ISPs may soon be able to offer a flat rate fibre broadband service without a traditional phone line included.
The Single Order GEA service from BT Openreach – also known as ‘naked FTTC’ – could be billed as a single item instead of the usual combination of BT line rental with broadband and other services on top.
Openreach, BT’s network arm, has launched a consultation with ISPs which could see them offer naked FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) with a VoIP (Voice over IP) service in place of voice calls, if they don’t choose to use Skype or a mobile phone.
Do I need to pay line rental for broadband?Openreach said: “Openreach is consulting industry on a proposed new product currently known as “Single Order GEA”.
“It will give communications providers (CPs) purchasing its FTTC product the option of placing a single, convenient order to provide customers with a fibre broadband service.
“By building the underlying copper line into the product, CPs benefit from reduced complexity when ordering fibre broadband which is not coupled with a traditional voice service. CPs will have the option of introducing innovative IP based voice services for their customers.”
The naked FTTC service won’t eliminate the final run of copper from BT’s fibre cabinets to customers’ homes, but the voice part of this will primarily be used for line testing if there’s a fault.
Naked FTTC could allow ISPs to introduce a fibre broadband-only service like TalkTalk’s Simply Broadband, with no inclusive phone calls at a lower cost.
The first stage is a consultation with ISPs like Sky, TalkTalk and Plusnet to see if they want the new service, followed by a trial.
It’s hard to say whether ISPs will want the new service – line rental costs for customers continue to rise above inflation, even though the amount BT Openreach can charge the ISPs per line is going down on Ofcom’s orders.
There’s currently little transparency about the costs of line rental: TalkTalk charges £15.95/month but in theory this includes no phone calls, while Sky (£15.40/month) and BT (£15.99/month) both bundle weekend calls to UK landlines with their line rental.