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Openreach announces SME FTTP service roll-out

A number of cities are to receive a fibre-to-the-premises broadband service specifically designed for small to medium-sized enterprises

BT Openreach has announced nine towns and cities in the UK that will be first to have their local networks beefed up to support a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) focused fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband service.

The first areas to be addressed will be Bath, Bradford, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford, with parts of the City, Holborn and Westminster in London also on the list. Priority will be given to areas that currently do not have access to fibre-based broadband services from Openreach.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Clive Selley, CEO at Openreach, said he saw FTTP as a key element of a broadband strategy for UK high streets.

He added that he would position such a service as a stepping stone between the very high bit rate digital subscriber line (VDSL) services currently used by many SMEs, and the point-to-point Ethernet services that are unaffordable to many.

The network will be rolled out over the course of the next nine months, with the first services – capable of around 330Mbps for now – being made available through Openreach’s business internet services provider (ISP) customers, including BT, in December 2016.

The dig will likely be extended, in consultation with businesses, as new areas of demand come to light. Product options and pricing will also be developed alongside SME customers, said Openreach.

Openreach claimed that residents living alongside SMEs in city centres would be allowed to benefit from the ultrafast connectivity.

This forms part of its ambition to bring ultrafast – meaning services delivering download speeds of over 100Mbps – to 12 million homes and businesses by the end of the decade – a feat it means to accomplish with a mixture of FTTP and technology.

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“SMEs have told us they want an alternative to dedicated lines and that is what we are going to give them,” said Selley.

“Openreach has been trialling deployment methods for FTTP in Bradford, and I am pleased to say the trials have progressed very well. Now that we have proved the new techniques we will begin our wider roll-out, starting with these nine new locations.”

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