back to article BT boss barks at TalkTalk for being 'copper Luddites'

BT boss Ian Livingston has blasted TalkTalk for grumbling about the cost of fitting fibre-optic broadband - and accused the budget ISP of clinging to its copper network. The chief exec took to the pages of the Daily Telegraph after TalkTalk complained the national telco was creating a monopoly due to the amount it charges to …

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Facepalm

If Talk Talk say they are so good...

...then why is it that most of the customers I visit and use TalkTalk have ADSL speeds in the 512k to 1Mb range?

I then advise them to switch and Bingo...6Mbps+ straight away.

And this is after the customer has reported it to TalkTalk and they have said "computer sez no!"

Consistently the worst ISP I come across.

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Linux

Re: If Talk Talk say they are so good...

Not here.

I get 22Mbs genuine throughput from on their LLU (no FTTC in bumpkin land) where as with BT I only get 16Mbs on 21CN and would have to pay a damn sight more.

Perhaps I'm a fortunate TT customer in that I've never had a problem but it might be because I don't use their shitty Huawei router.

NB I'm a lucky 300m from the exchange.

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Re: NB I'm a lucky 300m from the exchange.

NO Shit!!!

No wonder why!!!!

300m!!!!

That's practically next door!!!

I'd be a damn sight happy IF I were that close.

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Re: If Talk Talk say they are so good...

True, I'm 400m from an exchange that's unlikely to have FFTC anytime soon (again, bumpkin land) and my connection is superb. Steady 4Mbs on private torrent sites, no caps, good reliability and very reasonably priced.

Their 'Customer Service' is closer to a threat than a department name but that aside; technically it's awesome for £30 a month including line rental, uncapped 22Mbs ADSL2+, and some unlimited landline call thing. (I don't even have a phone plugged in). Those YouView things are free now too if Freeview is your thing.

Obviously their non-LLU stuff is standard residential BT Wholesale with shite contention on the rented backhaul. Thought of that with the the woeful call centres is utterly depressing.

Would never had believed it myself until I saw the torrent speeds my tech savvy uncle showed off one day... Switched from the then excellent but-has-no-LLU-presence Eclipse with a business product and amazing customer service to the infamous TalkTalk.

Cheaper, and whilst the best BT Wholesale reseller going, it's also faster. Incredible - but true!

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Re: If Talk Talk say they are so good...

After bitching at them for _six years_ they finally got BTOR to fix a broken drop cable and my speeds went up to 16Mb/s, but BTOR still haven't fixed the waterlogged trunk cables (lead-sheathed paper insulated(*), despite claims to Ofcom that there is none left in service in the UK.), so it keeps dropping out.

I'm leaving TT for other reasons - mainly that their CRM system seems to be designed by an infinite number of monkeys banging on an infinite number of typewriters, then they hired some of the monkeys to simian the helldesk - whenever anything goes wrong it takes days of banging heads against scriptmonkeys to get anything done and I have better/more enjoyable ways to waste my time

Not that I expect anything to be better technically with another ISP, but at least they have local staff/helldesk and they've made an undertaking to keep banging on BTOR until the lines are actually fixed.

(*) The BTOR techs freely admit the street cables are rotten, but state they're not allowed to try and fix 'em unless there's an actual break.

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Re: If Talk Talk say they are so good...

I'm much further away that that, but I get a comfortable and constant 17Mbs from talk-talk

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Re: If Talk Talk say they are so good...

Another happy TalkTalk customer here, live about 600m from the exchange and used to get solid 18-20Mb/s, now a solid 65Mb/s on fibre.

Thanks to Google Drive being a pile of crap, I consumed ~500GB last month and they didn't bat an eyelid.

Top tip: If you need customer service, use the TT forums. I used them to change my profile before I had fibre and throughput went from 14-18Mb/s in a number of steps with full monitoring to ensure the line remained stable. Admittedly, actually calling them is an excercise in futility.

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Who cares about TalkTalk, I just want BT to give me a price to upgrade my exchange so we can all get FTTP/FTTC, then I'll do a whip around in my village and we'll pay for it!

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WTF?

Agreed

"BT generally only rollout FTTC in areas with a high concentration of Virgin Media customers" - from an anonymous BT Openreach source

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Eek

Re: Agreed

Are you sure about that. Around here we've got Virgin Media but aren't due to get BT fibre until 2015.

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Re: Agreed

Rubbish - we've not got Virgin (or any cable, come to that) here but have FTTC.

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Stop

Re: Agreed

"BT generally only rollout FTTC in areas with a high concentration of Virgin Media customers

Your anonymous source was spouting crap (fairly typical for a BT employee). I have FTTC and Brackley has no VM presence. Almost all of Bicester can get FTTC yet less than a third of the town can get VM cable. My brother in Carlisle can get FTTC and there's no VM there.

It's true there is overlap but frankly VM should take some of the blame for that. After all the years they've been around they still don't have market dominance in the areas they serve. They are obviously doing something wrong given that cable is a perfectly reasonable way to deliver TV, phone and network services.

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Re: Agreed

Given that Virgin (or rather the original cable franchise holders) targeted areas of high population density, then it's hardly surprising that FTTC/FTTP areas often overlap with VM for similar economic reasons.

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Re: Agreed

I find it's the other way around.

Places with no Virgin are a captive market.

My old home town (pop: 12Kish) has no virgin, but FTTC covering it and 3 villages around it.

My home town (80+K) has VM, and this month, we were updated to "FE"..

Before the end of 2014.

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@MrXavia

Setup a shell company selling RF broadband services, get everyone in the village to sign an expression of interest, send out press releases announcing the launch of a new broadband service in the area in about 12 months time.

Alternatively, secure EU funding for a small outfit to install rural broadband in your area, via your local council.

Stand back and watch BT fall over themselves to signup everyone and install broadband in the area before your announced rollout date.

After all, if they're going to use those tactics to prevent competition in rural areas, why not play 'em at their own game?

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Re: Agreed

OTOH I have virgin cable gong past my front window (and have done for over a decade) but it took BT 3 years past their announcement that the area would be supplied before they actually did it - and they still haven't bothered showing up at my place to set things up (3 broken appointments and counting)

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Happy

Couldn't care less (at the minute) if BT have a supposed monoply...

All I know is over the years I can't fault their customer service too much (at least compared to other services) and that I get 5MB/sec over their fibre.

Maybe I bad attitude to have, but all they need to do now is run it the 20 metres from the cabinet to my house.

Still a fair bit behind over countries, I hear our scandinavian friends have insane speeds. The google fibre throwing out close to 1GB/sec to Kanas is also fairly astonishing (up and down stream).

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Anonymous Coward

Why is line rental so much?

It's about time someone offered fast broadband without having to pay BT £15pcm, which for me would be unused for making phone calls.

(I'd love to use mobile broadband, but where I am, it runs at a snails pace :-( )

I'm sure BT must be laughing all the way to the bank just with the income from "line rentals" - say £15pcm for an estimated 100 million phone lines - that's £1.5 billion a month.

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Coat

Re: Why is line rental so much?

I mentioned the concept of ADSL only landlines here a few weeks ago but a lot of folks here pooh-poohed it for some reason.

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Re: Why is line rental so much?

Wholesale line rental is £94.75 per year (or £7.90 per month) - that's just the cost of the line. However, that doesn't include VAT, which would be the equivalent of £9.50 per month. The BT Retail price of £15 is equivalent to £12.50 per month net of VAT, so a theoretical £4.30 per month profit before operational costs (and the initial Openreach connection costs). However, if you care to pay a year in advance, then the line rental cost is £10.75 per month - or £8.95 net of VAT allowing for a profit of just over £1 per month before any other retail costs.

Of course the line doesn't have to be retailed by BT - indeed full LLU operators make use of the wholesale costs. However, the fact that no other retail operator cares to rent lines and allow other ISPs to provide the broadband or call services is simply because it isn't economic for them, although the costs would be identical. The margins in the fixed line business are very thin.

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Re: Why is line rental so much?

There is no good reason to demand voice circuitss when the POPs are on a street cabinet on the corner.

However, as I've pointed out on several occasions, Ofcom is staffed by Ex-BT people and people who expect their next career step will be BT management, so why would they endanger their prospects?

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Re: Why is line rental so much?

> It's about time someone offered fast broadband without having to pay BT £15pcm, which for me would be unused for making phone calls.

Find an ISP that offers Metallic Path Facility (MPF) circuits - not many do, but you can have ADSL without the POTS. I don't know how many offer such circuits, but I happen to know Gradwell do them (we have dealings with them at work) though they aren't exactly targeting consumers with their pricing (they're a business oriented ISP).

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In fairness, the guy has a point. TalkTalk are all too happy to wait for BT to spend the money on fitting fibre. They don't like BT's terms but they aren't prepared to do it themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

This sums up how an awful lot of BT employees view this. TalkTalk have a history of biting the hand that feeds them while other companies using our fibre are more than happy and we never hear a squeak out of them.

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Anonymous Coward

Not biased then ?

"This sums up how an awful lot of BT employees view this."

BT were gifted a monopoly and gave shit overpriced service for years which I have been on the receiving end. The more kicks in the nuts they get then they might just learn their lesson.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not biased then ?

If this is BT being kicked in the nuts, what exactly are TalkTalk doing to themselves with their shit? seppuku?

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, but some corpse gave BT a ground load of ducts and a virtual monopoly for nowt.

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Mushroom

Oh yes....

...and as a TalkMobile customer myself...could you please start your own 3G/Mobile Data services rather than using the crumbs left on Vodafones plate?

(Long story but I have one of those legendary 07777 numbers that are impossible to shift from the Vodafone network. I didn't know at the time.)

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Re: Oh yes....

Ring Ofcom on 0300 123 3333 and complain about an inability to port your number. As the mobile number portability regulations were changed last year, Ofcom should be able to advise you on how to get it done. Be prepared for a few weeks of farting about writing letters though.

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Meh

I'm not sure what copper assets Mr Livingstone is talking about - the MSANs in the exchanges I suppose. I remember several years ago on Thinkbroadband saying that FTTC would be the end of 'true' LLU. TalkTalk will still have a use for their backhaul and the MSANs will still provide useful telephony service but the days of ADSL are numbered. Now that WB(M)C is apparently stable I suspect that the days of needing independent backhaul might also be coming to an end. I think that should worry the LLUOs more than copper assets.

BT have steadily eroded the advantages of LLU and unless FTTP revitalises them I think they may continue to fade. BT's end to end network is plenty good enough for most people and they are amongst the cheapest ISPs as far as the general public are concerned. In that sense at least Mr Livingstone may have a point - BT is not the lumbering laggard that it once was and I think LLUOs have cause to be concerned.

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"amongst the cheapest ISPs as far as the general public are concerned"

Not in my area (London). A pitiful 10GB/m is £28.45 w/ line rental or £31.45 for unlimited*.

Their competitors are offering unlimited (w/ line rental) for £28 (O2; less if you have an O2 mobile), £23.98 (PlusNet), £21.45 (TalkTalk), and I pay £19 for EE (£24 if you aren't on Orange/T-Mobile).

* For the 18 months I was with BT, I ended up with a total of over £50 in hidden costs, that I had to argue with them about and eventually got removed.

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Headmaster

PlusNet is a BT company...don't let them market their way out of that turd of an association.

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FAIL

Oh Man.... I am lost for words

That is fucking rich, Livingston.

You were in a position 20 years ago to fibre up the UK. But refused to do it without guaranteed cash from the government - and arguably held the UK back 10+ years in the broadband stakes.

BT haa a perfect position (as a monopoly) to invest and make the UK the first country with fibre to the door. Instead they fannied about for years until they were basically made to do it - after THEY had sweated every bit of life out of their crappy copper they could.

bunch of utter short sighted wankers.

I remember as a BT graduate in 1993 standing in front of the then MD of BT and 200 other graduates, giving a speech about the benefits of the (newly invented) WWW for work usage - and why every worker should have access to it to help with their job.... And I was more or less laughed out by the MD and other management at the this zany idea....

morons.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh Man.... I am lost for words

Me thinks you have a jaded memory, and on this day of all days. Our Lady Mrs T was the one responsible for BT not giving us FTTP. It was Mrs T who would not grant BT the license to pump video down the fibre, choosing instead to grant the rights to 2 chums from the US. That worked well for us, all under the guise of providing competition which was never real competition and as we all know ended up being a monopoly any way.

If for nothing else Thatcher should be remembered for causing the lack of proper network infrastructure in the UK. It wasnt BTs fault.

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Headmaster

Re: Oh Man.... I am lost for words

You obviously didn't have to wait for a line to be installed pre- nationalisation then.

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FAIL

Openreach has a monopoly and guess who they are a part of?

Any provider i go for has to have openreach do the pysical install (no vm). Openreach so far have taken longer then 6 weeks to tie two cables together (but the bloke that normal does new sites was on holiday!) and we can not change provider as they would all use fscking open reach!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Openreach has a monopoly and guess who they are a part of?

Openreach are the only outfit that does this work. Thus everyone uses them aside from Virgin fibre installations.

Not something I necessarily agree with but it's the response to a government ruling in 2006 basically forcing BT to open up network access and make it fair for all.

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Re: Openreach has a monopoly and guess who they are a part of?

As long as OR remain part of BT they can be used as a weapon of monopolisation. Do you really think those chinese walls go further than you can see them?

OR should be 100% divested from BT and any telco holding limited to 20%. It's the only way to ensure the lines company is actually run in a non-biased manner.

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I'm with TalkTalk and get just short of 12mbs. Our exchange was FTTC enabled about 18 months ago, but never bothered with the cabinet that services us. We finally got an enabled date of 31/3/2013 and at the end of January they started fitting the cabinet and bit by bit I saw them blowing the fibre in and then they dug up the road to get power to it. Been very little action on it for past month but now the enablement date has gone to 31/3/2014!!!! WTF!

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I am fairly certain that BT only run fibre optic to the box in the street but will use the copper cable to individual houses to save them installation costs. Virgin run the fibre into the actual house.

I also know that on an estate of 500 houses near where I live that was built over the last 4 years with no Broadband, the BT copper gives less than 1Mbps, Virgin will not install to new estates unless during build and BT want around £30k to put fibre optic to the street boxes if the estate cough up themselves. Of course if some pay up there is nothing to stop BT selling Broadband to the rest of the street who did not contribute to that fee.

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"Virgin run the fibre into the actual house."

No, they don't. This is a common misconception - I think you'll find Virgin run FTTC like BT do, except "the last mile" is co-ax instead of BT's conventional copper phone line.

Openreach FTTP is also prioritised for new builds like Virgin is, because the installation is more disruptive and major surgery than FTTC is.

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Boffin

Nearly

BT fibre to the cab, as do VM- the it's BT cooper to the house, and VM run 2x copper pairs for phone lines and co-ax for broadband/TV, all in one cable.

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WTF?

Could have sworn that the shareholders paid best part of £25B back in the 80s for BT... hardly call that a gift!

Given BT's current market cap is £20B and allowing for inflation, seems that UK gov got a good deal...

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Not £25bn

@TheManCalledStan

The figure raised by the Treasury in the flotation of BT (over three tranches) was more like £14bn. That was £4bn from tranche 1 and £5bn each from tranches 2 & 3 (the last one of which was at £4.20 per share). Your figure of £25bn is the approximate amount raised by the 3G auction at the height of the telecom bubble.

Of course, £15bn is (inflation adjusted) far higher than BT's current £20bn market capitalisation, so it would appear that the government got good value. However, it's never that simple. Following the split of O2 from the main BT group (with the latter carrying the enormous debts built up largely by developing the then Cellnet, buying out Securicor's share and the purchase of 3G licenses plus buying out various foreign partners), the shareholders owned both companies. O2 was then taken over by Telefonica and thereby gained about £17.7bn. On that basis, BT shareholders did a bit better than these figures indicate. However, it is never that simple - BT launched a rights issue in 2001 which raised £5.9bn from shareholders. Overall, for those who bought into the original three tranches in proportion, inflation adjusted, it might - just - break even.

Of course the shareholders were somewhat cheated - they were sold shares under one regulatory regime and competition model but the rules were changed enormously in the late 1990s to an increasingly tougher one.

nb. one other thing the government is probably grateful for - they don't have to cover the enormous pension deficit (the liabilities for which were largely incurred pre-privatisation), unlike the position with Royal Mail. That's assuming they aren't silly enough to allow the company to go broke through an over-zealous regulator of course, in which case a privatisation-time state guarantee will be called upon).

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Do BT still have customers?

Last I saw there was a steady spiral of fewer customers providing larger profits. Can't last much longer, can it? "The Power behind the Button" is fading.

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Stop

Isn't it ironic...

Slightly unfortunate having Livingston rambling on about TalkTalk dragging their heels when I live in Livingston and have been waiting over 2 years for local cabinets to be FTTC enabled after the exchange was FTTC enabled.

Could have run my own cable in that time ;)

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BT not interested in FTTC for business

There's a new industrial estate being built in Glasgow, green field site, right beside the motorway network, on the main road from the city to the south. BT have enabled the exchange just up the road for fibre. They have put in cabinets in most of the residential areas all around, and doing FTTC for the high density housing.

BUT - they have NO PLANS to fibre up the new industrial estate. And the cabinets which mainly serve local businesses are not on the list to be enabled.

However they are proceeding to FTTP for all the housing for the athletes in next yera's Commonwealth Games. WTF ??? The athletes need fibre for their xboxes and what not ? While businesses that would gain don't get it ............

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