& cplSiteName &

BT to Cover 2M Homes With FTTP in $8.7B Plan

Iain Morris

BT will spend around £6 billion ($8.7 billion) over the next three years on extending the coverage of high-speed fixed and mobile networks including fiber-to-the-premises technology (FTTP), the UK telecom incumbent has announced.

Having previously resisted the costlier investments needed to lay fiber all the way to buildings, the operator is now planning to cover about 2 million of the UK's 27 million households with FTTP networks.

As previously announced, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) also aims to cover about 10 million UK homes with a technology called G.fast, which can boost the performance of last-mile copper connections to as much as 500 Mbit/s, it reckons.

Last month, mobile operator EE , which BT acquired in a £12.5 billion ($18.1 billion) deal earlier this year, unveiled plans to extend geographic 4G coverage from about 60% today to roughly 95% by 2020.

The FTTP scheme suggests BT has bowed to regulatory pressure to make improvements to the country's broadband infrastructure amid complaints from rivals about the operator's growing dominance since its takeover of EE. (See BT Restructures, Boasts Best Quarter in 7 Years.)

Following a strategic review of the sector, national regulatory authority Ofcom stopped short of forcing BT to spin off its Openreach access networks business -- as several critics had demanded -- but it has left the possibility of a future "structural separation" on the table. (See Eurobites: BT Avoids Openreach Split.)

Ofcom also wants BT to make its ducts and poles available under more reasonable terms to rivals that want to build their own fiber networks. Similar regulations in other parts of Europe, such as Spain, appear to have spurred investment in the rollout of high-speed networks.

BT already faces a challenge in the high-speed broadband market from cable rival Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) -- a subsidiary of Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) -- which last week promised to use FTTP technology to cover a million UK homes by 2019.

Under its £3 billion ($4.4 billion) Project Lightning initiative, Virgin plans to extend its overall network coverage from about 13 million premises last year to around 17 million by 2019.

Although Virgin's network is available to fewer homes and businesses than BT's, the cable operator claims an advantage over BT in the speed stakes: Its highest-speed offering in the residential sector is about 200 Mbit/s, while BT's is just 76 Mbit/s.

With FTTP technology, speeds could theoretically improve to as much as 1 Gbit/s.

"Virgin and BT have both pledged to invest and we will now see if others follow our lead," said Gavin Patterson, BT's CEO, in a statement published this morning. "Infrastructure competition is good for the UK and so is the current Openreach model whereby others can piggyback on our investment should they want to."

The rollout of gigabit broadband access networks is spreading. Find out what's happening where in our dedicated Gigabit Cities content channel here on Light Reading.

Despite Ofcom's proposals, there are doubts in the industry that providing easier access to BT's infrastructure would spur a wave of investment in fiber given the financial constraints facing rivals, and especially TalkTalk , the UK's fourth-biggest broadband operator, whose reputation has suffered as the result of a high-profile security breach last year.

Meanwhile, satellite TV company Sky (NYSE, London: SKY), which uses BT's network to operate the UK's second-biggest broadband business, has already hit out at the telecom incumbent's latest plans, reiterating calls for BT to be carved up.

"Despite BT's claims, it is clearer than ever that their plans for FTTP broadband will bypass almost every existing UK home," said the company in a statement. "This limited ambition has been dragged out of BT by the threat of regulatory action, demonstrating once again why an independent Openreach, free to raise its own long-term capital, is the best way for the UK to get the fiber network it needs."

BT recorded a total of £2.65 billion ($3.9 billion) in capital expenditure last year and has not indicated what impact its £6 billion scheme will have on overall capex this year.

Helped by the takeover of EE, BT's revenues in the year to March 2016 rose by 6% on a reported basis, to about £19 billion ($27.5 billion), while profit before tax rose 15%, to around £3 billion ($4.4 billion). BT said that underlying revenues excluding transit rose at a rate of 2% -- the highest in seven years.

In sales terms, the BT Consumer division remained the star of the show, reporting a 7% increase in revenues, to £4.6 billion ($6.7 billion), thanks to healthy demand for broadband and TV services.

Adding 94,000 broadband customers in the recent quarter, BT claimed to have secured 72% of DSL and fiber broadband market net additions, which is likely to add to concern about the operator's growing dominance.

BT's share price was trading up 3.3% in London this morning as this story went to press.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/7/2016 | 11:24:53 AM
Re: bt
500 mb/s over copper is pretty impressive. In the US, I think in many areas we're lucky to get 100 mb/s. I'm paying for that service tier, but it never approaches that level. I'd love to have 500 mb/s – I use videoconferencing fairly regularly, and the more bandwidth the better. 
steve q
steve q,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/5/2016 | 9:27:38 PM
How different will you be providing your fiber to the home then what Verizon FiOS is planning on doing in Boston ma. Verizon provide a ont to every house and that seems to be a costly mistake we should have done the same way as google did with a fiber jumper to those group of house and split the broadband speed thought out the building. Other way we could have done it is put a Wi-Fi base antenna to help push the data single to each router in the customer house so the cost is still lower than a full install.
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMWare VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment

It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMWare.
LRTV Documentaries
5G Spectrum Wars – The Recap

8|15|17   |   2:22   |   (0) comments

Service provider 3 has filed a lawsuit against Ofcom over 5G spectrum auction in the UK.
LRTV Custom TV
Say What? Facebook Unleashes AI Anarchy – The Recap

8|7|17   |     |   (0) comments

A recap of the week's talking points on Light Reading's sister site, telecoms.com. Facebook AI programmers had a bit of a brain-fade as they allowed one of its AI applications to invent its ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment

Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
LRTV Custom TV
If You're Not First, You're Last – The Recap

7|31|17   |   08:18   |   (1) comment

In case you missed it, Amazon's 1% stock increase helped Jeff Bezos dethrone Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Also, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments

AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment

Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment

At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments

Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments

When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments

Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments

Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Intel CEO Leaves Trump Biz Advisory Board
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/15/2017
Are Cord-Cutting's Days Numbered?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 8/14/2017
Orchestration Startup UBiqube Pivots Away From NFV
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/15/2017
Verizon Video Woes Pile On
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/14/2017
WiCipedia: Dolly Babes, Manifesto Backlash & 'Brotastic' Failures
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 8/18/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Animals with Phones
We Know a Tough Day When We See One Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.