BT plans fibre-optic network upgrade

BT plans to spend £1.5bn to bring fibre-optic broadband connections to up to ten million homes by 2012. Some homes will get 100Mbit/s connections that may be upgraded to 1Gbit/s in the future.

The company plans to run high-speed optical fibre connections to street cabinets in many areas, with copper connections taking up to 40Mbit/s into homes. New technology may make it possible to upgrade this to 60Mbit/s. In new-build areas, such as Ebbsfleet and the Olympic Village, BT plans to take fibre-optic connections into homes to enable 100Mbit/s connections. In other areas BT will offer copper-based ADSL2+ connections that will run at 10Mbit/s for the majority of customers, and up to 24Mbit/s for some.

BT's plan will take an extra £1bn in capital investment, which is being funded by suspending a share buyback programme. The company plans to spend an extra £100m in both the 2008/09 and 2009/10 financial years. The remaining extra spend of £800m will be spread over the following three financial years.

“This is a bold step by BT and we need others to be just as bold," said BT chief executive Ian Livingston. "We are keen to partner with people who share our vision for the next phase of the broadband revolution. We want to work with local and regional bodies to decide where and when we should focus the deployment. Our aim is that urban and rural areas alike will benefit from our investment.”

BT will wholesale its new services and will press for any similar UK access network to be open to other companies. 

BT already provides fibre to the premises of more than 120,000 businesses and has deployed more than ten million kilometres of fibre in the network.

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