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.
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.