Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Naked DSL

There is some debate on the exact meaning of "Naked DSL". Some simply consider it is DSL without a phone service or dial tone. Others consider it has to be using a copper pair that only connects to the DSLAM and not to any voice equipment of any sort. What it means if connected only to an MSAN that can do voice but has the voice turned off, is not clear. Some consider it simply a billing matter - not buying a phone service.

The basic issue comes about because broadband service is an add-on to a phone line, and so to get broadband you need to also have a phone line (from same or different supplier).

Many people do not want to have to buy a phone line - they may use mobiles, VoIP, or even have ISDN lines still but simply do not need a phone line and are somewhat aggrieved at having to pay for something they do not actually want (phone service) in order to get something that they do want (DSL).

So the idea is that naked DSL is simply buying ADSL/VDSL with no phone service involved.

However, DSL does still need a copper pair.

Now, one way this may be achievable is a new service BT are considering which appears to be a connection to the FTTC cabinet and not a phone service. I think it may still have a pair back to the exchange for testing, it is not clear. In any case, if and when BT do offer this, we'll be trying it out and selling it, especially if any cheaper.

At the other end of the spectrum is something A&A have done for a while which is offer a no calls phone line with the broadband service. But this is buying a phone line from us, and has a dial tone. We even allow free calls to be made and incoming calls. Something like a quarter of our broadband services are provided with a phone line in this way.

The problem is, for us, is that selling a crippled phone line service is not nice - people often want calls on it, now that they have it. We are not really in to selling phone lines at this stage, and so what we really want is something closer to selling naked DSL.

So, to start with, we are stopping calling it a "phone line" - we are now calling it a "dedicated broadband only copper pair". We are also removing the dial tone and not allowing calls in or out at all. Don't worry, existing lines won't be changed, just new services.

Now, we had something like this before, when we first started - i.e. a line with no dial tone. It caused a slight snag in that a silent copper pair is liable to get nicked by a lazy engineer installing someone else's line or fixing a fault somewhere. It is not supposed to happen, but we have seen it many times. This is why we now ensure the line has a dial tone. Even so, we have had cases of pairs nicked because the engineer tried calling 123 (speaking clock, and chargeable call) and when that failed he assumed it was not a live service, and nicked the pair!

To solve this we think we have finally found a way to include an audio message on the line which says it is a dedicated broadband only copper pair, and even goes on to do a quiet line test (a useful diagnostic when there is a fault). No dial tone. No calls in or out. But it does have audio to tell the engineer not to nick the pair!

The end result is something pretty close to "naked DSL" at last, a way of having DSL without a phone service. On Home::1 we only charge £10/month more for it, which is not bad for the copper pair, and no messing with a minimum term, etc.

We're testing this new system this week and hope to have it for new lines very soon. At the same time we have reduced the install price for new copper pairs to closer to the cost price. We see the copper pair simply as a way of getting the broadband business.

Of course it totally breaks OFCOM's new broadband / line migration rules, but that is another matter. I'm sure we'll sort that out in due course.

Update: Given some of the comments, it is worth explaining that, as ever, we can be a bit flexible on this.

38 comments:

  1. "To solve this we think we have finally found a way to include an audio message on the line which says it is a dedicated broadband only copper pair, and even goes on to do a quiet line test (a useful diagnostic when there is a fault). No dial tone."

    Please share how you do this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, we should know tomorrow - but "BT Direct Connect"

      Delete
  2. I must admit, while I don't make any calls on the landline as the house is completely VoIP I would want to retain the ability to make 999 calls even with the power out, should I have the need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obviously we can do a line like that, as we have up to now, but the problem here is that you are thinking of it as a phone line. If it was EFM, or coax, or wifi, or glass fibre, you would not be asking for 999.

      Delete
  3. I'm assuming the new lines won't allow 999/112 if they don't have a dial tone? I use VoIP mostly, but I like the fact that my A&A PSTN line is there for emergency calls.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Are A&A removing the ability to make free calls/receive calls as a cost saving measure? Whilst I've not really used that functionality much the ability to dial 999 even if the power is off/mobile out of battery is something I'd something I'd like to keep - I'll be looking to move a Home::1 line in a couple of months

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not cost saving, actually a few pence more a month for us. But as I say, if this was wifi, or coax, or EFM, or glass fibre, you would not be asking for 999. You are thinking of it as a "phone line" still. Useful feedback though.

      Delete
  5. Quick question: what is happening to BT engineer relying on calling 17070 to initiate / get test results? Any risk of giving them another reason to SFI or just run away without fixing?

    I suspect it's a stupid question as if you are on unbundled line BT is still responsible for copper while not providing voice and/or 17070 (or is there a provision to direct that call in that case).

    Also useful to identify dead line circuit.

    What would happen after A&A service termination? Would it return to BT called bared tone allowing 17070 and identification?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The audio will include a quiet line test and some line identification when you lift the receiver, so should not be an issue.

      Delete
  6. Do any DSL modulation schemes make use of those low frequencies to squeeze a bit more speed out of the copper pair when there is not POTS on the pair?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered that - it won't help with this case as we have put audio in it to discourage engineers nicking the pair.

      Delete
    2. There are PSD masks which allow the use of the POTS bands (G.992.3 Annex I & J, or example) but I don't know if anyone uses them.

      Delete
  7. If the engineer could hear the DSL in the audio band, perhaps that would have a similar effect, preventing him nicking the pair?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Surely you're not really gaining anything other than making it not useful for 999/free calls (non-networked sky boxes for example).

    It wouldn't bother me - I have no voice connection on mine anyway (it was receiving spam calls and BT sales calls) but curious as to the motivation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is all down to how it is marketed - as a "broken" phone line, or as a effectively "naked DSL". We can do dial tone if really needed.

      Delete
  9. As a business we'd love to have a truly naked dsl product, as presumably there would be a cost saving to us as a result. Though I appreciate that A&A are at the mercy of BT actually offering such a product!
    As a consumer however, it irks me that I have to spend £10 a month on something that I don't really need. But on the other hand, if I have to spend money on it, I'd still like to be able to use it for 999 and the odd inbound call (for example, when the missus is sat in the house's black hole and the mobile doesn't work). But I'm sure others would like the ability to have a second BB connection without paying for another phone line also, and not want the call ability. I'm somewhat torn here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We can do it with dial tone if people really want. The £10 is for a copper pair, which is something you do need :-)

      Delete
    2. I think it would be good to give people the option, that's what I was trying to say :)
      The sooner BT provide a true, naked DSL, the better as that will represent a decent saving for us, and probably for yourselves with the Office::1 product also.

      Delete
    3. The thing is, for £10 I can get a copper pair *and* a phone service, so £10 for just the copper pair doesn't really seem like a good deal.

      The main thing I think is that naked DSL should be marketed as just "an internet connection" rather than "an internet connection costing £X and a copper pair costing £Y" - if you go to Virgin for your internet connection they don't say "That'll be £X/month for the internet connection and £Y/month for the coax it uses". Also, for it to be worthwhile, it seems to me that the price needs to be comparable to other "naked internet" providers rather than similar to the total price of POTS+Internet.

      i.e. I can go to Virgin and ask for an "internet connection", I would pay one fee each month for the internet service (which includes everything I need to use it, such as the coax, the cable modem, etc). And I can ask them for a phone line too, which will cost an additional amount each month. Whereas, if your offering is going to be priced about the same as "internet + phone" but doesn't include the phone, it doesn't look like a great deal from a marketing perspective.

      Delete
    4. Steve, Virgin actually do exactly what you've said they don't do. Their cheap broadband offers require you to pay £16.99 for a "phone line" so that they can advertise a low headline price (currently £8.50) as part of a promotion. Over the minimum 18 months of the contract you'll actually pay them a total of about £510 for the supposedly "separate" broadband and phone.

      Or you can insist on a Virgin broadband service with no phone line at £28.50 per month. This too will cost about £510 over 18 months, but your phone won't work.

      Delete
    5. tialaramex: Ok, fair enough - IMHO that is misadvertising. Advertising a headline price for DSL and then saying "requires a phone line" (which does not need to be supplied by the same company) is one thing - it does actually require the phone line and you're not demaning that they get the phone line from _you_; But cable internet does not require a phone line, and by Virgin demanding that you buy one of their phone lines means they are selling a bundled package and IMHO should be required to advertise the *package price* rather than the price of one specific component that can't be purchased separately (and is therefore able to be advertised at an arbitrary price).

      My point still stands though - I can go to Virgin and buy "an internet connection" for a specific advertised price (£28.50 in your example), and they don't then have a add-on fee for "the coax" who's sole function is to carry the internet connection. By splitting it into mandatory components you make the pricing completely meaningless - nothing to stop an ISP selling a "1p/year" internet connection that has smallprint saying that I also need to purchase the copper pair from the same ISP at £X/month, and rent bandwidth on the fibre backhaul for £Y/month, and pay £Z/month for bandwidth on the ISP's transits/peers.

      So my point is that when I go to an ISP's price list and look for "Naked DSL" it needs to list an all-in price. If you list a price for "Naked DSL*" (* requires a copper pair at an additional £X/month" then people are automatically going to say "hold on, $other_ISP is charging that same £X/month but I get a phone line too! Obviously a better deal!".

      Delete
    6. Talktalk do this - Internet is FREE!!. Headlines all say 'free internet'.

      Small print says you need to buy a phone line from them for £16.75/mo.

      VM are the masters of it, with a confusopoly of discounts and different tiers that mean they can claim ridiculously cheap prices in their adverts and charge through the nose, without actually lying to anyone.

      It's just marketing. AAISP could just put the cost of Home::1 up by £10/mo and say the 'naked' DSL like is free. They won't, because they're honest.

      Delete
    7. OK, I'll bite. Steve Hill: Where can one get a copper pair and phone service for £10 per month ?

      Delete
  10. Hi good people

    I live in exile “Cornwall”

    I was reading on your website yestrday about Naked pairs … I'm sure I'm with it technologically … but I have to admit that I had no clue about broadband without “THE DREDED LINE RENTAL” …
    and still … I never heard about you … shame … !!!

    Well … I tried to get a quote from you for a copper pair service … I have a BT land line for the last 14 years “in this house", and broadband with TalkTalk … for a couple of years now “still ON WORKING”

    ... BUT ...

    when I enter my phone number, the system say, number "NOT FOUND" and I need TOTALLY a new line installed, [Huge cost] not needed.
    Please clarify.

    Mr Hope of “Cornwall”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you have TalkTalk MPF where the phone line is with Talktalk already as well as the broadband. This is where it gets tricky, as the checker works for BT numbers, and TalkTalk cannot cope with moving a line from TT Retail to us. It is possible for us to do this, but a bit manual, which is why the order form is not coping, sorry. Best to talk to sales. Look at a quote based on a new line at your address to see ongoing costs and and speed estimates.

      Delete
    2. My contract with talktalk will end midd next month ...
      I cal live withot broad band for a while ... I'm a pensioner with "grudge" ...

      so ... I'll be free from the 18 July "my birthday" ...

      SOx2 ... can you do anything for me "not at any price ... please.

      Delete
    3. One option is simply ceasing the TT (line and broadband) and we can do a "start a stopped line" install (£15). Do you use the landline number, and want to keep it, or not care?

      Delete
    4. I don't give a Monkie's *... about land line ... 999 is free from mobiles ... I have dual sim andset with very cheap "pay as you go" with cheap mobile data cost ... and anothe handset with cheap international sim to call my family in Egypt cheap at 5p/minute "

      they all permenantly charged.

      my internet use is basic "it's an age thing"

      I feel that the WI-FI is usefull to connect the laptop and for when occesional visitors needs to use thier phones in my place ...

      And what is "start stop" line?

      Delete
    5. By the way ... i'm not renewing my contract with talktalk

      Delete
    6. It just means that if the TT line is ceased we can start the line rather than a complete new install.

      Delete
    7. Now that's good news ...

      ... what is the monthly cost ...

      ..Coz.. I'm on a budjet ... basic use, No -mega- giga.

      I hope it costs ... Considerably ... less than the landline use to cost ... I say use to ... next month !!!
      give me a figuer ... I hope it's MORE than reasonable.

      Delete
    8. Best to put your address in the order form and look at the options.

      Delete
    9. I read that HOME1 option is reasonably priced.
      Come on good people, I need your help.

      Delete
    10. how Can I send the address incognito ... as not to be published publicly

      Delete
    11. Just follow the order form as a new install, that will show options and monthly pricing and speed estimates, etc.

      Delete
    12. It's not accepting my exesting phone number taking me to the totaly new line installation alltogether, tha's not needed, not what I want, costly and the line is already there.

      The fiber cables are already laid down and passes only 5 "five" meter from my front door the the town of "REDRUTH" in Cornwall.

      Delete
    13. The order form will allow you to see the options and ongoing costs. You can do that selecting new line. However, as I said, once your TT service ceases you would be able to order as a "start a stopped line" which is cheaper than a new install. The options for tariffs and so on, and the ongoing costs, are all the same, which is why I suggested using the order form to see the ongoing costs and options available.

      Delete
    14. OK ... Will do ... again with more concentration
      Ta

      Delete