BT losing plot on FTTC

FTTC (Fibre to the cabinet) is based on a BT plc t/a Openreach product that is Ethernet from exchange to premises service that uses VDSL at the cabinet to an Ethernet port on a VDSL modem at the premises.

The nice thing about an Ethernet service is that faults are very clear cut - the Ethernet packets either flow or they do not. There are grey areas but they are the minority.

With this service the BT VDSL modem works to get sync on the line and present Ethernet packet to the end user's equipment (a router of some sort).

Now, this has a massive advantage over normal ADSL. The issues with any DSL service are the modems and the physical copper pair used. With FTTC the modem is BT's responsibility. If it is not working, they fix it. It adds to the install cost over normal ADSL, but is well worth it if you have a fault.

If there is a fault then BT have to fix it. Simples.

But they are making a change, a very very detrimental change, to the service they provide to us. Now, making this change as a new service they offer is one thing but changing the service we already have is a different matter. There is a clause covering changes to terms and it does not allow them to make unilateral changes which are detrimental to the service. So we are planning to formally reject the change to the T&Cs.

They are changing the service to wires only where they will not "support" the modem they provided.

This is a massive change. This puts us in the realms of SFI charges like ADSL lines, and having to provide modems to customers. This is a massive backwards step.

But it is not even a simple case of a new "wires only" service being the only one on offer. They will sell the "with modem" service until late next year but within a few months they stop "supporting" the supplied modem even on a service with a 12 month min term. How the heck can that work? If the service fails because of the modem then who fixes it?

If they sold the modem then Sale of Goods Act would expect it to work more than three months even.

And what of all of the existing services? A service that is delivered to the Ethernet socket on the modem? They plan to disown their own modem that is part of that service?

To be honest I don't care if they "support" the modem or not - if the service, being a service to the Ethernet port, is not working, then they have 40 clock hours to make it work. If they don't "support" the modem then they can find who does support it and get them to fix it - I don't care - I pay for a service to that Ethernet port and I expect it to continue to work as long as I have the service...

I have to say this is a fiasco.

I hereby formally reject the change to BT plc's T&Cs introducing this change to existing FTTC services as it is detrimental to the service provided and as such against the terms to apply this change.

What the hell are they thinking of?


  1. They think you're a customer RevK, you know, the people that BT built an empire on Screwing....

  2. I'll hazard a guess that they're thinking of feeding the cash cow that is SFI. I agree it's a detrimental change and shouldn't be allowed.

  3. Well, I'm not sure how well they "support" the modem at present in any case. When my modem started doing strange things to VoIP packets they failed to supply a new one even after several attempts from your support guys (see ticket E814ZV) to get them to send one out. I gave up and bought an ECI modem off of ebay.

    I had managed to get a new one when the original Huawei gave up altogether - perhaps there's a secret policy of only one new modem per line :)

  4. Stopping selling a "with modem" service is one thing, but stopping supporting the existing "with modem" installs sounds bonkers to me.

    That said, one thing that surprised me was that the OR engineer who installed my VDSL said that the microfilter faceplate that they install on the NTE5 is my responsibility - OR supply it in the first place, but if it dies then it is my responsibility to replace it. This rather breaks the whole "if it won't sync it's BT's responsibility" idea since they can just decide the filter was to blame and (presumably) charge me for the home visit!

    Also, a recent experience made me realise that BT providing a "to the ethernet port of the router" service doesn't make things entirely simple because of the PPP session being handled by a non-BT device. My PPPoE session is terminated on a Debian machine rather than an off-the-shelf router and one day I was suddenly unable to connect to the internet - the PPP session was being rejected with a CHAP auth failure. My ISP's support people eventually asked me to go configure a stand-alone router, which was rather a pain since I didn't have one! In the end it turned out that they had screwed up my RADIUS record. I really don't understand why we need all the PPP stuff anyway - surely it'd be much more sensible to just send plain IP over ethernet frames over the connection with a DHCP server on the ISP end (and router advertisements for IPv6)? That way if your router dies you can at least plug a stand-alone PC directly into the modem and it would Just Work™.

    1. The BT plc t/a Openreach service is just Ethernet and can just do IP and/or DHPC and so on - you could do IPX or NETBUI if you felt like it. We can do such services even via BT plc t/a BT Wholesale, and via Talk Talk. PPP does have the advantage of a handshake, non filterable constant monitoring using LCP echos, and some additional authentication (which is not really needed).

    2. Is that something that can be set in Clueless? It would allow for 1500 MTU without baby jumbos.

    3. Sorry, no. It is a separate service using an Ethernet rather than PPP backhail to us. Costs more but the bandwidth is cheaper.


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