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FTTx

BT's Fiber to the Hype

9:30 AM -- With the Ofcom delivering pretty much what BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) wanted in terms of regulatory relaxation (my term) for its broadband rollout plans -- see BT Gets Green Light for Fiber Plans -- the British operator says it's ready to take its fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) plans to the next level.

In doing so, it also displays the ongoing gall one expects from an incumbent -- but more on that later.

BT's Openreach division, which is responsible for the access network, is already working towards the launch of new broadband services in two U.K. locations and says it has five service providers, which would include BT Retail, ready to market its wares to 30,000 homes "in the next few months." (See Europeans Advance FTTx Plans and BT Preps FTTC Trial.)

Now BT says it's close to announcing the locations of the "next 500,000 homes to be fibre-enabled," with a view to offering services by the beginning of 2010.

The carrier also boasts how customers at its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) pilot at Ebbsfleet Valley in Southeast England "are, today, enjoying speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s -- the fastest available to consumers anywhere in the UK, and comparable with anywhere in the world."

Wow! The Brits are up there with the best? With Japan, Korea, and Sweden?

Well... There is an FTTH pilot in Ebbsfleet Valley, as previously reported. (See BT Goes With Huawei for FTTH .)

But further probing reveals there are only 30 households connected in that pilot, though BT claims they are "experiencing download speeds of around 95 Mbit/s."

Is hooking up 30 homes "comparable with anywhere in the world"? Answers on the message boards below, please.

In addition to the liberal use of broadband statistics, BT also took the opportunity today to pat itself on the back and suggest that, for the sake of customers, other companies need to follow its glowing example.

Check out this statement sent to Light Reading by BT:

    UK consumers and businesses benefit hugely from the highly competitive broadband market in existence today, with some of the widest availability and lowest prices in the world. BT's open approach to the wholesaling of network services has been a critical enabler of this success. Unlike the approach adopted by many other countries, BT is committed to maintaining this wholesaling policy for superfast broadband and indeed urges all other investors, whether they invest in infrastructure or content, to adopt the same level of openness to ensure the UK maintains and strengthens its leading position in communications - otherwise customers will be short-changed.
British customers being short-changed? Is that really possible?

Anyone who has lived or worked in the U.K. for any length of time will likely find that statement galling and amusing in equal measure. It seems BT is determined to repeatedly portray itself as the broadband white knight that could help save the U.K. from becoming a communications backwater, if only others would pitch in. (See BT's FTTH Conceit.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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