BT Openreach network passes significant milestone as 95 percent coverage target nears
Openreach’s superfast broadband network, used by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and others, is now available to 25 million homes and businesses across the UK.
BT’s open access network division says independent data shows 90 percent of the country can now access its fibre network and that it is on track to helping achieve the government’s target of 95 superfast broadband coverage by the end of 2017 through commercial deployments and government-assisted programmes like Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
Four million of the 25 million properties have been connected as a direct result of BDUK.
The company claims that since it started rolling out fibre in 2009, it has passed an average of 70,000 properties a week and that the average broadband speed in the UK has risen from 4.1Mbps to almost 29 Mbps – a figure which has risen by 27 percent in the past 12 months.
“The UK is making great progress with fibre broadband,” boasted Openreach CEO Clive Selley. “Availability and take up are well ahead of most European countries and I’d like to thank the thousands of Openreach engineers who have worked so tirelessly to make this happen.
“The job isn’t finished however and we are working hard to get coverage to 95 per cent and above. We are also exploring how we can improve speeds for the million or so premises in the final few per cent of the country.”
BT has been using fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology for its rollout, and claims it has upgraded 4,700 exchanges and installed tens of thousands of cabinets. However FTTC uses copper for the final few hundred metres of a connection, slowing down speeds.
Some would like to see fibre to the premise (FTTP) technology used, especially rivals who want to see Openreach made fully independent, arguing the current model gives BT an unfair advantage and stifles investment in FTTP as a competing network would be able to bid for BT’s retail wholesale contract.
Ofcom has so far opted against formal separation but has made clear it wants Openreach to be more independent and to make it easier for other companies to build alternative infrastructure. BT’s involvement in BDUK has also come under scrutiny, with the company winning the lions’ share of public funding available, leading to accusations of overcharging and a lack of transparency from MPs.
BT is now turning its attention towards the rollout of FTTP and G.Fast – which speeds up copper connections – and has held trials of both technologies across the UK. The aim is to deliver ultrafast to ten million properties by 2020 and the vast majority of the UK within a decade.
“Our approach has delivered affordable superfast services to the vast majority of the country in the fastest possible time,” added Selley. “We want to build upon that by making ultrafast broadband available to most of the UK. We will do this using a mix of G.fast technology and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), with the latter focused mainly on new developments and small businesses in high streets and business parks.”
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