BT said it is prepared to extend fibre optic connections direct to customer premises in areas where fibre is available, a move that could enable internet access speeds of up to 300Mbit/s and is expected to appeal to small-to-midsize companies.
Although BT has been busy upgrading its distribution network with fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), this largely still leaves subscribers with a conventional telephone line to provide the final link between the customer's home or office and the street cabinet, limiting the bandwidth that can be delivered.
Now BT has said it will, upon request, run fibre to a home or business in a fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) enabled area for an additional fee, providing a full end-to-end fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) broadband connection.
The move follows successful trials of this "FTTP on demand" scheme in St Agnes, Cornwall, with further trials planned sometime this summer. If all goes well, full commercial rollout will happen next year, during the spring of 2013, BT said.
Availability of superfast broadband is expected to have particular appeal for SMEs, especially those in areas which have not historically been well served with high-speed internet connectivity.
A BT spokesperson told V3 that the firm was responding to criticism of its FTTC deployment, which had been slated by analysts who believed the infrastructure would need to be upgraded again in 10 years time to deliver a full FTTP service.
"As you can see, this isn't the case," the spokesperson said.
But the cost of an FTTP upgrade could be as high as £1,000, according to some estimates, while customers will almost certainly pay a premium for the higher broadband speeds on offer.
In the meantime, BT is boosting the speed of its FTTC service this Spring to approximately double the performance. This will see customers receiving downstream speeds of up to 80Mbit/s and upstream speeds up to 20Mbit/s.
Meanwhile, in BT's financial results for the third quarter of 2011, the firm revealed on Friday that its revenue was down five per cent, but profit before tax was up 18 per cent at £628m.
The company said it added 146,000 retail broadband customers during the quarter, with 95,000 of these added to its BT Infinity fibre service.
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