BT has announced plans to significantly extend the availability of advanced copper broadband speeds to around 90 per cent of UK premises during Spring 2013. An additional 2.5 million premises will have access to these faster speeds – of up to 20Mb/s – under the expansion plan, bringing the total number of premises with such access to around 22.5 million.
BT had already pledged to roll out next generation copper broadband to up to 80 per cent of the UK – around 20 million premises. Exchanges serving more than 17.6 million premises are already enabled.
The vast majority of customers can expect to enjoy faster speeds as a result of the upgrade with many seeing their speeds roughly double.
Rural areas are set to benefit from the expansion plan. More than 400 of the additional 800 exchanges are located in rural areas. These 400 exchanges serve more than 900,000 premises.
The deployment builds on BT’s track record in making broadband available in rural areas. BT has invested significant amounts installing broadband in almost every one of its 5,500 exchanges and says it remains the only active operator in the vast majority of rural exchanges, despite all of them being open to other companies.
As BT expands its footprint for advanced copper broadband it will gradually withdraw its legacy broadband products. For example, IPstream, which offers speeds of up to 8Mb/s, will be retired within the advanced copper broadband footprint by Spring 2014 as more and more customers are migrated onto more advanced services.
Alex Pannell, Director of Product Management, BT Wholesale, said: “This is a significant expansion of our roll out plan and is further proof of our commitment to serve rural areas. The faster speeds will support the government’s aim of enhancing broadband speeds for both town and countryside.”
In parallel to this deployment plan, BT is rolling out super-fast fibre-based broadband to two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2015. Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology currently provides speeds of up to 40Mb/s and is expected to deliver speeds of up to 80Mb/s next year, while fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) will deliver speeds of up to 100Mb/s. More than five million premises already have access to FTTC services. BT is keen to extend fibre broadband to the “final third” of UK premises and is therefore working in partnership with national, local and devolved authorities to help bridge the funding gap in delivering fibre to these communities.
BT believes that both fibre and advanced copper broadband will play a critical role in increasing average broadband speeds across the country. However the company is also exploring other solutions to help bring faster speeds to the remaining ten per cent of premises that are beyond the commercial reach of fibre and advanced copper broadband. These include alternative mobile and wireless technologies such as LTE and TV White Spaces, both of which BT is currently trialling.
Simple measures such as making improvements to home wiring, the installation of IPlates or BT’s BET service can also help customers realise speed improvements, especially for those that cannot currently receive a minimum speed of 2Mb/s