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BT Claim UK is Already in the Vanguard of EU Fibre Broadband Deployment

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 (1:09 am) - Score 821
uk fibre optic fttc cable

BT has said that the United Kingdom is already in the “vanguard of fibre deployment” within Europe and called upon the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee to release detailed economic modelling to support their latest proposal, which demands speeds of 100Mbps for every home in the EU by 2020.

The Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) made the proposal last week, which also recommended that 50% of households should be able to get speeds of 1000Mbps (1Gbps) by the same date. The recommendation, if adopted, would mark a massive change from the EU’s existing Digital Agenda strategy to make 30Mbps+ available to 100% of households by 2020 (with 50% being within reach of a 100Mbps+ service).

By comparison the UK government’s plan, which aims to make speeds of 25Mbps+ available to 90% of people by March 2015 (i.e. the last 10% would get speeds of at least 2Mbps), looks incredibly feeble. But if Europe were to turbo-charge the Digital Agenda strategy then BT, which owns most of the UK’s underlying telecoms network, would surely shoulder the burden of that change.

A BT Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

We believe that the UK is already in the vanguard of fibre deployment in a European context; BT aims to cover around two-thirds of UK premises with fibre during Spring 2014, and we support the Government’s ambition for the UK to have the best broadband amongst major European countries by 2015.

Fibre broadband offers tremendous benefits to economy and society.”

However BT, mindful of the huge costs that could result from rolling out a fully fibre optic (FTTP/H) broadband service to 100% of homes and businesses (estimates range from £15bn to £30bn), warned that such proposals also needed to balance “important factors“, such as “coverage, speed and affordability for consumers“, in order to “achieve maximum take-up“.

BT then called upon the ITRE committee to release a “detailed economic modelling” of its proposal because the current public and private investment for improving connectivity to the “final third” (33%) of UK premises totals around £4bn (hard to pin down until all of the related projects have been agreed). That’s well short of what would be needed to deliver a national fibre optic network.

Similarly the idea that BT is at the “vanguard” (i.e. forward element of an advancing military formation) of this effort is really a matter of perspective. As Point Topic’s first EU Maps of superfast broadband availability showed yesterday, the UK sits roughly in the lower middle of the pack and is by no means ahead in terms of NGA coverage.

Meanwhile BT’s superfast broadband roll-out has been dominated by its distance dependent FTTC (VDSL) technology, which can at best deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps (possibly 100Mbps+ in the next year but many homes will get far less). BT intends to use this solution as its method of choice for making superfast services available to 90% of homes and businesses by 2017 (BT is dependent upon state aid to get beyond 66% coverage). So in reality it probably couldn’t deliver real-world speeds of at least 100Mbps to 100% of households via FTTC.

The future FTTP-On-Demand solution should be able to solve this by making speeds of 330Mbps+ available to FTTC lines from next spring 2013, although it’s important to stress that this would not actually “cover” anything until after you have had it installed (it effectively has to be built for each individual home). In addition some premises could cost several thousand pounds to install and that’s likely to be too expensive for most home users.

The proposal for delivering 100Mbps to all by 2020 remains extremely difficult to achieve.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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5 Responses
  1. Avatar Timeless

    theres a reason for it, they seem to be the only provider bidding for most places or at least the only provider seemingly awarded the contracts.

  2. Avatar Fibrefred

    You can make 100Mbps+ available but you cant make people buy it. On demand should cater for most of that target, not sure what you do about the rest in non FTTC areas , it will be costly though

    • Avatar zemadeiran

      You can take a horse to water…..

      I tend to agree with you FibreFred, the option is there which is a good thing.

      I would however like to point out that AT&T have announced recently that they want to move over to a completely ip based infrastructure. It is pretty amazing that they would announce such a move which will result in massive cost savings among other benefits.

      We should without doubt INVEST 20B in a solid national fiber network and fucking LEAD Europe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Lets forget about bandwidth which is of no relevance and instead focus on a future proof solution for the benefit of all.

      COME ON!

      (Must reduce my coffee intake…)

    • Avatar Fibrefred

      Sounds like 21CN zem, 21CN brings the same benefits , originally all the voice was going ip as well but im not sure that side of it went ahead

  3. Avatar dragoneast

    Well I suppose there are two ways to pay for it: a massive increase in the EU budget (taxation) or the consumer pays (in addition to paying to make good under-investment in other utilities like gas, electricity and water), whilst the economy is tanked, wages stagnate, prices and unemployment are increasing. We’ll compete with the tiger economies by spending money we haven’t got. You couldn’t make it up. I didn’t realise that Greece is in fact the economic model for the rest of the EU (and the UK, whether in or out), though foreseeable with the monkeys we seem to have for modern politicians, I suppose.

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