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By: MarkJ - 27 July, 2011 (12:48 PM)
btopenreach uk vanbt fttc uk superfast broadbandBT has announced that the coverage of its "advanced copper broadband" service, which currently offers internet download speeds of up to 20Mbps via ADSL2+ technology, will be significantly extended from 80% of the UK (20 million premises) to 90% (22.5 million) during Spring 2013.

At present telephone exchanges that serve more than 17.6 million premises (homes and businesses) have already been enabled and an additional 800 exchanges will need to be upgraded to reach the new total. It's understood that more than 400 of those are located in rural areas and serve over 900,000 premises.

Alex Pannell, Director of Product Management at BTWholesale, said:

"This is a significant expansion of our roll out plan and is further proof of our commitment to serve rural areas. The faster speeds will support the government’s aim of enhancing broadband speeds for both town and countryside."

BT claims to have "invested significant amounts" installing broadband in almost every one of its 5,500 UK telephone exchanges. Sadly it's also the only choice for many rural areas, although TalkTalk plans to extend its ADSL2+ capable unbundled ( LLU ) network from 80% (today) to "nearly 90% of the population" within the next year or so.

CLA President, William Worsley, added:

"The necessary copper upgrade of exchanges to provide access of at least two Megabits per second (Mbps) will give economic power to rural areas. However, we are still concerned that at least 10 percent of rural areas may never have access to fixed line broadband and this is where the Government’s promised funding for rural broadband should be targeted.

Too many areas across the UK have very limited access to mobile telephony. Extending better mobile phone coverage to rural areas is as important as ensuring effective broadband for businesses to compete fairly with their urban counterparts and to prevent communities from being socially disadvantaged.

We are worried that 4G (Fourth Generation) mobile coverage, expected to be available in 2013/14, may not cover rural areas so we fully support the view of the Ofcom’s Consumer Panel calling for all rural areas to be given 4G first."

As BT expands its footprint for ADSL2+ broadband it will gradually withdraw its legacy broadband products, such as the 8Mbps IPstream ADSL service, by Spring 2014 (original news). The above services are not to be confused with BT's rollout of superfast 'up to' 40Mbps FTTC and 100Mbps+ FTTP fibre optic broadband technology, which should cover 66% of the UK population in 2015.
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