Openreach insists it still has plans for G.fast to be deployed “at scale”, and maintains it will be used as another stepping stone on the way to full-fibre. Its merits are said to include lower cost, faster rollout, and speeds that meet current expectations of ultrafast.

However, Openreach also consistently emphasises a series of benefits that fibre offers over copper-based alternatives, including G.fast: improved reliability and fewer faults; faster speeds that are more consistent and predictable; and a future-proofed network. It is now clear that, should fibre be a viable option in an area, it will be chosen and G.fast will be abandoned.

Possibly also detracting from the appeal of G.fast is that once an area gets the copper-based technology, it looks like it will be sent to the back of the fibre queue. Openreach has stated it will not overbuild G.fast with fibre while it is working towards its 2020 twelve million ultrafast footprint goal.

The willingness of Openreach to decimate its G.fast footprint plans in order to tighten focus on FTTP may give rise to doubts about the technology’s future role. The pursuit of the sub-1Gbps (for now) solution might be called into question further by the stated intention of TalkTalk and Vodafone to take up FTTP, too. There may yet, though, be an important part that the technology can play in Openreach’s game plan.

Fibre up front, G.fast in defence

The acceleration of rivals’ infrastructure investment plans may provide G.fast with renewed appeal for Openreach and BT Group.

If Openreach can act quickly in areas targeted by the altnets for FTTP and provide a 300Mbps offering with wholesale costs at set at little more than current top-tier FTTC (BTwatch, #286), it may be able to undermine the rationale for customers considering the leap to FTTP in the short- to mid-term.

TalkTalk indicated it does not believe it would face FTTP overbuild problems in its planned FTTP rollout (see below). However, if G.fast gets there first, it may risk arriving to build trenches in areas where consumer fibre packages are already working at speeds and a price that is capable of meeting immediate demand.

Ofcom is currently looking at the risk of Openreach targeting specific parts of the country with aggressively priced wholesale FTTC to undermine competition, and may take steps to curtail Openreach’s ability to conduct precision hits on BT rivals (BTwatch, #292). However, if a reasonable, low-cost nationwide G.fast pricing structure can be announced, with rollout driven by demand from BT Consumer (which has begun marketing 300Mbps products – BTwatch, #292), then full-fibre may become a tougher sell, at least at prices that can cover near-term investment.

Openreach may not be able to disrupt rivals with locally targeted prices, but a locally targeted rollout may prove more challenging to prevent and defend against.

Image: BT’s BDUK partnerships fibre rollout photography CC BY 2.0.

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

  • Huawei commits another £3bn to UK investment

Q3 FY17-18

BT takes it on the chin with another tough quarter [p6]

  • BT taking a flurry of shots, but is Patterson playing rope-a-dope?
  • Table 1: BT Group, financial highlights, Q3 FY17-18

Q3 FY17-18 by the numbers: decline and fall [p8]

  • Table 2: BT Group, performance by unit, Q3 FY17-18 (adjusted) *

The divisions: mobile propping up traditional BT [p9]

  • Table 3: People movement highlights

CONSUMER/EE

5G

BT preps for 5G with new Nokia chipset [p13]

  • Table 4: 5G Momentum Index: BT/EE ecosystem, to January 2018
  • Nokia ready for 5G NR with new gear
  • Nokia vies with Huawei on 5G collaboration

BT Sport

BT pays more for less, as Sky scores Premier rights [p15]

  • Figure 1: Premier League auction, price paid per match, 2019-22 first phase
  • More rights up for grabs, but broadcasters wary of spending
  • Back to square one with Sky’s Saturday lunchtime leftovers
  • Figure 2: BT programme rights charges, 2015-2017
  • Beginning of the end for BT’s sporting adventure?
  • Crystal ball watching: could BT Sport be transferred out?

Products and services

New 4G router-antenna to tackle broadband ‘not-spots’ [p18]

  • A commercial solution to universal service challenges

Legal and regulatory

EE could face £120m cost from Phones 4u collapse [p21]

  • Spectrum auction edges forward as Three appeal dismissed
  • ASA also finds Three misled public with spectrum campaign

BUSINESS AND PUBLIC SECTOR

Health sector

BT warns of HSCN challenges [p24]

  • BT keeps heading down the comeback trail

GLOBAL SERVICES

Partners

BT bigs up “critical” partner Cisco [p27]

  • SD-WAN leading the way in BT’s new world
  • Cisco presence within BT base underpinning importance of relationship
  • BT focused on five major virtualisation use-cases

BT Security

BT to share malware detection information with UK ISPs [p28]

OPENREACH

Fibre

Openreach takes a step forward with Fibre First declaration… [p31]

  • Fibre First not just a build, it’s a way of life
  • Table 5: Ultrafast network competitor presence in Openreach Fibre First locations
  • Openreach looking for more partners
  • Clive Selley’s fibre army

… eight cities named, more to follow [p32]

  • BT strikes back against altnets and Lightning
  • Turf wars and trench warfare
  • The pace and price of deployments
  • Figure 3: UK fibre operators FTTP rollout plans, 2018-25
  • Figure 4: Estimated build costs per premise passed, UK fibre operators
  • Rural areas not entirely forgotten
  • New plans suggest a modest uplift on infrastructure investment
  • Openreach with little to lose and much to gain?
  • £7 value boost dependent on trinity of factors

….Openreach identifies the enabling conditions for fibre fruition [p35]

  • Openreach can still walk away

Fibre enthusiasm raises questions on G.fast future [p36]

  • Fibre up front, G.fast in defence
  • Gov’t not blown away by Openreach ambition
  • Fibre future in the Sky?

TalkTalk joins in with its own fibre plan [p38]

  • TalkTalk anticipates turning off its copper
  • Fibre bandwagon gets crowded

Digital Britain

Openreach meets 95% ‘fibre’ coverage deadline in UK [p39]

  • Clawback funding ensures work is ongoing
  • Progress also made in devolved nations, but more work to be done
  • Wales moving on as Openreach wraps up leftovers
  • Key points of the renewed Welsh broadband strategy

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Index

Symbols

21st Century Fox 37
– Sky
– Sky Sports 18

A

Accenture 10
Advertising Standards Authority 22
Amazon 16
Apple 6, 9, 15
AT&T 15

B

BG Group 10
BoxNation 15
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 15, 18
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) 31, 36, 39
BT Group 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 19, 22, 25, 34, 36, 37, 39
– BT Business & Public Sector 9, 24, 25
– BT Consumer 9, 13, 15, 37
– BT Infinity 19, 25
– – BT TV 9
– BT Global Services 7, 9, 10, 26, 27
– BT Connect 27
– – BT Germany 10
– – BT Italia 8
– – BT Security 6, 27, 28
– BT Technology, Service and Operations
– Infinity Lab 25
– BT Wholesale & Ventures 8, 9, 10
– BT Fleet 9
– EE 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24
– Emergency Services Network 19
– Executives
– Allera, Marc 17
– – Amer, John 10
– – Hall, Jason 25
– – Hart, Michala 10
– – Hughes, Mark 6, 28
– – Hull, James 10
– – Langridge, Keith 27
– – Lidiard, Mark 10
– – Lowth, Simon 10, 17, 34
– – McRae, Neil 13
– – Mears, Kim 40
– – O’Neill, Colm 25
– – Patterson, Gavin 7
– – Selley, Clive 9, 31, 32, 40
– – Shihabi, Eyad 10
– – Smith, Martin 10
– – Willetts, Helen 10
– – Zekkou, Paola 10
– Ex-executives
– Dunne, Niall 10
– – Petter, John 17
– Openreach 6, 7, 9, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41

C

Cabinet Office (UK) 25
Cambridge University 6
Carillion 41
– Carillion telent 41
China Telecom 15
Cisco
– Meraki 27
Cisco Systems, Inc. 27
CityFibre 31, 32, 33, 38, 39
CK Hutchison 22
– Three Group
– Three UK 22
Colt Technology Services 8

D

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS, UK)
– Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) 39, 40
– Hancock, Matt 36
Deutsche Telekom 14, 15
Digital Britain 39

E

Equinix 8
Ericsson 14

F

Facebook 22
Football Association 15
– Premier League 9, 15, 16, 17, 19

G

Gemalto 15
Gigaclear 38
Google 13

H

Hewlett Packard Enterprise 10
High Court 21, 22
HP Inc 10, 15
HSBC 10
Huawei
– Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre 6
Huawei Technologies 6, 14
– Neul 6
Hyperoptic 32, 39

I

InfraCapital 38
Intel 15

K

Kingston Communications (KCOM) 9
Korea Telecom 14

L

Lenovo 15
LG 14
Liberty Global 39
– Virgin Media 7, 17, 22, 32, 39
Lite Access 41

M

MediaTek 13
M&G Prudential 38
Microsoft 15
MotoGP 15

N

National Health Service (NHS, UK) 24, 25
– N3 24
Node4 8
Nokia 13, 14, 38
– Nokia Bell 14
NTT 14

O

Ofcom 7, 19, 22, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40
– White, Sharon 22, 35
Orange 10, 15
Orange Business Services 10

P

Panorama Antennas 18
Phones4u 21
PricewaterhouseCoopers 21

Q

Qualcomm 14, 15, 18

R

Royal Dutch Shell Group of Companies 10

S

Sceenic 19
SK Telecom 14
Sprint 15
Superfast Cymru 40, 41

T

TalkTalk Telecom Group 10, 22, 31, 32, 36, 37, 38, 39
TechHub 19, 25
Technology
– 3D 19
– Broadband 7, 9, 18, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41
– DSL 14
– Ethernet 8, 24
– Fibre 6, 7, 14, 24, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41
– Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) 37
– Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) 6, 7, 9, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40
– G.fast 31, 34, 36, 37, 39
– IP 9, 14
– LTE 14, 15
– OTT 15, 16
– Wi-Fi 13, 18, 24
Telecom Italia SpA 15
Telefónica 21
telent 41
Telent
– Carillion telent 41
TeliaSonera AB 14

U

UEFA 15, 17

V

Verizon Communications 15
Vodafone 6, 14, 15, 21, 32, 36, 39
– UK 21, 32

W

Welsh Assembly 40
World Economic Forum 28

About

About BTwatch

Report: #293
Published: February 2018
Next report: March 2018
For more information visit: BTwatch