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BT reveals fibre-to-the-cabinet plans for 156 exchanges

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BT has earmarked 156 more exchanges for its ongoing rollout of faster broadband, none of which will benefit from the company's 100Mbit/s downstream service.

The fibre upgrade, which this time mainly targets areas in Yorkshire, the Midlands and Greater Manchester, will be carried out by the telecom giant's Openreach division over the next 20 months.

However, BT said only around 50 of those exchanges will be fully upgraded by the end of this summer.

Others won't be enabled for fibre broadband until the end of 2011, while an unspecified number of exchanges won't be offering the service until the end of 2012.

"To assist communications providers with their planning, Openreach will provide industry with a more specific date for the enablement of each exchange six months prior to an exchange being upgraded to fibre broadband," said BT.

BT has divvied up £2.5bn to deliver fibre broadband to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2015.

All of the latest upgrades will involve engineers laying fibre from the exchange buildings to a new generation of street-side cabinets offering VDSL2+.

Those cabinets, which have already attracted some controversy when installed in local areas, will connect to homes and businesses via existing copper and aluminium wiring. Such tech is theoretically capable of 40Mbit/s downstream, but fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) services are expected to offer between 10 and 20Mbit/s.

Some exchanges in previous lists issued by BT are to be upgraded to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), completely replacing old metal lines. Customers connected to them will receive about 100Mbit/s downstream.

The firm said that 10 exchange areas that won its "Race to Infinity" broadband upgrade competition were included in BT's latest fibre rollout list.

BT launched the competition in early October, offering small towns and villages nationwide the chance to win a fibre upgrade for their local exchange.

Any community overlooked by the company's commercial improvement programme was eligible to compete. BT customers registered their interest in faster broadband on a website created specifically for the comp.

BT said at the time it was committed to upgrading the five exchanges connected to the highest proportion of interested households (each must also have registered at least 1,000 households).

“Our fibre programme is well underway with more than four million premises now able to order a fibre-based broadband service from their chosen supplier. And today we’re announcing a new set of locations serving a further 1.5 million premises, many of which will be able to enjoy the benefits of super-fast upload and download speeds from as early as this Summer," said BT's Openreach managing director of next-gen access David Campbell.

"We'll continue to work closely with industry and local and devolved authorities around the country in deciding where to deploy the technology next.” ®

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