BT super-fast, Virgin faster

BT has revealed the first set of locations where, from early 2010, customers will have access to fibre-based super-fast broadband via BT's network. BT's Openreach will deploy fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology at 29 exchanges across the UK. This will bring speeds of up to 40Mb/s – and potentially 60Mb/s – within reach of 500,000 homes and businesses. Areas of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Greater Manchester will be amongst the first locations to benefit from this initial deployment.

The roll out is the next stage in the UK's biggest ever investment programme in super-fast broadband. BT has pledged to spend £1.5 billion (E1.6bn) by 2012 to ensure that 40 per cent of UK homes and businesses can access fibre-based services.

Meantime Virgin Media will offer 100 to 150Mbps broadband speeds up to two years before BT completes its rival fibre network. “We have an opportunity with our network to provide significantly higher speeds,” Virgin Media’s chief executive Neil Berkett said. Berkett said its fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) network was capable of supporting up to 200Mbps but roll out of higher speeds was a “function of timing”. He said: “When we look at the market I don’t see us getting the returns right now for 100 or 150Mbps.

“As we work with application providers, and content providers… there will be a natural point where we upgrade from 10, 20 and 50Mbps to something more.

“If BT were to meet the time frame they have suggested – of finishing by 2012 – I would see us as having much, much faster upstream speed, running at a minimum of 100Mbps downstream and possibly more."

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