2018-03-27

Ongoing A&A broadband stuff

As you know, I do occasionally blog on what we are up to at A&A, and so here is a bit of an update... The official announcements are on the status pages as normal.

Free installs, short contract terms, etc.

One of the big issues was the complexity of installation pricing. It depends if we can migrate it or not, if the service was BT based or not, if you need a new phone line, what type of service it is, etc. The order form worked it all out, but people wanted to know up front and wanted something simple.

So, in a rare decision for me, I am trying to average it all out a bit and offer customers a much simpler choice. It is pretty simple, you can have 1 month term for an install fee, or 6 month term for no install fee, or 12 month terms for no install fee and get a free router. There are a couple of caveats - phone line install is extra but has no minimum term, and FTTP is 12 month only, but basically that is the deal. I think it looks pretty clear - see the Home::1 page for details.

The free router is one of the latest ZyXELs which seems reasonably sane, and has 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi, which is an advantage.

In practice it means we expect most people end up with a free install, but those that want a short term service can pay an install price and have 1 month min term, which is a nice option to be able to offer now. We can even do that on FTTC, but sadly not yet on FTTP.

As part of that we have made the order form work somewhat more sensibly when ordering FTTP with more automation on our side behind the scenes. A bit more work still needed, but looking good.

Regrades were a concern, but the decision is that we offer the 1 or 6 month options, and if you are still within original minimum term, these are added to that.

MPF lines from other ISPs

One of the other issues we had is people want to move service from someone that uses MPF lines, that is where the copper pair is jumpered to their kit at the exchange so the other provider does phone and broadband. Many operators do this. People don't want a complete new line installed (and in some places that is not easy), they just want to move the existing line over with minimum down time.

What we have done today is improved the order form to handle this. It allows an order on an existing MPF line at a premises (where there is only one) and will take over that (losing the number) to provide the broadband with us. Downtime can be a matter of minutes.

Yes, you lose the number, simply because we still do not do "phone lines" as such. This is a policy I am likely to stick with for a lot of reasons (technical, administrative, and even regulatory reasons). So moving the copper pair from MPF to our service does not need the number to be moved - and the new "copper pair for broadband" has no meaningful number as it does not allow calls in or out.

However, at least it is now possible to place such orders, which is a big improvement I think.

A sprinkling of IPv4

We have decided for now that there are actually very few people that really still need a few IPv4 addresses over and above the WAN address, so allowing a /29 of IPv4 on the Home::1 package. Everyone gets lots of IPv6 addresses anyway.

For now, the few people wanting this, is not an issue for us. Obviously, one day, we may have to reclaim IPv4 blocks, but we hope that is a way off.

So, just ask if you need. But we expect people to be clued up enough to know what they are doing with the /29 if they need it. We just route it down the line(s) via PPP.

160Mb/s services

We are very cautious over high line speeds. This is not down to our overall capacity, but the size of individual links in our network and those that link to us. We make sure all such links have plenty of headroom, but it is a reason to take things slowly. The plan is to start trying some faster links, such as FTTP at 160Mb/s and even G.Fast at 160Mb/s. Both are expected to be available soon and £10/month more. PLEASE DON'T HASSLE SALES, it will be on the order form when it is on the order form.

FTTP NT crap

There is one less helpful thing, sorry. It seems we have been losing out on some FTTP lines because BT are charging us £10/month more for them than we realised. (NT means Non Transitional line). These are FTTP lines where there is not a phone line at the same premises. It is crazy that BT can tie these two unrelated products together, but somehow OFCOM allows this. It means that, soon, FTTP services where there is not a phone line at the same premises may start to cost our customers £10/month more. Sorry about this. Initially it will just be new orders where there is no phone line, but customers outside their initial 12 month term may be contacted over the coming months to advise of the price change. No, we're not going to back date it, obviously. It is surprising how common FTTP lines are getting now.

FTTP on demand

This is still a thing, it has changed a bit, but it is still a nightmare. If you want FTTPoD, email sales, we'll do a quote, and see if you run away screaming. We have had people put in Ethernet (dedicated fire link) circuits instead because they are cheaper and quicker (and not contended). The costs are silly, and so are the lead times, and there is even a fee to find out what the cost is even if you say no. So we are not saying we won't do these, just that it makes little sense. For now, if you do want to go ahead, we'll be capping to 160Mb/s but may increase that as we allow higher speed links on our networks over time. But seriously, if you have more money than sense, as some people I know do, consider an Ethernet fibre instead, at least for now. Over time this will change, I am sure, so watch this space.

32 comments:

  1. Faster FTTP - yaay! Will there be a new minimum term for it?

    The extra charge from BT for FTTP lines without telephone service is nuts, and it'll directly affect me. If I want to go after BT in small claims for my $10/mo back, would you back me up?

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    1. Sounds to me like a total rip off and should be referred to Ofcom. There's no reason why BT should insist on charging for a phone line when one is not needed, I can understand with legacy broadband and so on which runs over copper but for FTTP it's an archaic model. It would almost be as perverse as something like buying Sky TV and then having to also pay another company for channels you never watch.

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    2. "It would almost be as perverse as something like buying Sky TV and then having to also pay another company for channels you never watch."

      You mean, like a BBC TV licence? :-)

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  2. It's annoying about the fttp price increase but I guess there's not a lot you can do about it.
    I got in a rather heated argument with bt about it all, when the sales guy told me I needed a phone line to get broadband...
    Admitadly, I was bored and went looking for a fight as I had zero intentions of leaving a+a but I just wanted to see if they would evenmoffer the price

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  3. Any news on increasing the limit on L2TP from 100mb yet?

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    1. ... or why there's a limit at all on L2TP when not using it over back haul.

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    2. It is on shared resources (LNSs).

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    3. So, any news then?

      What is it we are waiting for here? Is it the 2900's ?

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    4. We are working on the FB9000s too :-)

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    5. Them too!

      Any timescale on their deployment :)

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  4. That all sounds great. I'm very pleased that you're going to offer 160Mbps FTTP/G.Fast soon, and that's probably stopped me from migrating elsewhere when G.Fast becomes available here.

    Are there any updates you can share on the new TT network transition? I've been very happy on the trial (the latency in particular is sublime), but have there have been issues for others?

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  5. Does the FTTP NT apply if you get a phone line delivered over the fibre (via the phone line dongle hanging off the BT fibre termination router), or do they actually want you to have both a fibre for FTTP and copper for the phone line?

    Also, on your FTTP ordering updates, have you added a question yet for "do you think BT have already installed the fibre and termination kit"? My FTTP order was delayed because the BT database claimed the install wasn't done, AA sales trusted BT (foolish...), then put it through as an install not an activation, and had to get a different engineer out to get the BT databased fixed so the activation could go through...

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    1. The ONT stuff is one of the bit we are working on still to avoid delay. Does seem odd we have to tell BT what they have installed. As for FTTP phone services, no idea yet!

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    2. I believe, from my limited.conversations with bt and openreach on the subject, they are charging for the "phone line" that is delivered over the fibre via the telephone port(s) on the ONT, even if no service is provided.
      I don't think they are talking seperate copper pair here.
      If you have copper pair with fttp also then you are already paying for the phone line so they don't charge them twice

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  6. I'm also on the new TTB network and have to say I'm very pleased with the latency. I'm getting around 5ms to 6ms, to 8.8.8.8, currently on my FTTC/VDSL2 connection. Once everyone's fully transitioned over I do expect this to go up by a millisecond or so however, but if it doesn't then that's wonderful :).

    As for the other changes, I'm pleased to hear that an IPv4 /29 block is now available on Home::1. My primary reason for going to SoHo::1 was for the IPv4 /29 block, so once my contract term is over in a few months then I'll swap over to Home::1.

    Also nice to hear about G.fast, although not available in my area at the moment and may just be out of reach for it anyway. I might look into asking for an FTTP on Demand desk quote just to see what insane price Openreach come up with for my address. Actual native FTTP is just about two streets away from me ironically, so close yet so far.

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  7. Good to see you starting to look at the G.Fast offering from BT (only in some areas at present, of course). I think that not being ready for the G.Fast roll-out would have been a bad move.

    But I wouldn't limit yourselves to 160 Mbps - surely that is just the opening deal from BT and we are to see 800 Mbps down with 200 Mbps up, on the shortest lines, in the coming years.

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    1. Eventually but you cannot have any 1Gb/s links, no matter how many you use in parallel and LAGs, if you have customers with 800Mb/s tails on them. So it means some upgrades (hopefully this year) to eliminate 1Gb/s links.

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  8. Hmm, welcoming news - very generous (as always) @RevK

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  9. G.Fast is already live in my cabinet and I am 110m away so it is likely to go at full speed. I look forward to it.

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    1. I suffered many years of crap ADSL on a line over 3 miles of fenland swamp, with multiple line drops per hour and appalling SNR. I've served my time with a crap line.

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  10. Is there anything that can be done to help customers who are miles away from a cabinet please? EFM etc is beyond budget but it would be nice to get up to at least 20Mbps or so without breaking the bank. Thank you

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    1. You could try satellite (expensive for usage but ubiquitous as long as you can get a clear view of the sky), wireless (if there's a local provider), 4G hotspot (Three and EE have special packages) or simply bond multiple lines.

      Unfortunately, there's no simple or perfect solution if fast regular fixed broadband isn't available.

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  11. So I did get a quote for FoD and it was £8800 despite passing 32 properties to get to mine - basically what would be a full PON. FoD is ridiculously simple to solve: simply get the first mover to fork out the dosh to get it installed, but then use it as a loan, and that mover then gets paid back as people start to use FTTP via their line rentals. Of course Openturd won't like not having any revenue for a while, but then again they deserve not to since ADSL and ADSL2 were 'bridge' technologies to rolling out fibre.

    The UK was supposed to have FTTC 10 where it is now years ago, and full FTTP where FTTC is now, now... Useless.

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  12. Please do allow G.Fast though, even if you artificially limit it to 80mbps. The big thing is the 50mbps upstream bandwidth, and I'd be happy to have 2x 80/50 lines even if I can't get 160/50 or 330/50...

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  13. FYI Plusnet are charging FTTP users who cancel their copper phone line just £2.50 extra (the same charge as they apply to ADSL and FTTC users who don't use Plusnet's line rental but have it with another provider).

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  14. FWIW, I've had a relatively good experience with FTTPoD. We live in a small highland village and managed to get it installed in ~3-4 months. The install cost was £3.5k but for £300/month we're getting 200-250Mbps most of the time, where our max with a 3-line FTTC bonded solution was ~55Mbps. Upload is also about 10x our previous, which makes a massive difference in these days of cloud storage.

    Also , the serivce is uncapped, so no worries about blowing a limit being very expensive.

    If I compare with quote I've had for Leased lines, it's waaaay cheaper, they were all over £1000/month for speeds lower than we're currently getting.

    So it may not be for everyone, but I think it's a great product :).

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  15. What bridge modem or router do you plan on using with G.Fast? I'm not sure any of the current A&A routers support it. I'm on a Zyxel bridge modem and separate router (both the original VMG1312) but both of those will have to go, the ethernet links are 100mbps only. Fortunately the entire of the rest of my home network uses gigabit switches and suitable wifi, so it's only the modem and router that will need replacing.

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    1. I think the latest ZyXEL does, but obviously this is one of the things we have to sort.

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    2. Doesn't look like the Zyxel VMG3925 does G.Fast. The chipsets you list for it on https://support.aa.net.uk/VMG1312_Vs_VMG3925 don't support G.Fast, and Zyxel's own web pages for it don't claim G.Fast either. They do claim G.Vector but that's just a VDSL speed up and would require BT to deploy it widely (there have been trials).

      However since the Zyxel VMG3925 has a dedicated gigabit WAN ethernet port it is ideally suited for use with a PPPOE G.Fast modem.

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