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Update: can Ofcom’s reforms fix the Openreach network?

Fixing broadband

Ofcom has set out plans for the future of Openreach, the broadband infrastructure network division of BT. But are these reforms enough to make a difference?

In February 2016 Ofcom published the findings of its Strategic Review of Digital Communications. The regulator said Openreach needed to be reformed and make more of its own decisions on strategy and budget, as Ofcom found that while Openreach has an obligation to treat all its customers fairly it still has an incentive to act in the interest of BT.

So after six months of discussion what has Ofcom announced?

Ofcom’s plans for Openreach

Ofcom has announced in its plans that Openreach should:

      • Become a distinct company within BT with its own ‘Articles of Association’ and its Directors should make decisions in the interests of all Openreach’s customers
      • Have its own Board with a majority of non-executive directors, including the Chair, and should not be affiliated to BT Group in any way
      • Ensure Openreach’s Chief Executive should be appointed by, and accountable to, the Openreach Board not BT Group
      • Consult more widely with customers such as Sky and TalkTalk
      • Employ staff directly rather than have staff employed by the BT Group
      • Have a separate strategy and control over budget allocation
      • Independent branding

Last week the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee published a report which warned BT that unless the group reforms and addresses under-investment in the network then it should split from the Openreach network.

At the same time thousands of you were hit by outages across the BT network on Wednesday and Thursday last week with the company saying the issue affected 10 per cent of internet usage. BT Group apologised after fixing the fault on the network.

Ofcom has said that these plans for reform will help deliver ‘the best possible services for people and businesses across the UK’. But has the regulator gone far enough?

Taking action for better broadband

We know that many of you feel frustrated by your internet connection, which is why we want everybody to be able to access good quality broadband, be able to switch provider easily, and ensure automatic compensation is introduced if and when things go wrong with your broadband service.

It’s clear that Ofcom needs to move quickly on these plans and ensure Openreach is genuinely improving services for customers, many of whom have been let down for far too long.

Now is a perfect time for Ofcom to consider the greater role consumers can play in shaping Openreach’s future, as well as sharing their experiences and views on issues such as switching, compensation and a broadband Universal Service Obligation.

We’ll be pushing for many of these measures through the recently announced Digital Economy Bill which making its way through Parliament over the next year. But I want to hear from you.

Update: 30 November 2016

Ofcom has ordered BT to legally separate from Openreach. Back in July, Ofcom announced plans to make Openreach a ‘distinct company’ within the BT group. However, the regulator has found that while some progress has been made by BT, BT’s voluntary plan to address concerns it laid out earlier did not go far enough. The regulator will now start the process to force separation.

Under Ofcom’s plans, the separation would see Openreach manage its own branding and budget, with its own board, chairperson and non-executives that are separate to BT’s.

Update: 10 March 2017

BT has reached a deal with the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, to legally split from Openreach.

Openreach controls the fibre connections, ducting and pipework for the UK’s broadband infrastructure and sells access to other broadband providers.

The telecoms regulator has been preparing for a series of reforms to improve the Openreach service. Reforms have included a forced legal split of BT and Openreach.

Ofcom believes that the plans to make Openreach a distinct company will improve the service for Openreach customers. Openreach will have its own board and make its own strategy decisions, but the BT board will continue to set the annual budget as the 100% shareholder and owner of the company.

Our Managing Director of Home Services, Alex Neill, said:

‘Millions of people have suffered woeful levels of service from Openreach, so these reforms must lead to significant improvements for customers who have been let down for too long.

‘Telecoms are now an essential part of our daily lives, so it’s vital that consumers now really do see better phone and broadband services.’

Do you think this will improve broadband in the UK? Will this lead to better and faster broadband?

Comments
Guest
t cee says:
21 January 2017

……………..They should have to tell you the exact speed before you sign up…………..
IM WITH VIRGIN PAYING £38.00 PER MONTH FOR 50MB…….I GET 0.5 MB and have been on the phone to them 3 times already today ,yesterday was 7 times.

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Guest

TC-If you have a contract with VM for fibre broadband at 50Mbps and you only get -0.5Mbps you have every right to say the contract is null+void . BT under new rules , if they cannot supply the range of speeds for your bundle should first of all downgrade your bundle to the next lower fibre service if that is unachievable you are then free to terminate your contract with BT with no loss to yourself , Going by the speed you quote you must be many miles from the cabinet with FTTC OR you have one massive fault. Is VM using BT lines -IE-copper not co-ax or fibre ? This doesn’t sound right something doesn’t add up, do you have a VM box in your house or a VM box outside on your wall it could be grey in colour In any event get back on to VM and tell them they have broken the contract by supplying a line that is not as advertised and you have not got the appropriate service , you should be able to leave without cost to you and get a refund thats if they cant fix it.

Guest
Dave Meadmore says:
21 January 2017

Agree. All providers should state a clear working speed range with a minimum and a maximum. For instance there are many BT customers on Infinity 2 when the copper pair will only support lower speeds (mine is at 38Mb) so the customer should be charged at Infinity 1 not Infinity 2. I also agree that there should be a stated minimum service level.
All the following should be included in the adverts.
1) Download Speed Range,
2) Upload Speed range,
3) Network Latency,
4) Contention ratio (shared connection to the back bone)
The last is as important as BT may use different design criteria to say ZEN. If you are sharing with other heavy users you may lose the Internet speed at 8pm on a Saturday or if you are a business this explains why you may be paying premium rates. All ISPs have different back bone arrangements.

However the customer needs to understand that the providers cannot defy the law of physics. So the distance from the exchange matters. If broadband speed is critical to you don’t by a business premises at an old farm or an old wood yard with 10 stretches of overhead drop wire.

The answer of course is Fiber To The Premises (that can properly be called Fiber). Fiber is more elegant and using passive splitters you don’t need those ugly powered street cabinets. However whilst the Government and now Ofcom keep interfering we will never get the long term UK investment we need. Fiber needs to pay back over a longer period (20 years +) if we wish to keep the cost of broadband down. You can’t blame BT or Virgin for not investing if Sky, Talk Talk and others invest nothing in the ground but cream off all the value add profits. Even new housing estates are not getting decent connectivity due to the current Ofcom rules.

Fortunately BT appear to have cracked the interim and will be rolling out G-Fast from July which will provide faster up/down speeds and Virgin will be responding with an update to their infrastructure. This will provide better speeds but these really are only a 10 year stop gap until we get proper Fiber.

If you currently can’t get reasonable speeds in your location whether urban or rural blame Ofcom.

Anything less than 2Mb on ADSL or 10Mb on Fiber/VM indicates a technical fault. VM faults are usually their guys leaving the cabinet doors open to the elements or that they bury their cables at trowel depth. BT faults are usually the RJ11 cable to the router or internal phone wiring. Or in my case electric garage doors spiking the power supply.

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Guest

Dave I was with you till you mentioned internal wiring – after the Master socket– you own it and can be charged for a call out that finds bad internal wiring/sockets / RF interference / etc BT aren’t liable for the LAN cable attached to the HH5/6 ring mains electrical induced interference either direct or by electrical radiation/induction is your problem . I spent many hours with BT,s very expensive mains analyser proving mains problems in business lines . Yes Dave I solved the internal wiring problem by running cat-5E cable from the junction of the O/H DIRECT to a master socket 1 foot from my PC / router/modem no other internal wiring/sockets – wi-fi not enabled it does make a difference otherwise -good post Dave !

Guest
Brian Poole says:
31 January 2017

The best broadband we get is 2m although my friend across the road gets 35m. Openreach won’t upgrade our street, it’s not worth it for them, after all there NOT A SERVICE PROVIDER they are just another money making company that doesn’t care about it’s customers once they are signed up to a contract. Our broadband drops out on a regular basis and we have had no broadband at all since the 19th January 17, tomorrow is 1st Feb and they have estimated two weeks to get us our broadband back. It’s really hard to complain and they keep all the complaints within the company so your not really getting anywhere. They need to be brought to book.

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Your wrong Brian they are a network service provider who , due to the government along with the British public ( remember all the screams in the media of -they need to be separated) said we are introducing legislation to make Openreach more accountable to OTHER private telecommunications companies so that there will be a more equal service of installation . What happens is that BT et al – ask Openreach to provide service to a customer of all the telecom companies that don’t install their own lines/ducting , theyb do not communicate directly with the public only through the ISP so if you want to complain ,complain to HMG and all the public who backed this. BY not mentioning BT I take it your service provider is another company ? If so its to them you complain and they in turn contact Openreach if there is a fault . Who is your ISP Brian ? as each has its own methods of complaint . I am not disagreeing with you when you say one side of the street gets a high speed but not your side but that is because they will come off a different street cabinet which has FTTC and I can see as you don’t that would make you angry , but BT and others wont provide FTTC for every one , they check out the number of subscribers who would benefit the most and provide them IE- its down to the majority . You are right money comes into it but BT is a private company and so are all the rest , old telephone “hands ” like me knew this was going to happen when the Nation cried out SELL OFF BT and now decades later the “chickens have come home to roost ” Once every telephone user had equal service no matter where they lived but that was under the GPO Telephones .

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Guest

Thanks for that information Duncan. We have spoken to a case manager who has informed us that our broadband has been shut off so BT has to set up new broadband and can’t just re-establish our existing broadband. Our contract with BT is nearly finished and the case manager is saying we will have to sign up to a new contract to get our broadband back (which he says will take 48 hours as he will rush it through) and if we don’t, it will take at least 2 weeks to go with someone else. So in effect holding us to ransom. When we asked for compensation for the weeks that we have had no service at all, he said they would give a ‘good will’ gesture (obviously don’t want to admit they are at fault), but will tell us the amount once we have agreed to sign the new contract. They are an awful company and I have had the worst service I’ve ever had from any company ever. I have contacted the ombudsman. I have logged all the details in a note book and I’ve drafted a letter to my local MP and am going to make it my mission to highlight just how badly we have been treated. My children are trying to do there GCSE’s, but can’t do their homework. I am going to complain everywhere I can find that will listen.

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Guest

Brian , this is unusual , you say your broadband has been shut off ? this should only happen when you stop direct debit from your bank as BT bills are always paid one month ahead or something illegal has taken place . In the case of moving to another ISP you would contact the new ISP and they would handle the transfer under the new rules , meaning no loss of service . But you have not said that is the case , in a dispute with any big business nowadays you should not arbitrarily stop rental payment as a means of “getting back ” at them as legally you no longer have the same rights as when you were a customer . Many people have been caught out like this . You have not detailed why they cut you off so I am limited in my reply although you have a right to be upset if during your contract you lose service because of a network fault of some sort but legally you must give any ISP time to fix it not just BT , If you stopped payment you have actually weakened your case , it might really annoy you but you must keep paying while any dispute is going on . If you “burnt your boats ” and your contract was ceased because of non-payment it will not help any legal action in a Court of Law as you will be deemed to no longer be a customer of BT . I sympathize with you especially your children but you must decide whether to accept BT,s offer or go to another ISP . If your line is cut off that means its free for use by another potential BT customer and restoring it will take much longer , I know , as when on maintenance I spent some time in cases like yours where due to cessation somebody else took the line and I had to spend a lot of time restoring it when they decided to pay BT .Both your E+D sides at the cabinet could be taken meaning new lines would need to be proved from the exchange outwards and what happens when there is no spares left ? that would mean re-routing your overhead wiring to another DP ( pole ) a lot more work. I hope this doesn’t sound too pessimistic its just an ex-BT engineers point of view looking at both sides and reality.

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Thanks Duncan, but your assumption is wrong. We have not stopped the direct debit and are still paying BT. I am going to phone the case manager tonight after work as, so far only my wife has spoken to him. I am going to record the conversation on my mobile, which my wife did, but only partially. I do not want another 2 year contract with a corporate con man like BT and don’t think it’s fair to be pressured into it. If BT don’t fulfill the contract by continuing to provide me with broadband until the end of the contract term, surely they are in breach of contract and legally are at fault. Also while were at it the technical support in India told us that they can see that we have phoned them 19 times over this and were rude and also put the phone down on us and we were patient with them. What do you say about not revealing the ‘good will gesture’ until we agree to another contract. Does that sound like someone who values you or a lawyer?

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If you are still paying BT via DD for your line+phone then that is okay, but are you saying you are still paying for broadband and they have cut it off ? . If that is the case then you have a good legal point unless I am missing something ? Your right , of coarse BT have a legal obligation to continue to fulfill their contract with you until the contract ends , if payment is kept up for broadband they could only cease your broadband if you broke the rules by misrepresenting your position as a normal home user when you were using your broadband as a business , I know of two people who got cut-off because of that , its in their small print . Again if that is not the case then ceasing your broadband inside your contract could only occur if you were performing some illegal activity , drugs/ pornography/terrorism /etc as you don’t sound like that I am as mystified as you as to why they think they can legally cut you off when in contract both in terms of the conditions of the contract and payment. Get back Brian as this is really intriguing me.

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I think there has been some sort of mistake somewhere along the line. The guy my wife spoke to said that the wholesale company that facilitates the broadband to BT have us down as cut off, but BT don’t. You probably know more about that than I do. I didn’t think anyone else was involved apart from BT. I can assure you that there are no nefarious reasons why we should be cut off. As I say I will try and talk to the case manager tonight.

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It being the case Brian that you were cut off by mistake by Openreach then you have the law completely behind you and can claim not only for reinstatement but for compensation . BT must have been notified on their computer that your line was listed as -CEASED but they should have checked that you were still paying for your broadband , they can easily do that on one computer , its only getting authorization to implement new procedures that they have to contact other departments . What BT should offer , as they don’t give monetary payments is credit for time out in rental and they should give you some sort of free rental for a set period . They are in the wrong but keep calm don’t get too upset with them just demand your rights under BT,s Terms + Conditions. I wish you luck.

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Guest

Hi Duncan,
Thanks for those comments. I spoke to ‘Steve’ last night and to cut a long conversation short. He has offered us £5 a month broadband for a year, £20 goodwill gesture and whatever the rate is for the time with no broadband is pro rata, but he wouldn’t tell me what that rate is. He says he can get our broadband back on Tuesday 7th Feb making it 19 days without. My wife doesn’t think £20 is enough for the stress involved so she is going to try and re-negotiate that amount. There are two factors involved i this case one is the cessation of service and two the ongoing problem of the terribly low broadband speed. I have the name of Gavin Patterson from Open Reach, Our local MP as well as the obudsman, but as long as BT provide 0.5mb they are legally in the clear. Do you know of anywhere else I can register my complaints to. Please bare in mind that from my window I can see the house across the road that has 35mb and I can also see Newquay International Airport.

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I am surprised BT offered you money but your right Brian it isn’t much.I had problems with British Gas service in November and complained , like yourself vigorously , after my problems were sorted in the past weeks BG sent me a cheque for £90 so much as I criticised them I am nothing if not even handed and say that was acceptable to me. If you go onto MY BT log in and go to your account you will see a breakdown of your charges , you should be able to see the ones for broadband plus any additional packages attached to it . As it is a 3 monthly account you should change that into days and divide for 1 day and multiply that by 19 to get some idea of what you are entitled to , I take it you are on basic copper only . 0.5Mbps is rubbish in my view and to get an idea there are websites that calculate your speed in distance but they are mainly FTTC , so I presume as its all copper the cabinet is miles from the exchange and you are some distance from the cabinet , well over a mile ? In FTTC the cabinet takes the place of the exchange in distance so in their case (your neighbour ) I would guess they are not too far from their cabinet . Where is their pole DP (box on pole ) ? if it is in the street near you then its not impossible for you to be transferred to their DP just a re-routing of your overhead wiring. Find out the number of your cabinet -eg- 1/2/3 etc and go to Openreach,s website and see if they intend to upgrade it at least get your name down so that you will be notified first. Has an engineer been to your house and checked for the speed at your Master socket ? there could be an external line fault.

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Guest

Thanks for that Duncan. We are on basic copper. I know exactly where the cabinet is and it is more than a mile, but probably not much. The number of the cabinet is 82. The pole we are connected to is a different one to my neighbour who gets 35mb. I have long since registered an interest and left my email. Our master socket is fine one of the engineers that have been out to us upgraded the fuses on the pole, but had to get a cherry picker out as the pole was rotten and too dangerous to climb. I wonder if I report that to Openreach we have a chance of getting it upgraded whilst they are replacing the pole. What I don’t understand is: The cabinet is say a mile and a half away, so that reaches my neighbour, but not me, another 20 paces away. When you say our cabinet I’m assuming you mean the nearest fibre box. This is all very helpful as the more I understand about this the further I’m likely to get.

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Brian-the cabinets are different for you both they therefore travel underground to serve an area set out by the original underground (network ) planning dept . they don’t run “as the crow flies ” but usually take a twisted route so that they can access that area in a practical way avoiding obstacles like underground pipework , electric cables etc so from the surface it doesn’t always look practical but laying ducting , digging up roads entails taking other services into account. They also have to judge the most populated sections which would historically have much property on it as the planning would have been done long ago . If the cabinets had been near each other there could have been a link cable but that is pretty rare, allowing interconnection . A number as high as that means a large and outlying population coming off the exchange as numbers are usually sequential – ie- cabinet 1 is the first cabinet in the area cabinet 2 is further into the area and so on. Your cabinet will be a separate cabinet from your neighbour as once a cabinet has been designated FTTC the only thing stopping others coming off that cabinet is whether the fibre cable is “full ” in that case once somebody stops their service with BT you should be in line to get his E-side (exchange side ) or it makes it easier for an additional fibre cable to be installed once the customers build up (request ) Fibre . What does Openreach,s website checker say about cabinet 82 does it say its fibre enabled or just copper ? My guess is your neighbour comes off a different numbered cabinet.

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Openreach’s website checker says ‘Your cabinet is enabled for Superfast fibre however your’re not able to order fibre just yet. This might be because the length of the line is too long to get Superfast speeds. We’re actively looking at other options. Exchange name: St Mawgan
Exchange status: Fibre enabled
Cabinet number: 82
Technology: –
Ironically the little arrow graphic indicator points to a SUPERFAST ACCEPTING ORDERS highlighted box.

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Guest

Great man Brian ! this is what I like Fibre enabled ? then its a case of lack of spare fibre , so as a help here is some of the distances of FTTC cabinet AND the distance to the subscriber . = 150m- 80Mbps– 200m -65Mbps -500M -38Mbps – 900M -25Mbps -1250M-17Mbps – 1500M- 15Mbps .–1500M=nearly a mile how do you fit in there Brian ? even if you are a mile and a half it still should be an improvement on copper .

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According to Google Earth the cabinet is 1.86miles 300m by road and 1.5miles 250m as the crow flies so between 200 and 500m so by your chart I should be getting 38Mbps which makes sense as my friend across the road gets 35Mbps. The question is what can I do to make this happen?

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Guest

The distance from the street cabinet to your home is usually via the roads as that allows installation of ducting without have to get permission from private land owners , in addition it enables a better distribution of cable layout to houses as most houses have roads beside them . If both you and your neighbour come off the same cabinet regardless of a different DP then there is something far wrong with your speed. How many span of overhead wire do you have to your DP (black box on pole ) it sounds like you have a high resistance between you and the cabinet which can be a fault in the overhead wiring , a bad connection at the DP or cabinet or in the underground cable. I take it the Google Earth distance of nearly 2 miles is or is not the distance from cabinet to your home ? but that would conflict with your neighbour who is near you and getting 35Mbps on the same cabinet as 2 miles would bring down even FTTC to a lower level, of speed ..

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The cabinet is in another little hamlet with just a spattering of house called Trevarian. I think it must serve Morgan Porth and Watergate Bay as St Mawgan village where I am has a much larger population. All are surrounded by fields so I can’t understand why they would put the cabinet there.

I’m looking at it now on google earth. My neighbour is on different pole to me. The pole I’m on caters for 9 houses including mine. This is the pole that’s rotten. The engineer told me he had replaced the fuse at the bottom that connects to the ground and the fuse at the top that connects to my wire.

My neighbours wire connects to a pole that is not just a single pole, but is one of those poles with 4 wires that run from pole to pole along the main street, so I guess that’s why he’s getting a better speed. His house is on the corner at a T junction into our road.

By the way thank for your time and help with this.

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Guest

Beautiful area Brian , you are near the airport? but I cant figure out why the cabinet is in Trevarrian . If you live in St. Mawgan then why aren’t you coming off the St.Mawgan telephone exchange ? I am looking at a UK broadband availability checker and although there is little or no choice of telephone provider some parts do have FTTC . Is it possible you have been connected to a different telephone exchange ?

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I don’t know, how would I find out? I’m out of here at five and from then on have no internet until I get back in on Monday morning. I’ll have to try and find the exchange in St Mawgan, I didn’t know there was one.

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The only way round this is if the St Mawgan telephone exchange is in name only but in Trevarrian but that would imply that a telephone exchange is located in a hamlet , I have seen this before but rarely .

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Morning Duncan,
There is a box in St Mawgan village and the wire that runs up the hill in the village towards me via the poles is a thick black wire that looks like it might be a cluster of smaller wires within a surround about 2 maybe 3 inches in diameter. This wire goes past my neighbours house. So he gets this feed. We however are on an individual pole that isn’t connected to this feed. The distance between these two poles is about as far as the average distance between two poles, but one is around a corner in our close. Is it ever possible to re-direct the feed? My house is so close to this feed, we are literally across the road from what I think is the feed.

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Guest

And good morning to you Brian , if there is a box (street cabinet ) in St Mawgan village and no sign of a telephone exchange , it must have been one of those very small ones you used to get in country villages . After rationalisation by BT most of them where closed down and direct underground /overhead cable feeds were transfered directly to a larger telephone exchange , although the name would be kept . What you describe is an overhead Poly cable with multi pairs of wires inside it this usually comes direct from the cabinet or via a UG (underground ) joint , it doesn’t really matter it still goes back to the cabinet . Its a lot cheaper to run this via the overhead as you don’t have to dig up the ground to install underground ducting for miles and is quite common in country situations . The multi Poly cable goes to a pole DP (distribution box ) which has 20 or more pairs of wires for connection to the customers overhead wiring , this can be split along the way for another DP . If your pole is near your neighbours pole then it is engineeringly possible to transfer your overhead wiring to your neighbours pole and terminate on a spare pair of wires then go to the cabinet and transfer your NEW “D” side -(distribution side ) to a NEW “E” side (exchange side ) thereby allowing you a faster service . Without going to your home and checking all this out this is an educated guess , please come back Brian on your thoughts on this.

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When you enter my close there is a little T junction you turn left to get to my house and you have to turn right to get to the pole. The pole that we are connected to is on the other side of the road and up the road beyond the T junction. If you look out of my front window the poly cable pole is behind a row of terrace houses, but there is a gap at the end where I think a wire could come from. How would I go about getting someone to actually do this?

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Guest

I think it might even be nearer to go to the poly cable pole.

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Guest

You should check out where the black box is on your neighbours pole his overhead wiring will go to that and that is where yours would go if redirected to his pole DP. Overhead wiring can be run a couple of span (pole to pole ) to reach the DP , it depends on whether Openreach will do it.

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Guest

Thanks Duncan,
It all comes back to trying to talk to someone. I’ll have a look for the nearest black box to my house and go from there.

Thanks for your advice, if there is anything else you can think of to help me expedite this please let me know.

Guest
Tony Carter says:
6 February 2017

Our service is an average of less than 3.5 Mb/s which is less than 1/2 the national average for ADSL line. I’m being ripped off because a Plusnet customer having a service which is above the national average will be charged the same as me.

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The problem is we can’t really do anything about it!

Guest
Ken Jenkins says:
8 February 2017

Just checked my broadband speed it is 1.7. I live in quiet a large town so why can I get a faster speed.

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Guest

Ken , how long is a piece of string ? There are so many variables that your limited amount of information makes it impossible to answer but if you insist . Plug your modem/router into into the master socket via a LAN cable with no extension sockets connected and run that for two days if it is still slow call your ISP and ask for an engineer to look for a fault externally , be aware if you have a fault inside your house he can charge for the call out. This is only scratching the surface , if you want any more information please reply to my post.

Guest
David Rafferty says:
8 February 2017

Though I live in the middle of a large town, I don’t have a fibre optic cable laid in my road. I therefore get broadband via copper overhead telephone cable and this is slow i.e. upload 6.2 Mbts/s and download is 0,8 Mbts/s Talk talk, my provider, have told me that I will eventually be provided with a fibre optic cable. How many more years will I have to wait for this and which company will provide the fibre optic cable?

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Guest

David you have the speeds the wrong way round download speed is always faster than up load .Your download speed of 6.2Mbps is actually better that what mine was on copper. Find out your cabinet number by going to bT Broadband Availability checker website and inputting your address/telephone number to check if your cabinet is due for an upgrade to FTTC : http://www.dslchecker.bt.com it works on my telephone number but I am with BT . I cant find a Talk Talk equivalent but it is BT wholesale so should show yours .

Guest
Malcolm Simpson says:
10 February 2017

I Live in an area that doesn’t at the moment have Fibre broadband but strangely there are new houses being built just over my fence that have fibre ? it is available in the area but BT haven’t switched it on for everyone in South Queensferry i have been told this will happen in around another 4 months

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When a new housing estate is being built Malcolm it is up to a provider not only BT to install new cable , if others dont take up the offer of helping to pay for the installation then BT has the legal ability to “own ” that particular area , its a recent law . In many places in England BT is “locked out ” of. Having said that it is advantageous for BT to install Fibre as its a new installation so FTTC will be run to possibly a NEW street cabinet serving that area or coming off an existing FTTC , and BT has been given financial help from Holyrood , in addition to Westminster help so that more of Scotland is fibre enabled . In your case your cabinet will be upgraded to FTTC from existing copper.

Guest
jennifer says:
16 February 2017

I live in a quiet area we dont have cable internet yet people around us have and they pay less than me per month. Ive recentley left BT because they were charging me £45 pm for internet that at best was only 7mbs when Id been promised a imimum of 11mbs…they never keep there promises and offer the best deals to new customers only….ive been with BT many years but what do they give me for my loyalty…absolutely nothing

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Jennifer is the grass really greener on the other side ? 7Mbps thats better than I was on copper but I am intrigued if you are still on copper which telephone company are you now with and what is your much higher speed as unless they have special equipment for your line I cant see other providers giving you a much higher speed ? When you say “cable Internet ” what do you mean ? BT supplies your Internet via an underground cable ,do you not mean Virgin Media co-ax/fibre or a small company if you live in a big city ?

Guest

I live in a busy town. have switched from Plusnet to Sky. i pay £27 a month. my download speed is 2.27Mbps today and upload is 0.58mbps. i get told, distance from the exchange is the problem and despite saying i can’t afford it, they keep trying to sell me fibre. they say my speed registers as over 4 there end. a lot of the time lately it constantly drops out and stays off for hours. its really getting me down.

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Gina . the only way to get to the bottom of this is if you disconnect all your internal wiring , plugging a LAN cable into the master socket and checking out your speed over 2 days ,that will help eliminate a problem in your house and then you can ask an engineer to prove that the slow speed is internal and not outside your home. If it constantly drops out is it when kids come home from school or at nighttime or do you have kids on the wi-fi all the time or is it during bad weather ?, just trying to narrow this down. What distance are you from the street cabinet and the telephone exchange?

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alan murfin says:
18 February 2017

HI,Duncan Lucas needs a huge thank you for his informative help..this guy really knows his subject…I have great sympathy for anyone trying to get any sense from bt…we are getting drop offs and download speeds rarely above 1.2 .The asian help centre is no help at all and I am convinced that bt have engineered a confusing and deliberately vague service so that people become frustrated at the lack of understanding from the operator and put the phone down.Website and chat lines equally diffuse and complex…all cheaper than actually admitting their shortcomings. We are so desperate that we atre considering fitting our own wireless reciever up a tree and backheeling bt altogether.We are also in cornwall a few miles fron mawgan porth but a different exchange.Best of luck everyone, alan

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Thanks Alan .

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Are we attacking the wrong problem here? BT Openreach own the copper lines and the have laid some fibre. In the past BT were constrained by the regulator on how much fibre they could lay in a month. Yes they have had some time in the last decade to cat ch up and lay more fibre. The cable companies have been laying fibre since the mid 1980s so they had a 20 year start. BT own some of the switching gear in the exchanges and so do other Broadband suppliers. The other Broadband suppliers can put their own faster switching gear in the exchanges and provide a faster Broadband. So why is this an Openreach problem? Openreach do not own the switching gear, and your ISP could invest and provide a faster service rather than buying time off BT and then blaming BT for the service that they chose to buy from BT and sell on to customers. Blame your ISP.

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Cant argue with that engineering logic Glen . Its the media with a financial interest in putting down BT building up to near public hysteria along the lines of -is it raining ? blame Putin/Russia -same financial interest only global .

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If you have a copper wire connection to the local exchange, >20Mbps is only possible if you live reasonably close to that exchange. For most people 20Mbps is not possible regardless of which ISP they choose. An Open Reach engineer tested my line. The best my line would do was 12Mbps.
If your broadband speed reduces at peak times, then you can blame your ISP. They may have over sold there service, to the point they do not have capacity for all their customers, at times of peak demand.

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I understand where you are coming from Anon but you have to take logistics into it . BT were told to provide fibre to the cabinet (FTTC ) at a quick pace , they are doing so to cabinets that hold the most subscribers as that makes engineering sense and political sense as well as economic . As more people see the benefits of fibre -neighbour talks to neighbour they end up all wanting it and so congestion at peak periods , when this happens BT has to go back to those cabinets and lay new fibre cable , this happened at my cabinet.People are going to be unhappy for a while until its all sorted out , but what is not sorted out is who is going to pay for that remote ,country connection in copper with a speed of 1Mbps or less ? Dont just ask BT ask Virgin Media if they are installing fibre in remote parts of the country , their shareholders wouldn’t let them , too much money .At the same time all those other companies creamed off the city connections where the biggest profit is , I hope you arent taken in by the media hype of -sell it to the Americans (companies ) have you seen the way they operate over in the US , humanitarianism , charitable acts aren’t in their “Book of Law ” . If you are looking for that “Knight in Shining Armour ” to come along you will have a long wait , this is fully commercial -2017 -not nationalised 1960,s the nearest we have is BT , certainly not perfect but not the worst company around. BT is testing equipment to allow much higher speeds on copper but is criticised by Virgin media for doing so while they themselves , hypocritically wont fibre your country cottage in that beautiful setting in the mountains. nor that farmhouse in the country nor even parts of Southern England .Realism is required and WHO pays — 10,s of £billions ? If you are getting around 12Mbps in copper you are lucky all I got was 4Mbps one third of your speed .

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The government has offered the money for rolling out higher speed broadband to 95% of the UK. BT has accepted it and is making a reasonable job of getting it done. Virgin Media and other telecom service providers are not, as Duncan rightly points out, interested in doing this because there will not be enough sales per mile of cable to justify their commercial backers’ investment.

Friends of ours who recently moved to a house in Norwich on a street that is fully fibre-cabled by Virgin Media [or a predecessor cable company], as well as having the traditional BT facilities with poles and overhead copper lines from the cabinet to each property, get bombarded weekly by Virgin Media urging them to take up their broadband and other services. The previous owners had been with Virgin Media but our friends have remained with BT and had BT install broadband as soon as they moved in. Every customer drop-out from the Virgin Media cable infrastructure is seen as a dent in their profit potential [because upselling customers to more expensive bundles is the real game]. And this is why, as Duncan mentioned above, Virgin Media are challenging BT on the uprating of copper cable to take higher speeds because, obviously, that will impact on their sales opportunities in places – like Norwich and other urban areas – that have a parallel Virgin Media cable service; they could even lose existing customers to BT if their offer is more attractive.

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Sheldon Leonard says:
25 February 2017

Why doesnt the regulator ban the phrase “up to xMb”. No One is getting the ridiculous speeds advertised by BT et all. If companies could only show adverts quoting average broadband speeds then they would be much closer to what people actually get. They would still be high because it only takes one ridiculous speed to boost the average speed. The average wage is a good example of this.

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roland gallard says:
26 February 2017

.My BT contract provides for 17mb speed (the max in this area. Central London) The average speed I receive is 7mb, and at times as low as 1mb.
In any other branch of retail this would be unlawful. Banking has finally been brought to book. How long are we going to have to wait for this fraud to be prosecuted ??.

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Banking has been brought to book Roland ? What part of central London do you live in ? it sounds like you have copper only I would be interested in at least the postal area.

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Mr R. Gill says:
2 March 2017

Post Office Broadband speed I get is often just about 9 mbs . Not good enough as they advertise up to 17mbs.
There marketing promotion is very misleading and you can easily get caught with very extortionate call charges. I got caught for a £4 local evening call. Shocking service when you could telephone Australia for that kind of money.

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Barry says:
4 March 2017

bt broadband paying for infinity 2 should get up to 52mb getting as low as 3mb.

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Barry , you are paying for Infinity 2 and getting -3Mbps ? you have either a massive line fault /your are miles from the cabinet/ or your whole family is playing P2P Internet gaming while downloading HD films . Tell me what BT say as you should not be paying for Infinity 2 at that speed if it is constant.

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Nigel Kendal-Ward says:
5 March 2017

I stuck with Virgin, because they offer 200MBS, and that is what I get, more or less – speeds vary from 185 to 215 MBS – fast enough….. and far far faster that sky or BT…..

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Thats impressive Nigel although , believe it or not, some guys in central London get 1000Mbps , I have no idea why an ordinary home user needs that speed , although I do know why if it was a government department.

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Just checked my speed with Virgin (13.40pm) 219mbs
Just doesn’t seem that fast though.

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Watch out John or you will get some complaints from those living miles from a street cabinet somewhere down a country lane who get “speeds” of 1Mbps.

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Christine Cameron says:
6 March 2017

With download speed (if you can call it speed) at 0.6MB and an upload of 1MB I cannot send pictures and documents most of the time and I can’t get my amazon stick to work most of the time either. I wonder what I am paying for. There is no point in up grading because where I live it is all old copper cable. I would be paying more money for the same abysmal service. I need help but cannot get in contact with my provider BT. There are very few other providers in my area so I am suffering.

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Why cant you get in touch with BT Christine , can you access -MY BT ? you can register a complaint online or via the phone .-0800-800-150 get back Christine . I am not at all happy with the fact that even in MY BT this telephone number has not been provided I had to go onto BT by phone and complain along with the fact my list of calls has been replaced with a coloured circle which is COMPLETELY USELESS – are you listening BT ?. I was talking to business BT a Scottish voice when I said I wanted residential it turned out it was an Indian continent voice which I could hardly understand , BT has now two types of service one for the public and a better one for businesses , and regards my call list ?? BT REMOVED my ability to see the calls I had to tell them to re-instate this service -NOT happy BT !!

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Melanie says:
6 March 2017

We are with BT, first our BBCiplayer kept slowing down and now we have lost broadband completely, it’s been 1 week & 1 day & still no update on being fixed…we are using a dongle/mobile & so will be looking for compensation…appalling service if you can call it that! Now researching other suppliers…

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Melanie it sounds like an external cable fault , as such it wouldn’t matter who you were with ( except Virgin Media ) it would usually be Openreach who repaired it, they do repairs for most ISP,s so the time taken wouldn’t change . After 3 working days out of service you can claim compensation for every day after that which will be credited on your rental agreement , any other type of compensation must be agreed between you and BT.

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Robert Sparks says:
7 March 2017

Last night I checked my speed with Virgin: 2.44Mb, this morning 35Mb. I’m paying for 70Mb

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Robert if you are using the same amount of bandwidth at both times then you are having congestion in your area , large numbers of users downloading films/games etc but 2.44Mbps when you are paying for 70Mbps is not on . If you are sure its not an internal fault /computer fault or you having high usage then get onto Virgin Media and complain.

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Steven Pace says:
7 March 2017

I am with EE. The service regularly gets knocked off and some days it’s not worth the effort of opening my laptop, word of advice leave the provider well alone as they cant deliver nowhere near what they state they can.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

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Phil says:
9 March 2017

I’m with Sky and tbh I don’t really have a major complaint I pay for 40Mb?s and get that on a very regular basis. the major gripe I have is the pricing, I think its too high.
I pay £20 per month for my service and these days 40Mb/s is a standard considering you now have sky , BT and virgin reaching speeds above 70Mb/s. With all the online content the providers offer you in the way of downloading Box sets / catch up TV ” live streamed ” and other streaming services offered by them they should be lowering the price of their mid ranged fibre.

People often complain about not reaching the speed they are paying for, the major factor in this is the way they have their lines setup. what they don’t tell you is that your lines and bandwidth are shared with the rest of the street where you live, This is mainly BT and Virgin. a petition should be raised about the way the give you your broadband in the way as you pay for your line and your connection so it shouldn’t be shared with joe blogs at number 53 this is why a lot of people notice a major hit at peak times mainly weekends and tea times used to be the worst but now because of all the online streaming services this as moved to tea time and way after that.

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Phil, your post sounds reasonable ,companies like BT/Sky/Virgin etc provide packages,. relating in the main to speed this is a broad commercial policy as well as some engineering related issues. As BT etc roll out more and more fibre this issue will grow exponentially as in -supply and demand , the more speed they get the more its used to download films/games/etc . The problem with setting a speed that you can live with even when your neighbours kids are downloading gigabits of data is that to compensate for the drop in speed you need the companies top package which at least guarantees a reasonable lower limit . New fibre cables have to be installed to cope with the surge in demand for fibre ,meaning Openreach has to lay them .While this is going on there are 10,s of 1000,s of customers living in remote country areas or even areas where its not profitable to install FTTC and even when its installed they are still not able to get above single figure speeds , they would be a bit annoyed that while some are complaining of say 30Mbps as being too slow they are living with 1Mbps but you have a point its all down to commercial policy and it is slow going as they are all private companies run for a profit. The government has provided grants but it is still not enough to give everybody what they want.

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Bob says:
10 March 2017

I have complained to VM was told need there latest router of which I have received and installed I am supposed get 200mbps on there recommended BB speed test site Ockla reads above 200mbps bot all other speed test sites lucky to get 50mbps are virgin telling porkies? I think so.

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Bob your speed test depends on where they are testing from in the first place , on both Ockla+T+T (US) -75Mbps I got the approximate right speed but on some others I got a much lower speed , for example I used OZ (Australia ) speed test that gave me 11 Mbps . I also have not installed Flash Player as this app is dangerous and is now being dropped by even the big boys as they admit , they fix it , 5 minutes later its hacked. When you do the test pick a local server to test it from (nearest ) Some know where you live and use a local one others don’t and use a remote one that drops the speed . Do you feel its slow ? Okla uses a modern test -HTML 5 not Flash and tells you the server and allows you to change it

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Maybe I am missing something but……..

BT have made a good income from telephone and internet customers which instead of using the money to improve the infrastructure have spent it on getting into the expensive world of TV and Football.

So how does Openreach get income? I presume a certain amount comes from providing support to other ISPs but is there enough income to make significant improvements to the infrastructure?

I know BT got a raw deal when they were forced to share the telephone network, but they don’t seem to have done too badly, and I wonder what hope there is now for customers stuck on slow internet connections when BT would appear to be on the side of the split with most of the money.

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I don’t think you are missing anything Alfa – your right all this talk of separation legally if it is financially then the public haven’t thought it through and I warned them on this website many times . If Openreach is really to be a separate company then just watch if you need an engineer and it turns out its an internal fault in your house or when renovating your home you cut the overhead wiring etc -BIG bucks will be involved , its going to cost a good bit of money and if the US big boys are allowed to take control and BT,s opponents by buying into it don’t complain if it effects the public adversely-you asked for it ! Its certainly NOT going to help those with a slow speed living in the country do you really think all those -for profit companies are going to be altruistic ? iF I have got this wrong prove it to me ?

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If Ofcom had any real teeth, they would have made BT improve the infrastructure before venturing into TV and sport.

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Imagine the possibilities. The money could be spent providing more customers with fibre broadband and some might think this was better expenditure of customers’ money.

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3 years ago there were around 11 million Sky sat subscribers, and last year around 1.5 million BT Sport. As there are around 23 million households a good proportion will be paying for sport. As BT Sport is there to make enhanced profits for BT there would be more money to reinvest. I wonder how the split will affect that?

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BT have had the income to improve broadband but spent it on TV and then expect the government to pay when the money could be better spent elsewhere.

BT have spent a lot of money to cause a reduction in service for Sky customers with the loss of Premier football and also the rights to other TV shows.

How are Openreach going to fund fibre broadband for everyone?

BT play the carrot and stick game with their services that may cost little to start with but prices will go up.

How is any of that good for consumers?

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The money the government has provided for the roll-out of faster broadband has been used primarily by BT who have been doing just that. In fact BT was able to make the money go further than originally estimated and more coverage has been achieved as a result. A further tranche was awarded a few months ago towards the 95% coverage target by 2020. I assume this obligation will transfer to Openreach.

BT’s cable TV operation is an upstart that is separate from its broadband infrastructure roll-out obligations and it is, as you say, in head-to-head competition with Sky to win customers to its broadband services which it will no doubt exploit commercially wherever it can. It has been pulled up for charging subscribers too much who only use landline phone services and is adjusting its tariffs. Sky invested heavily in satellite technology from the 1990’s onwards and had the field to itself for many years; BT and other cable companies are trying to wrest back some of the market now that there is sufficient installed fibre optic cable capacity to make it commercially viable. So far as I am aware BT is carrying substantial losses on its cable TV operations at present as its acquisition of sports broadcasting rights is front-end loaded but it presumably expects the long-term revenue stream to repay its investment.

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Am I living in a different world ? BT is a private company not a public one people seem to get the impression its still a public one. Is VM a public company like the post office ? is Sky ? is Vodaphone ? -and all the others , reality sets in, they are run by shareholders =profit . everybody wanted BT sold off -it was -everybody wanted Openreach separated it is and when the poor cant afford a telephone or its upkeep , let alone an Internet connection what do private companies say ? tough ! This isnt 1960 this is the tough new recessionist world of 2017 with high unemployment and homelessness , where people have to work for nothing or in contractual conditions that would fit in with the 14 th century. Ask all those other companies to cover the UK with fibre -what do you get – silence .

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BT and the others are called public companies because they are registered as PLC’s [public limited companies] which means their shares are openly traded on stock exchanges for anyone to buy. When BT was a nationalised entity it was not a company of any description but it was incorporated upon flotation.

The Post Office Ltd is a company but not a PLC as it is wholly owned by the UK government under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [Royal Mail is a PLC and the government no longer has any shares in it].

Sky is a PLC that is 39+% owned by 21st Century Fox which has made a bid to acquire the remaining 60+% which is awaiting regulatory approval.

Vodafone Group is a UK PLC.

And, yes, as Duncan rightly says, they are all there to make big profits.

Openreach will not be a PLC but a wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group with a separate corporate structure and physical detachment at every level albeit ultimately reporting to BT Group’s Board. I do not anticipate that if any profits accrue from BT’s TV operations they will flow in Openreach’s direction. Openreach will have to make all the money it needs from the charges it makes to the telecom service providers for which it provides network services [exchanges, cable, distribution cabinets]. BT will be but one of Openreach’s customers and it will be under a duty laid down by the regulator [Ofcom] to be even-handed between its different customers. Openreach will not have a direct trading relationship with individual telecom and broadband subscribers who will still have to raise any problems with their service provider. BT Group has no present intention of putting Openreach up for sale.

The roll-out of faster broadband throughout the country where it is not commercially remunerative is funded by the UK government. Up to now BT has undertaken most of the work through Openreach. I presume that from now on Openreach will have full responsibility for doing it in liaison with BE&IS or the government might put it out to tender. Where it is commercially lucrative I would expect BT and the other service providers to undertake directly, using Openreach or other contractors, further extensions of the fibre network including in new housing estates and commercial developments.

I hope this clears that up.

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Thanks John, clear as mud.

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Yes, Alfa, I agree. I don’t pretend to understand the muddle but I do try to state the facts to avoid mistaken speculation.

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An excellent summary John. BT / Openreach as far as I know had no obligation to provide broadband except upon their own terms – there is no reason why they should subsidise it. That is the job of others if they feel it worthwhile.

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Firoz Jinnah says:
11 March 2017

If the large organisations don’t stick to what they sell themselves as then how can we blame those less able cutting corners to make ends meet – instead we send them to prisons etc. Even trying to complain to these organisations is made so difficult that half the time, I am sure (I certainly do) people give up so it does not even show up in their stats.

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A student of socio/political/commercial philosophy as applied to 2017 – Firoz ? Your quite right on several points , in my argument with BT about their removal of the telephone numbers you call so denying you the opertunity to complain I talked to one guy -very nice he was but I knew much more than him he kept referring to his “TEam Leader ” and the replies were straight out of the well known -Book of India BT call-centres -ie-reading from a set script and wouldnt let me talk to his “superior ” . I also called the POst Office to complain about a non delivery of a recorded delivery item , the first guy was obstructive – live with it was what he was meaning but after a long search on the web I got a telephone number to their complaints dept. -something went wrong with the “system ” I actually got a highly intelligent female , who in an executive manner checked up my complaint – admitted the Post Office had “done wrong ” and said their operative would be seen by their supervisor to instruct him in the proper operation of recorded delivery. Its now the policy that if you are not a business you are blocked from information that will help you, by obtrusiveness , obstructionism etc . You are right what big business can get away with , you would be jailed , they have high power corporate lawyers /accountants etc , you have a National Insurance Number -ie- thats all you are , so don’t live long and be a burden on the state and then you say to yourself-but WHO is the “State ” and then you find it isn’t the public but those controlling them like cattle. Its no wonder the new enemy of the state are the words of Voltaire already being attacked in France by some “shady ” organisations -the truth is dead-long live deviousness/lies/deception / and the “real fake news ” .So endeth the words of the social “prophet ” in his Saturday lecture – why do the good die young ?

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Pigs are going to fly before Open Reach actually reach 3rd world standards. Example 5 weeks to repair line down and 10 meg download and .7 up load and that living within the M25 with a good following wind

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JACK MORPHET says:
12 March 2017

All broadband users are paying a tax for broadband about 50p per month brought in by Gordon Brown years ago Mine has not got any faster its about 3.5 meg which is disgusting this day and age. They blame the lines So put up a new line easy fixed.

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And what has HMG done with all the money it took in from tax payers , it wasn’t BT who collected it ? If you live miles from a telephone exchange and its copper all the way or if You have FTTC and live over two miles away from the cabinet you wont get a fast speed . Waving a magic wand isn’t going to do it -10,s of £Billions might but BT is a private company with shareholders you all voted for it. Is Virgin media shareholders going to spend their profits on covering the UK with Fibre , I think not , how about Sky ? ,Vodaphone etc ? no chance.

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Jack – I would guess that the government has spent more on rolling out faster broadband than the £6 a year per broadband subscriber collected through the telecom tariffs [probably no more than £100 million a year nett].