BT announces next super-fast broadband rollouts

By Dave Bailey
23 Mar 2009 View Comments
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Openreach deploys FTTC
BT stills need regulatory green lights from Ofcom

BT has announced the new locations for its deployment of next-generation fibre-optic broadband connectivity.

The service will be implemented by BT’s local access division Openreach at 29 exchanges, with the majority of the locations being urban, including parts of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Greater Manchester. The process involves laying fibre to the green street cabinets used for aggregating phone and copper broadband connections to residential customers' local exchanges.

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But Openreach chief executive Steve Robinson said the regulation of the networks was complex and that it still needed further "green lights" from Ofcom in the coming months.

"While Ofcom has given us a very welcome green light, we will require a few more over the coming months. We remain confident though, that Ofcom recognises the need for an environment that encourages investment," he said.

Openreach will deploy the fibre-to-the cabinet (FTTC) rollout, but other communications providers will develop services based on that technology and sell them to customers. This scenario assumes that the wholesale cost, regulated by Ofcom but with BT setting its own prices, will allow a profit to be made from connecting residential customers.

"While the majority of the locations are urban, two of them - Calder Valley (near Halifax) and Taffs Well (near Cardiff) - are not and we will be looking to learn lessons from deploying fibre in such environments," said BT in a statement.

BT said that the amount of "civil engineering" - digging up roads - "will vary depending on the cabinet we are working on and we may even be able to link into existing fibre".

"However, it is safe to say there will be a requirement to lay new duct to feed the new active cabinet that will sit next to the existing cabinet," said the firm.

When FTTC rollout is complete, residential customers will be able to access download bandwidths of up to 60Mbit/s.

The major advantage to customers will be that with the current 24Mbit/s maximum download ADSL2+ technology, the broadband signal is dependent on the distance customers are from the local exchange and the condition of the circuit from their homes and the exchange.

BT's aim is to ensure that 40 per cent of UK homes and businesses – some 10 million premises - can access fibre-based services by 2012. In autumn, BT will announce the next set of locations, adding a further million homes and businesses to its schedule.

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