BT doubles fibre-to-the-premises rollout

By Dave Bailey
09 Oct 2009 View Comments
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BT access division - Openreach
BT Openreach doubles fibre-to-the-premises commitment

BT has announced it will double the scope of its fastest optical fibre broadband service to around 2.5 million UK homes and businesses.

BT's initial plan was to roll out fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) to one million homes, with a further nine million to be connected using fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology. Now the carrier plans to extend FTTP to an additional 1.5 million premises.

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Originally, FTTP technology was only to be deployed in new-build sites, but BT has extended this to include some sites with copper-based broadband access services already available.

FTTP technology would give users download speeds of 100Mbit/s over a fibre connection running directly into the premises, while FTTC technology would require ISPs, including BT Retail, to deliver the service over the copper connection linking street cabinets to users' premises, giving a reduced download speed of 40Mbit/s.

BT Openreach chief executive Steve Robertson said that the announcement was a result of "service providers asking us for more FTTP connections," adding that "BT is committed to bringing faster fibre-based broadband technology to UK homes and businesses."

This determination to deploy FTTP comes with a caveat, and as BT said: "Such deployment typically requires support from the public sector."

The government plans to help fund the roll out of optical fibre through a 50p-per-month levy on landlines, but the money will also come on the back of customer demand, according to Quocirca's communications analyst, Rob Bamforth.

"BT is trying to cover bases where there is demand and alternative supply going in, while hoping that the public purse will help with the more universal cover," he said.

BT's Openreach division recently announced two "brownfield" trial sites that will benefit from direct optical fibre connections with download speeds of 100Mbit/s: Bradwell Abbey in Milton Keynes and Highams Park in London. The sites currently have broadband access over copper-based connections.

Up to 20,000 homes and businesses in each area will receive that service by March 2010.

BT added that if the 100Mbit/s service results in significantly increased commercial demand, it could ramp up download speeds to 1Gbit/s over the fibre.

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