BT, through its Openreach subsidiary, has said that it will soon share a plane on how it will deploy fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections across the country.
BT’s admission comes less than a week after Vodafone revealed plans to work with CityFibre to build their own FTTP network, following years of intransigence from BT and Openreach.
The company’s chairman, Mike McTighe, recently concluded a consultation on the technology. He claims that the company now plans to deliver a full-FTTP network by 2025 – the same as Vodafone and CityFibre. This plan details the company’s future relationship with retail partners and government organisations, and will be delivered by the end of the year.
McTighe detailed his company’s intentions to develop an FTTP network at the Broadband Futures Conference in Sydney, Australia.
According to The Register, he said: “We will be publishing Openreach’s response to that consultation before Christmas, and in that we will put out a very clear hypothesis on what it takes to build ten million FTTP ports in the UK.”
Communications providers are showing a great interest in FTTP technology, and McTighe believes it’s time for the company to begin developing a network with the support of regulatory bodies.
“We will see if we can get the regulator and the government lined up behind it… Let me be very, very clear, Openreach wants to build a full fibre network,” he said.
He continued: “But equally we are not stupid. We have to make an economic return. We need to have a business case that washes its face, that I can take to our shareholder – which is BT – to get them to invest in and to come up with the cash.”
Of course, building such a network won’t be an easy (or cheap) task and Openreach will need to get the approval of regulator Ofcom for its plans. “We need a regulatory environment that moves away from lower pricing to encourage investment in the network,” McTighe said at the conference.
McTighe also admitted that the move might have an impact on prices, which would be challenging to push up (even further) in the current economic and political climate.
When asked about 5G rollouts, he said: “The issue with 5G is the micro-cell architecture. We want to provide that. It is not currently within Openreach’s scope.
“I want to to change the scope so that when we build down a street we not only provision for the homes and premises and businesses that we pass, but that we provision architecturally for whatever radio heads need to be built to support a micro-cell architecture.”
While such development takes place, he said the firm will probably end up turning off the copper network. “The economics don’t make any sense if we keep the copper network running at the same time as we overbuild with a fibre network,” he added.