BT fibre-rollout on track despite financial crisis

Plans to roll out next-generation super-fast broadband across the UK won't be affected by the economic situation, despite concern from some shareholders

BT has said its plans to roll out next-generation super-fast broadband across the UK are not at risk due to the economic situation, despite concern from some shareholders.

BT announced in July that it was to invest £1.5bn to upgrade its network to bring fibre to 10 million homes by 2012.

It was reported last week that some shareholders had expressed concern about the plans to BT chief executive Ian Livingston, suggesting the organisation should keep hold of its cash instead.

But a BT spokesman told ZDNet.co.uk's sister site, silicon.com: "The project isn't at risk because of the recession. There's nothing that is affecting that investment decision at this moment."

He added, however, that it would be wrong to say for sure that the project would be "completely unaffected by the recession".

If plans to build new homes and offices around the UK are delayed or cancelled, for example, it could affect the amount of residences that would be included in the rollout by 2012.

When BT announced the plan, it said it would need Ofcom to change the regulatory environment to ensure it could make a return on its investment.

The spokesman confirmed to silicon.com that talks between BT and Ofcom about the issue are ongoing.

Forrester Research analyst, Ian Fogg, said BT would do well to stick with its plans as it will reap the rewards as competitors lag behind.

"If they invest now they will be in a much better position in the long run," he told silicon.com.

He added that all the reasons the rollout of next-generation broadband are important to BT and the UK still apply, despite the economic downturn.