Broadband News

BT sets triggers for 2,300 exchanges with 100% goal for 2005

"100 percent broadband coverage of every UK community is achievable by 2005 if industry and government pull together. This would put the UK in a position to lead the world" [BT]

Following an extensive and major review of exchanges waiting for broadband, this morning BT announced trigger levels of between 100 and 500 registrations for 2,300 exchanges based on the total cost of rollout along with weighted averages applied to the number of lines at each exchange and expected take-up. The trigger levels are surprisingly low at first sight considering the exchanges in question, but BT is taking into account the falling costs as well. The full BT press release can be read here.

"BT's registration scheme has been a world-leading success in focusing new investment where there is demand. We have clear momentum and this, together with our latest understanding of technology and costs and the growing enthusiasm for regional partnerships, means we can take a new approach to broadband investment. We are now in a position to extend trigger levels into the furthest parts of the UK"

Ben Verwaayen, BT Group chief executive

This announcement will result in 32 exchanges triggering today and means that 99.1% of UK households and businesses are connected to broadband exchanges. At present, BT say 80% of UK households are on broadband enabled exchanges with next year's interim goal set at 90%. However, even once all the exchanges that have a trigger level are enabled for broadband, there will still be 600 "of the very smallest exchanges" serving 0.9% of the population which do not have a trigger level all of which have less than 300 lines and ten of which have less than ten.

These exchanges which serve about 100,000 households will still require different approaches to delivering broadband. One common complaint made to BT is that the current coverage on an enabled exchange is only around 96% of households. BT is trialling new wireless solutions and is working to extend the physical reach of DSL from enabled exchanges.

 "There's no doubt however that many of these trigger levels are very challenging to hit. In some areas, market stimulation alone will not be sufficient to deliver broadband. We are critically dependent on public partnerships to stimulate demand and to intervene with support to get the exchanges enabled early and even to help reduce the triggers. This will be essential to deliver the benefits of broadband to every community. 

One hundred per cent broadband availability must be the goal because of business demand for ICT, the imperative to share knowledge and information quickly and the need to create a genuine knowledge economy. Setting out this clear and achievable goal for the industry will energise the market to the benefit of everyone. Our industry, along with government at all levels, has a huge role to play to accelerate broadband availability, demand and take-up. Working together we can roll out broadband to 100% of communities by 2005"

Ben Verwaayen, BT Group chief executive

BT stresses the importance of regional partnerships with government and local industry which have been so successful in Cornwall and in other areas, including aggregation of public sector demand (schools, libraries, etc.) to create the drive for broadband take-up.

The full list of 2300 new triggers is not available at present but the various demand trackers will update automatically once they are set in the BT database. [seb & mrsaffron]


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