Blocked ducts delay BT's rollout of FTTP

Summary:The company's fibre-to-the-premises and fibre-to-the-home services have been pushed back to before Christmas, due to technical problems discovered in BT's trials

BT's fibre-to-the-premises services will not go live this summer as originally planned, according to the executive in charge of the company's super-fast broadband programme.

BT office

BT's rollout of fibre-to-the-premises services has been delayed until before Christmas owing to blocked ducts on many premises. Photo credit: Ell Brown/Flickr

Johnny McQuoid told ZDNet UK that the company's fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) services — also frequently referred to as fibre-to-the-home, or FTTH — now has a go-live timeframe of "before Christmas". This delay beyond the original schedule is the result of initial FTTP trials, which have revealed unforeseen technical issues, he said on Tuesday.

Communications providers who signed up to potentially resell BT's wholesale FTTP capacity were informed of the delay last week, McQuoid added.

In a statement on Wednesday, BT noted that the tests it is undertaking for its FTTP technology are meant to uncover such problems.

"FTTP is a complex technology which we are currently trialling at scale," the company said. "We are pleased with how the trials are going, but have always been very clear that we will only launch it on a commercial basis once it has been fully tested and is ready for the market."

We are pleased with how the trials are going, but have always been very clear that we will only launch FTTP on a commercial basis once it has been fully tested and is ready for the market.

– BT

There are around 1,000 triallists for the telecoms giant's FTTP services. According to McQuoid, a notable issue is that the ducts leading to many people's premises are partially blocked, making it impossible to blow fibre through them without clearing them first. This means having the engineers out at an installation for more than a day, and may result in the customer having to pay an extra engineering charge.

McQuoid would not give a figure for how many premises' ducts have this problem, but said it was less than a quarter.

Overall, BT is rolling out fibre-based super-fast broadband to two-thirds of the country. The £2.5bn scheme is supposed to be completed by 2015.

FTTP is a much more future-proofed technology than fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which uses existing copper connections between the street cabinet and the premises. However, it is also significantly more expensive to deploy. At the moment, BT's plan is to have a 75-25-percent split between FTTC and FTTP, but this target was set before the installation issues were found.

Taking fibre all the way to the premises will offer speeds of up to 100Mbps, with much scope for increasing those speeds in the future. FTTC was originally supposed to deliver up to 40Mbps; on 12 May, BT said it will roughly double those speeds, making FTTC almost as speedy as FTTP.

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Topics: Networking


David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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