FTTC Guide

This article was written in 2013 and requires updating.

FTTC VDSL “fibre” services are now available to order in most of Ewhurst. Use the BT Wholesale availability checker to check that you can now place an order; the “Availabilty Date” for “WBC FTTC” will be “Available”. If this checker does not recognise your telephone number, then click the “address checker” link on this page.

The BT Wholesale availability checker here cannot be totally relied upon, so please contact us if it does not seem to work properly for your telephone number. For example, if the FTTC speed estimate is below the ADSL speeds, or if it reports that you cannot yet get FTTC services but your close neighbours can.

Help with Choosing an ISP and Upgrading to FTTC VDSL

Like ADSL, all FTTC VDSL services in Ewhurst currently require a traditional “copper” phone line from a BT street cabinet, although this can be rented from non BT service providers such as Zen and TalkTalk if you also use their FTTC service. Some packages must include phone line rental, although this cost is usually excluded from the quoted package price.

A service provider can only consider providing a FTTC service on a specific line once the FTTC street cabinet for that line has been activated. The ISP will initially refer to the BT Wholesale availability check, although this is often accessed indirectly via their own systems. If the ISP is happy with that result then apparently a further test may be done to confirm if your line is suitable for the service you wish to purchase. Each ISP has its own policy as to which service or services it will offer, if any, depending on the results of the line checks. Not all ISPs will offer FTTC services, but those that do can start to accept orders as soon as the BT Wholesale availability check shows that the cabinet is activated.

After FTTC activation, if your line shows an estimated speed of 15Mbps or more downstream for “WBC FTTC” on the BT Wholesale availability check, then your line should be accepted for any FTTC service. We suggest that you then compare the standard FTTC services on offer from various service providers and match to your own requirements. The ISP comparison here is a useful reference but is no longer kept up to date so check all details. There are significant differences between the packages on offer e.g. installation cost, monthly cost, maximum and minimum up/down speeds, usage restrictions, contention, support, contract terms, small print, etc. For example, check what will happen if you go over your download usage allowance, or if your usage is considered “unreasonable” on an “unlimited” product. The lower cost VDSL products will tend to suffer more from contention/congestion, especially in the evening and at weekends, as for ADSL.

If you are happy with the FTTC package and service offered by your current ISP, then staying with them will avoid having to “migrate” your broadband connection. If you need or wish to change providers then you should contact your existing ISP to (a) check any termination charges and (b) if you decide to go ahead then obtain a MAC (Migration Authorisation Code), if necessary, before ordering the new service. Note that a MAC code is valid for 30 days and the ISP is obliged to provide it within 5 working days. Also note that migrating an “unbundled” service is a more complex process which some ISPs have struggled with, so the risk of down time is greater. If you are using an email address provided by your ISP, then migrating to another ISP may involve changing your email address; click here for further information.

Some “fibre broadband” products specify a minimum speed threshold, so if your estimate is below this then you will not be able to order that product. For example, BT Infinity option 1 appears to have a threshold of 15Mbps, but if your estimate is below this then you should now be offered the more expensive “Faster Total Broadband” product instead. In some cases you may find that an ISPs online availability check does not offer “fibre” services for slower estimates, but these can be ordered by telephone. If your preferred ISP tells you that “fibre” broadband services are not available on your line (or even “in your area”) then try others. Here are some links to relevant product pages: AAISP, ADSL24, BT, Eclipse, ICUK, IDNet, Plusnet, TalkTalkZen.

If your line estimate for FTTC is very low then it may be difficult to find an ISP willing to give it a try for you, perhaps because any small improvement over ADSL is more likely to be rejected by the customer, and there are likely to be high support costs. However, the speed estimate for these long or poor lines is notoriously inaccurate, and some long lines have achieved more than double their initial estimate. One BT engineer reports that FTTC VDSL services have been installed and happily accepted by the customer with speeds as low as 2 Mbps, which may be 4 times the previous ADSL speed. The lowest estimate we know about in Ewhurst with an order accepted is 3.9 Mbps. Alternatively those in this position may prefer to wait and see what comes from the SCC/BT contract.

On the installation day, the BT Openreach engineer may not proceed if his test equipment detects a line fault. The customer may then have to organise a repair visit by a different Openreach engineer, and the VDSL appointment then has to be rescheduled via the ISP.

Here is an example checklist supplied by an ISP for a VDSL installation:

  • Engineers can and do attend from 8AM, so please ensure that you are available from this time. Failure to do so will lead to delays and additional charges.
  • Some engineers do call in advance to the phone number we have been supplied for the on-site contact. However that isn’t always the case.
  • The visiting engineer now expects you to have a pre-configured router ready to connect to the supplied Openreach modem. Failure to comply means the engineer cannot complete testing and a further charge may be levied by Openreach. If you need any advice with the router then please let us know (an ADSL modem router will not be suitable*).
  • Please ensure that the master phone socket is easily accessible as the engineer needs to change the face plate.
  • FTTC cannot be installed on slave phone sockets, only the master socket.
  • Ensure you have tested the phone line for making and receiving calls before the engineer leaves. This is to ensure that you are left with a fully working service.

* Whilst it is usual for ADSL services to use a combined modem/router, FTTC VDSL currently requires a modem supplied by BT Openreach and a separate router, and each needs a power supply. It is true that most ADSL routers are not suitable for VDSL services, but there are a few which can be used, so check with your ISP or Walter if you hope to do this. Note that many VDSL packages include a suitable router, although some of these are reported to have poor wireless performance.

Quite a high proportion of FTTC connections or upgrades do not proceed entirely smoothly, so be prepared for some “down time” and chasing up of engineer appointments etc. Once your FTTC connection is working, the speed may be reduced over the first 1 to 10 days to improve stability, so do not expect the initial connection speed to necessarily be maintained after this “training” period. The connection speed is often lowered significantly on poor lines during this period, but it is sometimes possible to improve again with some effort. It is also possible for connection speeds to degrade over a longer period due to crosstalk between lines, when others start using VDSL. Such crosstalk results in an automatic power reduction and thus lower connection speeds. Note that FTTP/FTTH would not suffer from this problem, nor would it degrade existing ADSL connections, whereas FTTC VDSL will.

Whatever your situation, please do contact us so that we can update our map of broadband connections in Ewhurst; this will help us achieve further improvements and offer specific help where appropriate. You can find other sources of help here. Any questions or problems then contact us.

Click here for further information on availability checks

The BT speed tester will (if possible) calculate the actual download and upload speeds, and “ping latency”, and will also reveal your IP Profile if you select “Further Diagnostics” after the initial performance test:

http://speedtest.btwholesale.com/

 

One Response to FTTC Guide

  1. David Nye says:

    This article was last updated by David Nye on 13 February 2013. It is now out of date in some respects.

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