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BT sets date for brownfield fibre trials

The communications and IT giant has said when it will start testing fibre-to-the-home broadband technology at sites in London and Milton Keynes
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

BT has revealed more details of its first trial of brownfield fibre-to-the-premises, saying the pilots will take place in two UK towns in March.

Highams Park in north-east London had already been named by BT for its first brownfield fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) trial, and Thursday's announcement adds Bradwell Abbey in Milton Keynes.

A brownfield site is one where there is an existing copper telecoms infrastructure. The communications and IT giant is already deploying fibre to the 'greenfield site' of Ebbsfleet Valley in Kent, where 10,000 new homes are being built.

Across Highams Park and Bradwell Abbey, up to 20,000 homes and businesses will receive download speeds of up to 100Mbps, BT said in a statement.

The trials are part of BT's stated plan to roll out fibre access to 10 million premises by 2012. This rollout will consist of both FTTP, which involves fibre being laid right up to buildings, and fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which involves fibre being laid as far as the street cabinet.

David Campbell, the managing director of next-generation access at BT Openreach, said in Thursday's statement that the Highams Park and Bradwell Abbey trials are "crucial for informing [BT's] plans to consider deploying FTTP alongside FTTC".

"Our FTTP deployment in Ebbsfleet has allowed us to learn a great deal about rolling out fibre directly to homes in greenfield areas, and we believe that the technology has huge potential for brownfield areas too," Campbell said.

As it relies on existing copper infrastructure to connect the street cabinet and the premises, FTTC is cheaper to implement than FTTP. It is therefore likely to form the bulk of BT's fibre rollout. However, it offers slower download speeds, of up to 40Mbps.

According to BT, both FTTP and FTTC will offer users upload speeds of up to 10Mbps.

"We've worked closely with communications providers and regional development authorities in selecting these sites for the FTTP brownfield trial, and I'd like to encourage as many communications providers as possible to get involved in the trial," Campbell said.

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