BT puts foot down on fibre broadband rollout


BT is to accelerate plans to roll out its fibre broadband network after posting a successful second financial quarter.

The telecoms giant will have around two-thirds of UK homes and businesses able to access the fibre network by spring 2014, 18 months earlier than originally forecast.

The firm has already passed more than 12 million premises with the technology to date and said it will overtake rival Virgin Media's cable footprint in the coming months.

The last third of the country is being addressed in part by the government's Broadband Delivery UK project, which BT has been successful in bidding for contracts.

Once completed, the BT fibre network will cover 19 million homes and businesses in the UK.

"Fibre is at the heart of our broadband plans for both town and country," said Ian Livingston, BT chief executive.

"We plan to step up our efforts yet again to complete our commercial fibre roll-out early as this will allow us to focus even further on the next exciting stage of our fibre broadband strategy. This will see BT working hand in hand with the public sector to extend fibre broadband to UK homes and businesses in the final third' of the country that are harder to reach."

The company has now embarked on recruiting more than 1,000 engineers over the next 12 months to complete the rollout.

"We look forward to welcoming many more engineers to Openreach over the coming months as we step up our recruitment drive to help connect fibre to more homes and businesses across the UK," Liv Garfield, BT Openreach's CEO.

The firm also posted its quarterly results today. Revenue was down nine per cent to 4.5 billion while profits were up seven per cent to 608 million. BT said its total broadband customer base increased by 174,000 during the quarter to stand at more than 17 million for the first time.

"Our underlying revenue continues to be impacted by the tough conditions in Europe and the financial services sector, regulatory price reductions and lower revenue from calls and lines," the company said in a statement.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.