BT looks to be preparing a self-install option for its BT Infinity 2 fibre optic broadband packages as it begins a technical trial of microfilters for its FTTC (Fibre-to-the-Cabinet) lines.
Microfilters, the devices that plug in to your common garden ADSL master socket, will be a fairly familiar sight to most of us in the UK. As well as being an effective way to streamline your broadband connection, being able to install a microfilter and set everything up yourself does away with the need for an engineer to visit.
This is the case with copper ADSL-based broadband services, but not so for fibre-optic broadband. So far we've seen an engineer visit and install a requisite feature on services like BT Infinity. This is because that customers installing microfilters themselves right now could see in speeds actually reducing, hence the need for a live technical trial;
"Microfilters are believed to be one of several key enablers to move the GEA-FTTC product to being a self–install product, removing the need for an engineer visit to the end user’s premises.
The use of microfilters, however, may result in reduced speeds when compared to an engineer-based
installation, depending on a number of factors. This risk necessitates a technical trial prior to a larger scale
customer pilot activity. We’re therefore running this technical trial to understand the actual and perceived
service performance achieved using microfilters."
This could potentially do away with ISPs having to charge for an installation fee up front, or spreading the costs of an engineer visit over the length of a contract.
BT Infinity 2 is currently an 18 month only-deal; the option to self-install could see 12 month (or shorter) contracts being introduced.
It’s not likely that prices of broadband services for ISPs will be dropped; BT’s notes on the technical trial state:
“We believe that microfilters will make the initial installation more efficient, but we do not
know what the trade-off will be with respect to handling faults in-life. It is possible that we will be unable to reduce the price of the GEA-FTTC product as a result of that trade-off.”
Which must make for not great reading for TalkTalk.
The trial is expected to take place this June and will last three months. Meaning if you’re planning to sign up for fibre broadband from BT, TalkTalk, Aquiss and the rest, expect to have the engineer pay a visit, for the next five months at least.