BT has today unveiled plans to initiate a fibre-only exchange programme for homes and businesses in Deddington, Oxfordshire, in a bid to understand what opportunities may arise from a community that isn’t limited by slower copper broadband speeds. 

Openreach will start infrastructure work in the Spring of 2012, with the aim of enabling residents and businesses with superfast broadband speeds from 2013 onwards. 

Downstream speeds of between up to 40Mbps and up to 300Mbps will be available, with upstream speeds that will be “significantly faster than at present”, according to BT. 

Currently Deddington can only receive maximum broadband speeds of around 6-8 Mbps, but it is an ideal location for the pilot due to it being a small rural exchange serving approximately 1,400 lines. 

“Fresh advances in technology are pushing the boundaries for new services on an almost daily basis,” said Sean Williams, group strategy director of BT. 

“This is an important pilot which will help the industry better understand the opportunities arising from a fibre-only world in which traditional copper will be replaced by the superfast capabilities of fibre-optic cable.” 

BT has, however, stated that the pilot will be a “long-term programme”, as copper based services are expected to be used for a number of years yet. 

In other news, an ex-BT executive and telecoms expert told a parliamentary committee this week that BT is worried about its shortage of broadband engineers and said that a national apprenticeship scheme could boost broadband rollout speeds and aid rising unemployment rates. 

“I know people in BT who are concerned about the capacity problem within BT to deliver [its exchange upgrade programme]. There aren’t enough people on the ground to face this problem,” said Lorne Mitchell.