We've had the two brownfield trial sites for Fibre To The Home announced, but we are now seeing Openreach widening the areas even more, though it is too early to give specifics on locations.
BT has now announced that it has adjusted its plans to have its Fibre to the Home network available to some 2.5 million homes by 2012, the original plan was for 1 million homes. These homes are not in addition to the 10 million FTTC/FTTH homes previously talked about, but rather an altering of the ratio so that more homes will have access to connection speeds of 100Mbps. Interestingly this increase in coverage of FTTH will be managed within the existing £1.5 billion BT had allocated to investing in fibre services.
"This development shows that we are determined to bring world-leading broadband speeds to UK homes and businesses. Service providers have asked us for more FTTP and so we have listened to them. The UK already leads the world when it comes to broadband availability and today's announcement will help the UK climb the speed league tables as well. The UK is well placed but we need to invest for the future so that customers can access the rich applications that will be popular in a few years time."Steve Robertson, (CEO) Openreach
One of the big reasons why so many people are keen to see Fibre To the Home pushed is that the potential to expand speeds as applications change is there. Openreach is pointing out that the FTTH network could offer speeds of 1Gbps (1000Meg) if there was the commercial demand.
In terms of Digital Britain this is good news but does highlight the concerns some people raised with the Digital Britain report and things like its 2Meg USO and Next Generation Broadband fund - they may be too slow in becoming available, and once they are, they may be as outdated as the 28Kbps USO that exists now is.
What will be interesting now is how Virgin Media reacts. With true fibre optic networks direct into peoples homes at a speed double the maximum speed it currently offers we may see them upgrading their cable network towards the 200Meg speeds they have suggested are possible, or perhaps buying wholesale access onto the Openreach fibre local loop in some areas.