BT accelerates UK fiber rollout for 2012 Games

Robert Clark
22 Dec 2009
Daily News

BT has brought forward the rollout of its next-gen fiber network to ensure it is completed in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The UK carrier, which initially said it could take until March 2013 to build the network, now says it will finish it by June 2012, a month before the London Games begins.

The £1.5 billion ($2.4b) network will offer download speeds of about 40 Mbps, up tenfold from current speeds.

CEO Ian Livingston said at the current rate of progress, 4 million homes would have access to fiber by the end of next year. It is intended to run past 10 million homes, of 40% of UK households.

But Livingston called for certainty around government backing for an expanded buildout, noting that the Australian, French and US governments were providing financial support for broadband rollouts.

“If you look around the world, several governments are proactively supporting the roll out of fiber broadband,” he said.

“We need our politicians to decide how much of a priority fiber broadband is. BT is the only company currently planning to invest large sums in this area but we can only go so far with our shareholders' money.”

Under its Digital Britain plan, the UK government is proposing a £6 per year tax on fixed-line phone connections to help fund the extension of broadband to rural Britain, the Financial Timesreported. The opposition Conservatives have said they could abolish the levy if they win the general election, due to be held by June.

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