BT racks up another 114 exchanges for fibre broadband

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

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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  • Are the 114 new exchanges serving new build housing on brown field sites? in which case just as many houses as before will not have super fast broadband, mathematically the percentage of houses with poor connection will drop. How many exchanges are BT upgrading? considering there are about 5600 exchanges in the UK, your story makes BT look like they are being proactive and forward thinking, however 114 exchanges is about 2% of their exchanges...... hardly ground breaking considering the charges they levy on their customers........ just an opinion.
  • in this story you say its 156 towns, now its 114 exchanges........
  • 114 exchanges may be a small percentage of the total, but many exchanges serve relatively few people. These 114 serve more than a million premises.

    Also, I'm unsure what you mean about new-build housing. These are exchanges being upgraded, not fibre-to-the-premises deployments.
    David Meyer
  • I live in Washington and I'm sick of the super high speed of 1mb I get, so looking forward to the increase.
  • @david meyer
    The upgrade of 114 exchanges to FTTC isn't the important information here, what is - is what subset of the existing roadside cabinets connected to each exchange are to be upgraded to fibre from the exchange, and what additional roadside cabinets are required within the locality to provide FTTC to 100% of its subscribers (at varying speeds 'upto' 40Mbps-after all its still part copper).

    The crucial question. Are BT indeed planning 100% coverage within the locality of a specific exchange for all potential subscribers or a subset of subscribers connected to that exchange.

    They could in theory, upgrade a single roadside cabinet, say one of 6 (on a smaller exchange) - within the locality to FTTC (one's which may already have fibre) and ignore the majority of subscribers, but still be under the headline banner above - providing superfast broadband to that exchange - but crucially not all its potential residents.

    The Superfast Broadband 'exchange upgrade' itself is now unimportant in the scheme of things, its how close the FTTC installation (a new 'mini exchange') within either a new or replacement roadside cab will be to your business or residential premises

    As said, the real question people need to ask- how close is the nearest upgraded roadside cabinet and will my cabinet be upgraded. Not all roadside cabinet / connection boxes will be upgraded connected to each 'upgraded' exchange.

    Potential FTTC connection speeds also drops off much more quickly than ADSL, (the final connection to your premises is still a copper connection). The download limit of 40Mbs quoted is a 'conservative maximum', by BT.

    The actual connection (always 'upto' 40Mbs) will be more like 20Mbps-30Mbps, but as always is dependent upon the distance from the premises, to your nearest upgraded roadside cabinet - if indeed, your roadside cabinet is to be upgraded at all, as part of the exchange upgrade, in which case your stuck with ADSL, even if your exchange states FTTC availability.

    Other Important factor subscribers need to bear in mind is Traffic Management Policies, throttling policies (both BT and Virgin Media and should be throughly analysed, where subscribers have the choice). BT and, even though effectively the same companies have a 'Good Man' 'Bad Man' approach to traffic management for FTTC - they are like chalk and cheese, even though effectively the same company. They are obviously trying opposite approaches, to test the market.

    ' -Good Honest Local Broadband from Yorkshire , brought to your by BT - its parent company' , really not sure how this passes advertising standards.

    The other points regarding local monoplies, where do your start! Subsidies paid to BT in Northern Ireland?- to maintain a local monopoly. The current work/project in Cornwall, in large subsidies have been paid to BT.

    Remember, BT ducts and poles are still off bounds for rivals (with no solution in sight) and once people have a reliable fast connection - do they switch? And if the access price isn't right - they are still off bounds, while BT, gains more BTInifinty customers.

    Its interesting that BT are differentiating FTTC/FTTP and ADSL as distinct in terms of 'local monopolies', so a rival firm establishing a closed FTTC/FTTP shouldn't receive public subsidies, even though the rival would be creating competition with BT's ADSL Wholesale Network, where an existing monopoly may exist, with BT being the sole wholesale provider to most Rural exchanges.

    FTTC - Fibre to the roadside Cabinet - uses existing copper cabling from roadside cabinet to premises - so actual connection speed is dependent on the distance from the 'enabled' FTTC roadside cabinet (not the exchange anymore)

    FTTP - Fibre to the Premises (replaces all copper cabling), fibre directly into home. BT currently has a small closed trial for this technology, and does not offer wholesale FTTP.

    Both Technologies come under the banner 'NGA' Next Generation Access.
  • @Shane

    Quick clarification: Those 156 towns are a separate part of BT's fibre rollout from the exchanges that were just added. The company aims to install fibre throughout the country, and every so often it adds more locations to its list.

    Thanks for reading!
    Karen Friar
  • It's a complete PITA that Burton exchange gets left out always - will be 2050 before we get fibre. then again BT is well known for being slow to do anything o.o
  • Aberdeen by end of the year and Montrose at some unspecified point in 2012 can't wait.

    Never understood how the third largest city in Scotland and oil capital of Europe ended up so far down the food chain.... insane.
  • No idea why everyone is so eager for this. We moved from Be internet where we were getting 12-16Mbps all day every day to this superfast BT fibre stuff in June this year. On a good day we now get 33-37Mbps. However most days between 6pm and Midnight we average between 1-5Mbps. This combined with the 3 weeks of no broadband when they messed up the installation in June, means that I think BT is possible the worst company in the world.

    I will happily move back to copper when the contract expires so I can get fast internet when I use it the most!
    I can't believe I got
  • Not one in Wales YET AGAIN
  • BT are continually conning their customers.
    I have complained many many times to BT about Broadband speed in my area (max 1MB) and STILL costing me the same as others who recieve fast and superfast speeds.Answer as always is "thats just the way it is"More and more places are being upgraded from fast speeds to superfast speeds but because of the "distance from the exchange" to my house I STILL have slow speed even though my exchange is now fibre optic.We are now told that our speeds will only improve if the streetside cabinet is upgraded (no plans for that).WHY should we pay the same for a poorer service???BT and all these other companies say they can give you up to 20MB(standard) None of them can as you can only get the speed that the BT line can support
  • I see South West Scotland is STILL no being upgraded and yet 18 months ago the whole town of Dumfries was disrupted due to the laying of new cables for supposedly FTTC. I will never trust BT again after 10 years of ripping me off paying more than new accounts and BT say 'and?... you can always leave' and so I did.