BT Plans FTTP Trial In Bradford And More G.Fast Pilots In Ultrafast Broadband Push

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BT says FTTP trial will help it develop a 1Gbps service for SMBs and has promised to connect all new housing developments with more than 250 homes

Openreach says a trial of fibre to the premise (FTTP) in Bradford will allow the company to see how the technology can be delivered faster and more efficiently to high streets and business parks as part of its bid to deliver ‘ultrafast’ broadband of 300Mbps and above to the “majority” of the UK.

BT’s rollout of FTTP has so far been limited, and just two percent of the country has access to a pure fibre connection – something which Ofcom says it is concerned about and a stick used by the company’s rivals to push for the separation of Openreach.

However BT has defended its use of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology, which uses existing copper connections for the final few hundred metres, arguing it has allowed for a more cost-effective and rapid rollout of superfast broadband.

BT FTTP trials

packetfrontFor ultrafast broadband, BT plans to use a combination of FTTP and G.Fast, the latter of which speeds up copper connections and eliminates the need to lay more fibre. BT says G.Fast has achieved 5Gbps in lab tests.

Rivals argue BT is “sweating” its copper assets, but the company freely admits to this and doesn’t see the expression as negative.

In addition to the Bradford trial, BT has also promised to deploy FTTP for free in new housing developments with more than 250 premises and will hold two further G.Fast pilots in Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire and Gillingham, Kent.

The FTTP trial will allow businesses in the Kirkgate High Street and Listerhills Science Park areas of the Yorkshire city to access speeds of 1Gbps from the spring and 25,000 homes will be covered by the G.Fast tests.

Ultrafast future

“I’m determined to roll out ultrafast broadband, and G.fast technology is the best way to deliver that to the majority of the UK as quickly as possible,” said Openreach CEO Clive Selley. “We also plan to roll out significantly more fibre-to-the-premises, and we’re trialling a range of options in Bradford to use that technology increasingly in future – wherever it makes sense.

“A large number of new housing developments will also get fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure built for free under our latest plans, so that’s great news for developers and homeowners too.”

BT has said its investments are conditional on a “stable” regulatory environment and opposes any move by Ofcom to make Openreach a fully independent entity. It claims Openreach benefits from BT’s capital and R&D, and says the UK is performing well in terms of broadband when compared against other major European countries.

Sky and TalkTalk are among those who believe investment in FTTP isn’t possible while Openreach is part of BT and want the two to be separated.

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