BT’S network division, Openreach, says it’s exploring the potential for “a large-scale” fibre-to-the-premises roll-out, potentially boosting the maximum broadband speeds routinely achievable over its network.
Openreach manages and maintains BT’s core network which today uses a mix of copper and fibre to deliver broadband and phone services to UK households and businesses.
The network is used by more than 580 communications providers, including BT’s retail rivals Sky and TalkTalk, some of which claim the company has an interest in prolonging its use of existing copper infrastructure to cut costs.
Most ‘fibre’ broadband connections over BT’s network use copper cabling to make the final connection to the premises, a connection known as fibre-to-the-cabinet, and are limited to a maximum speed of 80Mbps.
However fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) completely eliminates copper and directly connects the fibre connection to the user, allowing far greater speeds to be delivered.
Openreach has previously expressed an ambition to connect FTTP to millions of homes and businesses by the end of 2020 but today said it will consult this summer with communications providers using its network about a potentially expanded roll-out.
Clive Selley, Chief Executive of Openreach said:“We are committed to continuing our investment in the infrastructure Britain needs to support our thriving digital economy.
“We want to work closely with communications providers to explore how we do that.
“With the right conditions we could make full fibre connections available to as many as 10 million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s, but we need to understand if there’s sufficient demand to justify the roll-out, and support – across industry, Ofcom and government – for the enablers needed to build a viable business case.”
Selly has also announced a consultation on the deployment of Long Reach VDSL, a technology which allows it to boost speeds delivered to properties located further away from its cabinets.
He said: “We’ve been working hard to develop faster, affordable ways to connect remote locations and we’ve been pleased with the initial technical field results of our Long Reach VDSL trials, but we need communications providers’ support to make sure their customers can be upgraded and migrated smoothly to this new platform.”