BT Openreach to extend FTTC network to 163 new exchanges in 2013

BT (NYSE: BT) Openreach on Tuesday announced plans to extend its hybrid copper/fiber Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTC) service to an additional 163 telephone exchange areas in 2013.

Set to be operational in both the United Kingdom in areas such as Torquay, in Devon, and Kilbirnie in Scotland, the service provider said the latest phase of its ongoing FTTC buildout will extend service to over 1 million homes and businesses. As of September this year, BT has built out FTTC service to 11 million premises.

Both BT Retail and other competitive providers like Talk Talk (LSE: TALK) and BskyB will be able to purchase wholesale access services on Openreach's FTTC network to deliver broadband services to their customer bases.  

Because FTTC is a hybrid copper/fiber delivery method where fiber is extended to a Remote Terminal (RT) cabinet and then service is delivered to the customer over existing copper via ADSL2+ or VDSL2, BT can deliver up to 80/20 Mbps. The actual speed each residential and business customer gets depends on the condition of the existing copper and how far a customer is from the nearest RT cabinet. Meanwhile, BT is delivering up to 330 Mbps with its Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) products.

"Today's announcement shows that we are well into our journey to bring fiber to two-thirds of the UK by the end of 2014," said Mike Galvin, Openreach MD Network Investment, in a press release announcing the latest FTTC expansion effort. "We have now announced the bulk of the exchanges we will be deploying fiber to under our own steam but we are keen to go even further with the help of BDUK funding."

This latest network build follows an effort in July where BT announced it would enable an additional 98 telephone exchange areas across the UK to deliver a mix of FTTC and FTTP broadband services.

By the end of 2014, Openreach said, it is on track to extend fiber-based broadband, an effort that includes a mix of both FTTC and FTTP to about two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014.

BT is augmenting its own buildout plans with Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds from the government. In April, BT began building its first government-backed FTTX network under the BDUK program in Lancashire.

Since BT launched its FTTC service in 2010, the service provider has enabled about 1,100 telephone exchanges with FTTC, and has increased the speed from 40 Mbps to up to 76 Mbps.

Both BT Openreach and BT Retail have made considerable progress on bringing fiber-based broadband services to their customers. In its most recent quarter, BT Retail added 150,000 fiber broadband customers, while Openreach added 170,000 connections.

For more:
- see the release

Special report: Wireline in the second quarter of 2012

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