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By: MarkJ - 21 March, 2009 (9:22 AM)
BT has revealed new information about the roll-out of its £1.5bn programme to deploy super fast fibre optic (Fibre to the Premise/Cabinet, FTTP/C) broadband to as many as 10 million UK homes (40%) by 2012 (original news). Scotland will become one of the first places to benefit from early next year, with more than 34,000 homes and businesses in Edinburgh and Glasgow receiving speeds of up to 40Mbps and potentially 60Mbps.

Overall BT Openreach, which is responsible for ensuring that all rival operators have equality of access to BT's local network, aims to deploy Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) based next generation broadband services next summer (2010) to 500,000 homes and businesses in the UK. The next set of locations, serving a further 1 million homes and businesses, will be announced in the autumn.

Steve Robertson, CEO of Openreach, told delegates at the Scottish Council Development and Industry conference in St Andrews: "Super-fast broadband is essential to Scotland’s future so it is great to announce this initial set of locations. The wider industry will now be able to plan ahead as we will be making our services available on a wholesale basis. This approach will benefit customers as there will undoubtedly be fierce competition for their business.

Once again, Scotland is at the forefront of one of the most important projects to take place in recent years. It will play a vital role in the UK’s future as a knowledge-based economy.

First Minister, Alex Salmond, said: "Broadband is already available in 99% of Scotland and the Scottish Government is rolling out a £3.3 million project to extend affordable broadband services. This technology has quickly established itself as vital communications tool for businesses and people of all ages. This new service will give customers in two of the country’s biggest cities even greater access to the opportunities and services that the internet offers."

Openreach will be making fibre based services available to more than 30,000 homes and businesses from exchanges serving the areas around Glasgow University and the arts galleries and in the Hillington Park innovation centre and business park development. In Edinburgh, super-fast broadband will become available to 4,000 customers in Stockbridge and the New Town.

Steve Robertson added: "We have worked very closely with industry, development agencies and local authorities to choose these sites and I would like to thank everyone who has worked with us to make this happen. We are in discussion with others so expect similar announcements in the months to come."

BT plans to trial their latest form of FTTC technology in Muswell Hill (London) and Whitchurch in South Glamorgan this summer. FTTC essentially replaces the copper wire going to local street cabinets with a high capacity fibre optic link. VDSL or VDSL2 is then used to carry the connection over the existing (last mile) copper wire into homes, working in a faster but not hugely dissimilar way to many existing (ADSL) broadband services.

This represents the first major phase of the UK's biggest ever investment programme in super-fast broadband. In addition BT informs us that upload speeds will also reach up to 10Mbps, which is significantly faster than the 2Mbps seen at their Ebbsfleet trials of FTTP technology. Openreach is aware there are some premises that will not be able to be served by FTTC and they are currently looking at alternative solutions for those.

Following this news we also asked BT when they’d be revealing more roll-out details for elsewhere in the UK and according to their press spokesperson, "the other UK sites are being revealed at 8am on Monday." Expect more details then.

UPDATE - 23rd MArch 2009:

BT Lists 29 Initial Fibre Optic UK Broadband Rollout Exchanges
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