BT launches FTTP service, promises 300 Mbps next year

UK-based BT Group PLC (LSE: BT.A) has announced the commercial launch of broadband services over its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network. Initial speeds will be up to 110 Mbps downstream and 30 Mbps upstream, but speeds will be increased to 300 Mbps in 2012, the company promised.

The operator's Openreach access network division, which provides wholesale services to retail ISPs (including sister division BT Retail), said that the first six exchange locations to be enabled by the end of October would be Ashford in Middlesex, Bradwell Abbey in Milton Keynes, Highams Park in North London, Chester South, St Austell, and York.

BT is spending £2.5 billion (US$3.9 billion) on what it calls "superfast" broadband, although the majority (roughly three-quarters) of its rollout is fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which still relies on copper for the final few hundred meters from street cabinets to homes. So far, the operator has passed more than 5 million premises with FTTC, and is making the service available at a rate of tens of thousands of new homes every week.

BT has some good news for its FTTC customers too: It now has approval from the relevant authorities to use new frequencies for VDSL that will enable it to roughly double the speeds delivered. As a result, FTTC downstream speeds will increase from up to 40 Mbps to up to 80 Mbps.

Openreach chief executive Liv Garfield said, "All our fiber products are fit for the future and these developments show that to be the case. As always, we want to go further and faster and so our journey doesn’t end here. We can turn up the dial should there be demand and so we can look to the future with confidence."

The firm is already testing 1-Gbps speeds on its FTTP test bed at Kesgrave in Suffolk, near its R&D center in Martlesham Heath (see "BT to trial gigabit FTTP broadband").

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