|| BT to bring a million new customers within reach of b.band|
Broadband availability to match analogue TV coverage by Summer 2005
Distance limits removed for 512kb/sec ADSL services
Range for 1 Mb/sec ADSL extended to reach 6km from exchange
BT today announced it was removing the distance related limits for the most popular broadband services, bringing potentially more than a million more UK homes and businesses within reach of broadband.
Following BT Wholesale trials in Milton Keynes and rural areas around Fort William and Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands, BT is confident a 512kb/sec ADSL service can now be provided to the vast majority of people beyond the former limit which was roughly equivalent to 6km distance from the exchange.
From September 6, 2004, the reach limit for the 512kb/sec ADSL services will be removed. BT is also increasing the range for 1Mb/sec premium services from 4km to approximately 6km - making 1Mb/sec ADSL available to 96 per cent of homes and businesses connected to a broadband exchange.
The trial data indicates that removing the limit means 99.8 per cent of lines connected to a broadband exchange should now be able to get a 512kb/sec ADSL service. To date approximately 96 per cent of homes and businesses connected to broadband enabled exchanges were within range for 512kb/sec ADSL.
Alison Ritchie, BT chief broadband officer, said: "By pushing the boundaries on broadband reach we are building on our exchange upgrade rollout programme which means the remaining gaps in the broadband Britain jigsaw are getting smaller and smaller.
"Today's announcement, together with our exchange upgrade programme means that by next summer we expect the availability of ADSL broadband in the UK to be at 99.4 per cent - on a par with the percentage of homes that can get good quality analogue TV signals for the four main terrestrial channels*.
"The trial data and feedback from the trialists in Milton Keynes and others involved in the trials in Fort William and Dingwall has contributed to bringing broadband within reach of another million homes. Their commitment to work with us has helped bring us all a significant step closer to a truly broadband Britain.
"If you thought you couldn't get broadband - think again. When the new developments come into force in September, place an order with your service provider and in most cases BT will be able to get broadband to you."
The trials revealed that to provide broadband service to approximately one in five people beyond the former limit will require a visit by a BT engineer to make modifications to wiring at the customer premises or to local BT network cabling. BT would not charge the customer for this engineer visit. For a small number of cases it may not be possible to provide reliable broadband service at 512kb/sec, even following a visit by a BT engineer. However, BT will continue to seek a solution as the technologies develop. The trial data indicates that where the exchange is upgraded for broadband, an average of 99.8 per cent of lines should be able to get 512kb/sec ADSL broadband service.
BT's exchange upgrade programme to take broadband coverage to exchanges serving 99.6 per cent of households by summer 2005 makes the UK number one for ADSL availability in the G7 group of leading industrial countries both at the end of this year and 2005. This position was outlined in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report "The development of broadband access in rural and remote areas" which is available at www.oecd.org/sti/telecom.
Previously there was a limit for 512kb/sec broadband based on 60dB of signal loss on the line (typical line length about 6km). This meant 512kb/sec services reached approximately 96 per cent of homes and businesses.
The new line loss limit for 1Mb/sec ADSL will be 60dB (approximately 6km).
While the removal of reach limits for 512kb/sec ADSL will mean the vast majority of people connected to a broadband exchange will be able to get service there will still be some who can not, even following a visit by a BT engineer. The trial data indicates this should only apply to an average of 0.2 per cent of lines connected to broadband enabled exchanges.
From September 6, 2004, people who previously could not get 512kb/sec broadband because they were out of reach will be able to order via their chosen service provider. From that date the availability checker at bt.com/broadband will be updated to show the new line status.
Based on the trial data which indicates a national average of 99.8 per cent availability within enabled exchange areas and BT's rollout programme to upgrade exchanges serving 99.6 per cent of UK homes, BT estimates that 99.4 per cent of UK homes and businesses should be able to get 512kb/sec ADSL service by August 2005.
*Statistics published on the Ofcom website (http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/reception_advice/index.asp.html ) state: "Good analogue TV reception is available to nearly all viewers in the UK from the terrestrial UHF transmitter networks. ITV1, Channel 4, BBC1 and BBC2 reach about 99.4% of the population, while Channel 5 covers 80%."
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