Two-thirds of UK to have fibre broadband by 2014, a year earlier than planned...
BT is speeding up its superfast broadband rollout and intends to complete its fibre upgrade programme one year ahead of schedule.
Today BT said it will bring superfast broadband access to 66 per cent of the UK by 2014, one year earlier than planned.
The telco announced its plan to invest in next-generation broadband back in 2008, before stepping up the level of planned investment to £2.5bn last year.
"Our rollout of fibre broadband is one of the fastest in the world and so it is great to be ahead of what was an already challenging schedule," said Ian Livingston, CEO of BT Group, in a statement. "The acceleration reflects the success of the programme to date and is testament to the hard work and innovation of our people."
To achieve its accelerated deployment, BT said it will bring forward about £300m of investment and be recruiting an additional 520 engineers, most of whom will be ex-armed forces personnel. This follows an earlier recruitment drive this year to hire some 200 former armed forces staff to help with its next-gen broadband rollout.
BT's superfast broadband investment programme will consist of a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the home (FTTH) technology, however the majority of the rollout - around 75 per cent - will be FTTC, which supports lower speeds than full FTTH.
BT says its FTTC deployments will support download speeds of up to 40Mbps initially, although it believes the technology will be capable of supporting speeds of up to 80mbps next year - and even 100Mbps in future. FTTH supports download speeds of up to 100Mbps at present, with select areas set to get up to 300Mbps next year.
The telco said its superfast broadband rollout is well underway, with six million premises now having access to BT's upgraded infrastructure. That figure will rise to 10 million in 2012, said BT, and then two-thirds of the UK's premises by the end of 2014.
Livingston added that the acceleration of the programme will ensure BT is well positioned to help supply other parts of the UK not covered by its rollout - should the telco win any of the public sector kitty the government has provisioned to help fund superfast broadband rollouts in areas not covered by BT's next-gen footprint.
The government has set aside a £530m pot of public cash with the aim of ensuring 90 per cent of the UK has access to 25Mbps+ broadband by 2015.