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BT pushes 40Mbit/s

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The residents of Muswell Hill in London and Whitchurch in South Glamorgan will be among the first in the UK to be offered faster broadband via a fibre optic upgrade to the aged national telecoms network.

BT Openreach announced today that it will roll out fibre to street-side cabinets covering 15,000 premises in both areas, to provide a headline speed of 40Mbit/s. Engineering work is scheduled to begin next summer, with the first packages on sale in "early 2010" from BT and other retailer ISPs.

David Campbell, Openreach's director of next-generation access said:

Services in these areas will be available to all UK communication providers on a wholesale basis. The sites were chosen in consultation with communications providers and took into account feedback from Regional Development Agencies, Devolved Authorities and similar organisations.

It was also necessary to take into account current network topology and our ability to run testing procedures in the chosen areas. We have a good mix of areas, allowing us to test our products in both urban and semi-rural environments. These two sites were chosen from a shortlist and we expect to announce detailed plans for the initial market deployment of the Openreach product in early 2010, again following consultation with all interested parties.

Fibre optics will carry data as far as street cabinets, which will then convert it to a VDSL signal to run over copper wires and into homes and businesses.

The pilots follow BT's commitment in July that it would invest £1.5bn in fibre optics. It's reckoned a national rollout of the technology Openreach will use in Muswell Hill and Whitchurch would cost £5.1bn. BT is lobbying Ofcom for more control over wholesale pricing before committing more cash.

Openreach has also deployed fibre to the premises - capable of 100Mbit/s - at a new build development in Ebbsfleet in Kent. Next month Virgin Media will launch its 50Mbit/s network upgrade. ®

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