The first exchanges have now breached the 1000 registration minimum threshold in the Race to Infinity being run by BT Retail. Infinity is the product name for the BT Retail fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) products.
Caxton in Cambridgeshire, and Malvern in Worcestershire are the first to break the 1000 vote barrier. The five areas with the most votes will see their fibre upgrades by early 2012 at the latest, additionally if you don't win but hit a 75% of potential registrations figure then BT Retail is pledging to talk with the area to discuss options that may be available. The competition closes on 31st December 2010 with voting taking place at www.bt.com/racetoinfinity.
"This is fantastic news for Caxton and Cambridgeshire as a whole. Communities across the East of England have really been demonstrating demand for fibre broadband.
However there is still quite a way to go until we reach the finishing line and everything to play for.
I hope news that these communities who had already registered 1000 votes will spur people into action as this data will help BT determine where fibre broadband will be deployed in the coming years."Peter McCarth-Ward (East of England regional director) BT
It should be pointed out, that while the scheme is being led by BT Retail, people will not be tied to using only BT Retail Infinity products once the exchange is enabled, any provider buying the Openreach FTTC/P products will be able to sell the service in the winning areas.
BT Retail is not the only provider with the ability to influence the fibre roll-out plans of Openreach. The Openreach based scheme allows 24 exchange areas to be nominated, a maximum of six per provider. Unfortunately at this time, BT Retail is the only broadband provider to have publicly launched a scheme to gauge demand. This may largely be down to the requirements for a provider to meet a 10% take-up target within 12 months, and a £5,000 fee that may be levied for the area survey. More information on fibre broadband as used by BT Infinity and products from other providers can be found in our Fibre Broadband Guide.