News

BT extends high-speed broadband footprint

BT, the UK's biggest network operator, has announced the extension of its optical fibre-based broadband network to 159 locations as part of a £2.5bn plan to upgrade the nation's access to broadband.

BT said the latest expansion covered more than one million homes and businesses, but BT press releases issued at the weekend added up to 440,800.

BT's fibre to the cabinet would provide up to 40 to 60Mbps download speeds and 10 to 15Mbps upload speeds. It said it was testing fibre to the home, which would provide downloads at up to 100Mbps.

David Campbell, managing director of BT Openreach's next-generation access activities, said more than two million homes could already access fibre-based broadband speeds. "We are well on our way to passing four million premises by the end of this year," he said.

The telco said an upgrade of its copper network would offer speeds of up to 20Mbps to around 20 million homes by next spring. Exchanges that served 55% of UK homes and businesses were already enabled, it said.

BT said it based decisions on which exchanges to upgrade to fibre on a number of factors. These included levels of anticipated demand (which was also linked to interest from third-party broadband service providers), predicted performance of the service, economics, topography, and the levels of interest from local and devolved government.

Last week it emerged that a £53.4m grant from the European Regional Development Fund would help pay BT for a £132m contract to provide 100Mbps broadband to "80% or 90%" of residents in Cornwall and Scilly Isles.

BT said "next-generation access" (NGA) was in its infancy in the UK, with demand and take up yet unproven. "This affects the economics of investment," it said.

Openreach was "working closely" with local, regional and central government to find ways of improving and developing the business case for further roll-out based on feedback from these parties and industry.

BT roll-out 2010  
 
Area Homes
Yorkshire 53600
Northeast 17500
Birmingham 157000
Warwickshire 9000
Sheffield 4700
Worcestershire 13000
West Midlands 53000
Merseyside 31000
Lancashire 40000
Greater Manchester 43000
Cheshire 19000
Total 440800
Source: BT press releases


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