BT’s reluctance to install nationwide fibre to the premises (FTTP) is looking like a fatal error for UK plc, especially in the light of the government’s investment of £7.2m in fibre optic research to speed up the internet 100-fold.
Science minister David Willetts said last week the government was stumping up the money because the internet already contributed £100bn a year to UK GDP. Given the 80% a year rise in net traffic, only an ultra-fast “photonic superhighway” would meet future demand for bandwidth.
David Payne, the Southampton professor who heads the project said their ambition was to “rebuild the the internet hardware to suit the needs of 21st century Britain” by radically transforming the UK internet’s physical infrastructure.
Which means, in the end, FTTP.
BT says its motive is commercial prudence. So, unless the government makes things change, by the time the photonic superhighway project ends in 2016, the UK will have the world’s fastest optical fibre technology, but will not be able to exploit it fully at home. Sheer genius.