Following successful trials of FTTP on Demand in Cornwall BT says it will soon be able to offer end users speeds of up to 300Mbps anywhere on BT’s fibre footprint, including Northern Ireland.
As reported yesterday BT will have 90pc of Northern Ireland served with fibre by the end of March, making it the most advanced fibre-connected region in Europe with speeds of up to 80Mbps as standard. But if you think that's fast, think again.
BT today revealed it has held successful trials of "FTTP on demand" in St Agnes, Cornwall. This solution allows additional fibre to be run on demand to a home or business in a Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) enabled area, providing the customer with ultra-fast Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) broadband.
Previously, FTTP speeds weren't possible in FTTC enabled areas but BT has developed a solution that takes advantage of the fibre it has already deployed between the exchange and the street cabinet.
The technological development has the potential to transform the UK broadband landscape. This is because FTTP - which will soon offer end users speeds of up to 300Mbps - could be made available anywhere in BT's fibre footprint where a customer requires it.
BT will conduct further trials of FTTP on demand this Summer with a view to making the service commercially available to all communications providers via Openreach by Spring 2013.
BT also said it will introduce a new faster variant of FTTC broadband this Spring. This service will deliver speeds that are approximately double those on offer today so downstream speeds will be up to 80Mbps rather than up to 40Mbps. Upstream speeds will also be faster at up to 20Mbps.
BT revealed more than 7m premises can now access fibre broadband over its network. This figure will rise to ten million in 2012 and then to around two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014.
BT wants to go further and believes it is possible to make fibre broadband available to more than 90pc of UK premises by working with local councils and devolved governments. BT is bidding for Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds to make that happen.
Openreach chief executive Olivia Garfield said: "FTTP on demand is a significant development for Broadband Britain. Essentially, it could make our fastest speeds available wherever we deploy fibre. This will be welcome news for small businesses who may wish to benefit from the competitive advantage that such speeds provide.
“We are also doubling the speed of our standard fibre broadband this Spring giving ISPs the chance to offer speeds of up to 80Mbps. This will ensure that residential customers have world class speeds for all their family's needs," Garfield added.
In related news BT this morning reported a 5pc drop in Q3 revenues of stg£4.7bn. The company delivered an operating profit of stg£790m, up 8pc on last year.
Their Open Reach division is doing best.
They are seeing brisk demand
Could it be that some Irish prices are too high or services too poor?
Fibre optic connections with speeds of up to 300 Megabits per second will be available on demand in 2013, BT says.
That is three times the maximum 100 Mbps speed the company currently offers using the technology and it described the development as a "game changer".
According to Ofcom the current UK broadband average is 7.6 Mbps.
BT said it hoped to create a "mass market" for high speed broadband among small and medium sized businesses following trials in Cornwall.
The company made the announcement following successful trials of fibre to the premise (FTTP) in St Agnes.
"By December 2014, two-thirds of the country will have access to ultra-fast fibre if they want it" said Mike Galvin of Openreach, part of the BT group.
The firm plans to roll out the system starting next year.
Optical fibre links to street cabinets are widespread, but the connection from cabinet to premises is in most cases copper cable, limiting the speed of the connection.
FTTP will require a fibre-optic connection to the premise from the street cabinet to be installed.
But that may not mean digging up the road.
"It could be overhead, might be on a pole, might be in an existing ductwork," Openreach's Mike Galvin told the BBC.
But connection will come at a price. BT said the installation fees will most likely be in the high hundreds of pounds, possibly more.
What individual customers will have to pay will depend on whether companies who provide broadband connections, such as ISPs, pass them on to consumers.
Spending on speed
Installing a high-speed connection at a price is not in itself innovative, but BT believes the new product is a significant development.
"If you had the money you could have had your own private plane as well, and that's the difference - you are making something that was previously a high-end product and you're bringing availability to the mass market," Mr Galvin said.
He added that the FTTP system was "future proof" allowing BT to upgrade as still faster technologies were developed.
"There are technologies coming up which will give speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps)," he said.
BT said the roll out was enabled by changes to the way they use their network.
"We've re-engineered and re-looked at how we do fibre in our local network," Mr Galvin said.
"We think this is an absolute game changer. Overnight you've gone form a network that's got the potential to do 80 Mbps across two thirds of the country to a network that on demand can do 300 Mbps."
At present the company only offers FTTP for the areas around 14 exchanges.
Some rivals have accused BT of cutting back on previous commitments - namely dropping a target for the percentage of properties with fibre to the door.
Branson and Bolt Virgin recently announced they were doubling broadband speeds
However, BT said it still planned to spend the same £2.5bn on fibre, and that in cases where the fibre only went up the cabinet, premises would soon be able to get 80 Mbps speed.
A spokesman told the BBC, "Before this development FTTP was going to be available in a relatively small subset of our fibre footprint. This development means it can be available in the whole of our fibre footprint."
The government wants 90% of UK businesses to be connected to super-fast broadband by 2015.
The announcement of BT's new product follows news of high-speed offerings from rivals.
A Virgin Media spokesman said: "We're about to boost the speeds for millions of people yet again with our doubling upgrade and the introduction of 120 Mbps.
"Having successfully proven 1.5 Gbps on our network last summer, Britain's broadband is moving in the right direction."