BT opens up FTTP infrastructure to communications rivals

BT Openreach has announced the commercial launch of its Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) products, offering speeds of over 300Mbps for small and medium businesses.

Most of BT's fibre deployments are fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), meaning that fibre optic cables are laid to street cabinets, and then traditional copper cables are used to connect homes and businesses to the street cabinets. This “last mile” copper connection can reduce broadband speeds significantly.

Fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) continues the fibre link from the street cabinets to the premises, which is a much more expensive option but massively improves connection speeds. The full set of wholesale products range from 40Mbps to 330Mbps downstream and 2Mbps to 30Mbps upstream.

Previously, BT's upgraded exchanges could only be accessed by rival communications providers on an “early market deployment” basis. However, BT Openreach's products will now be available in the 15 exchange areas around the country.

The company said that availability would improve as Openreach expands the FTTP network to other exchange areas and explores the option of deploying the service to new housing developments and apartment blocks.

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“The commercial launch of FTTP is a major milestone,” said Mike Galvin, Openreach's managing director for Network Investment

“Whilst we believe that FTTC will provide speeds that are suitable for consumers for some time, these FTTP products will allow communications providers to offer SMEs and other bandwidth-hungry users the option of even higher speeds.”

Last week, BT revealed eight locations across the UK that will be the first to pilot the delivery of its fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) on-demand offering, which is set to become commercially available from spring 2013.

The locations include High Wycombe, Bristol South, St Agnes in Cornwall, Waverley in Edinburgh, Watford, Cardiff, Basingstoke and central Manchester.