BT's Openreach targets 100-Mbit FTTH

JANUARY 10, 2008 By Stephen Hardy -- Officials at Openreach, BT's local access network business, say they expect to be able to provide data services with peak speeds of 100 Mbits/sec via the FTTH network it plans to deploy at Ebbsfleet Valley in Kent.

JANUARY 10, 2008 By Stephen Hardy -- Officials at Openreach (search for Openreach), BT's local access network business, say they expect to be able to provide data services with peak speeds of 100 Mbits/sec via the FTTH network it plans to deploy at Ebbsfleet Valley in Kent.

The greenfield FTTH deployment will address a 1,000 acre project of approximately 10,000 homes. The development will also include 6 million sq ft of commercial space and 3 million sq ft of retail, leisure, and community facilities. The deployment is expected to begin this August.

The open access network will be offered on a wholesale basis to service providers. Openreach says the network will easily provide enough capacity to support a variety of high-bandwidth services, including HDTV programming and gaming and music downloads.

The "up to" 100-Mbit/sec service will be offered as an add-on to Openreach's existing assured 10-Mbit/sec downstream offering at an annual rental of £530. Openreach will also offer downstream bandwidth rates of 30 Mbits/sec as an add-on to the 10-Mbit/sec service for an annual fee of £350. These prices are proposed; Openreach plans to discuss these proposals at its next Openreach Future Access Forum, which will be held next Tuesday, January 15.

The 10-Mbit/sec downstream service is paired with a 2 Mbits/sec upstream rate. Openreach also plans to offer assured symmetric rates of 500 kbits/sec with downstream speeds of up to 2.5 Mbits/sec; it also will offer assured symmetric rates of 135 kbits/sec as an entry-level product.

According to Steve Robertson, chief executive of Openreach, "This is our first deployment of fiber rather than copper to residential customers on a new build site. It will enable communication providers to gauge what demand exists for very high speed broadband, and to assess what commercial models may be appropriate in the future. Unlike many other countries, in the UK we offer all our products on a fully equivalent wholesale basis. We are very proud of that commitment, and its clear and positive effect on the overall market."

BT says it would like to make greater use of fiber in other greenfield applications and cited the opportunity presented by the UK Government's plan to build 3 million new houses by 2020. However, the carrier noted its plans would be affected by the way in which UK regulatory authority Ofcom extends the country's regulatory framework to accommodate future fiber deployment. All current regulation is based upon BT offering wholesale products over copper.

It is believed that Huawei, which was selected as an access systems supplier for BT's 21st Century Network initiative, will supply GPON equipment for the deployment.

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