BT Adds Another 178 Exchanges To Fibre Rollout


BT has revealed the latest tranche of telephone exchanges in the UK that will be fibre enabled

BT Openreach has named another 178 telephone exchanges that will be added to its national Infinity fibre rollout.

According to BT the majority of those exchanges will be fibre enabled in 2012, and will cover more than 1.8 million homes and businesses in the UK. 128 telephone exchanges will be upgraded in England, 16 in Wales and 34 in Scotland.

There are roughly 5,000 telephone exhanges in the UK.

Fibre Coverage

The carrier said that once these 178 exchanges have been upgraded to fibre, coupled with the telephone exchanges already upgraded, Openreach will have completed around 80 percent of its commercial fibre footprint.

This footprint will cover two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014. More than six million homes and businesses already have fibre access, said BT.

“We continue to make tremendous strides with our fibre programme,” Olivia Garfield, CEO of Openreach, said. “Super-fast broadband is already within reach of more than six million premises today and we are on track to pass 10 million premises next year.

“Our ambitions do not stop there. We will make fibre available to two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014 and we want to go even further,” she added. “It is important that as many premises as possible have access to fibre and so we will bid for the BDUK [Broadband Delivery UK] funds that are available. Our experience in deploying fibre networks at scale and the fact that our open, wholesale network allows competition to thrive in an area makes Openreach an ideal partner for these local/regional broadband initiatives.”


This last comment is a pure sales pitch by BT, as it jockeys to gain the bulk of the BDUK funding against the likes of Virgin Media, Cable & Wireless, and even Fujitsu.

BT believes that this extra funding means that the UK fibre connections can be stretched from just reaching 65 percent of the UK, to more than 90 percent, though there are serious question marks over whether this can be realistically achieved.

Under existing BDUK guidelines, local authorities are placed in charge of leading broadband roll-out in their area, as well as drawing up a local delivery plan, and then, most importantly, matching the government’s investment with local, European, or private funding.

Many are wondering where this extra local funding is going to come from in these straitened times. In November, Geo UK became so disillusioned with the whole BDUK process that it withdrew completely from bidding.

Broadband Slow Lane

Meanwhile BT’s boss personally told Prime Minister David Cameron last week that the fibre deployment would take at least another five to six years in the UK.

BT Fibre In Ducting

To be fair to BT, it is throwing its weight behind the fibre deployment, with the hiring of an additional 800 engineers and its multi-billion fibre investment – unlike the Government. eWEEK Europe has seen at first hand how labour intensive a fibre deployment can be.

Yet despite the fine sounding rhetoric, it remains clear that many parts of the UK are set to remain in the broadband slow lane for the foreseeable future.

A point highlighted recently by the campaign group the Countryside Alliance, after it found an “underwhelming” amount of progress rolling out superfast broadband  in rural areas.

The government has previously stated that its goal is to ensure that the majority of UK homes get 25Mbps by 2015, because it believes that superfast broadband  is vital for ‘economic growth’.

However, until the Government actually commits more funding to the rollout, this goal is looking increasingly unrealistic.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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