The rules of FTTC

FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) is the more technical term for services offered by many ISPs as "super fast". It is usually provided via BT wholesale who buy components from themselves (Openreach) to make a wholesale service they sell to ISPs. ISPs then sell Internet connections and the like. The ISPs are not really "re-selling" BT here, as BT just provide a link (ISP to end user). The ISP provides a lot more on top, not least of which is connecting to the actual Internet!

There is a handbook for the service BT offer ISPs, and it is written by BT. The FTTC handbook.

The handbook defines a few rules. These are rules for BT Wholesale customers not rules the ISP has to pass on. At A&A we'll pass on anything useful like these rules to our customers where we are able to enforce them on BT.

One of the concerns a lot of end users have is what speed they will get. FTTC allows much higher speeds than conventional ADSL services. BT operate a speed forecast (a line and address checker). This allows end users to see what speed they can expect. It is only a forecast, but is based on the line length and other details BT have.

There are some rules in the FTTC handbook:-

1. If the install does not meet the forecast speed the ISP is given option to re-appoint or cancel. There appears to be no option to accept the slower service! I don't think I am misreading this, honest.

2. If an installed service falls to less than 50% of original forecast, or drops 25% in 14 days then BT will investigate, and if they can't fix within 90 days of install the install can be cancelled and refunded. Obviously an ISP may have had lots of other costs in providing a service to an end user during that time and in reinstating an ADSL service. Thankfully we have not had a case of applying this rule, yet.

Now, the first of these rules is odd. It really does seem to lack an option for accepting an install at less than the forecast speed. Not 95%, not 90%, not 50%, but the forecast speed. The line has to do at least that at install or BT are not meant to complete the install. They are meant to ask the ISP if they wish to cancel or re-appoint. However, first BT error here is that we have never seen them do this, as far as I know. Even where a line is slower, they just close the install.

Right now, we have a customer with a forecast of 29Mb/s and synced at install at 13Mb/s. Not good. BT are giving us the run around. They closed the install. So we are insisting the install is not complete, it can't be. Indeed, we are saying we want a re-appoint of the install, every day if necessary, until they manage the forecast speed, as per the rules BT wrote.

We have been pushing hard on this to get it fixed. BT have sent lots of engineers, but seem uninterested in actually doing anything, even properly investigating it. The latest is BT are saying these rules, the FTTC handbook, are only a guideline, and, basically, if it suits them, they will ignore them.

How can the industry work when the main carrier won't even follow the rules it wrote?!?!

I think we need to see if ISPA can investigate. Given the pressure OFCOM give ISPs on broadband speeds, I would hope OFCOM can investigate. How can ISPs be expected to offer end users any sensible terms and manage expectations when BT are happy to mess ISPs around like this.

At the end of the day BT did not have to write rules like this - they could have said "you get what you get, tough!" but they chose to define rules, and then conveniently just ignore them!

Oh well, we'll see what happens. Happy to discuss with with ISPA or OFCOM if they are interested.

Update: It turns out that Bt did not reply to my emails on this sooner as they are only capable of reading email replies if they are top-posted. I have tried to educate them. But they claim they are following the handbook, so I have asked them to confirm when and how they offered the choice of cancel or re-appoint. Should be interesting.


  1. My install was an exciting adventure of botched paperwork ("home wiring kit not authorised" on the work order ... even though BT confirmed at the time this was a mistake on their part, apparently that's not good enough for Openreach to do the job!), a missed appointment (the "please go and do the installation this time" message was sent too late in the day for Openreach to turn up on their own chosen date for the second attempt) - and finally a completed installation on the third attempt, a week later (after escalating the complaint when offered a third install date over a month after the first!)

    It's a shame: BT setting explicit prediction and fault thresholds seemed a very promising step in theory, but "if you can view a web page, everything must be OK ... packet loss? What's a packet?" seems deeply ingrained. At least they finally seem to have stopped chewing up IPv6 traffic and thinking that's acceptable...

  2. How can they know what a new FTTC connection syncs at when the engineer doesn't use any test equipment such as a JDSU or Exfo tester that is capable of obtaining sync, check error rates ect and basically test the d'side pair quality as well as other tests , My botched FTTC instal by a BT openreach engineer, Again didn't have the Data Extension cable that had been ordered,& wouldn't re locate the NTE5(BT master socket)all the engineer did was fit the filtered face plate onto the master socket,then unbox the modem connect power and connect it to the master socket wait for it to sync and job done,he was off,without having a clue what it was syncing at,
    Also they supplied an ECI modem although the FTTC cab may is a (288 line Huawei,the double doored type)fortunately my sync is i think the max 80/20 as my ip profile is 77.44, I could of installed the modem myself and saved money BT openreach are not providing value for money when it comes to engineer install charges in a lot of cases


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