South West cities lead UK with ultrafast broadband services
BT’s local network business, Openreach, today announced that Bristol and Bath would be among the first nine locations to benefit from a new ultrafast broadband service designed for small and medium businesses.
The new Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) service will offer speeds of up to 1Gbps, triple the top speeds currently available. The roll-out forms part of Openreach’s wider plan to make ultrafast broadband available - via FTTP and G.Fast technology - to up to 1 million UK businesses by the end of 2020.
The deployment will be focused on small and medium businesses located in high streets, science and business parks and clusters of businesses that don’t have access to fibre broadband from Openreach today.
The first areas to benefit include parts of Bath, Bradford, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford - as well as Westminster, Holborn and the City – in London. The new network will be rolled out over the course of the next nine months, with communications providers able to offer ultrafast speeds to businesses from the end of December. Further deployment phases will then follow, with hundreds of thousands of businesses benefitting from this FTTP roll out by the end of 2020.
More than 300,000 homes and businesses already have access to FTTP today via Openreach’s network. The business is planning to expand that footprint significantly in the coming years whilst increasing the top speeds on offer to businesses from 330Mbps to 1Gbps.
The expansion of the FTTP footprint will also eventually benefit hundreds of thousands of adjacent residential homes in the targeted areas. This forms part of Openreach’s ambition to bring ultrafast speeds to 12 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020.
Businesses can currently access ultrafast speeds via dedicated lines but these services are best suited to larger businesses. The new FTTP product will provide an alternative for small and medium businesses who may want ultrafast speeds at a lower price point.
Openreach will continue to consult with industry as it develops the product and pricing. It will also seek feedback from industry on the likely demand before confirming which specific areas will benefit from this phase of deployment. This approach will enable Openreach to identify areas that may not have access to its existing fibre services and where demand could be strongest.
Jon Reynolds, BT regional director for the South West, said: “This is great news for the South West and the country as a whole. The involvement of Bristol and Bath in this early stage of the ultrafast roll-out means that our region is, once again, playing a leading role in the development of high-speed communications which are transforming the opportunities for businesses and local communities. BT has already invested hundreds of millions of pounds in the development of superfast fibre broadband in the South West. Now, even as the superfast roll-out continues at pace, we are taking the vital next steps with even faster ultrafast broadband.”
Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, said: “Our aim is to make ultrafast broadband available to 12 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020. Small and medium businesses (SMEs) have told us they want an alternative to dedicated lines and that is what we are going to give them.
“Openreach has been trialling new deployment methods for FTTP in Bradford and I am pleased to say the trials have progressed very well. Now that we have proved the new techniques we will begin our wider roll-out, starting with these nine new locations.
“Hundreds of thousands of consumers will also benefit over the next few years as we continue our work to plug any remaining fibre broadband gaps. This targeted approach will help to deliver the ambition we share with government to improve broadband speeds in the final five per cent of the country.”
The first phase of the deployment focuses on areas which boast strong science and technology sectors, including the Bristol and Bath technology hub and the cities which are integral to the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
As the new service becomes available, communications providers will be able to offer small and medium businesses a range of ultrafast speeds and business grade service levels.
Openreach has been trialling new FTTP deployment methods in parts of Bradford, aimed at delivering the technology faster and more efficiently. For example, new ‘plug and play’ technology will allow customers to be connected more quickly and easily.
To date, Openreach has built the largest fibre broadband network in the UK – largely using Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology - which covers more than 25 million premises, including small and medium businesses, sole traders and home workers.