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apmcroome
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 1 of 22

Broadband USO

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Can anyone tell me why BT/Openreach refuse to base my requested USO connection quote on anything other than FTTP? This must be a more expensive route than FTTC, particularly as fibre already runs right through my community.

The FTTP based quote comes out at nearly £80,000. The insistence that I must accept unaffordable FTTC or nothing seems perverse and contrary to the bit of legislation that deals with the right to an affordable broadband connection of adequate speed ( ie over 10 mbps speed).

That legislation is the Electronic Communications ( Universal Service)  (Broadband) Order 2018 No. 445. The Official Memorandum to the Order says " This Order is being made to ensure that a decent minimum level of broadband connectivity is available to everyone on reasonable request and at an affordable price".

 As regards areas like mine ( rural but not remote) it goes on : " There are limits to what the market can deliver through competition alone......... The Government therefore wants to address this market failure by introducing a broadband universal service order to ensure that,  where superfast broadband remains unavailable, a good quality broadband service is nonetheless available."

So given that the purpose of the Order is to give me a right to an affordable adequate connection such as FTTC would provide , with an obligation on me to pay "excess costs" to the extent these exceed £3400,  why do BT insist on only  offering me a superfast FTTP connection which is wholly unaffordable.  The law gives me the right to an adequate connection not a superfast one.  So why am I only being offered unaffordable superfast?

An adequate connection that I might have a chance of being able to afford if the quote were based on FTTC is far more use than a theoretical right to a superfast FTTP connection costing an out of reach £80,000. What am I missing? 

Does it seem unreasonable to expect BT/Openreach to follow the USO Order so as to give me a better shot at getting an adequate connection?  At the moment my guaranteed  download speed is 1 mbps.  Upload is little more than one tenth of one mbps. So anything by way of download over 10 mbps and upload that is not glacial would be great even if I have to pay a bit to get the connection. Can anyone sense check whether I am sounding unreasonable or make other suggestions please?  ( No need to suggest banding together with others in my cluster ).

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21 REPLIES 21
NigelB72
Guru
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Message 2 of 22

Re: Broadband USO

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I believe the USO kicks in when there is no way you can access 10mbps at all from any provider for a reasonable fee. 

If you can get 10mbps+ from a 4 or 5G connection, USO doesn't apply.

You can also get a satellite based broadband connection now that will give 10mbps from Tesla/Starlink which will meet USO obligations.

If Virgin Media or another fibre network is available in your area and they can deliver 10mbps, then the USO obligation is made.

It's not purely down to whether Openreach or BT can offer those speeds.

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iniltous
Guru
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Message 3 of 22

Re: Broadband USO

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Why would you think providing FTTC just for you would be significantly cheaper than FTTP , as well as the extra expense of providing the FTTC equipment and power supply ( and on going power costs ) it still needs a fibre provided to the FTTC cab anyway , you seem to think that the savings made by not having to push a fibre forward from the location of a FTTC cabinet to your home would more than offset the costs of providing a fibre cabinet , which would have to be sited a relatively short distance from your home anyway , if they provide a cabinet just for you , then the whole costs are against your USO request.


Even in the highly unlikely event that FTTC was cheaper , and say ( just for arguments same ) came in at £53,400 , instead of £80,000 for FTTP , would you be prepared to accept the £50,000 excess construction costs ?, or put another way what is the maximum contribution you would make , £1000, £5000, £10,000 , even a generous contribution of say £10,000 on your part added to £3400 , still only provides £13,400 and that isn’t a lot when it comes to network construction.
Copper based services will eventually all be replaced with FTTP , why would OR consider a technology that would need replacing within a short period of time anyway , and in your case FTTP would almost certainly be the most cost effective solution anyway , and if it’s £80,000 that’s just the way it is.

If there isn’t a 4G/5G mobile solution, and your contribution towards the USO is unaffordable then there are potentially other solutions, low orbit satellites for example 

apmcroome
Aspiring Contributor
350 Views
Message 4 of 22

Re: Broadband USO

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Thanks very much and all good questions. The issue I am grappling with is that the fibre is already there passing right by me ( and others). So if Openreach put in a cabinet that could give me the benefit if fibre speeds from the exchange to the cabinet, surely that is going to be a lot cheaper than running fibre all the way from the exchange several miles away just to me.   And if the cost per relevant member of the cluster that could be served by the cabinet is less than £8400, then I am not forced onto the shared cost model where Openreach will not build unless and until they have commitments from me and/ or others in the cluster to cover all the £80,000.   Do you have any idea what installing a cabinet into a very accessible existing fibre line might cost. The line is just below ground with very easy access and plenty of space for a cabinet and power on hand.

You make a very good point about copper eventually being replaced. But experience shows that is not likely to happen in a hurry as far as rural areas are concerned. I don't want to have to wait indefinitely and the USO Order seems to recognise that by basing consumer rights on adequate rather than superfast speeds --- presumably with a view to assisting in affordability. So Openreach might prefer it if the Order did not exist but, given that it does, I am still struggling to accept their stance.

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licquorice
Distinguished Sage
Distinguished Sage
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Message 5 of 22

Re: Broadband USO

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You clearly have no idea of how FTTP works. You don't have an individual fibre to the 'exchange'. A single fibre in a multiple fibre cable serves up to 32 customers.

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imjolly
Distinguished Sage
Distinguished Sage
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Message 6 of 22

Re: Broadband USO

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Do you currently have a working mobile phone? If so what speed can you get using your mobile network?



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apmcroome
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 7 of 22

Re: Broadband USO

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Many thanks but Openreach do not dispute that I qualify for the USO ie no mobile signal etc

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apmcroome
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 8 of 22

Re: Broadband USO

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Thanks but I am going on what Openreach told me: that they would fulfil my USO request by running fibre from the exchange  direct to me and to no one else  in the cluster unless they agree to " pay their share". But it is interesting to know I would seemingly be paying for multiple fibre cable even if I am the only one using it. Not going to happen.

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licquorice
Distinguished Sage
Distinguished Sage
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Message 9 of 22

Re: Broadband USO

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That is for FTTP on demand which is a totally different product to WBC FTTP.

As far as I'm aware, Openreach are no longer building FTTC and concentrating on providing FTTP.

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iniltous
Guru
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Message 10 of 22

Re: Broadband USO

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The USO obligation is not a panacea for those in really remote locations or locations that are extremely difficult to ‘reach’  and therefore extremely expensive to service….the contribution from the network provider in many of these hard to reach places will likely not cover much of the actual costs , and it’s unlikely that any individual is going to pay 10’s of thousands of £££ towards getting 10Mb+ broadband , and although the OP may have a USO case , the fact is that whatever the build cost is , the balance over the first £3400 is for the applicant to provide , if they can’t or won’t pay this balance , the USO application is closed.

In itself,  a fibre cable running past or close to a property is no indication of the likely cost of a scheme to provide a USO compliant connection, and you probably have no right  to challenge the estimated costs or a way to ask how they were arrived at ,  things like the cost per metre of duct laid in carriageway for example would be commercially sensitive, but as a ball park ,  250m of new duct required in carriageway, would likely be £20k  on its own, it’s easy to see how £80k could soon be ‘spent’ servicing a remote location.

 

If your property is effectively on its own ( say no neighbours within 350m )  , the costs are likely to be prohibitive, if you have some relatively close by neighbours , and they also make a USO applications, then if ( for example ) you and 4 others could  benefit from the same scheme then it’s 5*£3400 ,= £17k  towards the scheme , but the £80k could increase if more work needed , but ( again for arguments sake ) say the costs raise to £87k , minus the £17k , so £70k between 5 is £14k each, undoubtedly a lot , but not an impossible amount.

Returning to the original point though , the vast majority of USO applications that are accepted, FTTP will be the network that the quote is based on, if a FTTC cab is close by , the chances are the 10Mb would be already achievable, and if there isn’t a FTTC cabinet close by, providing one for a single customer , or even 4 or 5 customers would not be a more cost effective solution than FTTP.

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