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BT to invest £50m to improve fibre broadband coverage in cities
Friday 24 January 2014 14:00:43 by Andrew Ferguson

With some 18 million premises in the UK able to order a fibre based service via the Openreach network, many would assume that cities have 100% coverage, but our mailbag proves that there are a good number of areas which are stuck on ADSL2+ in the cities, and not just those close to exchanges with fast speeds either.

BT is throwing a £50m lifeline to some 30 cities as it comes towards the end of its £2.5 billion commercial fibre based broadband roll-out (around another £0.5 billion of investment via the BDUK projects) and this extra money should result in another 400,000 premises being able to order services.

"Our fibre programme is going extremely well with our engineers connecting homes and businesses across the UK. Some city areas have proved challenging in the past but we are returning to those and will pass hundreds of thousands of additional premises with fibre.

We are reaching vast swathes of rural Britain with our public sector partners but we will upgrade these city areas under our own steam. Businesses in cities already have access to ultra-fast speeds but fibre will give them greater choice.

The UK is already ahead of its main European rivals when it comes to fibre, and is set to race ahead thanks to the BDUK plans that are already in progress across the country."

Mike Galvin, MD Network Investment at Openreach

The roll-out is going to include cabinets that were missed out for commercial reasons and the changes to the planning rules may allow cabinets previously refused to go ahead. Additionally cabinets are to be deployed to improve broadband speeds for apartment blocks by bringing FTTC closer to them. Finally FTTP will be used on some new build sites in cities.

Once more information is available on which cities will benefit we will publish it.

It is interesting to see that BT is estimating 400,000 premises for the £50m investment, which works out at £125 per premise, the number chases will be sure to work out how this stands in relation to investment in the BDUK projects.

Update 3:45pm We have heard back about Exchange Only areas in the cities and the hope this news was going to benefit EO lines seems to have been dashed, other solutions are being explored for EO. No rough dates for when to expect further detail on the roll-out either.


Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
By definition, this announcement is part of the commercial rollout.

Presumably, this then means that the commercial rollout won't be complete by Spring 2014, although the "fibre to new-builds" part was always going to be an ongoing commitment.

I guess it also means that the process will turn some of BDUK's NGA-white areas into grey, some grey into black, but probably not have much impact on the basic-white areas.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Given the majority of cities are already earmarked as commercial e.g. all of central London, Manchester city etc then I expect this to have no impact on BDUK at all.

The £125 comment is for those seeing if BT is trying to overcharge in the more rural areas.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
I agree with you on the bigger cities - the ones deliberately left out of BDUK entirely.

However, "30 cities" must include everything down to size of less than 190k, places like York, which have tended to be included in county plans, and so have white areas highlighted. These areas might never have actually been done within the BDUK project, but they surely would have been counted.

Leeds & Bradford both had plenty of NGA-white areas within the West Yorkshire project maps. And I guess the cities in South Yorkshire might have suddenly gained the need for some cabinets.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
Oh... and this press release appears to be the first place that BT have announced that they've reached a footprint of 18 million properties now. I guess it includes the BDUK coverage (of what? 200k?)
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
WWWombat that 18m will be commercial only
Posted by flipdee over 3 years ago
I'm I being blind, is there any mention of which 30 cities this relates too?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
No mention of the cities as they have no given any indications. We did ask.
Posted by TavistockSFB01822 over 3 years ago
If this is a lifeline then too many areas in the UK have already been left to drown. There is only a plan to help those in white areas - the black & grey areas have to re-enact Oliver asking for more.

The UK Government are playing cat and mouse with the digital peasantry. To encourage Scotland to vote to stay in the Union - it will be full steam ahead to roll-out more superfast(my view). Northern Ireland has also been specially looked after. Even Wales have been promised 96%. England will get what they are given including the largest shortfall of superfast...
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
The picture in England is very different across the counties in terms of targets
Posted by michaels_perry over 3 years ago
But they are not reaching many rural users so their "We are reaching vast swathes of rural Britain with our public sector partners" statement is wide of the truth. In my rural area we have been told there are not any planned dates for any provision above ADSL and the local exchange is not even 21CN equipped! So how about those without any hope of fast broadband getting something?
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
Michaels so you have an formal statement from your local authrotiy that you not covered by any of the BDUK activity in your community - or have you been told or you have no planned dates -- those are not the same message
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
And with the aim to cover 90% of premises with super fast why are people surprised that the harder and perceived to be more expensive per properties (i.e. poorer value for money) are the ones missed out in the current contracts?

The reality is that you have BT saying we can do this with the money and then the local authority trying to shuffle that to meet their own needs/wants
Posted by lj_hh over 3 years ago
I don't suppose a small town like Haywards Heath (population ~22,000) will make it onto any list of cities. I'm surrounded by fibre cabinets in the town centre while mine remains stubbornly untouched.

Will BT move onto smaller towns, maybe next year, or will such locations have to wait for BDUK projects to get going?
Posted by mpellatt over 3 years ago
"other solutions are being explored for EO"

How long has THAT being going on?? Years. So no solution for SMEs around the City of London (and south of the river) where cabs are like hen's teeth.

Interesting that BT seem to be feeling the heat from HyperOptic - "cabinets are to be deployed to improve broadband speeds for apartment blocks by bringing FTTC closer to them". Still won't deliver 1Gb/s though...
Posted by ccxo over 3 years ago
@ lj_hh you will need to look at the West Sussex Superfast project as their aiming at 98% of premises so the town centre is likely to be covered by infill.

Posted by gsmlnx over 3 years ago
"Finally FTTP will be used on some new build sites"

Well first they need to work out why scores of users on FTTP in MK7 are suffering from intermittent speed issues rather than use a technology were the staff cannot fix live issues. Eight weeks of variable speed down to zero for half a day or more is not acceptable.

But there is NO COMPETITION so BT wont change.
Posted by vicdupreez over 3 years ago
"Northern Ireland has also been specially looked after."

I am not sure why you are saying this. BT says that 97% or something equally high can get superfast here. I would like to see their math on this because it is absolutely not true. There is around 40 people in my office living all over Northern Ireland, and half of us live rurally. Only around 10 of them can get BT superfast.
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