BT rules out deployment of fibre-to-the-home

BT has ruled-out a deployment of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) in the UK, insisting that its 21CN project will provide enough bandwidth over existing infrastructure for UK consumers' requirements.

Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale, told the DigiWorld 2006 Summit in Montpellier, France, that he does not believe there is a business case for connecting homes with high-speed optical fibre technology.

'We'll be launching ADSL2+ next year, which gives speeds of up to 24Mbps and will comfortably support customers' immediate needs, including IPTV, he said, adding that he can not see any additional revenues from installing FTTH.

However that does not necessarily mean that FTTH is off the UK broadband agenda. LLU operators can, if they choose, unbundle the local loop at street level as well as at the exchange, and could use FTTH rather than copper wires to do this.

In the meantime, the first phase of 21CN - BT's new IP-based network - goes live in Cardiff later this month, nationwide coverage is not expected until 2011.

Although this seems like a long time, there are solid reasons for a gradual rollout.

As ADSL Guide notes: 'Given the roll-out involves changes to the PSTN [public switched telephone network] most people would prefer it to be done right, rather become a support nightmare.'

Once the 21CN network is completed, around 99.9 per cent of UK households should have access to ADSL2+ services, while NTL Telewest is expected to be offering 20Mbps or possibly 50Mbps connections over its cable infrastructure.