Getting FTTP in Stonor, Pishill, Maidensgrove, Britwell Hill etc

FTTP kit that goes in your home

  For some tiny communities a new Green Cabinet (at about £30,000) isn’t the answer, it’s too expensive per house.  This is the case for some of Stonor, Pishill and we expect a few other local communities.  BDUK/OCC instead subsidise Openreach to provide Fibre To The Premises ‘FTTP’. They lay a fibre right up to the boundary of your property. OCC subsidies Openreach to do this in the background up to about £1700 per property – if there is less than say 15 homes to serve FTTP is cheaper.  The fibre delivers the broadband, not the copper.  Fibre is great but does have some drawbacks and can be a bit of a pain to install.  In summary its strengths  and weaknesses are:
Strengths of FTTP

Higher speeds than copper over any distance – the distance to the cabinet thing no longer matters

More reliable than copper, once it’s installed – with the slight caveat that overhead lines can still be damaged by trees/wind

Once a fibre is fitted, if you go with BT as the ISP you have the choice of BT’s standard Infinity packages from 30-80Mb/s. If you are prepared to pay a lot more, then over 100Mb/s is attainable but the packages for this are complex and hard to find.

Weaknesses of FTTP

Installation can be a hassle (slow, two visits at least – one survey, one fitting to house wall, sometimes a third to drill through and install kit inside house).  Seasoned broadband campaigners elsewhere in the country have warned me to be wary of the installs until Openreach improves its system.  FTTP is only just getting underway in Oxfordshire and we understand there were issues with the roll out in Rotherfield Greys.

If you have a regular drive/distance from road and are happy with a new over head cable with the fibre in being strung from the pole then connection should be free or a nominal £100. If you have an unusually long drive there can be excess costs that you have to pay – these can be from hundreds of pounds to thousands. If you want your drive dug up and relaid immaculately then that is usually extra.

Less choice of ISP – for early adopters it’s BT or the highway, later, Zen and A&A might come in (see below) but no Sky or Talk Talk. So if you have a Sky or Talk Talk etc package you need to get out of that.  ISPs don’t always offer an FTTP service once an exchange has been enabled, as it is a new and minority service.

General uncertainty around aspects of pricing – sometimes there is an activation fee of £100, you may have a switching fee of £100, sometimes this might all be waived by BT Openreach or the ISP. If you want to remove your copper line then there is a fee for that, usually.

As FTTP involves much more digging etc than using copper phone lines my judgement is that forecast FTTP availability dates will slip more than for cabinets.

Advice varies on whether you can get rid of your copper phone line – the exchange has to support ‘voice over fibre’. The home equipment has a couple of phone line plugs (see picture) if the exchange allows, then you can have your copper line removed we think, although there is usually a fee for that. The ISP Andrews and Arnold recommend subscribers retaining a copper line for voice in these early days. We don’t know yet if Turville Heath and Nettlebed will support voice over fibre at launch.

There are two specialist British ISPs that support FTTP and have a published price list both of which have excellent customer service, light years removed from BT. BUT we don’t yet know if they will offer it in our bits of Oxfordshire. As the links below to their FTTP pages show they both have different pricing and connection fees.

Andrews and Arnold

Zen Internet

And as ever if you do not subscribe to the new service then there is no improvement at all in your existing line.

The kit that goes into your home is in the picture

If you are on a traditional/terrible BT ‘home hub’ router, you will need a new one. The new BT Smart Hub is very good, but any WAN router (sometimes called a cable router) will do. Get one with ‘Wireless AC’ to see a massive improvement in your wifi speeds – such as this one.

I have asked OCC to update its web page on FTTP as it was out of date and they seem to have improved it a bit.  

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
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