While BT Consumer is pressing on with ‘ultrafast’ product launches, Openreach appears to be going into reverse on declarations of G.fast network reach.

  • PR promises getting ahead of on-the-ground capabilities.
  • Impression emerging of Openreach itching to go toe-to-toe with altnet fibre rivals.
  • Retail sector keener to test the waters with products in the low-end of the ‘ultrafast’ range.
  • One million milestone now bumped a quarter, to March 2018?

The latest announcements from Openreach cast doubt on the progress of the access services division’s roll out of the G.fast enhanced partial-copper broadband service, as the prospect of a heightened focus on full fibre bubbles in the background.

In early-January 2018, Openreach heralded G.fast availability in the Cardiff region as part of its pilot programme, taking the number of premises passed by G.fast to 390, 000. However, Cardiff was already among a group of exchanges identified and showcased as the latest additions to the G.fast programme in September 2017, and at the time it was suggested these additions took the G.fast footprint to 500, 000.

The earlier announcement had included the caveat that network upgrade work had not yet started, which explains the repeated PR announcement of Cardiff’s participation, but the downward revision of total premises passed suggests that upgrade work across the country may be taking longer than anticipated.

It also appears that Openreach may be massaging the deadline for reaching one million premises later into 2018. 2017 expressions of a goal of reaching one million premises “by the end of the year” have been swapped out for an aim of “the end of the fiscal year” in the latest announcements.

Mixed signals as fibre talks continue

While new technology rollouts by their nature tend to face unanticipated delays and challenges, Openreach is creating an impression of significant problems through its mixed messages.

The reason behind the slow burn of the pilot rollout is not clear, but BTwatch notes that it comes as Openreach turns its attention to a prospective acceleration of its fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) programme (BTwatch, #290).

Although there is no firm commitment to re-prioritising infrastructure upgrade plans to embrace full fibre, it may be the case that enthusiasm and momentum for G.fast, at least within Openreach, is being depressed by uncertainty over the future roadmap.

FTTP availability is also being referenced more prominently by Openreach. The access services business indicated that 380, 000 sites can currently access Openreach FTTP services, in addition to the 390, 000 premises passed by G.fast.

Retailers waiting in the wings

Although rollout progress remains modest, consumer-facing communications providers appear to remain more interested in exploring the potential of faster copper-based services in the short-term than pushing for more expensive fibre deployments.

As BT Consumer heralds guaranteed 100Mbps offering (see separate report), TalkTalk is also already advertising G.fast plans such as Faster 150 Fibre at £36 per month and Faster 300 Fibre for £42 per month (subject to availability…).

  • BT is targeting deployment of ultrafast‘ (100Mbps-plus) broadband to twelve million premises by 2020. It is expecting ten million of these to be served by G.fast, with the additional two million receiving FTTP services. The G.fast pilot programme, for which deployment began in January 2017 (BTwatch, #283), offers speed tiers of 160Mbps/30Mbps and 330Mbps/50Mbps.

Image: Cory Doctorow / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0.

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

BT GROUP

Digital Britain

BT meets 95% fibre coverage deadline in Scotland… 100% superfast next [p6]

  • Hancock takes the DCMS tiller

Pension

Changes afoot at BT Pension Scheme [p7]

  • Asset sale may also be on the cards

BT plans for pension inflation cap dealt a blow [p8]

  • Table 1: People movement highlights

CONSUMER/EE

5G

Positive news for BT as 5G takes “huge” step forward [p12]

  • Progress on standards opens way to 2019 deployments…
  • …while UK government outlines next steps on 5G
  • Key points of the UK 5G strategy update
  • Stay of execution for Airwave workers highlights ESN delays
  • Table 2: Premier League live broadcast rights packages, 2019-22

BT Sport

Amazon lurks as Premier League auction kicks off [p16]

  • Mobile switching by text due in 2019
  • Premier League woos new entrants, creating BT partnering opportunity

Products and services

G.fast out of the blocks (at a price) [p18]

  • Pricey products, but may appeal to core customers
  • Table 3: BT ultrafast products, and Virgin Media comparators
  • Ofcom considers future fixed-wireless needs
  • G.fast SmartHub foreshadows Future Voice launch

Spectrum

Ofcom pushes on with auction despite Three appeal [p21]

  • H3G knocked back again; returns for another round

Suppliers

BT Sport switches digital ad contract from Google to Channel 4 [p22]

  • Media empires strike back
  • DoubleClick minimised
  • Channel 4 already has history with BT
  • BT’s digital advertising ambitions get a boost

BUSINESS AND PUBLIC SECTOR

Products and services

BT taps Resilient to bring call recording to Inbound Contact [p25]

GLOBAL SERVICES

Cloud services

IBM latest recruit to BT cloud bandwagon [p29]

  • Patterson among execs pushing BT in USA

OPENREACH

Network

Openreach rows back on G.fast pilot scale [p32]

  • Mixed signals as fibre talks continue
  • Retailers waiting in the wings

Operations

Separation progress reaches Openreach IT [p33]

  • New approach to planning at Openreach
  • Open reach-out

Regulatory

Peer pressure prompts Ofcom to cap FTTC pricing freedom [p35]

  • Higher prices: the cost of preventing Openreach discrimination?
  • CityFibre fears challenges to creating demand for FTTP
  • Openreach takes the high road

Ofcom calls on Openreach to play fair on narrowband [p37]

  • Fixed voice still popular, but significance wanes

Suppliers

Openreach sheltered from Carillion fallout [p38]

  • “Don’t panic!” message relayed by all parties

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Index

Symbols

21st Century Fox 7
Sky
Sky Sports 16

A

Accenture 7
AD2ONE 23
Alphabet
Google
DoubleClick 22, 23
– – YouTube 17, 22
Amazon 16, 17, 26, 30
Amazon Prime 17
– Amazon Web Services 26, 30

B

BlackBerry
Good Technology 26
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) 6
BT Group 5, 7, 9, 12, 21, 23, 30, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38
BT Business & Public Sector 25
BT smartnumbers 25
BT Consumer 18, 19, 23, 32, 33
BT Cloud 29
– – bt.com 23
– – BT Infinity 18
– – BT Mobile 23
– – BT Openzone 9
– – BT Scotland 6
– – BT Sport Europe 23
– – BT TV 17
– – BT Wi-Fi 9, 23
BT Global Services 9, 28, 29, 30
BT Americas 30
– – BT Health 9
– – BT Security 30
BT Pension Fund 7
Hermes Pension Management 8
BT Pension Scheme 7
– BT Technology, Service and Operations 33, 34
21CN 38
– – Adastral Park 13
BT Wholesale & Ventures 9
Tikit 9, 26
EE 11, 12, 13, 15, 21, 26
Emergency Services Network 15
Executives
Ainley, Katherine 9
– – Artley, Jennifer 30
– – Dick, Brendan 6
– – Hill, Simon 9
– – Hughes, Mark 30
– – Joshi, Jayesh 9
– – Khanna, Sandy 9
– – Lowth, Simon 7
– – McRae, Neil 12
– – Patterson, Gavin 30
Perkins, Jason 9
– – Petter, Ed 30
– – Pilcher, Malcolm 25
– – Rolph, Scott 9
– – Rosenberg, Jeremy 22
Openreach 9, 18, 19, 26, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39
– Products and services
Family SIM 23

C

Carillion 38, 39
Carillion telent 38
Centrica 9
Channel 4 22, 23
Cisco Systems, Inc. 13, 14, 26, 30
CityFibre 35, 36
CK Hutchison 21
3 Group 21
– Three Group
Three UK 21
Communications Workers Union 15
Cricket Australia 15

D

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS, UK)
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) 6, 38
– Hancock, Matt 7, 13
Digital Britain 6, 7
Digital Economy Act (UK) 14

E

Electronic Communications Code 14
Emirates Airline 22

F

Facebook 17, 22
Financial Services Authority 26
Football Association 22
Premier League 16, 17, 22

G

G-Cloud 26
Gigaclear 38, 39
Goldman Sachs 26
Google 17, 22, 23

H

Hewlett Packard Enterprise 30
High Court 21
Home Office (UK) 15
HP Inc 30
HSBC 26
Huawei Technologies 12, 13, 19

I

IBM 9, 29, 30

J

JPMorgan Chase 26

L

Liberty Global
Virgin Media 9, 18
LinkedIn 9
Lloyds Banking Group 26

M

Marconi 38
Mediaset 22
Microsoft 30
Ministry of Defence (MoD) 26
Morgan Stanley 26
Motorola 15
Motorola Solutions
Airwave 15

N

National Health Service (NHS, UK) 26
Network Rail 14
Nomura 26
North Supply 26

O

Ofcom 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 35, 36, 37
Oracle 30
Orange 26

P

PricewaterhouseCoopers 8

Q

Qualcomm 13

R

Resilient plc 25, 26
smartnumbers 25, 26
Rubicon Project 23

S

Samsung 13
SWIFT 14

T

TalkTalk Telecom Group 18, 33
Technology
2.5G 13
– Blockchain 29
– Broadband 6, 7, 18, 19, 26, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37
– Fibre 6, 18, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38
Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) 18, 35
Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) 18, 32, 33, 34, 36
– G.fast 18, 19, 32, 33, 35, 36, 38
– Internet of Things 29
– IP 19, 37
– ISDN 26, 37
– LTE 12, 13
– OTT 22, 23
– PSTN 19, 37
– R&D 13
– SaaS 25, 26
– SIP 26
– TDM 15
– VoIP 19
– Wi-Fi 14
Telent 38, 39
Carillion telent 38
Thruvision 9
TM Forum 14

U

UEFA 17, 22, 23
Champions League 22, 23

V

VMware 26
Vodafone 9, 13, 15, 26, 35
UK 35

W

Walt Disney Company, The
ESPN 23
WPP
Maxus 23

About

About BTwatch

Report: #292
Published: January 2018
Next report: February 2018
For more information visit: BTwatch