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BT fibre-to-the-premises trial takes 7 hours per install

Fingers, blowers and splitters in Milton Keynes

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Knee deep in cable BT's new fibre optic upgrade is delivering better real world speeds than the company's old copper-based network when compared to advertised "up to" broadband rates, according to the latest figures from Ofcom.

Meanwhile, the UK telecoms giant is continuing to test out its latest fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) kit. As part of that process, BT invited The Register to visit its Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes trial site yesterday, to look at how the firm is reshaping its cabling infrastructure.

Intensive manpower is required to get the work done but access to individual premises and estates remains a constant challenge to getting the kit installed. BT has 32,000 engineers on its OpenReach books, all of whom are currently re-skilling to help roll out the telco's new fibre technology.

BT is anticipating having to overcome local opposition to its plans to push FTTP cabling under and sometimes over streets throughout the land as it attempts to get its £2.5bn 100Mbit/s downstream broadband fibre optic tech rolled out to two-thirds of households and businesses by 2015.

It has already faced similar upgrade roadblocks from its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) trials in recent years, which forms part of what the firm as described as a "mixed economy exchange".

Muswell Hill resident Johnny McQuoid, who just so happens to be BT's "superfast" broadbrand programme director, told El Reg that the company was still waiting for clearance from local authorities in Haringey to let the company install 18 of its cabinets in the conservation area of six streets around Queen's Avenue.

BT has come up against less opposition in Milton Keynes, however. In fact McQuoid claimed that the local authorities there had been very helpful during the trial upgrade, with fibre being overlayed on the company's existing copper-based network as well as Virgin Media's television coax cabling in the Buckinghamshire town.

So far the FTTP infrastructure has "passed" 11,500 homes and businesses in Milton Keynes and testing has gone smoothly in the area, said McQuoid. BT uses the "passed" terminology to point out that its infrastructure sometimes passes homes that don't have a copper line.

By September this year BT is hoping to have 12 exchanges built that are kitted out for the new fibre network.

BT said that currently four million homes and SME businesses in the UK could access the service. McQuoid explained that the company was at a run rate of about 300 cabinets per week and was "passing" 75,000 to 80,000 homes and businesses per week.

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