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

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: BT, Broadband, Fiber, Networking, United Kingdom

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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  • Slowly slowly..

    What would be more interesting would be to find out not how many exchanges are activated but how many cabinets are. I've been tracking the exchanges from BT's availability checker since the roll-out began but generally you find although several exchanges are live, when you give ask them to check a specific line they come back and tell you your street cabinet is not enabled. I've given up checking now.
    • agreed

      I live in a city and my exchange was one of the first enabled. The cabinets near my house are at the edge of that area, but still densely populated, but are not listed to be enabled. Instead, our properties are listed as FTTH (fibre to the home or FTTP (premises)) with a timing code of 8b.
      Considering other premises on the same exchange listed as FTTP 3a are not yet enabled I have also given up on checking.
  • BT overcharge.

    They charge customers over £100 "connection" fee. For simply flicking a switch at the exchange.

    Despite all the "connections" being installed by the state before BT went private.

    • no switches to flick

      if your line is linked to the BT equipment you normally have dial tone (and can dial 17070 to do the line test) but can't dial out they don't charge to switch it back on, and this is done via software. If, however, your line has been moved to other equipment in the exchange (TalkTalk LLU for instance) then an engineer will have to go into the exchange to move the physical wiring back to the BT equipment. This is what they charge for, though you can attempt to get this done for free using the "return to donor" argument
  • Connecting

    I use this service (via PlusNet) and am extremely happy with it so far. Its been totally, utterly reliable and amazingly quick, especially the upload speed compared to how it used to be.
    The BT engineer did spend some time, doing his bit in the street cabinet, fixing the modem to my wall (and kindly putting it exactly where it suited me to have it), and then running some tests with me to check it was working OK, and that the phone was also still OK.
    Cable isn't easily available to me.
  • Lies lies and more lies

    BT keep changing dates for cabinets going live. Mine was supposed to switch on, on the 30th Sept changed to 30th Dec on the 29th Sept. ZDnet please if you are going to print these stories check the facts first as you may find that BT are not bringing so much to so many as you report?
  • Fibre rollout

    I live in Montrose and am lucky enough to have had fibre broadband since April this year love it and no complaints. However I also have a number of clients in Montrose served by the same exchange but in a different cabinet who cannot get this service which is frustrating as I know the difference it would make to them.

    I also wonder how these rollouts are planned when a small town like Montrose can get FTTC in certain areas when a fairly major metropolitan area like Aberdeen (3rd largest city in Scotland and oil capital of Europe) has no access to fibre at all either from FTTC or cable companies. Does seem to be a bit of a lottery.