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By: MarkJ - 4 October, 2011 (6:13 AM)
BT UK superfast fibre optic broadband cable rolloutbt openreach logoBTOpenreach, which provides rival ISPs with equal access to BT's local UK telecoms infrastructure, has quietly announced the first commercial availability of its much delayed, truly next generation and 110Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises ( FTTP ) broadband service in time for 31st October 2011.

FTTP essentially takes a fibre optic cable directly to your home or business, which cuts out the interference and instability of using existing copper cable and can therefore deliver download speeds of up to and above 110Mbps. According to BT the FTTP product will also offer upload speeds of up to 30Mbps. BT notes that it's FTTP speeds will rise even further in 2012 and that it has the capability to reach 1Gbps (Gigabits per second).

The service will now move into what's been described as an "early market deployment launch" phase on 31st October 2011, which means that it will initially only be available from a select few telephone exchanges (additional areas are likely to be added before the end of October).
FTTP Launch Window Telephone Exchanges
- Ashford (Middlesex)
- Bradwell Abbey
- Chester South
- Highams Park
- St Austell
- York
BT currently has a number of FTTP pilot sites running in Brownfield (abandoned or underused industrial / commercial locations) locations like Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes and Highams Park, so it's no surprise to see most of those being included. There's also a Greenfield (undeveloped / new land) pilot in Ebbsfleet, which has been running since 2008.

Unfortunately there are a few drawbacks to BT's early market deployment launch. It will not come with a built-in voice service (Fibre Voice Access) until 2012, which means that initial customers will still require a standard voice line (WLR) for calls. Also BT won't be providing guaranteed service levels until it's had time to "analyse our early deployment of service".

BTOpenreach Statement

Fibre connections from the exchange direct to the customer’s premises guarantee speeds, offer increased reliability and reduce the occurrence of electrical interference. FTTP offers a future proof service, with even quicker speeds expected in 2012 and technology capability of up to 1GB/s in the future.

2.5 times faster than the current FTTC, FTTP provides the capability to deliver multiple HD TV solutions as well as develop new high-bandwidth services for your SME and residential customers. Combine this with the addition of Openreach Managed Install service and provide hassle free installation of your router and your customer’s equipment in a single appointment.

Prices for the entry-level 100Mbps (15Mbps uploads) package will start at £154.80 +vat per annum (£80 +vat connection fee [currently discounted to £30]), which is of course the price that ISPs pay and as a result consumer prices will be significantly higher. Consumers can probably expect to pay, roughly speaking, about 30-40% more for FTTP than they do for BT's top FTTC (40Mbps download / 15Mbps upload) service. At present we don't know what the first ISP packages will look like.

BT is currently investing £2.5bn into a national deployment of its "fibre optic" based broadband services, which aims to reach 66% of homes and businesses by 2015. Sadly just 2.5 Million premises will eventually gain access to the FTTP service (at the time of writting around 270,000 UK homes should already be within reach); everybody else will get FTTC speeds of up to 40Mbps (rising to 80Mbps in early 2012).

UPDATE 6th October 2011

On top of this BT have announced that FTTP speeds will be pushed up to 300Mbps from Spring 2012 (here).
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