BT to consider fibre optic network

24 Sep 2007

The Financial Times is reporting that Ian Livingston, the head of BT’s retail division, will discuss with the government and Ofcom investing in an ultra-fast network, at a summit scheduled for November or December. BT’s willingness to look at rolling out a fibre-optic network follows a warning last week by Stephen Timms, the UK’s competition minister, that the country risks falling behind other leading industrialised countries. Timms highlighted how the US, France, Germany and Japan are investing in fibre networks that promise to deliver broadband speeds of between 50Mbps-100Mbps. BT executives had previously insisted that there was no economic case for replacing copper phone wires that run to customers’ homes with fibre, partly because the company’s investors are nervous about the likely cost. However, Mr Livingston highlighted how BT is planning to install fibre on greenfield sites. He said a housing project at Ebbsfleet Valley in Kent would be a test case for the technology. He also highlighted how BT is examining the merits of running fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) to enhance broadband speeds. ‘BT remains very interested in further expanding the speed of access for customers, whether that be through faster copper, fibre to the home or fibre to the curb,’ he said. Mr Livingston added that BT could only contemplate replacing copper wires with fibre if regulators allowed the company to charge rivals a ‘sensible price’ for using the network.

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach)