BT to 'roughly double' fibre speeds in 2012

Summary:The company, which has announced a massive rise in profits, says that it will provide a large speed boost to its fibre-to-the-cabinet customers starting later in 2011

BT is to greatly increase the speeds its customers will get through fibre-to-the-cabinet connectivity, the telco said on Thursday as it announced a massive rise in profits.

BT office

BT is to greatly increase the speeds its customers will get through fibre-to-the-cabinet connectivity, the telco has said. Photo credit: Ell Brown/Flickr

The fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) service has a theoretical maximum speed of 40Mbps at present, so the boost should take that to around 80Mbps. Revealing a 71-percent year-on-year boost in reported profits, along with a 97-percent quarterly rise, BT chief executive Ian Livingston said the company had "delivered profits and free cash flow ahead of expectations for the year, while making significant investment in the business for the future".

"Our rollout of super-fast broadband is one of the most rapid in the world, passing an average of 80,000 additional premises each week and we have plans to roughly double the speed of our fibre-to-the-cabinet based service in 2012," Livingston added.

According to a spokesman for BT Openreach, the upgrade to 80Mbps will actually start in the fourth quarter of this year "subject to initial trials going satisfactorily". BT plans to then extend the speed boost to the whole of its FTTC footprint during 2012, he added.

Our rollout of super-fast broadband is one of the most rapid in the world, passing an average of 80,000 additional premises each week.

– Ian Livingston, BT

The company is in the process of extending fibre-based, super-fast broadband to two-thirds of the country. Three-quarters of that rollout is FTTC, with the remaining quarter being fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) — a faster alternative that currently offers speeds of around 100Mbps, but is also more expensive to deploy.

BT's spokesman said most customers in the FTTC footprint would get higher speeds due to the upgrade, with the exception being those whose lines to their local cabinet are already at the outer reaches of technical viability.

The approximate doubling of the FTTC speeds will be possible because BT is increasing the amount of optical spectrum allocated within the fibre services from 7MHz to 17MHz, the spokesman said. "We don't need any new hardware — it's just tweaking the network," he noted, adding that this made the upgrade almost cost free.

BT did not launch its FTTC services at the higher speed because it did not at the time have permission to do so from the NICC, the UK's network interoperability technical forum, BT's spokesman said. Nick Ireland, who heads up the NICC's testing working group and is also BT's UK industry liaison, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that this permission was granted about a week ago.

BT financial results

In BT's results statement (PDF), Livingston said the company had achieved its highest quarterly share of DSL broadband net additions for the last eight years — a 64-percent share of DSL and local-loop unbundling (LLU) net additions including 162,000 net additions gained over the year to 31 March.

"BT Global Services order intake was up 10 percent at £7.3bn and it has turned cash flow positive a year ahead of plan," Livingston added. "Openreach saw growth in its copper line base in the year, reversing historic trends."

Pre-tax reported profits were £1.72bn for the year, up 71 percent on the previous year, and £495m for the fourth quarter of the company's financial year, representing a quarterly increase of 97 percent.

Revenues for the year totalled £20.1bn, a four-percent year-on-year decrease that the company blamed partly on "foreign exchange movements", and partly on a £214m reduction in low-margin transit revenue, including mobile termination rate reductions of £82m. However, total group operating costs decreased by £1.1bn, or six percent, over the same period.


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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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