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BT Trials UK 1Gbps Broadband and Extends Superfast Coverage to 40 Rural Areas

Posted: 03rd Dec, 2010 By: MarkJ
fibre optic broadband cablebt retail ukTelecoms operator BT has today announced a new plan to trial 1Gbps (1000Mbps+) UK ISP download speeds (400Mbps upload) via its Fibre-to-the-Premise ( FTTP / FTTH ) fibre optic broadband technology in Kesgrave (Suffolk, UK). In addition they have also pledged to extend their "super-fast" 40Mbps FTTC service to 40 new rural market towns and put forward a new funding pledge that pushes beyond their existing targets.

FTTP takes BT's fibre optic cable directly to your home, instead of merely the street cabinet like its 40Mbps FTTC product. This solution cuts out the interference and instability of using existing copper cable and can therefore deliver download speeds of up to 110Mbps. According to BTOpenreach, the standard FTTP product will also offer upload speeds of up to 30Mbps.

It's long been known that FTTP could deliver Gigabit performance, indeed the i3 Group's 100Mbps Fibrecity FTTH service in Bournemouth (South Coast) already offers it in "bursts". However the vast majority of consumers do not currently require such performance. BT plans to launch its first commercial FTTP solutions next year.

Naturally BT will be keen to play up the fact that it's FTTP solution can do what Virgin Media UK's consumer cable platform cannot, although Virgin do offer 1Gbps to business customers. However in reality BT's FTTP service will only reach approximately 2.5 Million UK premises, with the vast majority being stuck on slower 40Mbps FTTC solutions.

Olivia Garfield, BT’s Director of Strategy, said:

"We intend to continually push the limits of our super-fast broadband programme in terms of the technology and the geography. While everyday consumers don’t require Gigabit speeds today, it’s important that we test the maximum speed capabilities of our fibre broadband product to ensure that it is fully future proofed.

Furthermore, by evolving our deployment model for fibre we have been able to push the geographical boundaries of super-fast broadband. It allows us to build a commercial case for rolling out fibre to selected towns in rural areas to satisfy the growing appetite for faster broadband speeds.

Both of these developments will further advance BT’s super-fast broadband vision and will assist the Government in achieving its aim of creating the best super-fast broadband network in Europe."

As for the 40 new rural market towns that BT intends to include into its "super-fast" broadband roll-out, these will be revealed alongside the next list of exchange upgrades in January 2011. The towns can then expect to benefit from BT's new service from late 2011/early 2012.

However today's news doesn't end there. BT confirmed that it would also be ready to contribute further funding, assuming it won public money from the government's pot of £830m. At present BT is spending £2.5bn to help make its 40Mbps FTTC and 110Mbps+ FTTP technology available to 66% of UK homes and businesses by 2015.

BT claims that it could extend its FTTC and FTTP services to reach 90% of the UK (possibly by 2017) if it received all of the governments cash, assuming no "unfavourable changes to the investment or regulatory environment". That's unlikely to happen, although the government is quite keen on BT's commitment.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said:

"BT’s fantastic range of measures would, on top of the £830 million the Government is investing, go a huge way to delivering our ambition for the UK to have the best broadband system in Europe by 2015.

BT has said it will contribute further funding to supplement any of the public money the company may win when we hold tenders for rolling out rural broadband. It's a great example of public funding and initiative stimulating private sector investment."

Furthermore Jeremy Hunt is also expected to outline how Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) will achieve its commitments on Monday. At present the government wants the UK to have the best broadband in Europe by 2015. However it's only clear goal is to make a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps available to everybody by the same date (i.e. Universal Service Commitment).

Jeremy Hunt added:

"I will be setting out on Monday how we can do even more to boost broadband roll-out - by stimulating competition and creating an environment in which business can flourish by removing barriers and cutting costs."

Some of ISPreview.co.uk's industry sources have suggested to us that Monday's speech "MAY contain a bombshell regarding BT infrastructure", although we suspect that it won't be anything too earth shattering, unless the government has somehow seen sense and decided to fix the controversial and quite unfair Fibre Tax. Pigs may fly.
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