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BT denies it is behind schedule with superfast exchanges
BT has hit back at claims that it is seriously behind schedule in facilitating the roll out of superfast fibre broadband.
Point Topic, a specialist broadband research group, yesterday (17 May) published figures claiming that almost half of the exchanges BT had said would be enabled for next-generation broadband had not been ready by the end of 2010.
According to Point Topic’s data only 182 exchanges were in operation by the end of last year, well below the 343 BT had claimed would be in use. However BT has refuted the figures, stating that more than 330 exchanges had gone live by the end of 2010. Although this figure is still wanting of the original target. Point Topic forecast that this amounted to 6.7 million superfast broadband lines in use by then, rather than the promised 8.8 million. Although this does not include Virgin Media’s cable network.
As a result Alan Johnson, chief analyst for Point Topic, believes it is unlikely that the Government will achieve its target of 90 per cent of the UK having access to superfast connections by 2015. This will amounted to 6.7 million superfast broadband lines in use by then, rather than the promised 8.8 million. Although this does not include Virgin Media’s cable network. However Mr Johnson said this was purely due to BT’s failings.
According to Point Topic’s research, Fibrecity’s plans to provide Bournemouth and Dundee with fibre-to-the-premises had collapsed while more alternative networks had cut back on their own roll-out plans. Mr Johnson said: “I think the schedule was over ambitious as it turns out and the whole business of fibre-ing up exchanges depends on getting a huge number of steps right.
“It takes time – it’s a difficult task, fibre is quite delicate. To do it efficiently so it works, there might be 100 steps in the process and if each of them goes wrong 1% of the time then you get serious failure rates. The snow in December didn’t help either.”
In response a spokesperson for BT said: “This research is baffling given the strong figures BT published on broadband performance last week, and we don’t recognise many of the figures used.
“Our roll-out of superfast fibre broadband is going well. We are close to passing five million premises with the technology, rising to 10m premises by 2012 and two-thirds of the UK by 2015.”