Blocked ducts delay BT's rollout of FTTP

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: Broadband, Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • BT will never do fibre to the home except in very few circumstances. Their goal is to protect their copper assets and get as much income from them as possible, hence fttc. Fibre to the copper is the way they get their bonuses, and instead of investing in their network they pay fatcats and shareholders whilst this country is held to ransom and is being left behind all the others. We need to do something before it is too late. Get the fibre out to the rural communities and help them to build their own networks in competition. That will lead to market forces doing a proper job in the urban areas. Otherwise we are doomed to a life in the copper slow lane, with millions not even able to stream a video. Dial up digitalbritain is still alive and well, we need men of fibre to rectify this. Not an incumbent hell bent on using a victorian phone network to deliver next generation access.
  • well said 'cyberdoyle' totally agree
  • When we had infinity installed, the installation engineer told me that Sutton already has fibre to the home, and that we would be getting it at some point in the next year or so