Bournemouth, Northampton or Dundee will be the location for the first UK town to receive super-fast broadband using a fibre connection in sewers. The company behind the technology, H2o expects to deliver speeds of 100Mbps to the chosen town from autumn 2008.
Super-fast net connections will allow consumers to receive on-demand HDTV, download DVD-quality films in minutes and take part in HD gaming services. The roll-out will begin in September and take 18 months to complete, but the service will be offered to existing homes in the chosen area, unlike the new BT fibre service, which is only available to newly-built homes in Ebbsfleet, Kent, where it is being trialled.
The UK's current ADSL infrastructure was never designed to carry data and many have called for an urgent fibre upgrade but BT has insists that, with a cost of up to £15bn to create the network, it needs to be convinced of demand and have assurances from the government that it will be able to recoup its investment.
H2o will deliver the service to individual homes via a 4in box attached to the house. The sewer-based fibre takes advantage of existing ducting meaning there is no need for expensive and disruptive road digging.
"While deploying traditional fibre over a 2km area would be six-to-12 months in the planning, we can do it in four hours," said Elfed Thomas of H2o.