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I seem to be getting FTTP, despite what OpenReach says

For a while now, there have been various network company vans on mine, and nearby streets. What they’re doing is pretty obvious, with new, thicker cables being strung between telegraph poles, boxes marked “Corning” on them nearby and these signs being added…

Yes, fibre-to-the-premises is here.

I was aware something like this might happen last year, when an OpenReach engineer attended my house after I reported some noise of my phone line. He told me that my town was due FTTP shortly. Needless to say, I’ve been counting down the days.

Anyway, once all this work started, I headed to the OpenReach website – they have a checker tool which will tell you if it was available. I wasn’t expecting it to be at the time but it did give me an option to be informed, via email, when it was – and, yes, I signed up. BT have a similar option too, so I added my email to that as well (better safe than sorry!).

Then, after the various network vans seemed to appear less often, I posted something on Twitter about it…

OpenReach got in touch with me, asking for my address so that they could give me an estimate of availability. Here’s their response…

I can see that there is a project underway in the area, this does look to be nearing completion, at the moment there is no set dates for this, but its estimated to be later in the year or maybe the start of 22, please bear in mind this is only estimated and this could be completed sooner than this estimated date, hopefully if there are no underlying issues this may be ready for service in the next few months.

Well, that was disappointing. At best, it was months away. At worst, not until next year.

My hope drained, I tried to forget about it.

4 days later, I recieved an email from my ISP, Zen, reminding me that my contract was due for renewal in a month’s time. I followed the link to their site to see what options were available to me – to be honest, it was more to see if I was getting the best price than anything else, until such a time that FTTP was a thing.

Imagine, then, my surprise at being offered “Full Fibre” (i.e. FTTP). Maybe it was wrong, so I headed to the OpenReach site and put my details in… sure enough, it now shows FTTP as being available to me. 4 frickin’ days after being told by them that, at best, it would be months.

Remember I signed up on both the OpenReach and BT sites to be emailed once FTTP was available? I’ve still not had one, over a week later.

I rang up Zen and ordered their Full Fibre 300 – 300 Mbps download and 47 Mbps upload. I can go all the way up to their 900 package, if I want – 900 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload. However, it requires an engineer visit and, due to their need to visit your house and the on-going pandemic, there are delays – I have an appointment early March for installation.

The installation, as I understand it, is a device to convert the receiving optic-fibre connector to a standard one, which will plugin into your common-or-garden router.

Right now, I’m using an elderly (but still perfectly functional) OpenReach modem, which connects to my Google WiFi mesh system. I have no intention of changing this (well, the mesh part), but I’m not sure if that modem will be up to the job.

Another Tweet to OpenReach and they confirmed one thing for me – it only has 10/100 ports on it – so, using this would immediately chop my incoming network speed by a third. Thankfully, Zen send me out a brand new router, complete with Gigabit ethernet. It’s a full router, so I need to work out how to use it as a bridge (so, the connection to my ISP is made by my Google WiFi and not that router).

I’ve also taken the opportunity to review the networks in my house, identifying any ethernet connector that’s not Gigabit. For example, the cable from my OpenReach master box to my modem goes via a surge protector in my office UPS. That too is just 10/100, so is something I’ll stop using. I also found a really dodgy cable in use on this too, which I’ll get replaced.

As things progress, I’ll post up more details. Stay tuned!

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