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Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Melancholie
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Registered: 23-07-2013

Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Hi Plusnet,
I wanted to give you some feedback on a couple of different things. Firstly, the FTTC service is running just fine. The only real change to it has been a loss of speed due to crosstalk and high uptake.
Secondly your parent have cost you some business. Prior to the doubling of the monthly charge on FTTPoD I would've happily paid up to you guys for the install and FTTPoD - I value performance and stability very highly. As it is the price increases to maximise the benefit from the Superconnected Cities voucher scheme have left it an unattractive proposition. It seems to have become a vehicle to collect public sector subsidies rather than a genuine product.
As a Retail operator I'd expect you to be fighting hard to try and ensure you are competitive. You are indeed competitive with the rest of the FTTC crew, however that's a total identikit set up. While your parent group may witter on about choice I couldn't care less about value added services, I'm not especially price sensitive, and my choice is a massive swathe of companies selling the same product from home to the WBC handover points. I can buy the same 'up to' 76Mb delivered over the same network by the same people from over 70 different operators. I mean, so what? Is that a choice?
Can I point out to you guys that in over 12.5 million premises Plusnet are competing with Virgin Media. For the price of an 'up to' 76Mb Plusnet service, average speed around the 50Mb mark, someone can purchase a triple-play from Virgin Media including 100Mb, phone line and a TV package.
You really could be pushing for BT Wholesale to push Openreach to deliver the products that are competitive with Virgin Media. I appreciate it may mean a few quid less for BT Retail to spend putting up bids on football that even Murdoch's finest wouldn't contemplate, but it might be a plan, rather than relying on Virgin not being available as widely as FTTC. As someone who likes having the latest and greatest in some fields having Virgin customers with access to 160Mb while the best I can have short of paying well over 200 quid a month and 4.5k in install costs is less than half that is vexing.
Your suppliers dramatically pared back their investment and pretty much built a network in record time spending a record low amount of money. Sadly this left us with about the most poorly served urban areas in the EU and you all seem to be just fine with it while their retail arm rides off into the sunset overpaying massively on sports rights to try and enlarge their market share as they know the actual broadband product itself is the bare minimum acceptable. The original plan for ~25% of the NGA build to be FTTP seems laughable now; the majority of the Openreach FTTP build was subsidised by taxpayers, the rest outside of greenfield new builds would probably be considered a moderately large trial rather than 4.5 million premises passed as mooted.
Some slightly louder shouting at them to deliver the products that allow you to differentiate yourselves in other ways than being cheaper / from Yorkshire would be awesome. You and every other retail operator appear to be getting roundly stitched up by BT Group via BT Retail and no-one seems to be that bothered about it.
Maybe you're doing this in private, who knows. Can but hope.
34 REPLIES
Community Gaffer
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Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Hey,  thanks for the feedback.  I can't answer any of the points directly right now, but I am using it and passing it on internally.
Kelly Dorset
Broadband Service Manager
Melancholie
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Registered: 23-07-2013

Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Kelly,
Thanks. Another thought - you guys are the 2nd largest BT Wholesale customer I believe, and you process FTTP orders manually. Kinda says a few things, as does that the 2nd and 3rd largest Openreach customers are so unimpressed by the offerings that they would rather sink 5 million quid each into a joint venture with CityFibre and build their own rather than using BT.
Appreciate the excuse will probably be that there's no demand from the public but if the options aren't available or are priced at levels that would scare most small businesses away it's hardly surprising there is little demand for products like that. You have to assume Sky and TalkTalk have good reasons for spending their money as they are and they clearly find the GEA products inadequate.
Superuser
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Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

To add to the thought process here, I am certain that if made available at reasonable prices, there would be a massive take up of FTTPole if it were offered, especially in rural areas where VDSL on long d-sides can render a service worse than ADSL.
If Virgin can offer high speed cable to every premise, then why cannot BT do the same?
Moderator
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Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Quote from: Townman
If Virgin can offer high speed cable to every premise, then why cannot BT do the same?

except they can't and nearly went bankrupt trying..

Customer / Moderator / If it helped click the thumb / If it fixed it click 'This fixed my problem'

Community Gaffer
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Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

It wasn't Virgin that installed it.  It was smaller local companies that ended being gobbled up because of the cost :/
Kelly Dorset
Broadband Service Manager
Melancholie
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Registered: 23-07-2013

Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Indeed. Some companies had to do their own digging they can't use existing ducts and poles as Openreach can.
If we are talking about cost and Virgin Media VM spend about as much per home covered every 4 years upgrading their existing network as Openreach did building their 'Next Generation Access' network. Puts a slightly different spin on the claimed 'massive' investment.
dick:quote
Melancholie
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Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Kelly,
Another point.
You are running on really, really tight margins from the looks of it - you are charging less for 40Mb/20Mb than the list price just to get the traffic to the other side of the MSIL let alone all your own costs.
How are you planning on paying the bills, if you are paying them now, as usage goes up? Keep using BT Retail's buying power and hope you don't get Ofcom's attention as a subsidiary of BT selling a product below cost?
A wider Openreach portfolio would allow you to take in more premium customers that are, by definition, more profitable. Your lack of appetite for the current Openreach porfolio is pretty obvious when noted that you don't feature FTTP in any way on even your business site unless it's well tucked away.
I would pay you just into 3 figures a month for an equivalent of the Infinity 4 service that Retail offer delivered to my home office. Problem is of course you can't offer that because there's no FTTP here and FTTPoD costs you guys more per month than that.
If you plan on being anything more than the cheap and cheerful face of BT relying on line rental and questionable discounts from the wholesaler who also happen to be a part of the same company a bit of lobbying would be awesome. You aren't going to compete with free which is what Murdoch's boys are offering, you can't cut your costs via LLU as the last time a member of the BT group tried that they ended up leaving extremely quickly so you're tied to Wholesale, you can't realistically compete at the very high end, and how long you can manage to deliver unlimited usage without intrusive rate limiting is a tricky one.
Just a few thoughts from a customer who likes your service but having watched you and other operators since the 90s is utterly mystified at how you are managing to do what you are doing and how long it can go on. The only other times I've seen operators deliver below cost it was due to upcoming price decreases or market share rush - Pipex and 1Mb, or Openworld and 512k. Not sustainable longer term though.
Melancholie
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Registered: 23-07-2013

Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Kelly,
While I'm here one perhaps nice easy question to seek an answer on:
330Mb/30Mb from BT Wholesale is, when delivered over 'native' FTTP, £63.60/month to you guys. When delivered over FTTPoD, so exactly the same infrastructure throughout just built on demand, that goes up to £168. Perhaps asking why this ongoing cost is so high, in contrast to the install cost, would be worthwhile. Customers aren't charged more for being on under-utilised FTTC cabinets.
Melancholie
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Registered: 23-07-2013

Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Kelly,
I think this may put the point of view in better focus to an extent by working on a specific example along with illustrating a competitiveness gap.
I linked this elsewhere on the forum but probably of value here too.
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
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Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Hi,
We work very closely with both Openreach and BTW regarding both FTTC and FTTP. We've been there since the start of both products and FTTPoD and they listen to our feedback.
Right now the focus is on getting fibre out to as many people as possible; the commercial rollout is nearing completion and the BDUK rollout is in full swing now. Contracts are being signed with new housing developments so that they get FTTP as standard and there are a number of existing MDUs (blocks of flats) getting FTTP. FTTP coverage is higher than the 100k properties you mention with more being added each week. (1)
Openreach are also trialling vectoring on FTTC, this will help to reduce crosstalk and so increase speeds, they're also going to see what happens as part of that trial if they allow the lines to go faster than 80Mbps. They've also trialled G.INP to try and reduce the errors, they've seen this have a positive impact on throughput. There are some other trials coming to try and extend the reach of FTTC and in the labs they're already testing G.FAST to get even more speed out of the copper by reducing the copper run just to the distribution point. The most expensive and complicated part of the FTTP rollout is betting the fibre into the property so technologies like G.FAST that can do several hundred Mbps speeds are ideal.
FTTPoD was always going to be a niche product, we fed back at the time of the price announcements (and subsequent price increase) about how we felt, I've had lots of people asking for pricing but not many take it since the original trial. It's that price for a reason though, we've started looking at the cost as a single 3 year cost rather than install, distance charge and 3 year subscription charges and compare it against an Ethernet service rather than FTTP.

(1) Post edited to add sources for clarity:
Coverage in 2013
Recent Cornwall update
Melancholie
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Registered: 23-07-2013

Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Okay Dave. My numbers on the FTTP deployment were evidently out of date.
Are Openreach trialing node level vectoring or vectoring on the ECI platform? Isn't this enterprise going to get somewhat expensive given both will require hardware work?
G.INP does nothing for fast path lines. It mitigates the need for interleave and hence supplies a performance benefit there, no FEC overhead for sure but on higher performance lines isn't going to extend performance.
G.Fast is in the labs - great. Apart from that G.Fast has been deployed nowhere, closest to it is 30a VDSL solutions and those were in the lab in 2005 and are based on an older technology widely deployed.
Zero prospect of Openreach even attempting to offer CPs a way to compete with Virgin Media, and comparing Ethernet solutions FTTPoD versus CityFibre delivered services is beyond comedy. A similar TCO for a way inferior service.
Perhaps you guys should resell CityFibre Wink
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
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Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

I'd be interested to know what you need more than 70Mbps for today. 4k TV in the future and other high bandwidth applications will mean that people will need faster in time. In the last 14 years I've seen speeds go from dial to 512kbps to 1Mbps to 2Mbps then the up to 8, 16, 38 and 76Mbps speeds and we'll see speeds go beyond 76Mbps. If you're trying to compare Virgin Media with Openreach then how much has Virgin's network increased in the last few years? Openreach's fibre products cover around 2/3rds of the country now and with the BDUK funding it's growing further. It's much easier to just turn up the dial on the headline speed than to expand coverage.
When I asked about vectoring they were planning on trialling on both their vendors but hadn't made decisions on rollout as that would depend on the results of the trials.
Community Veteran
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Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

There was an interesting report produced last month looking at the trends and the predicted future bandwidth requirements for households in the next 6 years - http://cable-europe.eu.apache11.hostbasket.com/content/uploads/2014/06/140624_Dialogic-_Fast-Forward...
They anticipate the average user will need 165.4/20.1Mb in 2020.
Community Veteran
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Re: Lack of options, FTTPoD price increase harmful, where's the feedback?

Interesting but at first sight looks a bit dodgy as it assumes that the P2P illegal; downloads will predominate whereas I would have thought that HD streaming would take that over and that isn't normally speed limited (on any reasonable connection - not mine)
They seem to assume that downloading of a film or video is time sensitive but doesn't apply when it is being streamed