BT Wholesale, who currently offer ADSL (up to 8Mbps) services to almost all the 5,500 BT telephone exchanges in the UK, had previously committed to 80% coverage for its Wholesale Broadband Connect (WBC) ADSL2+ based services, has now announced it is extending this roll-out to cover 90% of premises across the UK, by announcing an upgrade programme for another 800 exchanges.
Four hundred of the exchanges are considered to be in rural areas with an average size of 2,250 properties connected, the other four hundred exchanges are in more densely populated areas with a 4,000 property average. The ADSL2+ product rolled out is marketed as up to 20Mbps. An estimate of what this will mean in terms of download speed for people buying an ADSL2+ service via BT Wholesale is shown below:
A lot of coverage of this BT announcement in the regional press has tended to concentrate on the ability of ADSL2+ to double speeds for some customers, but as you can see this is really for a small proportion of customers. The coverage in the regions seem to have taken this doubling from the following quote in various BT Regional releases.
"The BT investment makes available broadband speeds of up to 20 megabits per second (Mbps) – more than double the maximum speeds previously available to the majority of UK homes and businesses. The faster speeds are delivered over copper lines."BT Press Releases, DC11-176, July 21st 2011
Where ADSL2+ on the BT Wholesale WBC platform makes the most difference is that upstream speeds invariably rise from the standard 0.4Mbps to a lot closer to 1Mbps. One further improvement is a trial that is underway in some WBC areas to make IP Profile updates a lot faster, so fast as to be effectively transparent.
While a wider roll-out of ADSL2+ goes some way towards helping meeting the goal of a 2Mbps USC by 2015, the reality is that people with just 0.5Mbps on a rate adaptive service ADSL service will not normally see a sudden boost to 2 or 3Mbps. For those people on long lines (60dB attenuation or higher, 5.5km of telephone wire and longer), then improvements to home wiring, faceplate filters, or the simple option of fitting an IPlate are worth investigating.
BT Wholesale is rightly pleased to announce this increased roll-out, the key to how welcome this upgrade will be to consumers and businesses is whether it closely matches the ADSL2+ footprint from the largest LLU provider TalkTalk. Hopefully BT Wholesale is targeting a good number of exchanges that have no LLU operator present.
Looking forward beyond 2013, we would expect there to be a time when BT Wholesale will want to retire the older network in the remaining 10% of the country, though to some extent the timing of this is likely to be dependent on how the 'final third' project pans out.