BT unveils super-fast broadband plans for thousands more Black Country homes and businesses

• Great Barr, Halesowen and West Bromwich included in BT’s roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband; 
• Local Enterprise Partnership welcomes investment; 
• Further fibre expansion across Wolverhampton and Walsall 


BT today announced a further expansion of high-speed fibre broadband to a further 40,000 homes and businesses in the West Midlands. 

They include parts of Great Barr and West Bromwich – served by Beacon and Stone Cross telephone exchanges – as well as in Halesowen. People in areas of Sutton Coldfield (served by Ashfield exchange) and Rubery will also benefit. 

The company expects these to be the final communities in the West Midlands included in its £2.5 billion commercial roll-out of fibre broadband in the UK. Future announcements will focus on areas where fibre coverage is to be expanded even further via partnerships with the public sector and local communities. 

Openreach, BT’s local network business, will carry out work to connect the areas announced today between now and the end of Spring 2014, subject to planning and technical constraints.

The expansion also includes a substantial investment in making fibre broadband more widely available in certain areas which already have the high-speed technology or are due to receive it. 

They include: Finchfield, Bloxwich (Leamore telephone exchange area) and Tipton, as well as areas of Chelmsley Wood, Erdington and Solihull. 

In Coventry and Warwickshire there’ll be fibre expansion in Kenilworth, Marton and Tile Hill. Additional areas of Worcestershire will also benefit, including: Bromsgrove, Evesham, Hagley, Malvern, Redditch and in Worcester city centre. 

Stewart Towe CBE, chair of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and chairman and managing director of Hadley Industries, said: “Our drive for super-fast broadband is well under way in the Black Country and today’s news of further local investment from BT is very welcome. Our ambition is for households and businesses right across the sub-region to have access to high-speed connectivity, with fibre broadband enabling faster online activities. Greater bandwidth helps us build competitive businesses, efficient public services and stronger communities.” 

Today’s announcement will take the total number of premises with access to fibre broadband in the West Midlands to around 1.8 million. More than 1.2 million are already able to get the service - and BT is working with the public sector to reach more communities in many parts of the UK, including in Coventry Solihull and Warwickshire (CSW partnership), Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire. 

Mike Cook, BT regional director for the West Midlands, said: “This is an exciting time for the digital future of the region with widespread availability of fibre broadband services fast becoming a reality for thousands of local homes. 

“With today’s further fibre broadband investment in the West Midlands, we hope even more local people will soon experience the difference for themselves by joining the 1.7 million UK homes and businesses already using the technology.” 

BT’s fibre footprint currently passes more than 16 million UK homes and businesses. It is due to pass two-thirds of UK premises – around 19 million premises – by the end of Spring 2014, at least 18 months ahead of the original timetable. 

Openreach is primarily deploying fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the exchange to a local roadside cabinet. In addition to download speeds of up to 80Mbps, FTTC also delivers upload speeds of up to 20Mbps 1 — and could deliver even faster speeds in the future. 

Openreach has also started to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business, commercially available on demand 2 in certain areas where fibre broadband has been deployed, and plans to expand access in due course. FTTP on demand offers the top current download speed of 330Mbps 1. 

According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average UK residential broadband download speed is 14.7Mbps. 

Fibre broadband at home means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in the few minutes it takes to make popcorn; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. Fibre improves the quality of online experiences and supports exciting new developments in internet services. 

The benefits are also considerable for businesses, which can do much more in far less time. Firms can speed up file and data transfers, collaborate with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls or swap their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. Staff can work as effectively from home as they would in the office. 

Unlike other companies, Openreach offers fibre broadband access to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, underpinning a competitive market. For further information on Openreach’s fibre broadband programme visit www.superfast-openreach.co.uk 

Notes to editors: 
1 These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. 
2 Openreach will levy an installation charge for FTTP on demand. It will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that on to businesses or consumers wishing to use the product. 

Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Openreach is considering alternative solutions for these locations.