BT has revealed plans to more than double the availability of its fastest fibre broadband service. The company said it now plans to deliver speeds of up to 100Mb/s – the fastest in the UK – to around 2.5 million UK homes and businesses using fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) technology. This has the capacity to deliver far greater speeds in the future – of up to 1Gbps – should there be commercial demand.
BT had originally planned to roll out FTTP to approximately one million premises – within its overall plan to reach c.10 million homes with fibre by 2012 – with the remaining homes receiving fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) services (which will deliver initial speeds of up to 40Mb/s). BT will now deploy FTTP in some areas where copper services are already available. This represents a broadening of BT’s strategy as initially FTTP was to be deployed in new build sites only.
BT has been making good progress with all aspects of its fibre programme and is commercially ahead of target. This has allowed the expansion of FTTP availability to be contained within its overall investment of £1.5 billion. The roll out of fibre services has begun and BT has confirmed that 1.5 million homes will have access by next summer.
The wider availability of FTTP services will help the government realise its aims for Digital Britain by helping the UK to climb the broadband speed tables. BT’s recent announcement that it is rolling out faster copper broadband – offering speeds of up to 24Mb/s – to 75 per cent of UK homes will also have a beneficial impact.
BT is keen to deploy fibre more widely but, as has been seen with other countries, such deployment typically requires support from the public sector. This fact was recognised in the recent Digital Britain report. BT’s network is unique in the UK in that it is open to all communications providers on a fair and equal basis and this will continue to be the case with fibre. This open platform will help to foster competition to the benefit of consumers and businesses.
Steve Robertson, CEO of Openreach, the part of BT responsible for deploying the technology said, “This development shows that we are determined to bring world-leading broadband speeds to UK homes and businesses. Service providers have asked us for more FTTP and so we have listened to them. The UK already leads the world when it comes to broadband availability and today’s announcement will help the UK climb the speed league tables as well. The UK is well placed but we need to invest for the future so that customers can access the rich applications that will be popular in a few years time.”
Today’s announcement closely follows Openreach’s selection of Bradwell Abbey in Milton Keynes and Highams Park, London, as the first “brownfield” trial sites for FTTP. Up to 20,000 homes and businesses in each area will receive speeds of up to 100Mb/s by March 2010. Openreach will use the trial to learn more about the performance of the technology and the economics of rolling out fibre directly to homes in areas where copper services are already available.