BT has announced it has passed more than fifteen million premises with its fibre broadband network, meaning more than half of UK homes and businesses can now access much faster speeds. The network, which is the largest of its kind in the UK, is open to all communications providers on an equal basis helping to support a highly competitive market.
BT’s £2.5 billion fibre programme is approximately eighteen months ahead of its original schedule, with Openreach engineers passing between 100,000 and 200,000 additional premises with fibre every week. The business is on course to pass around nineteen million premises by the end of spring 2014, giving the UK one of the most extensive open fibre networks in the world.
As well as deploying fibre under its own steam, BT is working with councils and devolved authorities to take fibre to areas outside the private sector’s current and projected footprint. Eighteen BDUK contracts With the assistance of BDUK funding, BT is already delivering fibre broadband infrastructure to the following areas: Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, Devon and Somerset, Hampshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, Kent and Medway, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire, Rutland, The Scottish Highlands and Islands, Shropshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Wales and Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire, have been signed to date, from Hampshire to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, with BT having pledged hundreds of millions of pounds of additional investment to support them. The company hopes to sign further BDUK related deals in the coming months.
As well as investing additional funds to extend fibre availability, BT has been exploring how to further improve broadband speeds in non-fibre areas. It has trialled TV white space technology in both Suffolk and the Isle of Bute and also held a trial of 4G LTE spectrum with Everything Everywhere in Cornwall. The company remains confident that such trials, combined with work at its research and development centre at Adastral Park, will lead to improved services in the hardest to reach areas.
Openreach chief executive Liv Garfield said: “Fibre broadband is at the heart of our business and so it is great that we have now passed more than fifty per cent of UK premises. This is a significant milestone and one that our engineers can be proud of. They have worked through many months of appalling weather to bring the benefits of fibre to cities, towns and villages and this is making a genuine difference to how people live their lives.
“Fibre broadband can play an important part in stimulating and supporting an economic recovery. Our investment, together with that of our partners, is helping to generate thousands of jobs and give small businesses the speeds that were previously the preserve of larger ones based in cities. These speeds will help them to become more nimble and responsive and that in turn will help them to expand. We are already seeing this in areas, both urban and rural, where fibre is available.
“Customers want faster speeds and that is what we will give them. More than sixty companies are already using our network so customers also have plenty of choice. There is a level playing field and what could be fairer than that?”
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