Fibre Broadband Spreads Across Rural Britain as Switch on Day Commences (Updated)

By Gerald Lynch on at

About bloody time: After monopolising the UK's rural fibre broadband roll-out (and dragging its heels in the process of activating the network), today BT is flipping the switch to "On" in what the DCMS is dubbing "Super Switch on Day".

Areas including parts of the Cotswolds, Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent and Medway, Cheshire and Shropshire get their green boxes supercharged today. Expect circulation of torrented episodes of Countryfile to skyrocket.

A joint scheme between local authorities, the government and BT, 5,000 new connections should be switched on, with the UK on track to have 95 per cent of its landmass covered by fibre connections by 2017. With some areas too remote to justify the huge tax expense that has so far subsidised this stage of the cabled roll-out, 4G masts will be used to fill in the gaps accounting for the remaining five per cent. [TelegraphCNET]

Updated: A BT spokesperson has been in touch to discuss today's rural roll-out, and defend against criticism that rural broadband expansion is taking too long.

In terms of delays to the rollout, we’d have no cause to criticise. There’s incredible progress being made across the country on BDUK, which is on top of the two thirds of premises we’re already connecting under our own steam.

On the BDUK contracts, we’re actually ahead of schedule in many areas and quite a few of them are going further than 90% coverage targets. Meanwhile the UK’s already at 73% fibre availability according to Ofcom, and all the independent analysis is showing that the government will be very very close to their original target of getting to 90% of homes and businesses by the end of 2015 (when combining all networks).

As for FTTC (vs FTTH -- Ed.)– yes, we certainly believe it offers the best option both in terms of getting fibre broadband to as many people as possible, and crucially giving value for money. That view was backed by the recent BSG report which looked at the sort of bandwidth demands households will be making by 2018 and beyond.