BT has revealed eight locations across the UK that will be the first to pilot the delivery of its fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) on-demand offering, which is set to become commercially available from spring 2013.
The locations include High Wycombe, Bristol South, St Agnes in Cornwall, Waverley in Edinburgh, Watford, Cardiff, Basingstoke and central Manchester.
BT is largely deploying Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) across the UK, which delivers speeds of up to 80Mbps, but is slower than FTTP speeds of up to 330MBps. However, the cost of deploying fibre all the way from the exchange to the premise, as opposed to a cabinet that serves a number of properties in one area, is far more costly.
The FTTP on-demand offering will give other communication providers the option to order the service from Openreach and deploy to properties where there is interest. However, BT is using the pilot to establish wholesole prices and has said that it will be up to communication providers to decide whether or not to absorb the costs of deployment, recover it through higher monthly prices, or pass it on in full to their customer.
"FTTP on demand has great potential and so we are proceeding with these pilots. Whilst we believe FTTC will be our mass market consumer product for some time yet, FTTP may be of interest to small and medium-sized businesses and so we went to make it accessible throughout our fibre footprint," said Mike Galvin, Openreach's MD of network investment.
"This development can potentially help SMEs compete both at home and abroad, as well as maintain and create jobs across the UK."
Phase one of the pilots will test the planning and construction process in High Wycombe, Bristol South and St Agnes, which will from July 2012 to early 2013. Waverley will be added to the pilot in September 2012.
Phase two, which will run from March to May 2013, will test new automated order processes, and in addition to the first four areas this phase will be extended to Watford, Cardiff, Basingstoke and Manchester.
The government has committed £780 million to support the rollout of superfast broadband in the UK, where it hopes to create the best network in Europe by 2015.
In other broadband news, it was recently revealed that BT and Fujitsu have been sent back to the drawing board after their bids to roll out superfast broadband in Cumbria were rejected by councillors.