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Winning village misses out on BT super-fast broadband

West Hagbourne will not get a high-speed fibre connection despite being connected to a winning exchange in BT's Race to Infinity contest, an outcome the company says it warned might happen
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

BT has acknowledged it cannot deliver super-fast broadband service to everyone in the rural locations that won its Race to Infinity competition.

West Hagbourne village

West Hagbourne will not receive fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) service, despite being connected to an exchange that won BT's upgrade competition. Image credit: Oxfordshire Villages

The contest aimed to identify six exchanges to be upgraded to high-speed fibre connections by asking people to vote. In the end, 10 winners were chosen in February 2011 to have their local exchanges enabled for BT Infinity broadband "in early 2012".

However, West Hagbourne, one of the villages connected to the winning Blewbury exchange, will not be able to receive the fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) service, BT confirmed to ZDNet UK on Friday. Unlike fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), FTTC uses copper for the final connection to the building.

"Blewbury is one of 10 communities in the UK to secure super-fast broadband following BT's hugely popular Race to Infinity competition," a BT spokeswoman said via email. "The race offered the winners an upgrade to an exchange, but we clearly stated throughout the competition and during conversations with campaigners subsequently that when an exchange is enabled, there will be some premises not able to receive fibre."

Blewbury took the number-one position in the contest, which looked not only at the number of votes cast, but also at what percentage of total premises connected to the local exchange those votes represented.

BT said that work being carried out at Blewbury will result in higher speeds for West Hagbourne, even though it will not be providing a fibre-based service.

"We expect every premise attached to the exchange will see an increase in their broadband speeds. While West Hagbourne is at the end of a long line, we still believe people living and working there to see an improvement in their broadband service," the company said.

BT has said repeatedly that it will "roughly double" the speed of its Infinity service to around 80Mbps during 2012. It has also announced a new method of delivering fibre-based super-fast broadband, which will soon reach 300Mbps, called FTTP-on-demand.

Virgin, BT's largest competitor for super-fast broadband, has also started to increase the headline speeds of its packages. At the beginning of March, the company announced the first 30 towns and villages that would see their speeds doubled up to a maximum of 120Mbps.

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