BT bets on demand for bandwidth, expands high-speed fiber to more cities

By Jim O'Neill on Jan 27 2014 at 8:00 AM

U.K. incumbent BT is committing more than $82.5 million to continue its deployment of high-speed fiber broadband services to an additional 400,000 customers over the next three years.

BT already is spending an estimated $4.97 billion - more than $4.1 billion alone on its footprint - to bring fiber past some 18 million premises. The new spend will encompass 30 cities and has three pieces:

  • Addressing greenfield sites with new installations, including fiber to the premises (FTTP) where possible.
  • Deploying fiber to MDUs.
  • To include city cabinets that had been passed by in the initial deployment because of technical or local planning issues.

By the end of the project, BT fiber will pass some 19 million premises. Currently, about 75% of all U.K. premises have access to fiber broadband. About 90% will have access to fiber broadband by 2016.

Fiber is set to give users greater service choice, as well as some of the fastest broadband access in the world.

"The U.K. is already ahead of its main European rivals when it comes to fiber,” said Mike Galvin, MD Network Investment at Openreach. The U.K. also is quickly closing the fiber gap between it, the U.S. and Japan.

BT's fiber network is open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis, ensuring businesses and consumers benefit from intense competition, a wide choice of supplier and low prices. 

The demand for high-speed fiber networks is being driven by several factors including the raging demand to online video and the relentless increase in mobile device adoption. Alcatel-Lucent said the demand for higher-speed bandwidth is growing by 35% a year.

Fiber can more easily handle the bandwidth demands created by HD video, but also is critical to the performance of wireless phone networks (the wireless phase is brief, from phone to tower, after which signals often are passed through terrestrial networks).

Alca-Lu and BT recently conducted tests on a 255-mile link between London and Ipswich. The real-world tests, using fiber tech that’s already widely in use throughout the world, were able to achieve transmission speeds of 1.4 Terabits/sec., enough to send 44 uncompressed HD movies a second.

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