More than 11,000 homes in Milton Keynes now have access to BT's superfast broadband network.
The Bradwell Abbey exchange is the first in the country to be upgrade to handle fibre-to-the-premises (FFTP), as part of trial of the technology by BT OpenReach. Nine ISPs, including BT retail and Plusnet - which is also owned by the telecommunications firm – are using the network to offer superfast broadband services. Around 500 customers have currently signed up to the superfast net access, which offers download speeds of 'up to' 100Mbps and upload speeds 'up to' 30Mbps.
Bradwell Abbey, where the fibre cables have been laid in underground ducts, is one of four exchanges that will receive FFTP technology as part of the trial. Work to upgrade the Higham Park exchange in North London has just started although, unlike Bradwell Abbey, 60 percent of the fibre cables will be run along telegraph poles in the 'final drop' to reach homes, with the remaining 40 percent laid in underground ducts. Leytonstone and York are the final two exchanges in the trial to be given FTTP technology, and work is expected to begin in the near future. Both these areas will see a 50/50 split of fibre cables laid both in underground ducts and along telegraph poles.
Johnny McQuoid, director of BT's Superfast Broadband Programme, revealed that BT hopes 12 exchanges and some 270,000 homes across the country will be upgraded to FTTP technology by September this year, although the exchanges have not yet been named.
The roll-out of FTTP technology across the UK is part of a £2.5bn scheme to give two thirds of the UK access to fibre broadband by 2015. Under this scheme, four million premises have already been given access to Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology, which offers download speeds of 'up to' 40Mbps. BT confirmed that at present FTTP will be offered only in areas that see the existing copper cable reaching homes via underground ducts or telegraph poles. Area with 'direct in-ground' copper cables will for now only be offered FTTC as otherwise it'll require BT to dig up the front gardens and drives of homes.
The telecommunications giant also revealed that the FTTP technology is being laid alongside the existing copper network. The firm revealed for now, it will continue to maintain the existing network, although in the future it hopes all customers will be migrated onto the fibre network.