for all the government shout about voucher schemes etc etc it's basically impossible for anyone who lives outside a densely popular area to get it. I live 1 mile outside of a reasonably populated Scottish town and FTTP is available there. Me and my neighbours though have been given a quote for £108,000 by Openreacb to install FTTP to 12 houses, and that's after they have discounted any applicable vouchers. £9,000 each....no thanks!

    Openreach community funded scheme have stopped replying to me so it's impossible to discuss and of course they have no phone number.

    Most of us have gone 4G as the only viable alternative that can accommodate 2x people working from home. It is frustrating as hell that people with 70Mb FTTC are getting prioritised for 1000Mb FTTP when those of use who are too difficult to reach are left on 1 to 4Mb ADSL or doing something else on our own. Why can't FTTP be focussed on the slowest areas first (be that city centre or rural)?

  19. mark l 2 Silver badge

    When Openreach eventually make FTTP available on my street ill happily upgrade from my VDSL connection as long as the price remains roughly the same. I don't currently have any need for more that the 35Mbps i am getting on FTTC, so don't want to have to pay more just because they decide their entry level FTTP service has higher bandwidth and is therefore more expensive.

  20. ianmcca

    A fairer way to price

    Subsidising fibe rollout by charging more for copper is insane. Openreach and ISPs should be forced to base their charges for a line based on its speed. They'd make a deserved loss on slow lines and collectively they'd have a powerful incentive to get rid of them.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OFCOM

    Cameron was going to abolish it.

    Unfortunately the lobbyists won.

    More Tory success :(

  22. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    In other news, Netflix put their price up to help pay for more content

    Shock horror

  23. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    My ability to get FTTP is about a stones throw away from the main street.

    Its kinda stupid, technology improves but the ubiquity always severely lags behind

    What a flippin mess

    People still tell me capitalism is best....ERRRRROR

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