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Debunking the myths of FTTP

Fibre to the premises (FTTP) is on track to reach three million homes by 2020. But don’t believe all the hype. Host of ISP Forum and general manager of BT Wholesale, Simon Brisbourne, goes myth busting.

By Simon Brisbourne

Debunking the myths of FTTP

Speaking at the Comms Vision 2018 convention in November, Oliver Dowden, the UK Parliamentary Secretary said he supports full fibre and 5G, and believes it’s vital to get the Digital Britain transition underway. This is a good thing. We want people to plan and implement FTTP as soon as possible to take full advantage of the faster broadband speeds. By the end of this year, Openreach will have fitted FTTP to 1.25m homes, and it’s on target to hit three million by the end of 2020. It’s a significant moment given that it’s up to 40 times faster than copper and much more resilient.

Unfortunately, not all information is equal. There are a few FTTP myths going around, so we’ve decided to set the record straight.

Myth: FTTP is too complicated

This myth comes from the fact that FTTP is compared with its predecessor, fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). For FTTC, you only need access to a nearby green cabinet to connect customers. But that’s an unfair comparison. FTTP has faster speeds and resilience.

The comparison comes from the early days when partners needed to make two engineering visits to customers. This makes it sound more complicated than FTTC. But for the new FTTP network set up over the last six months you only need one visit.

Over the last 12 months there’s been a lot of work going on to evolve the installation process. But it’s worth bearing in mind that this process varies depending on the type of site. For greenfield sites, like new housing estates, it’s fibre only as there’s no legacy copper services. So the terminating equipment, we call it ONT, is usually installed in advance and doesn’t need an engineer to visit to make the service live. For sites where there’s an existing copper infrastructure, the ONT is added on the day that everything else in installed.

There’s now a quicker, more structured way to get customers connected, which brings us to our second myth.

Myth: FTTP takes too long to get

While this has been true in the past it’s no longer the case. Yes the process does take longer than FTTC in some places. But the product and service you get with FTTP is so much better it’s worth the wait.

It’s important to set customer expectations from day one. We’ve shortened the order journey a lot and we’re constantly working with our partners to improve processes, from ordering all the way to installation. For new greenfield sites, we can set things up the day after it’s installed as long as all the equipment is there.

We want to make it as easy as possible for our partners and their customers to enjoy FTTP, so we’re focussing on the quality of the underlying service.

Myth: FTTP is actually a worse customer experience

FTTP not only has better bandwidth speeds and service resilience today, it’s also future proof. Our customers will have the bandwidth and speeds to meet their needs well into the future. We now provide 500Mbps and 1Gbps services on top of ultrafast 160Mps and 330 Mbps. Our customer can choose.

FTTC is a hybrid service that was designed to meet the bandwidth needs of yesterday. FTTP is about meeting the increasing demands of today and tomorrow. It’ll help homes and businesses to easily cope with calls, data, apps and streaming – all at the same time. It’ll put an end to buffering.

We’ll continue to develop FTTP over the next 12 months by improving the ordering process and migrations from ADSL and FTTC. Fibre is becoming more and more available, and demand from customers will keep growing as our lives move online. So it’s never too early to start selling.

To learn more about the latest broadband portfolio roadmap, with deep-dives on current hot topics from Simon Brisbourne, join us at our upcoming ISP forum in January.

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