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Introduction Tim O'Sullivan

Superfast Broadband spreading further across UK

Engineer with Super-fast fibre van 

New projects and extensions announced

BT’s commercial rollout of fibre and projects with Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) continue to connect thousands more people and organisations to fast broadband services.

BT has invested £2.5bn in its continuing commercial roll out of fibre broadband, at speeds of up to 80 Mbps. This roll-out is one of the biggest fibre programmes in the world without central government support; it has covered two-thirds of UK premises 21 months ahead of target.

That roll-out has been extended into areas where the commercial case for investment is more challenging: the ‘final third’. BT bid competitively for public funds to do this through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and we are now working with local authorities on 46 projects. The government has also announced plans to extend its BDUK programme with the next phase of funding targeted at getting the UK to 95% coverage. BT is competing for these Superfast Extension Project (SEP) funds to complement our existing projects.

44 of these projects now have live street cabinets and BT has recently signed contracts for two more, delivering coverage in the Black Country and South Yorkshire. Two local authorities, North Yorkshire and Suffolk, have signed deals under the next phase of BDUK funding to provide coverage outside of the original roll-out.

So far with combined commercial and BDUK roll-outs we have passed 21m UK premises. All of this fibre network, commercial and BDUK can be used by any communications provider.

Coverage guidance for businesses and consumers

We appreciate that people want to know as soon as possible whether fibre is coming to their area, especially as new areas extending the reach within the current projects are being announced every week. Most councils have published more detailed indicative maps, with BT’s support, and this activity is continuing to ramp up as the roll-out progresses and survey work is completed.

Openreach, the division of BT that installs and maintains the local access network , which is rolling out BT’s fibre network, has a superfast broadband checker which is now even more detailed so people can enter their postcode and view if and when their street cabinet is due to be upgraded to fibre.

Local communities who wish to pursue alternative schemes are also free to ask their council whether they’re in plan or not and some have done so. We welcome the efforts of local community broadband schemes, and are keen to work with them where possible. Competition is good for consumers and businesses and it also helps to further expand the UK’s fibre footprint.

New technology

BT is also actively working on a range of technologies that will enable even the hardest-to-reach areas to benefit from fast broadband. Microwave links are an example of this and a further article in this issue of Communicate describes how the village of Northlew, on the edge of Devon’s Dartmoor, is now experiencing superfast technology, where installing fibre is not viable.

Also, recent trials in our laboratories show that we can get 'ultrafast' speeds of up to one Gigabit per second (1000 Mbps) over a mix of fibre and copper. BT is now looking at how this G.FAST technology can be deployed in the future to further improve speeds for all customers.

Summary of key fibre-coverage statistics



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