Openreach to fibre-enable 178 exchanges across the UK

14 Dec 2011

BT’s Openreach arm has added a further 178 exchanges to its fibre deployment programme. The majority of the exchanges will be enabled in 2012 and cover more than 1.8m homes and businesses.

Openreach offers network access to service providers on an equivalent wholesale basis, supporting a competitive market.

The exchanges include 17 new locations in Cornwall that will be upgraded to fibre as part of the Superfast Cornwall project, which uses funding from both BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Once these and previously announced exchanges have been upgraded, Openreach will have completed around 80pc of its commercial fibre footprint.

This footprint will cover two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014. More than 6m homes and businesses already have access.

“We continue to make tremendous strides with our fibre programme,” said Olivia Garfield, CEO of Openreach.

Super-fast broadband is already within reach of more than 6m premises today and we are on track to pass 10m premises next year.

Two-thirds of UK will have fibre by 2014

Garfield continued: “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.

“It is important that as many premises as possible have access to fibre and so we will bid for the BDUK (Broadband Deployment 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.”

Fibre speeds to double in 2012

The current average downstream speed in the UK is 6.8Mbps but Openreach’s mainstream fibre broadband product delivers speeds of up to 40Mbps and these will roughly double in 2012.

BT has also launched a much faster variant in certain locations that will offer speeds of up to 300Mbps in spring 2012.

Garfield believes government funds – being administered by BDUK – could release further public and private investment that could make fibre available to more than 90pc of premises within five to six years.

The wider deployment of fibre – together with further technological innovation – could see most premises have access to speeds of 100Mbps or above and broadband “slow spots” largely eradicated.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years