British fixed line incumbent BT has announced that it is to start a trial scheme under which it will allow other communications providers (CP) to nominate exchanges for fibre enablement. The pilot will run from September 2010 to December 2010, with alternative operators allowed to nominate up to six exchanges each for inclusion in phase 7 of BT’s ongoing nationwide fibre rollout. In return for requesting activation at specific locations BT has said that providers must make a number of commitments. If an exchange is deemed viable for commercial deployment, the requesting operator must guarantee that 10% of premises will be using its fibre broadband within a year, and if the 10% target is not reached the CP will be liable for any costs incurred by Openreach, BT’s infrastructure arm, in amending its deployment plan. Further, if an exchange is considered to be in an area that is not viable for commercial deployment, the CP will be called on to fund any additional deployment charges faced by Openreach; these charges will vary dependent on exchange, and will only be released following a survey of the exchange, which will cost the requesting company GBP5,000 (USD7,723). Only operators currently purchasing Generic Ethernet Access (GEA) product are eligible for the trial.
Commenting on the plan, David Campbell, managing director of Next Generation Access at Openreach, said: ‘We’ve always worked very closely with industry to decide which parts of the country will benefit from fibre broadband enablement. Now we are going the extra mile for our CP customers by giving them the opportunity to specify their top six exchanges for fibre. Openreach will then include those locations for the next phase of our fibre deployment if certain commercial commitments are given. If the trial is successful, Openreach may extend the fibre nomination scheme to future phases of its fibre rollout, so we’re urging all eligible CPs to participate in the trial.’
BT’s seventh stage of fibre rollout is expected to take place in late 2011/early 2012, with the roll out plan expected to be announced at the beginning of 2011. BT is aiming to bring fibre-based broadband services to exchanges covering around two thirds of the British population by 2015, although it has only provided firm details for the first five stages of the deployment so far, covering around six million premises. Details of phase six are expected in the coming weeks.