At least another 400,000 premises in cities are set to get upgraded to fibre optic broadband as BT is to invest a further £50 million into its own commercial roll out of fibre optic broadband.
More than 30 cities across the UK will benefit from the extra investment that will target the areas that have not originally been targeted due to either not being originally deemed commercially viable at the beginning or due to local planning restrictions that stopped the deployment. Along with these areas there will be the deployment of fibre cabinets to apartment blocks and other multi-dwelling units and also the laying of Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) on some new build sites in the cities.
In total BT are spending over £3 billion of the deployment of fibre optic broadband, £2.5 billion on its own commercial rollout which once complete will cover around 19 million UK premises, plus then further investment to roll out with rural fibre optic broadband schemes such as those organised through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project.
Mike Galvin, MD Network Investment at BT Openreach, said:
“Our fibre programme is going extremely well with our engineers connecting homes and businesses across the UK. Some city areas have proved challenging in the past but we are returning to those and will pass hundreds of thousands of additional premises with fibre.“
The government have defended their £1.2 billion investment of tax payers money to help with the roll out of next generation fibre optic broadband claiming it will return £20 to the UK economy by 2024 for every £1 it is investing, even though many claim that it is once again helping BT become a monopoly broadband provider since they are the only company to win any of the public funds and are the only company left in the bidding process for the remaining funds.
However, the government say that for every £1 that they are investing in the broadband deployment the UK economy will benefit by £20 by 2024. The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme was set up to help distribute the government funds to the various areas where fibre optic broadband roll out was needed but would not be covered by BT Broadband or Virgin Media with their own funding because they were not deemed to be financially beneficial to the companies to do so.
Originally the government put £530m in the pot with local authorities who bid for funding expecting to match this amount for each of their own individual schemes, a further £250m is to be put into the pot after 2015.
These findings were made in a government commissioned “UK Broadband Impact Study – Impact Report” and other benefits that were detailed were that households could save £45m per year by 2024 with more people being able to remote work from home and that by 2014 that it would help with the creation of 11,000 jobs and a net increase in jobs of 20,000 by 2024.
Some will wonder if BT really needed the extra funding in light of their recent high spending on rights for both Premiership football which has cost them £738 million for 38 live games per season for 3 seasons and their 3 years of exclusive UK rights to the Champions League football from 2015 which is to cost them £900m.
BT are expected to entice more customers to signing up for its BT Fibre broadband now they have won the exclusive rights to the Champions League for 3 years from 2015 at a cost of nearly £900 million.
The deal with UEFA means that BT will be able to broadcast all 350 fixtures each season for 3 years from 2015 which includes all the Champions League and Europa League games and puts an end to Sky & ITV being able to show the games. ITV have been the free-to-air broadcaster of the Champions League since 1992 however they were not willing to pay what they considered to be “over the odds” in the latest live rounds rights.
This won’t be the end of free European football on TV though as part of the £299 million per year deal was that BT are to show at least one match of each British football team competing in the European competitions for free each season although this does leave the majority still needing a subscription of some description to watch the others.
Currently BT allow BT Broadband customers receive and watch BT Sport channels for free but have stated that most Champions League games will incur an extra charge. Already BT has spent £738 million on the rights to screen 38 live Premier League games per season for 3 years as they go head to head with Sky. BT are using the incentive of live sports on their own channels to bring new customers to use their broadband services, and as BT have much deeper pockets than others who have tried to take on Sky in the past they are proving so far that they are able to match the financial muscle of Sky and even now start to beat them making Sky much less exclusive as the only place to get live sports.
For those who don’t have BT Broadband services they are still able to receive the BT Sport channels by paying a subscription for them, however BT’s main target aim will be for customers to make out multi-play services such as Broadband, Telephone and TV packages with them as they aim to recoup their huge investment both in fibre optic broadband and also in the launch of the Sports channels.
BT are aiming to have over 90% coverage of the UK with fibre broadband by the end of the decade according to targets set out in BT’s Better Future Strategy.
BT say they want more than 9 out of 10 people in the UK to have access to fibre based products and services by 2020. As part of BT’s Better Future Strategy they have set 3 areas that they want to focus on, they are Connected Society, Net Good and Improving Lives.
Connected Society aim is aimed at improving society globally through the power of digital connections which includes areas such as Africa where BT are providing internet services via satellite to 20 locations.
Net Good is about reducing carbon footprints, with BT wanting to help customers continue to reduce carbon emissions by at least three times the end to end carbon impact of its business.
Improving Lives is aimed at improving hundreds of millions of loves across the world with the help of products by BT. They want to continue using their skills and technology to help generate money for good causes.
Niall Dunne from BT said:
“Our Better Future programme signals BT’s evolution to a new model in which every part of the business and every employee has a role to play in realising our visions and achieving our goals to create a better business with a better future.“
Ofcom are to look into if BT have been abusing their dominant position with superfast broadband after a recent complaint from rival TalkTalk claimed they were building a monopoly and using their dominant position when setting prices for fibre optic broadband.
Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator have launched the competition inquiry after they thought that there was reasonable suspicion that BT have been price fixing with it’s fibre broadband lines. The complaint last month from TalkTalk was for an investigation to be done into the wholesale prices that BT Openreach charge rival providers for using their network, they complained that “BT has failed to maintain a sufficient margin between its upstream costs and downstream prices, thereby operating an abusive margin squeeze.”
The prices charged to the 80 or so rival broadband providers who use the BT network are the same as BT Retail also pay and it has only been TalkTalk who have raised a complaint.
This was not the only beef that TalkTalk had with BT, they also questioned about the money the government are giving to BT under the BDUK scheme and saying that they are helping them create a monopoly.
A BT Spokesman said:
“We are confident there is no case to answer. It would be better if the industry’s, and Ofcom’s, focus was on investing in the future of the country rather than on spurious actions designed to hold up fibre in the UK.“
The BT chief executive, Ian Livingston, has hit back at claims made by TalkTalk that the government are “funding a monopoly provider” by claiming the criticisms are coming from “copper Luddites” who are not prepared to invest in fibre themselves.
The TalkTalk chairman, Sir Charles Dunstone, had called for regulatory intervention because of the public funding that BT are receiving from the government to help roll out their fibre optic broadband network to “non-commercial” areas of the country.
BT are investing £2.5 billion of their own money in their fibre optic network which should cover two-thirds of British homes and businesses. The government have a pot of money to help cover the final third that BT deem not to be commercially viable for them to roll out to off their own back. The governments money is in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) pot and so far only BT has won the extra money that different rural areas can bid for after Fujitsu, who were the only other main bidder for the funds, had pulled out meaning that BT are basically a shoe in for the new contracts put forward.
He also called for Ofcom to look into the wholesale prices that BT is able to charge for other providers to have access to it’s superfast broadband network, however Mr Livingston from BT countered this by saying:
“These criticisms are coming from people I can only describe as copper Luddites. They don’t’ want to see the UK getting fibre. BT fibre is open to any provider in the UK on the same terms as BT – there are 50 or 60 of them, that’s not what I call a monopoly.”
Sir Charles told the Financial Times:
“We need to regulate fibre – and to check where the money is going.
There is so much government money going into subsidising higher broadband speeds but no one really knows where it is going and how it is being spent.“
BT are looking to recruit a further 1,000 engineers to help with the roll out of their fibre optic broadband network across the UK.
Of the 1,000 new engineers it is thought that 400 will go to apprentices who will be put on training schemes that will last for two and a half years. 200 of the jobs are to go to those retiring from the armed forces which BT have a great history of recruiting due to their organisational skills they will have picked up from being in the armed forces.
In total BT will have 6,000 people to work on rolling out their fibre network as they also took on 1,500 last year too.
BT are investing £2.5 billion in it’s fibre broadband network that is reportedly the fastest roll out of fibre broadband in the world with them adding a further 100,000 home and business premises per week.
Yesterday saw Openreach announce their full commercial launch of their Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) range of broadband services and products.
This launch from BT Openreach will mean that not only will BT be retailing the full fibre broadband to it’s customers in the areas that it has been made available but also to their wholesale distributors who can also start to market it to their own broadband customers.
The Openreach MD for Network Investment, Mike Gavin, said:
“The commercial launch of FTTP is a major milestone. Whilst we believe that FTTC will provide speeds that are suitable for consumers for some time, these FTTP products will allow CPs (Communications Providers) to offer SMEs and other bandwidth-hungry users the option of even higher speeds – some of the fastest in the world – and build propositions which help to grow the market for these higher-speed services.”
This now means that BT’s wholesale fibre products can now offer fibre broadband speeds from 40Mb to 330Mb download and between 2Mb and 30Mb upload.
There are initially 15 areas where the full fibre broadband has been deployed and so people living in these areas will be able to sign up for the full FTTP services, BT will be looking to install FTTP in a few more areas and also looking to deploy it in areas where new housing developments are being built and in place such as apartment blocks. It is anticipated that around 10-15% of UK households will have access to full Fibre To The Premises.
From Spring 2013 BT are to start offering FTTP on Demand where customers in areas where FTTC has been deployed will be able to pay extra to have their line upgraded to full fibre, trials of this service are just starting now in a few areas around the UK.
BT are ahead of schedule for the rolling out of their fibre broadband network. They already have a fibre broadband service available to 10 million premises across the UK which is way ahead of their initial target date.
BT had originally planned on reaching the 10 million premises mark for fibre broadband by the end of 2012, so they are around 7 months ahead of plan and are aiming to have around two thirds of the UK covered by the end of 2014.
Most of these fibre connections are via FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) which currently offers those who are using it speeds up to 80Mb.
Take up of the service is currently at around half a million and there are more than 60 other ISPs that are offering services or trialling the services via BT Wholesale.
BT’s Chief Executive, Ian Livingstone, said:
“Our engineers have worked tirelessly this past year and BT has made a real commitment to the UK’s infrastructure.
Rolling out fibre is no easy task and so to have passed ten million premises in such a short time is fantastic. Our roll-out is one of the fastest in the world and our engineers deserve lots of credit.”
In Northern Ireland BT have had lots of positive news, having fibre rolled out to 89% of homes and businesses thanks in huge part to the partnership BT has with the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Investment.
BT believe that the success they have had in Northern Ireland can be replicated in the UK mainland by using the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds. BT have been bidding to get these funds to help fund furthe rrollout of fibre broadband across the country.
BT fibre broadband speeds are set to double from tomorrow with download speeds set to be boosted to up to 76Mb.
It is not only BT Infinity customers who will benefit from the broadband speed increases but fibre broadband customers who have their fibre broadband connection with another broadband provider who uses BT’s wholesale fibre broadband network will also be able to get the speed increase providing their broadband provider make them available, TalkTalk for an example have already been accepting pre-orders for the new faster services that will be available.
BT Infinity 2 customers will see the download speeds just about double, up to 76Mb and upload speeds up to 19Mb, those on BT Infinity 1 will see their download speeds stay at up to 38Mb but will see their upload speeds increase 5 fold, from 1.9Mb up to 9.5Mb.
Any new BT Infinity customers who sign up from tomorrow (12th April 2012) will automatically be put on to the new faster broadband speeds (use a broadband speed test to check your speed), the same for any customers who are switching from another provider. Existing customers can receive the speed increases by starting a new contract, at no extra cost.
The BT Consumer, managing director, John Petter, said:
“Super-fast broadband is helping people enjoy the internet far more than ever before. However, many providers have forgotten about the importance of fast upload speeds. BT believes that fast upstream speeds are vital given how people now use the internet and so we are distancing ourselves from the competition by providing the UK’s fastest upload speed.”
BT currently has more than 7 million UK premises that are available to connect to it’s BT Infinity network, with this figure reaching 10 million by the end of 2012 and around two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014.