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BT Openreach Invites UK ISPs to Join Trial of 330Mbps Fibre Optic Broadband

Tuesday, Apr 24th, 2012 (8:48 am) - Score 1,937

BTOpenreach, which manages access to BT’s national UK telecoms and internet access infrastructure, has begun inviting ISPs (i.e. those that are members of the NGA Industry Group) to take part in its first official trial of “premium” ultrafast 330Mbps (Megabits per second) capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband speeds (likely to be advertised as a clean “300Mbps“).

At present the existing FTTP service, which is only available from a small number of UK telephone exchanges (target coverage of around 2.5 Million premises), offers a maximum download speed of 110Mbps (30Mbps upload speeds) but the fibre optic technology has the capability to reach 1Gbps (Gigabits per second). BT are conducting trials of 1Gbps FTTP in Kesgrave (Suffolk), though few expect them to launch that this year.

In the meantime BT have been developing a 330Mbps upgrade (note: same 20-30Mbps upload speeds as before) for FTTP and are now ready to trial the new service with ISPs. The trial will be run in two phases, starting with a technical validation trial on limited order volume. The first trial will then be followed by a collaborative pilot, which will sadly be restricted to a maximum of 150 orders in total (from all participating ISPs).

It should be noted that the first technical trial will only be available to the following FTTP telephone exchange areas: Bradwell Abbey, Highams Park, Ilford Central, Leytonstone, Wembley and York. The collaborative pilot will make it available across all related/enabled UK exchanges. Crucially the timetable for all this gives us a better idea of BT’s often touted “spring 2012” launch window.

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BT’s 330Mbps FTTP Trial Timetable (Tentative Dates)
* 23rd April 2012: Trial/pilot invitation
* 21st May 2012: ISP collaborative pilot
* 9th June 2012: ISP pilot completes
* 11th June 2012: Openreach launch 330Mbps product

From this date forward, providing the business has confirmed readiness to Early Market Deployment launch, the CPs Trial/Pilot lines would become chargeable at the published product variant price.

The timetable reveals that BT’s 330Mbps product should be ready, barring any unforeseen delays, for an Early Market Deployment launch on 11th June 2012. It’s important to note that an “early market” launch, which is the last step before official commercial availability, will not include the same “guaranteed service levels” as BT’s final product. The full commercial launch, which is the one that gets all the press attention, usually follows a little later (i.e. late June 2012, unless BT lets it slip into the summer).

As a side note, BT will also be testing an 80Mbps FTTP service (20Mbps uploads), which will bring the official FTTP product more into line with the top end of their normally slower FTTC (e.g. BTInfinity) service. This is slower than their current 110Mbps FTTP product and nobody expects it to run into any trouble, although BT likes to trial even the easy upgrades before launch.

Currently BT’s £2.5bn superfast broadband platform (FTTC / FTTP) is available to almost 8 million homes and businesses (reaching 40% of homes by the end of this year). The official plan is for the service to cover 66% of UK premises by the end of 2014, although in theory it could reach 90%; depending upon the somewhat controversial allocation of public funding from the government’s Broadband Deliver UK (BDUK) office.

In addition BT also plans to launch a new FTTP-on-Demand service in Spring 2013, which will effectively make its ultrafast FTTP solution available anywhere that their FTTC service can already go. But this is expected to cost a bit more than the normal FTTP service and is being aimed towards businesses, although domestic customers will still be able to order it.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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