Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/31/bt_superfast_500_armed_forces_bods/

BT hires another battalion of troops to speed fibre rollout

Ex-military types to blow two-thirds of Blighty 'by 2014'

By Kelly Fiveash

Posted in Data Networking, 31st October 2011 10:57 GMT

BT has brushed aside the possibility that it could be hampered by any number of problems that might delay its plan to push "superfast" broadband to two thirds of the UK come 2015 2014, by hiring 520 more ex-armed forces bods.

The company said today it had jumped one year ahead of the original target it set for rolling out BT's faster broadband network, which is based on a "mixed economy" infrastructure made up of fibre-to-the-premises or fibre-to-the-cabinet tech.

It plans to hire more engineers, mainly recruited from ex-armed forces personnel. BT similarly took on newbie civvies in May this year as part of its drive to blow fibre into homes and businesses across the land.

The telco said this morning it had brought forward around £300m from its total investment pot of £2.5bn already allocated for the fibre-optic upgrade.

Culture Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, who has previously stated ambitious plans to gift Britain with the fastest broadband network in Europe by 2015, welcomed BT's announcement in a statement issued by the telecoms giant.

“BT’s accelerated fibre roll-out plan is great news for the UK," said Hunt.

"With access to superfast broadband UK businesses will have the infrastructure they need to grow and develop new products and services. This investment means new jobs today, but also allows us to build the digital infrastructure we need for the jobs of tomorrow."

Earlier this month BT - which is the national telco - finally cut the prices for rival operators to gain access to its pole and telegraph infrastructure in a clear move to appease regulator Ofcom.

It is hoped by the communications watchdog that competitors will now have a better chance of bidding for public cash to deploy their networks in the so-called "final third" of the country. That is made up of mainly rural areas for which BT could not find a compelling business case to invest in upgrading infrastructure.

“The government is committed to ensuring the UK is leading the way in broadband provision and BT’s accelerated roll-out will help make that a reality,” Hunt said today.

As The Register has previously noted, the UK currently lags behind many other countries in Europe. Shamefully, it's not even in the top 10 list for network speeds currently.

BT boss Ian Livingston admitted that the company was saddled with a "challenging schedule" with its planned rollout. He then took the opportunity to have a dig at rivals such as Japanese tech firm Fujitsu and its strategic partner TalkTalk.

"We are investing when others are merely talking about it," said Livingston.

“Thousands of our engineers are busy installing fibre broadband across the UK at an astonishing pace.

"The recruitment of an additional five hundred engineers will help us go even faster and ensure we are ready to help supply other areas should we win BDUK funds. We are proud that most of these jobs will be filled by ex-armed forces personnel,” said the BT boss.

That investment pot was dished out to local authorities and the Scottish government over the course of 2011. But now the real fun begins. Fujitsu, for example, is hoping to bring 1Gbit/s fibre technology to five million homes in rural Britain over the next three to five years in a £2bn project with TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Cisco.

But to achieve that target, Fujitsu needs around £500m from BDUK's funds. ®