BT Openreach claims to be adding up to 200,000 homes and businesses per week to its superfast fibre broadband coverage as it steams into the last year of its £2.5 billion rollout.
The commercial rollout funded by BT is lined up to hit two-thirds of the UK by the end of Spring 2014 – around 19 million premises – with more than 60 ISPs selling connections to the customer.
As the only company working on state-funded Broadband Delivery for the UK schemes, Openreach will continue to work on these after it has hit its own goals.
Read more about the BT Broadband Rollout
Openreach chief executive Liv Garfield said: “Fibre broadband is at the heart of our business and so it is great that we have now passed more than fifty per cent of UK premises. This is a significant milestone and one that our engineers can be proud of.
“They have worked through many months of appalling weather to bring the benefits of fibre to cities, towns and villages and this is making a genuine difference to how people live their lives.
“Customers want faster speeds and that is what we will give them. More than sixty companies are already using our network so customers also have plenty of choice. There is a level playing field and what could be fairer than that?”
Garfield’s statement follows stinging criticism from TalkTalk chairman Charles Dunstone, who has repeated calls for Ofcom to regulate the cost of access to BT’s fibre network (Financial Times paywall).
The final BDUK rollout will vary between 100 per cent coverage for FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) in some of the Home Counties, to around 85 per cent in the most remote rural counties.
Everyone should get at least 2Mbps using ADSL via their phone line if they’re beyond the reach of fibre-assisted broadband, and BT has promised to improve these connections using new technology such as TV White Space and 4G mobile.
Under the scheme – for which BT has won every bid – it is already delivering fibre broadband infrastructure to Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, Devon and Somerset, Hampshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, Kent and Medway, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire, Rutland, The Scottish Highlands and Islands, Shropshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Wales and Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire.
The end of April will also see a trial of FTTP (fibre to the premises) On Demand, which will see customers able to get up to 330Mbps over pure fibre connections, if they’re willing to pay for Openreach to dig the last mile to their door.
Openreach is the arm of BT charged with maintaining and developing the ‘last mile’ of phone and broadband connections, from the exchange to the customer.
It contributes to BT’s overall profits but is operated independently from the retail and wholesale arms which sell broadband, TV and phone services.