BT to spend another $82.6 million on fiber rollout

UK fixed-line incumbent BT has unveiled plans to spend another £50 million ($82.6 million) on extending fiber broadband services to homes and businesses over the next three years.

In a statement, the operator said the extra investment would benefit more than 30 cities in the UK and more than 400,000 additional premises.

It will mainly focus on equipping city cabinets that were not part of BT’s (London, UK) original plans, deploying fiber to cabinets that serve apartment blocks and laying additional fiber to new build sites in cities.

The company already claims to be spending approximately £3 billion on the rollout of fiber broadband services and says its open-access network already passes around 18 million homes and businesses across the country.

The funding includes a total of £2.5 billion on a fully commercial deployment – whose goal is to cover a total of 19 million premises when completed – plus £500 million on rural fiber projects, many under the auspices of the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) program, which is aimed at ensuring less densely populated parts of the country do not miss out on superfast broadband services.

BT says progress so far means that high-speed broadband is now available to about 73% of premises (when all networks are taken into account), with the BDUK program targeting coverage of 90% by late 2015 or early 2016.

According to the operator’s data, more than five million UK premises are already using fiber services, putting the country ahead of France, Germany, Italy and Spain on fiber usage.

A recent report from market-research company Analysys Mason says the UK is quickly closing the fiber gap on Japan and the US and is also ahead of its main European rivals when it comes to average connection speeds, market competitiveness and pricing.

“Some city areas have proved challenging in the past but we are returning to those and will pass hundreds of thousands of additional premises with fibre,”
said Mike Galvin, the managing director of network investment at BT’s Openreach division. “The UK is already ahead of its main European rivals when it comes to fibre, and is set to race ahead thanks to the BDUK plans that are already in progress across the country.”