Partnership ‘key’ to broadband roll-out

A JOINT approach involving the public and private sectors will be vital in rolling out “New Generation” super-fast broadband to rural areas of the East of England, a senior BT manager told a conference in the region yesterday.

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for Next Generation access, said that working in partnership with interested parties across the region was the key to success.

BT has already announced plans to bring super-fast fibre-based broadband to more than 500,000 homes and businesses across the region, in areas including Bury St Edmunds.

It offers download speeds of up to 40Mb per second, potentially rising to 60Mb/s in the future, and upload capability of up to 10Mb/s. Even faster speeds are possible if the fibre goes direct to the home or premises.

However, with the company’s aim of getting two-thirds of UK premises connected by 2015 involving an investment by BT of �2.5billion, additional support would be needed to achieve wider coverage, said Mr Murphy.

He was speaking at a Next Generation Roadshow event in Newmarket, organised by the Independent Networks Co-Operative Association (INCA) to highlight how next generation broadband can provide a boost to the local economy,

In contrast with BT’s planned �2.5bn investment in super-fast broadband, one of the largest of its kind in the world not to rely on public sector funding, the investment required to achieve 99% UK coverage with first generation broadband had been around �200million.

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“We are very open to holding discussions with public sector organisations, such as development agencies and local authorities, to explore ways of bringing super-fast, fibre-based broadband to locations where the economics are more challenging,” said Mr Murphy.

“Partnership works – just last week we signed a deal with a village in rural Kent to bring super-fast fibre-based broadband to the homes and businesses there.”

And he added: “I strongly believe this type of innovative approach offers real opportunities and a potential gear change for a forward thinking region such as the East of England.”

BT’s fibre plans build on existing initiatives such as a programme which has already placed faster speeds of up to 20Mb/s within reach of around 48% of East of England homes and businesses using the existing copper network. The rollout is continuing, with plans in place to reach more than 60% coverage by Spring 2011.

Further roll-out plans are due to be announced later this year. Householders and businesses can contact their broadband service provider to place an order or register their interest.