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Broadband provider: fibre optic ‘not a requirement’

Wednesday, October 1st 2014 by Hannah Langston

Home broadband customers do not need a fibre connection, according to a budget internet provider which recently stopped offering the service to new customers.

Fuel Broadband, which changed its name from Primus Saver today, withdrew its residential fibre broadband packages in September.

Oliver Mackereth, marketing director at Fuel’s parent company, New Call Telecom, told Cable.co.uk: “Fibre is being mis-sold to residential customers.

“It’s not a requirement for straightforward things people do online. A high quality ADSL line is more than sufficient.”

Responding to Fuel’s statement, Dana Tobak, managing director of fibre-to-the-home provider Hyperoptic said: "The assertion that ASDL is 'more than sufficient’ is ludicrous. The maximum download speeds you can get with ADSL2+ is 24Mbps, but residents rarely get this because the speeds are subject to peak-time slowdowns and distance.

“Hyperoptic customers who were previously on ADSL2+ have told us they could only use their ADSL broadband for basic tasks. The connection failed entirely when they tried to use it to stream high definition video, or when there were multiple people in the same property sharing a connection.

"There is a clear demand for true fibre in the UK. Dependable, fast broadband has become necessity. While compromise might be a part of everyday life, it need not be a factor in choosing a broadband provider.”

Virgin Media spokesperson Dana Hashem added: “We’re proud of our fibre optic network, delivering superfast broadband as standard and enabling Virgin Media customers to do more across multiple devices around the home.”

Fuel Broadband, which uses the BT Openreach network, claimed in August that it had dropped its fibre optic service because of a lack of Ofcom regulation on pricing, which meant the market was anti-competitive.

Ofcom is investigating the amount BT Openreach charges for wholesale use of its fibre network, and Mr Mackereth told us: “By the end of the year we hope to see a favourable ruling. If there is one we will have new packages in place by January but we’re at the mercy of the regulator and BT.”

Fuel Broadband, which officially unveiled its new brand today, continues to provide fibre broadband to businesses.

Customers who signed up to a capped broadband service from Primus Saver will now have unlimited data as part of the company’s desire “not to offer complicated bundles like other providers do”.

“It’s time for us to change. We bought the Primus Saver brand from someone else and from the discussions we’ve had with consumers we’ve found that it doesn’t mean anything to them. We’re changing how we operate and listening to our customers,” Mr Mackereth told us.

“It’s also a change in ethos to become what customers want. We want to be open, honest and transparent.”

Fuel plans to unveil new residential broadband packages in the New Year.

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