BT to expand footprint for UK's fastest broadband

OCTOBER 12, 2009 -- BT says 100-Mbps broadband will be rolled out to approximately 2.5 million premises.

OCTOBER 12, 2009 -- BT plans to more than double the availability of its fastest fiber broadband service. The company said it now plans to deliver speeds up to 100 Mbps -- the fastest in the UK -- to about 2.5 million U.K. homes and businesses using fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology. This has the potential to deliver greater speeds in the future -- up to 1 Gbps -- should there be commercial demand.

BT had originally planned to roll out FTTP to approximately 1 million premises – within its overall plan to reach approximately 10 million homes with fiber by 2012 -- with the remaining homes receiving fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) services (which will deliver initial speeds up to 40 Mbps). 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 says it is commercially ahead of target with its fiber program. This has allowed the expansion of FTTP availability to be contained within its overall investment of GBP1.5 billion. The roll-out of fiber services has begun and the provider has confirmed that 1.5 million homes will have access by next summer.

The wider availability of FTTP services will help the government realize its aims for Digital Britain by helping the U.K. to climb the broadband speed tables. BT's recent announcement that it is rolling out faster copper broadband -- offering speeds up to 24 Mbps -- to 75% of U.K. homes is also expected to have a positive impact.

BT is keen to deploy fiber more widely but, as has been seen in other countries, such deployment typically requires support from the public sector. This fact was recognized in the recent Digital Britain report. BT's U.K network is open to all communications providers on a fair and equal basis; this will continue to be the case with fiber. This open platform is intended to foster competition to the benefit of consumers and businesses.

Steve Robertson, chief executive officer of Openreach (the part of BT responsible for deploying the technology), says, "This development shows that we are determined to bring world-leading broadband speeds to U.K. homes and businesses. Service providers have asked us for more FTTP and so we have listened to them. The U.K. already leads the world when it comes to broadband availability and today's announcement will help the U.K. climb the speed league tables as well. The U.K. 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."

This 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 up to 100 Mbps by March 2010. Openreach will use the trial to learn more about the performance of the technology and the economics of rolling out fiber directly to homes in areas where copper services are already available.

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