BT has soldiered on with its rollout of next-gen fibre broadband in the UK this year. A target of 10 million premises connected - originally estimated for the end of 2012 - was passed in May. Just today, BT announced that 11 million homes and businesses can now order superfast broadband from BT.
The plan is to have two-thirds of the UK connected to BT Infinity fibre by 2015, a target which BT seems well on the way to hitting.
However some of you have noticed that while some of their neighbours and friends can currently order BT Infinity, it’s not available to everyone. Why is this?
This is partly due to how BT is staging its fibre broadband rollout process. BT is upgrading individual exchanges as it goes, rather than whole towns. So when you get fibre in your home depends on which exchange you’re connected to and when your exchange is due for an upgrade to fibre.
To find out which exchange you’re connected to, pop your postcode into SamKnows’ exchange finder. This will also tell you whether you can order FTTC BT Infinity or not.
BT: FTTC? FTTP? WTF?!
Once BT has upgraded an exchange to fibre, high-speed fibre lines will then run from local exchanges to street cabinets (pictured).
In most cases, traditional copper wires will then run to the house. This type of connection is Fibre to the Cabinet or FTTC.
Eventually, once BT’s completed its two-thirds of the UK rollout, it will work on replacing the copper ‘last mile’ with a second fibre optic line, creating a full Fibre to the Premises or FTTP connection.
As part of BT’s rollout, a number of FTTP lines are being installed in a number of places where it’s easier to install them, such as new build properties.
FTTP guarantees much faster speeds than what it achievable over FTTC lines - up to 330Mbps downstream compared to 80Mbps downstream. FTTC lines currently make up the majority of BT’s fibre footprint, with FTTP only available at just 15 locations at the time of writing.
Eventually, you’ll be able to order ‘FTTP on demand’, basically paying BT to replace the last mile copper connection of an FTTC line, upgrading it to cable, therefore making it an FTTP line.
BT is currently running a trial of the on demand upgrade process which finishes in May 2013. This is to determine how easy (or difficult) the upgrade process will be and how pricing will be worked out.
What’s happening with BT in Wales and North Yorkshire?
BT’s also been involved with rolling out fibre broadband to rural locations to help stem the digital divide.
Part of the Government’s plan to improve broadband speeds in the UK has seen a pot of funds from BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK) fund and Defra’s £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund pooled to help local authorities plan and get fibre rolled out to residents and businesses.
The remaining 4 and 10 per cent of these areas respectively will get minimum speeds of 2Mbps up to 24Mbps over the traditional copper lines. The first areas in Wales and North Yorkshire should start seeing fibre rolled out in early 2013.
Money from the European Regional Development Fund is also available to BT for rollout in these areas, with £8.6m being drawn from this pot to help rollout in North Yorkshire.
Worcestershire has also selected BT for a similar project, but money from the ERDF is being held back due to issues concerning competition. BT appears to be winning rural contracts level right and centre, meaning there’s concern over a monopoly potentially developing.
Rutland County Council signed a deal with BT earlier this year which will see 90 per cent of the county able to get at least 24Mbps, broadband by 2013 with the remaining 10 per cent getting at least 2Mbps.