One million homes to get super-fast broadband: BT reveals 163 new fibre exchanges

Summary:BT's £2.5bn rollout of fibre-based technology continues, with the addition of 163 exchanges that will soon be able to provide super-fast broadband to homes across the UK.

BT has named 163 new exchanges that will become fibre enabled before the end of 2013, as part of its £2.5bn rollout of primarily fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology.

The company said on Tuesday that more than 11 million people already have access to its fibre-based Infinity services, but that this phase of the ongoing rollout will add another million homes to that total.

The latest stage of BT's fibre rollout will provide access to super-fast services for another one million homes, it said. Image: BT

"Today's announcement shows that we are well into our journey to bring fibre to two-thirds of the UK by the end of 2014," Mike Galvin, OpenReach's managing director of network investment, said in a statement.

The new exchanges are spread across the country, BT said, "from Torquay, in Devon, to Kilbirnie in Scotland". (For a full list, see page 2.)

BT announced its intention to spend £2.5bn on upgrading its network in 2010, and it plans to cover two-thirds of the UK using its own resources. The company is also involved in the government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) process, which aims to bring super-fast broadband to 90 percent of the country by 2015 and provide a minimum of 2Mbps for everyone, even in the most remote areas.

However, the BDUK process has come under scrutiny by the EU's competition commission with regard to state aid funding rules, as BT has been the only company to have a broadband bid accepted by local authorities.

BT has also been accused of artificially inflating the costs of the fibre rollout in order to win state aid funds. However, the telecoms incumbent has denied that it was trying to pass on the full cost of deployment to public sector partners.

BDUK rollout

Undeterred by the scrutiny, criticism or rumours, BT is continuing to bid on BDUK projects, and in the most recent instance, said on Monday it has won a contract with Suffolk County Council for its £41m rollout.

"We have now announced the bulk of the exchanges we will be deploying fibre to under our own steam, but we are keen to go even further with the help of BDUK funding," a BT spokesman told ZDNet.

"We will continue to engage with local government and communities to try and give as many people as possible access to the benefits of fibre broadband."

BT's Infinity fibre service offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and uploads of up to 20Mbps. BT said that where available, it provides fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connectivity with download speeds of up to 330Mbps. However, the company confirmed to ZDNet that only a small percentage of these new exchanges will be FTTP-enabled.

By comparison, Virgin Media sells a cable-based super-fast service that promises speeds of up to 100Mbps, and that is currently in the process of being upgraded to 120Mbps.

See the full list of exchanges to get a fibre upgrade.

Topics: Telcos, Networking, United Kingdom


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