BT Openreach in Full Commercial Launch of Self Install FTTC Broadband - ISPreview UK
BTOpenreach, which maintains and upgrades BT’s national telecoms network across the United Kingdom, has today announced that its new and cheaper self-install service (PCP-Only) for superfast ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) broadband lines will be given a full commercial launch on 29th September 2014. In other words, no more home engineer visits.

The service, which effectively allows consumers to have FTTCfibre broadband” services installed and without needing an Openreach engineer to enter their homes (note: the engineer still needs to visit your local street cabinet to “carry out the jumpering activity” but that’s all), technically launched almost one year ago (here). But that was an Early Market Deployment (EMD) and the full commercial launch will happen this month (ISPs usually adopt a service after the EMD phase is over).

At present BTOpenreach charges ISPs £92 +vat for a new Managed Engineer Install with Operneach’s own VDSL Modem, which increases slightly to £99 if the ISP wants to give the end-user one of their own VDSL modem/router devices instead of the kit supplied by Openreach.

By comparison the new PCP-Only method, which allows the end-user to plug their own Microfilter (Splitter) into the phone socket and use their own VDSL capable broadband router if they have one, will come at a cost of only £49 +vat. ISPs may or may not choose to absorb this.
Openreach Statement for ISPs – Lead times and Appointing

The minimum system lead time for PCP Only orders will continue to be five working days and we aim provide a committed date between five and twelve days.

The PCP Only job can be installed anytime between 7.00am and 9.00pm on the appointment date, unless you order an AM or PM slot. If you choose a specific appointment slot, you will benefit with greater control over the committed date by reserving capacity on the customer required date. These slots allow for you to order a specific appointment to arrange for engineer arrival AM (8.00am-1.00pm) or PM (1.00pm-6.00pm) slot for an additional cost.
However Openreach has previously warned that “the use of microfilters may result in reduced speeds when compared to an engineer-based installation“, although if your existing line can deliver a good broadband speed (e.g. via ADSL2+) then you probably won’t need to worry. But those on slower or more unstable lines may benefit from spending the extra and having an engineer in to do the job (given the choice, we’d always have an engineer in just to be safe).

The debate about performance loss is very similar to the one that preceded BT’s introduction of the wires-only (self-install) service on older ADSL / ADSL2+ line. Indeed these days most ISPs don’t even offer the option of an engineer based ADSL installation, but we hope that ISPs do continue to give customers the choice with their FTTC products.

As a side note, BTOpenreach are currently trialling another service called GEA-FTTC Stop / Start (here). In short, lines that have previously had FTTC and which were later ‘stopped’ (e.g. when you move out of a house and cancel your contract) can later be ‘Started’ again like a new line because the jumpers will still be present. Lines activated in this way are PCP-Only in style and cost £32.52 +vat.

We anticipate that ISPs will cautiously adopt the new PCP-Only service over the next few months, after all anything that makes it cheaper to offer FTTC to customers is likely to appeal.
Comment: This was posted 1st September which may mean that more self-install products are already available now. Sky first started offering self-installs about a year ago in the lead up to the launch of the Sky Hub SR102 and soon after made this the normal procedure. BT Retail has only offered self-installation with their basic fibre product. As mentioned in this article, perhaps now more providers and more products will be made available with self-installation.

Whilst this does mean that potentially more people may have poorer connection speeds than their true potential (one reason why we tend to recommend a VDSL filtered faceplate is purchased and installed) it also means that installations will require less time and new Fibre customers may not have to take time off work for the job to be completed.