BT Ireland plan to extend range of local loop

18 Jul 2005

BT Ireland is planning to deploy the same technology it is using in Northern Ireland and the UK to enable customers located more than 6km from its exchanges to avail of broadband, has learned.

BT Ireland has unbundled approximately 40 exchanges across Ireland and plans to unbundle an additional 13 exchanges by the end of this year, giving the company 52pc population coverage for its services.

The company’s chief operating officer Mike Maloney said the technology will enable the company to boost its reach of the population by potentially and additional 10pc.

At present anyone living beyond 4km of an unbunbled telecoms exchange cannot receive broadband services. The BT technology, trialled last year in NI, extends this range to 6km from the exchange.

“This is certainly coming down the line for our Irish customers,” says Maloney. “In terms of the 21st Century internet protocol network being deployed across the UK and NI, there will be some spillover for our Republic of Ireland customers in terms of some of the technologies that will be adopted, Maloney added, “there’s no question about it”.

The news follows reports that Eircom had been working to extend the range of its local loops, inviting people to retest their lines to see if they are capable of receiving broadband.

“From a BT Ireland standpoint, we have made a commitment to invest in excess of €200m over the next three years in our local network,” Maloney said.

More than 95pc of UK homes and businesses are now connected to broadband-enabled exchanges and that figure will reach 99.6pc by this summer, putting the UK ahead of any other G7 country in terms of DSL availability. In NI, BT has already reached 99pc population coverage.

Maloney said it was unthinkable that there were no firm plans in place to get Ireland to 100pc population coverage in the near future. “Local loop unbundling (LLU) is important in this context.

“What’s also important is that Eircom brings about automated bitstream migration products for its wholesale customers who move to unbundle local loops,” Maloney added.

“We’ve been very aggressively selling bitstream products and we want to migrate as many customers over to LLU so we can give them better benefits and features,” he said.

By John Kennedy