BT: Fibre for 90 percent of UK could take six years

BT: Fibre for 90 percent of UK could take six years

Summary: Within six years, 90 percent of UK premises will have access to super-fast fibre broadband, according to BT chief Ian Livingston, who promised speeds of up to 100Mbps

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Some UK premises could have to wait up to six years to access super-fast fibre broadband services, according to BT chief executive Ian Livingston.

Ian Livingston BT

BT's chief executive Ian Livingston has said most British premises will have access to super-fast broadband of 100Mbps or above within six years. Photo credit: BT

Livingston made the comments to prime minister David Cameron and the cabinet on Monday during a visit to BT's research headquarters at Adastral Park, near Ipswich in Suffolk, according to a BT statement.

"Within the next five or six years, fibre-based services could be available to more than 90 percent of UK premises with the majority able to access broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps or above," Livingston said, reiterating a forecast made when the company announced its second-quarter results in November.

In July, Ofcom released detailed figures on the UK's fixed-line broadband services. It showed that the average speed for ADSL and cable connections was 7.5Mbps and that in total 68 percent of British premises had a fixed-line broadband connection.

The report also revealed that large parts of the UK, primarily rural areas — often referred to as 'the final third' in broadband terms — only have access to connections way below the government's super-fast broadband target, and even below the 2Mbps minimum.

The difficulty in providing fast and reliable connectivity to these areas is due to a combination of issues: premises are often a long distance from an exchange, and relatively small populations may only provide low subscriber numbers, affecting commercial viability.

Broadband rollout

Livingston said on Monday that the company's ongoing infrastructure expenditure and investigation into alternative broadband delivery options would reduce the UK's 'slow spots' — connections of less than 2Mbps — to less than two percent from a current level of 12 percent. BT said in October that it was bringing forward its schedule on delivering fibre broadband to two-thirds of the UK from 2015 to 2014.

In May 2010, BT pledged to spend £2.5bn on upgrading the country's broadband infrastructure.

BT will benefit from councils being allocated funds from the Broadband Delivery UK scheme, which aims to bring super-fast broadband to the majority of the country by 2015, and a minimum of 2Mbps for everyone within the same time frame. In line with this, BT also said it has recruited an extra 800 engineers to help deploy services more quickly.

In addition to providing fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connectivity, BT is also involved in trials with Everything Everywhere that use 4G LTE connections as a replacement for fixed-line broadband services.

The 4G trial is currently taking place in Cornwall and is scheduled to end in January 2012. Users involved in the trial are able to get speeds ranging between 2Mbps and 20Mbps on average.

However, repeated delays to the crucial 4G spectrum auctions mean that the UK is not likely to see 4G data services being offered to consumers until 2014, at the earliest.


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Topics: Broadband, Networking

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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7 comments
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  • After WAITING for over a year for the roll out in my area, and BT putting the date back over and over again, they should be fined for giving you the idea you will get FIBRE soon!! Keeping you with them as opposed to going to a cheaper service provider with the false HOPE you'll get it!!!

    Thanks BT for once again showing your "CUSTOMER SERVICE" is COMPLETE RUBBISH. I think I'll just call India again!!
    anonymous
  • BT Group, BT Openreach are actually doing a great job - where this falls down is the UK Government approach to ensuring that superfast broadband will actually be delivered as per their promise.

    That promise is of course is of goal post moving proportion. BDUK Broadband Delivery UnKnown arranging the smoke and mirrors.

    This is not rocket science. If it is 6 years, Tavistock will have to wait 7...
    anonymous
  • 6 years? More like 60 years if BT have anything to do with it. Please correct me if I am wrong but I believe BT is the primary reason why the UK has such a terrible internet infrastructure and the lousy bandwidth that comes with it. BT have been stalling and procrastinating about installing proper broadband connectivity for over 20 years and they will still be 'thinking about it' today, tomorrow and next year too. The bigger joke is even if they install it - it will still be capped or extortionate if you actually make use of it!
    Frankly Amazed
  • Perhaps Mr Livingstone can be forgiven for overlooking the fact that his "fibre" relies on the existing Distribution side twisted pair aluminium alloy and copper wires. However we are disappointed with the repair standards employed by his local staff in Ewhurst as illustrated here.

    http://www.ewhurst-broadband.org.uk/?p=1556

    The close up view illustrates the condition of the twisted pair cable and perhaps the smaller fibre one too. Little wonder that those beyond the bridge rarely achieve much more that 1 Mbps now; although that should improve if the residents consider an investment in this standard of FTTC Infinity is worth it when it becomes available.
    Surrey Hills
  • @Surrey Hills

    Oddly enough, you could probably get high-speed broadband very quickly if BT whacked a WiMax mast on top of the local exchange. However, neither the British Government, Ofcom nor BT appears to have any interest in supporting WiMax. We'll just get high-priced LTE that requires tens of thousands of masts if its not going to run out bandwidth....

    Meanwhile, I have 39Mbps via BT Infinity.
    Jack Schofield
  • @Jack Schofield,

    The irony of publishing/promoting the fact you get 39Mbps with BT Infinity (FTTC). There are so few of you! It might seem like a good advert for BT quoting near maximum speeds but it is has privacy implications.

    Hopefully you don't have too many hangups with people knowing where you live, its part of the job of being a Journalist to be easily contactable.

    But it's never a good idea to give very accurate information out such as your exact broadband speed via BT Infinity FTTC.

    As an exercise, I wanted to know if you were being honest or 'Promoting BT'. To your credit you were being honest regarding your Broadband Speed Availabiilty, though you didn't mention you could also get Virgin Media 50Mbps Product too, where you live. So at least we know your not paid by VM.

    But it does show how the BTInfinity Marketing is a million miles away from the reality of actually delivering an actual speed of 39Mbps to everyone.

    There is such a small number of people actually receiving 39Mbps via FTTC that it is very easy to pinpoint your address, you stand out like a sore thumb.

    To get 39Mbps, you virtually have to be tripping over the the FTTC roadside cabinet as you walk out your house, (well within 100m or so). BT Infinity speeds drop much more quickly the furher you are from the roadside cabinet, due to the use of legacy copper cables from the cabinet.

    BT Infinity Availability Checker:
    http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/consumerProducts/displayTopic.do?topicId=25795

    BT Infinity Availability Checker allows you to cross reference freely available names and addresses and telephone numbers on the Internet (192.com etc), just by entering the phone numbers found, it gives you accurate results of the speed availability on that line.

    Used normally by people looking to buy a prospective house, its a good way of checking accurate availability, as it only requires the phone number.

    But there are so few people getting the 39Mbps speed you quoted via BT Infinity, it doesn't take much checking to get an accurate match and a Postcode.

    Once validated, I was able to use google maps to pinpont your roadside cabinet which is 100m to the right as you walk out your door on the other side of the road, to prove my point that you do indeed need to live in kicking distance of the BT Roadside Cabinet (though this may be VM's Cab)

    Then I checked whether you could also get Virgin Media Cable Service, which you can, at a higher speed of 50Mbps.

    It begs the question why when you can get a faster speed by Virgin Media you don't use them, and the fact you had the potential to get 50Mbps from Virgin Media - you decided it wasn't worth mentioning.

    You hardly need WiMax either, you have some of the best Broadband availability of nearly anyone in the UK, at the present time.

    Shows what you get living in streets with houses of 500K+ (nethouseprices.com), and the digital divide that the UK is being subjected to given BT''s current strangehold over the network for rural communties with no choice of supplier other than BT Wholesale IPStream 8Mbps product, via resellers.
    BTCopperPanned
  • Stalker much!! Very nice of you to provide a step by step guide to anyone who didn't know how to do it rather than privately contact Jack and advise him to edit his post. What are you trying to prove here?
    anonymous