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BT’s arm’s length infrastructure business, Openreach, has committed to build fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband networks free of charge to new housing developments with more than 250 properties, and will establish a joint funding model to address smaller developments.
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The announcement was made as part of a major expansion of Openreach’s fibre roll-out, which will also see it trial a business FTTP product in Bradford, providing ultrafast speeds of up to 1Gbps to companies at Kirkgate High Street and Listerhills Science Park. It also announced trials of copper-based ultrafast G.fast technology in Cambridgeshire and Kent.
The commitment came just a few weeks after BT struck a government-brokered agreement with the Home Builders’ Federation to address the many thousands of new build homes that go to market without future-proofed broadband networks installed.
It also comes in the wake of Ofcom’s market review conclusions, which forced new commitments and obligations on Openreach to open up its network to rivals. The regulator hopes that this will spur further deployment of FTTP, which offers far superior speeds to users than the fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) with copper last mile connections that Openreach sells as fibre broadband.
On 8 March 2016, BT CEO Gavin Patterson told a technology conference that BT was working on significantly speeding up the deployment of FTTP broadband.
Openreach’s CEO, Clive Selley, said the UK was already a leading market when it came to availability of broadband products that deliver speeds of over 24Mbps, the government-defined threshold to be called superfast. But, he said, more remained to be done.
“I’m determined to roll out ultrafast broadband, and G.fast is the best way to deliver that to the majority of the UK as quickly as possible,” he said.
“We also plan to roll out significantly more fibre to the premises. A large number of new housing developments will get fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure built for free under our latest plans, so that’s great news for developers and homeowners too,” added Selley.
Work on both the G.fast pilots – which will address 25,000 properties – and the Bradford roll-out will begin soon.
BT said that, although its dedicated leased line service already gave businesses access to ultrafast speeds, feedback from the Bradford trial could potentially lead to the launch of a gigabit small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) broadband product without the expense of a leased line.