BT to revive brownfield fibre-to-the-premises trials

The company has 'learnt a great deal' from technical trials of fibre-to-the-premises and will kick off pilot schemes in Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes and Highams Park, London in July

BT's brownfield fibre-to-the-premises trials are to go ahead before the end of July, after a six-month delay.

The company's fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) trials will commence initially in Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes, with Highams Park in London coming on-stream after that. Two further locations — Leytonstone and York — have also been added to the pilot, BT said on Tuesday.

Fibre-to-the-premises involves fibre-optic cable connections being made between the exchange and the home or business, providing higher access speeds than those offered by fibre-to-the-cabinet, which stops short of customers' home, at the local street cabinet.

BT is using brownfield sites for the latest trial. These are areas where housing and the accompanying broadband infrastructure already exist, as opposed to greenfield sites, where new developments are being built from scratch — an example of the latter would be BT's fibre trial in Ebbsfleet, Kent.

The company expects its FTTP connections to be capable of download speeds approaching 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 10Mbps. The brownfield trials were originally meant to begin in January 2010, but were delayed for six months.

On Tuesday a BT spokeswoman told ZDNet UK that BT had "learnt a great deal from [its] earlier technical trials of FTTP in Kesgrave, Suffolk".

"As a result of those learnings, we have decided to push back the start of the FTTP pilots in Bradwell Abbey and Highams Park to July," she said. "It's critical that we learn as much as we can from the pilots so that our commercial FTTP offering is introduced as smoothly as possible."

The spokeswoman explained that BT's main areas of learning "were around network planning and the development of automated tools to do fibre spine planning and network component placement".

By the end of the year, BT hopes to see Openreach give 40,000 premises across the four sites — Bradwell Abbey, Highams Park, Leytonstone and York — super-fast broadband using FTTP.