BT Openreach expands FTTP footprint

Openreach, the infrastructure arm of UK operator BT Group PLC (LSE: BT.A), says it has held successful trials of "FTTP on demand" in St Agnes, Cornwall. It has been testing the technology needed to install additional fiber from a street cabinet to a home or business inside a fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) enabled area.

Previously, FTTP wasn't possible in FTTC-enabled areas. BT says the new method takes advantage of the fiber it has already deployed between the exchange and the street cabinet.

This development means that FTTP – which will soon offer speeds of up to 300 Mbps to end users – will become more widely available. BT says there are around 7 million premises within FTTC-enabled areas currently, rising to 10 million by the end of 2012, and around two-thirds of the country by the end of 2014.

The service – which also delivers fast upstream speeds – is likely to be of particular appeal to small and medium size businesses that need to send and receive large amounts of data. The operator says that feedback from businesses involved in its trial in St Agnes has been "excellent."

BT plans to conduct further trials of FTTP on demand this summer, with a view to making the service commercially available to all communications providers by spring 2013.

Openreach chief executive Olivia Garfield said: "FTTP on demand is a significant development for Broadband Britain. Essentially, it could make our fastest speeds available wherever we deploy fiber. This will be welcome news for small businesses who may wish to benefit from the competitive advantage that such speeds provide."

BT also confirmed its intention to introduce a faster variant of FTTC broadband this spring. This new service will deliver speeds that are approximately double those on offer today, so downstream speeds will be up to 80 Mbps rather than up to 40 Mbps. Upstream speeds will also be faster at up to 20 Mbps.

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