BT pledges additional £50 million for fiber broadband in cities

UK incumbent BT says it plans to invest a further £50 million in its commercial fiber-optic broadband program over the next three years.

UK incumbent BT says it plans to invest a further £50 million in its commercial fiber-optic broadband program over the next three years.

This further investment brings the company’s total budget for upgrading its FTTX access network to more than £3 billion ($4.97 billion). It has allocated £2.5 billion to its commercial roll out so far. The remainder is being spent on rural projects with public sector partners, including the projects funded under the UK government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) program.

The operator’s upgraded access network – which is predominantly fiber to the cabinet (FTTC) rather than fiber to the home (FTTH) – currently passes over 18 million homes and businesses, and the footprint is expected to grow rapidly as various rural fiber projects are delivered.

BT’s new investment will be used to enable cabinets in city areas that weren’t part of its original commercial plans due to technical challenges or local planning restrictions. This will include deploying fiber to cabinets to serve multi-dwelling units such as apartment blocks. Further fiber-optic cable will be laid to new build sites in cities, which may include connecting individual homes with FTTH.

The money will benefit at least 30 cities overall, helping to make high-speed broadband available to more than 400,000 additional premises, the operator says.

“Our fiber program is going extremely well,” said Mike Galvin, managing director, network investment at Openreach. “Some city areas have proved challenging in the past but we are returning to those and will pass hundreds of thousands of additional premises with fiber. We are reaching vast swathes of rural Britain with our public sector partners, but we will upgrade these city areas under our own steam. Businesses in cities already have access to ultra-fast speeds but fiber will give them greater choice.”

Availability of “superfast broadband” – defined as any service with a headline speed of 30 Mbps or faster – currently stands at 73% in the UK, when all networks are taken into account, according to the latest data from the national regulator, Ofcom.

BT’s ambition is that its own “superfast” footprint should cover more than 90% of the UK once all the BDUK projects have been completed.

For more information on FTTx/access systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.


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