BT racks up another 114 exchanges for fibre broadband

Summary:More than one million more homes and businesses will be covered by the 114 exchanges named in the next phase of BT Openreach's rollout of fibre-based super-fast broadband

BT Openreach has revealed the names of the next 114 telephone exchanges that will offer super-fast broadband to customers.

Fibre cabinet

BT Openreach has revealed the names of the next 114 telephone exchanges that will offer super-fast broadband, as it continues its fibre rollout. Photo credit: David Meyer

More than a million homes and businesses are served by those exchanges, BT said on Tuesday. The deployment is the latest stage in the company's plan to offer fibre-based broadband to around 16 million premises, or two-thirds of the country, by the end of 2015.

"I am pleased to be able to reveal the latest locations where we will make fibre broadband available," Mike Galvin, Openreach's managing director for next-generation access, said in a statement. "Our rollout is one of the fastest in the world, and we are on track to pass 10 million homes and businesses next year before pushing on further."

The 114 exchanges identified on Tuesday (full list here) will be upgraded by the autumn of 2012, BT said. Most of the premises gaining high-speed broadband as a result will get fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connectivity. This leaves a copper connection between the street cabinet and the premises, and therefore hits a download speed limit of around 40Mbps. The upload limit is around 10Mbps.

BT intends to roughly double the uplink and downlink speeds of its FTTC connections in an upgrade next year, the company said in May.

While three-quarters of the company's rollout will be FTTC, the remaining quarter is supposed to be fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), which offers speeds closer to 100Mbps, with scope for increasing that rate. However, BT has encountered technical difficulties in carrying out its FTTP plans.

BT said it will spend £2.5bn on the overall fast-fibre project, although that amount is conditional on there being "an acceptable environment for investment". Further funding will have to come from the public sector, it said on Tuesday.

"We believe that the government's support makes it possible to get fibre to 90 percent of homes, and so we will be engaging with Broadband Delivery UK and local councils to offer our help and expertise," Galvin said.

Monopoly concerns

At the beginning of September, Virgin Media's chief executive Neil Berkett said he was concerned that the allocation of funds under the Broadband Delivery UK scheme could end up leaving its fibre rival BT as the sole owner of rural broadband cable infrastructure.

In his statement, Galvin said BT is "committed to offering open and equivalent access so that customers can benefit from a competitive market", and argued that no public funds should go to supporting "local monopolies".

A BT spokeswoman told ZDNet UK these comments could apply either to BT's big rivals or to community broadband schemes. She said it was a reference to "any company that is not willing to provide open, wholesale access to their network, especially in rural communities where there's no fibre infrastructure, but decides to build a fibre network and not open it up to other players".

"Consumers and businesses in that area are then tied to one supplier," BT's spokeswoman said.

A full list of the 114 exchanges can be found here.

Topics: Broadband, Networking

About

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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