BT Openreach has picked Muswell Hill in London and Whitchurch in South Glamorgan as the first two sites for a pilot of fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) beginning in summer 2009.
"This is part of our £1.5bn investment in optical fibre deployments, and the sites were chosen in consultation with comms providers, ISPs, Regional Development Associations and because of the topology of the exchange. Basically they ticked all the right boxes," said a BT spokesman.
The telco added that a more technically focused trial at Kesgrave's Foxhall exchange in Suffolk in early 2009 would preface the deployments taking place during the summer.
Rob Bamforth, principal analyst for communication, collaboration and convergence at Quocirca, said: "It would have been nice to have seen more than two pilots, especially as Openreach said that the Regional Development Associations were involved. I'm concerned that they're not planting enough seeds."
BT said that the Muswell Hill and Whitchurch pilots will both involve up to 15,000 customer premises and that there would be a certain amount of "digging up the roads" but that this should not be hugely disruptive.
"Service providers will be out and about trying to get customers interested and excited about this. It will be the ones you'd expect, like Carphone Warehouse, Sky, Tiscali and BT Retail," said the BT spokesman.
Optical fibre will be installed to the cabinet from where the standard copper wiring will connect to residential customers. This will offer "headline speeds of up to 40Mbit/s", according to BT Openreach.
The amount BT Openreach will charge ISPs for the wholesale service has still to be determined. "That will be sorted out in discussions with Ofcom and the rest of the industry," said the spokesman.
David Campbell, next-generation access director at BT Openreach, said that detailed plans for the initial market deployment of the Openreach product would be announced in early 2010.
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