By Mark Jackson, ISPreview UK | July 10th, 2014
BT’s “ultrafast” fibre optic based Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network, which can currently deliver Internet download speeds of up to 330Mbps (30Mbps uploads), has revealed that the operators national network is now covering “nearly” 150,000 homes and businesses (premises passed) across the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately it’s been hard to find official coverage figures for BT’s FTTP network, which is perhaps partly related to the abandonment of their original commercial plans for a native roll-out to 2.5 million premises (here). Until recently the best information we had was almost two years old and suggested that BTOpenreach had made FTTP available to around 95,000 UK premises (7,000 subscribed).
But recently we’ve noticed a greater willingness to mention FTTP as part of several Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) schemes, such as the West Sussex deployment (here). Elsewhere the Superfast Cornwall project has also revealed that around 62,000 local premises can now gain access to an FTTP service (here). It’s too early to say whether this marks a shift in strategy, but at least we’ve seen more about FTTP from BT in the last two months than the whole of the past two years.
The latest sign of this comes via way of a comment from a member of PlusNet’s (BT company) Products Team, Dave Tomlinson, whom let slip during a broadband technology debate (here) that BT’s national FTTP network could now reach “nearly” 150,000 premises. Thanks to one of ISPreview.co.uk’s readers for pointing this out.
Dave Tomlinson said:
“We work very closely with both Openreach and BTW regarding both FTTC and FTTP. We’ve been there since the start of both products and FTTPoD and they listen to our feedback.
Right now the focus is on getting fibre out to as many people as possible; the commercial rollout is nearing completion and the BDUK rollout is in full swing now. Contracts are being signed with new housing developments so that they get FTTP as standard and there are a number of existing MDUs (blocks of flats) getting FTTP. FTTP coverage is nearly 150k properties with more being added each week.”
It’s widely known that BT’s native FTTP deployment (not to be confused with the expensive Fibre-on-Demand solution) suffered due to problematic and expensive installation work, especially when bringing the service over the last hurdle and directly into people’s homes. Tomlinson covers this a little bit too and offers a useful insight.
Dave Tomlinson added:
“I just looked back and we did our first FTTP install almost 4 years ago, as AndyH notes the hard part is getting the fibre into the home. We’ve done FTTP installs at most of the locations that Openreach have deployed it, the easy ones are the greenfield sites where the ONT is already in situ, customer says can I have FTTP, we most them a router and it’s on the next day. I’ve lost track of some of the issues we’ve had with brownfield, road closures, rabbits in ducts, cars parked on top of manholes, blockages, hedges, trees, you name it we’ve probably had it as a problem for one of them.”
Getting information out of BT about their FTTP deployments has historically been like trying to squeeze blood from a stone and so we’re grateful to Tomlinson for finally being able to shed a little light upon this greyest of areas.
Naturally we have attempted to gain confirmation from BT too, although their email servers appear to be blocking our hails (this is not BT’s fault, the spamhaus filter is just being overzealous against our web hosts as can sometimes occur).
PS – “Rabbits in Ducts”, we’d gladly pay to see a picture of that fun :).