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BT to fibre-up another 114 exchanges

'Local monopolies benefit no one' thunders exec

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BT is upgrading a further 114 exchanges – the majority of which will receive fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology.

The telco said this morning that the latest rollout would serve one million homes and businesses in the UK. The latest exchanges earmarked by BT are listed here.

Its Openreach division said that it planned to complete the upgrades by the end of autumn 2012.

BT has committed £2.5bn to its plan to bring "superfast" broadband to two-thirds of homes and businesses in the UK by the end of 2015.

Along the way, it has been upsetting rival ISPs. Last weekend, TalkTalk's commercial boss David Goldie claimed that BT was trying to regain "the monopoly position that it lost many years ago" courtesy of its provision of fibre optic broadband.

That's a claim BT has repeatedly batted aside.

"Unlike other companies, BT will offer access to service providers on an open, wholesale and equivalent basis thereby supporting a competitive market," said BT in a statement announcing the exchange upgrades today.

BT is hoping to "pass"* 10 million homes and businesses during the course of 2012.

It is also ambitiously pursuing more investment from the broadband cash recently handed out from central government to local authorities in the UK, in an effort to get its fibre into 90 per cent of homes.

“There is no substitute for experience when it comes to fibre deployment and we have more experience than anyone," said Openreach managing director Mike Galvin.

"We are also committed to offering open and equivalent access so that customers can benefit from a competitive market. Local monopolies benefit no one and no public funds should go to supporting them,” he added.

The FTTC installs should eventually offer download speeds of up to 80Mbit/s and upstream speeds of 10Mbit/s, while fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) will completely replace old metal lines. Customers connected to them can expect to receive about 100Mbit/s downstream.

But as The Register was first to report in May this year, BT was forced to delay the rollout of its FTTP tech, after roughly a quarter of its trials found engineers taking two days to blow cables into customers' homes.

Trials were taking twice as long as anticipated due to duct blockages that needed to be cleared. Some people who had dug up their gardens presented problems for BT engineers, who have found the infrastructure troublesome. ®

*BT uses the "passed" terminology to point out that its infrastructure sometimes passes homes that don't have a copper line.

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