BT Openreach will allow communications providers to offer 1Gbps in nine cities form December as FTTP rollout gathers pace
The first phase of BT’s rollout of fibre to the premise (FTTP) broadband will see parts of Bath, Bradford, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Salford connected as the company targets small businesses with speeds of up to 1Gbps.
BT has committed to connecting 12 million premises to ‘ultrafast’ speeds of between 330Mbps and 1Gbps by 2020. The majority (10 million) will be connected by G.Fast, a technology which speeds up copper connections, and the remainder will be FTTP.
Openreach CEO Clive Selley has confirmed the FTTP rollout will “disproportionately” target businesses rather than consumers and the initial phase will target business parks, high streets and ‘notspots’ not already connected to Openreach’s fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure.
The first phase will take place over the next nine months, allowing communications partners like TalkTalk, Sky, and BT’s retail division to offer 1Gbps packages by December.
Westminster, Holborn and the City of London will be among the first locations to be connected, helping to ease concerns that parts of the capital are broadband no-man’s land. Bristol and Bath have been targeted because of their science and technology pedigree as have other cities because of their role on the government’s envisioned ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
“SMEs have told us they want an alternative to dedicated lines and that is what we are going to give them,” said Selley. “Openreach has been trialling new deployment methods for FTTP in Bradford and I am pleased to say the trials have progressed very well. Now that we have proved the new techniques we will begin our wider roll-out, starting with these nine new locations.
“Hundreds of thousands of consumers will also benefit over the next few years as we continue our work to plug any remaining fibre broadband gaps. This targeted approach will help to deliver the ambition we share with government to improve broadband speeds in the final five per cent of the country.”
BT’s use of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology to power its superfast broadband has attracted significant criticism from those who feel it is ‘sweating’ its copper assets rather than investing in future proof infrastructure.
Just two percent of the UK can access FTTP, although BT is the largest provider, serving more than 300,000 premises. Virgin Media says it will connect at least one million homes and businesses to FTTP as part of its wider network expansion, while CityFibre, Hyperoptic and Gigaclear are also investing.
TalkTalk and Sky are currently involved in a joint-venture in York with a view to rolling out the model nationally if it is successful.
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