FTTP roll-out under the microscope

Johnny McQuoid, SFBB programme director for BT GroupLast week a group of journalists and industry analysts went to Milton Keynes to see for themselves the progress BT is making rolling out superfast fibre-optic broadband.

They were told how BT is committed to investing £2.5bn to roll-out superfast broadband (SFBB) to two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by 2015. In particular, they were shown fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband technology which provides download speeds of up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 30Mbps.

Paul Abbott and Richard Walter from Openreach talked the attendees through the practical reality of deploying an entirely new network technology.

Speaking at the event Johnny McQuoid, SFBB programme director for BT Group highlighted the technical challenges of the roll-out.

“This is the first large-scale FTTP deployment of its kind in the UK,” he said. “It’s a trial of our planning, building and provisioning processes and we’re learning a lot along the way.”

Indeed, the scale and complexity of FTTP was not lost on visiting journalists.

V3 wrote: “What we found was an incredibly complex, difficult and downright fiddly job (fibres are very small, you know) that has to be carried out day and night come rain or shine, with almost each and every deployment throwing up the possibility of an unexpected issue to deal with.”

Over at The Register, their report also identified some the challenges involved in rolling out BT.

Meeting the challenge

“Intensive manpower is required to get the work done but access to individual premises and estates remains a constant challenge to getting the kit installed.” BT has 32,000 engineers, many of whom are currently re-skilling to help roll out the new fibre technology.

Despite the technical challenges, BT continues to make good progress with its fibre roll-out.

Highlights include:

  • In Milton Keynes, 11,500 premises passed with FTTP
  • FTTP trials taking place in three other UK locations
  • FTTC being rolled out to some 300 cabinets and 75,000 homes on average every week
  • BT has doubled the number of fibre deployment engineers to help accelerate roll-out

Said Johnny McQuoid: “Not only are people beginning to realise the scale of what we have to do, but also the complex engineering challenge we face. That said, we’re gifted with some of the most skilled and experienced engineers in the field and I’m delighted with the progress we continue to make”

You can read The Register article – and V3’s article.