Broadband ISPs Prep FTTP Plans for Openreach’s 1.2Gbps and 1.8Gbps Tiers

Network operator Openreach (BT) officially launched their fastest Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband tiers – 1.2Gbps and 1.8Gbps (both 120Mbps upstream) – into the UK market earlier this month (here). But so far the only ISP to launch any consumer packages using these have been EE, although that will soon change.

The new tiers are designed to squeeze as much performance as possible out of Openreach’s Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) platform, which will ultimately need to be upgraded in the future if they’re to go even faster (e.g. XGS-PON, 25G-PON or 50G-PON etc.).

NOTE: The operator’s full fibre network currently covers around 14 million premises, but their investment of up to £15bn aims to reach 25m by December 2026 (80%+ of the UK), before rising up to 30m by 2030.

The new 1.2Gbps tier is arguably more about enabling ISPs to advertise a true “average” gigabit speed of “1000Mbps+” (median as measured at peak time), which compares with the c.900Mbps that most ISPs promote today on Openreach’s 1Gbps tier. Meanwhile, the new 1.8Gbps option gives them something to offer users looking for a more premium tier, which narrows the gap to those ISPs offering 2Gbps speeds (e.g. Virgin Media).

However, none of that matters a jot if ISPs aren’t making related packages available to consumers, which is usually something that tends to develop gradually – often over a period of months – after the launch of a new product at wholesale. With that in mind, ISPreview set off to survey a broad cross-section of Openreach using internet providers, except EE and Zen Internet (Zen are due to launch something soon), to find out about their plans.

What the ISPs say

➤ Vodafone

The provider said they’ll have some news to share over the “coming weeks“. Vodafone is already a little overdue with their plans to launch a 2Gbps package via CityFibre’s network and we suspect they might seek to introduce the new Openreach tiers at the same time as those.


Sad news as they “haven’t currently got any plans to add those new packages at this time.”

➤ Andrews & Arnold (AAISP)

Currently waiting on BT Wholesale to introduce related tiers (“no indication of time frames have been given“), which will form the basis of their own packages.


We’re hoping to launch the Openreach products next month. We already have channel partners reselling our 2Gbps service from CityFibre.


Plans are in the works, but “most hold-ups for us are within the wholesale channels” (i.e. wholesale suppliers aren’t ready yet). Current prediction is for a late Q3 or early Q4 release, but this is very much subject to their suppliers and slippage is possible.

➤ BT & Plusnet

EE are now the BT Group’s flagship consumer brand and already have a 1.6Gbps package, while BT’s Consumer and Plusnet divisions are playing second fiddle. A spokesperson said: “There are no plans to offer 1.2Gbps or 1.8Gbps on BT or Plusnet at this time. If we make changes our customers will be the first to know” (the “no plans” statement is about as useful as a chocolate teapot, since plans do change).

➤ TalkTalk

The provider is known to be evaluating their broadband packages in line with the technology available and their customer’s needs, but they’ve declined to comment on their future plans for adopting the faster tiers. Reading between the lines, TalkTalk may not yet be seeing enough demand for such a launch, although the provider does have a few debt problems to tackle too and new packages cost money to support.


Yes we’ll be looking to launch these packages as soon as we’re able to. Though we don’t have an ETA for when that will be unfortunately.”


Did not respond.

➤ Sky Broadband

Did not respond.

One thing that was very clear above, including from some providers that only spoke off-the-record, is that some of them are waiting for wholesale suppliers to catch-up with Openreach and the expectations about when this would actually happen still seem uncertain. Some ISPs also expressed concerns about the ability or inability of wholesale providers to deliver enough data capacity to support the new tiers.

Speaking of which, BT Wholesale came in for particular criticism, so we asked them about their plans on this front. A spokesperson for the provider told ISPreview: “BT Wholesale offers a wide range of products and services to meet the needs of customers, with full fibre access up to 1GB. We regularly review our portfolio to meet demand and we will update our customers on any changes” (note to BTW: it’s Gb for bits, not GB for Bytes).

Finally, it’s worth remembering that, whatever each ISP may or may not be planning, anybody ordering one of Openreach’s new tiers will require an engineer visit to fit the new 2.5Gbps capable Optical Network Unit (modem). Broadband providers are also likely to ship a new router with similar capabilities.

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