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BT Invests GBP50m to Extend its Fibre Broadband Across Over 30 UK Cities

Friday, January 24th, 2014 (12:05 pm) - Score 1,297
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BT has today announced that it plans to invest a further £50 million into their commercial roll-out of fibre optic based broadband (FTTC/P) technologies, which will be used to improve connectivity across more than 30 cities and thus benefit an additional 400,000 UK premises.

At present BT claims to be investing £2.5 billion so that around 66% of the United Kingdom (19 million premises) can access its superfast broadband (FTTC/P) service by spring 2014. This rises to £3bn+ when you include their existing commitment to the separate state aid fuelled Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, which intends to raise superfast coverage to 90% by around late 2015 and 95% come 2017.

Both of these two projects have so far helped BT’s open access FTTC/P network to pass more than 18 million UK homes and businesses, which will continue to increase through the BDUK project over the next few years. But it now looks as though their commercial deployment will be pushed a little further too.

Mike Galvin, Openreach’s MD of Network Investment, said:

Our fibre programme is going extremely well with our engineers connecting homes and businesses across the UK. Some city areas have proved challenging in the past but we are returning to those and will pass hundreds of thousands of additional premises with fibre.

We are reaching vast swathes of rural Britain with our public sector partners but we will upgrade these city areas under our own steam. Businesses in cities already have access to ultra-fast speeds but fibre will give them greater choice.

The UK is already ahead of its main European rivals when it comes to fibre, and is set to race ahead thanks to the BDUK plans that are already in progress across the country.”

BT claims that the new investment will focus upon three key areas, which were largely left out of the original plans due to technical challenges or local planning restrictions.

Investment Focus of the £50m
• Enabling city cabinets that weren’t part of BT’s original commercial plans due to technical challenges or local planning restrictions.
• Deploying fibre to cabinets to serve multi-dwelling units such as apartment blocks.
• Laying further fibre – including ‘Fibre-to-the-Premises’ technology – to new build sites in cities.

It’s interesting to note that BT appears keen to serve Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs) using slower FTTC rather than the more future proof FTTP, which is something that the boss of business ISP Fluidata recently drew attention to (here). But at the same time they are giving FTTP a bigger focus for new build sites in cities, which is encouraging, although it’s not clear how big this aspect of their effort will be.

As a side note it’s not yet clear whether BT will actually spend 100% of the original £2.5bn on their commercial deployment and a few people have indicated to us that there might be some left over, which could thus be where today’s £50m might indirectly come from. We have queried this with BT and they insist that it is “new investment“.

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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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