BT has chosen Oxfordshire village Deddington as the first to test out a 'fibre-only' exchange, which will not use any copper in delivering ultra-fast broadband to residents.
BT will begin trialling fibre-to-the-premises connections from 2013 in the Oxfordshire village of Deddington. Image credit: BT
The pilot, announced on Thursday, will install full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections from the Deddington exchange to homes and businesses. The use of FTTP will deliver download speeds of between 40Mbps and 300Mbps — more than 30 times faster than the 6 to 8Mbps the villagers get from their current copper-only connections, according to BT.
Deddington is the first to undergo the work as part of BT's 'fibre-only' programme.
"This programme will explore the opportunities arising from a future fibre-only world in which services over copper are replaced entirely with next-generation voice and broadband services running over fibre-optic cables," BT said in a statement.
"Openreach, BT's local network division, will start infrastructure work in the spring of 2012 and new ultra-fast broadband speeds will be available to the residents and businesses in Deddington from 2013 onwards," the company added.
Upload speeds will improve alongside download speeds, BT promised. It noted that Deddington serves only around 1,400 lines, making it a perfect size for the trial.
Phasing out copper
Eventually, the programme should see the use of copper eased off in areas that have gone fibre-only. However, this means the project will likely run over a long term, as copper-based services are "expected to be available for many years yet", the company said, and providers of those services will have to make the switch.
"When suitable voice and access fibre-based alternatives are available to all communications providers using the Openreach network, BT will phase out traditional copper-based services in Deddington over a period of approximately two years," it said.
In November 2011, BT told a Westminster e-Forum that the UK could squeeze extra speed out of its existing copper network and that there would always be customers who wanted voice functionality but not broadband.
However, the company is also expanding the reach of its FTTC Infinity broadband service in order to reach more customers. It has also said it will "roughly double" the download speeds of the service to around 80Mbps during the course of 2012.
The company's main competitor for super-fast broadband is Virgin Media, which already offers an up-to-100Mbps service that will shortly be upgraded to a 120Mbps service.
While dedicated FTTP lines are provided for businesses, the majority of UK residents are not able to sign up for FTTP services as the final connection between the exchange and a building is often connected by legacy copper lines (fibre to the cabinet). Hyperoptic became the first British ISP to offer residents of one London apartment block up to 1Gbps connectivity using its FTTP technology.
Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.