BT plans to extend fibre broadband

Aims to add 1.2 million premises to network

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BT has revealed plans to extend its fibre broadband network to more parts of the country – predominantly in Scotland, the Midlands, North East and North West of England - with upgrades to 99 exchanges.

The £2.5bn programme will make fibre broadband available to a further 1.2 million premises, bringing the total footprint to about 19 million premises.

Openreach, BT's local network business, is scheduled to carry out the work before or during spring 2014.

BT says that an additional 600,000 premises will also gain access to fibre broadband as a result of additional 'infill' work in previously announced areas.

It has now confirmed about 1,700 exchange areas across the UK which will make up the bulk of its commercial fibre footprint. The company is now beginning to identify additional exchanges that it will enable.

Mike Galvin, Managing Director, NGA, Openreach, said: "The UK is making great progress with super-fast broadband and this latest phase of work will keep up the momentum. Speeds are increasing all the time with the UK second only to Japan within the G8.

"I am sure that communities across the UK will be pleased to see that they are factored into our commercial plans and I now look forward to working with councils to identify further areas that we can enable with their support."

Galvin added that fibre should be available to two-thirds of UK premises by spring 2014, 18 months ahead of the original schedule.

BT says its commercial fibre network is the largest in the UK, reaching more than 13 million premises. It comprises a mixture of fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP).

FTTC can provide download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps, while FTTP will offer the top current download speed of 330Mbps.

BT has warned, however, that due to the current network topography and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Openreach is considering alternative solutions for these locations.