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BT Finally Mooting Fibre Broadband Network?
By: MarkJ - 19 July, 2007 (1:46 PM)

BT's outgoing chairman, Sir Christopher Bland, has confirmed that the operator is investigating the idea of installing fibre optic cable as far as the street kerb. Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) style networks could theoretically allow DSL technology to offer consumers speeds of up to 40 or 50Mbps.

The Financial Times article (here) appears to represent a shift in BT's strategy, which had previously shunned such technology due to the costly investment required and a perceived lack of demand:

But Sir Christopher said BT’s thinking had advanced “quite far” on the case for fibre to the kerb. “That is the more likely development going forward,” he said, while stressing no decision had been taken to go ahead with fibre to the kerb.

BT is planning to offer broadband speeds of up to 24mbps from next year, as it rolls out a £10bn “backbone” [21CN] network and introduces technology known as ADSL2+. Sir Christopher questioned whether “most consumers” would need broadband speeds of more than 16 or 24 mbps, but accepted some businesses might do.

The Broadband Stakeholder Group, a government advisory panel, claimed in April that the BT network would be too slow to meet the demands of the most demanding households and businesses by 2012.

Though Bland's wording does suggest that BT is taking fibre more seriously, it's unlikely to herald a tidal shift in development. Even if it did then BT are likely to limit such a network to selected areas, most probably urban cities and towns.

Likewise his comments concerning how consumers might not need speeds of more than 16 or 24Mbps are fair, except that most people never get close to that; even where the technology exists (ADSL2+ etc.).

Line lengths, interference, congestion and other aspects usually conspire to produce far lower speeds than the headline rate offered by ISP’s, unless you live right next door to the exchange and or ISP.

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