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BT Extends FTTP Trial To Blocks Of Flats

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

BT is hoping to quickly and easily expand its FTTP footprint in the UK after extending its fibre trial to apartment blocks

BT Openreach is encouraging residents and landlords to sign up to its FTTP (fibre to the premises) trial, after the telecoms giant extended its scheme to apartment buildings.

Landlords and residents who live within areas covered by Openreach’s fibre broadband network are being asked to register online their interest in rolling out superfast broadband connectivity to their premises.

BT said that it is looking for 1,000 buildings to take part in the pilot. The carrier has previously operated a similar trial in the Canary Wharf area in London.

And The Winner Is…

BT will of course decide which lucky buildings will receive its FTTP connection, and will apparently base its decision on “a combination of registered demand, the co-operation of landlords and the economics of deployment” (i.e. landlords in rural areas need not apply).

Technology and network topography factors will apparently also be taken into account.

The lucky few that will be chosen to receive the FTTP connection will be able to sit back and enjoy  downstream speeds of up to 100Mbps initially, but this will rise in the Springtime to a staggering download speed of up to 300Mbps.

BT said that this would be the fastest commercially available speeds in the UK for a residential connection, and it also promised the fastest UK upload speeds as well.

Identifying Interest

“Identifying the appropriate individuals and companies with the authority to formally grant permission for the apartment blocks can be challenging,” said BT. “By allowing both landlords and residents to register interest, Openreach aims to allow the latter to demonstrate demand for the service and the former to make their building more attractive to future potential residents.”

“We are keen to extend the benefits of our fastest broadband services to those living in apartments. Through our registration scheme customers are clearly showing us they now seek these higher speeds and see the provision of super-fast broadband as a significant benefit,” said Mike Galvin, the Openreach MD for Next Generation Access.

“We are factoring customer demand into our future deployment plans but are also keen to partner with landlords and involve them in our plans,” he added.

Easy FTTP Win

BT is of course spending up to £2.5 billion to deploy fibre connections to roughly two thirds of the UK by the end of 2014.

However this ambitious rollout is mostly FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) which delivers slower line speeds than FTTP (currently up to 40Mbps, although this is expected to double soon to a theoretical 80Mbps).

Indeed, at the moment only a small portion of BT’s fibre rollout in the UK is FTTP, and by extending its FTTP trial to apartment blocks is a smart move for BT, as it is a relatively easy win to connect these buildings and increase its FTTP footprint.

Connecting fibre to apartment buildings is a much easier deployment than hardwiring fibre lines to individual houses. South Korea for example is one of the best connected nations in the world, thanks to the fact that large numbers of its population live in apartment blocks.

Residents interested in BT’s FTTP connection can register their interest here.

Landlords meanwhile can can register their interest here.