BT to offer fibre-powered broadband to most of London by 2011

British Telecom has promised that the majority of London will have fibre-powered broadband by 2011.

BT is investing £2.5 billion as part of its plans to upgrade the cables of nearly two thirds of UK homes by 2015, but London is getting priority in the roll-out, with BT hoping to cover at least 87 percent of the UK capital by March of next year.

The new upgrade scheme will involve 114 new London exchanges. It will also be adding hundreds more to other regions in the UK by the March deadline, bringing the total to 460, which is still only a fraction of the 5,600 exchanges that need upgrading throughout the UK.

The new fibre-optic lines will offer speeds of up to 40MB/s or 100MB/s, depending on whether customers are connected by fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) or fibre to the premise (FTTP) respectively, but BT is promising that a quarter of UK homes will have access to the higher speed lines. Either speed is considerably higher than the government’s plans to offer broadband speeds of 2MB/s throughout the whole of the UK, a plan that has been dismissed as “pitifully unambitious”.

BT hopes to have complete coverage of London by the 2012 Olympics, competing with Virgin Media’s extensive fibre coverage of London that is already present. BoJo of London, mayor, will be all for this, having recently pledged to have London covered in Wi-Fi hotspots by the same period.

Earlier this month the European Commission ruled that BT would have to share its fibre-optic lines with competitors, a move that BT was not very pleased with. Consumers, on the other hand, will welcome the competition.