UK jobs boost as BT announces significant fibre progress
Two thirds of UK premises to have access to fibre broadband one year early
520 new engineers – most of them ex-armed forces - to be recruited
BT today announced two thirds of UK premises will have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2014, one year ahead of its original target of 2015. To help achieve this, BT will recruit a further 520 engineers to assist with the deployment, most of whom will be ex-armed forces.
BT is bringing forward approximately £300 million of investment over the next few years to fund the accelerated roll-out. These funds form part of BT’s total investment of £2.5 billion in commercial fibre broadband.
The acceleration will help the government achieve its ambition of having the best super-fast broadband network in Europe by 2015. The widespread availability of super-fast broadband is expected to help stimulate the UK economy, drive regional growth and please many communities who are keen to experience the benefits of the technology.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport said: “Superfast broadband is essential for achieving sustainable growth and it is vital that homes and businesses have access to it as soon as possible.
“BT’s accelerated fibre roll-out plan is great news for the UK. With access to superfast broadband UK businesses will have the infrastructure they need to grow and develop new products and services. This investment means new jobs today, but also allows us to build the digital infrastructure we need for the jobs of tomorrow.
“The Government is committed to ensuring the UK is leading the way in broadband provision and BT’s accelerated roll-out will help make that a reality.”
Ian Livingston, CEO of BT Group said: “Our roll-out of fibre broadband is one of the fastest in the world and so it is great to be ahead of what was an already challenging schedule. The acceleration reflects the success of the programme to date and is testament to the hard work and innovation of our people.. We are investing when others are merely talking about it.
“Thousands of our engineers are busy installing fibre broadband across the UK at an astonishing pace. The recruitment of an additional five hundred engineers will help us go even faster and ensure we are ready to help supply other areas should we win BDUK funds. We are proud that most of these jobs will be filled by ex-armed forces personnel.”
BT’s roll-out of fibre broadband is well underway, with six million premises already having access to the technology. That figure will leap to ten million in 2012 and then two thirds of premises by the end of 2014. BT’s network can be used by all companies on an open wholesale basis and so underpins a fully competitive marketplace.
BT is keen to extend the reach of fibre broadband even further by working with the public sector. The company has welcomed the government’s pledge to spend £530 million over the course of this parliament to bring fibre broadband to additional areas, and it intends to bid for the funds being administered by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
BT has a strong track record of delivering fibre broadband in partnership with the public sector through its programmes in Cornwall and Northern Ireland. It believes that these and other such partnerships can extend such access to more than 90% of the UK in the coming years and is prepared to commit substantial additional funds to help achieve this.
Today’s news follows the recent announcement that BT is to increase the headline speed of its fastest fibre broadband product to up to 300Mb/s by Spring next year and also double the speed of its fibre-to-the-cabinet service.