Northern Ireland had the highest availability of fibre-to-the-cabinet services in March 2012

Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) involves running fibre optic cable from the local exchange to the street cabinet, from which VDSL (a fast form of DSL) is used to transmit data over the twisted copper pair to the customer’s premises. Figure 5.3 shows Ofcom estimates of the proportion of UK homes that are able to receive BT FTTC services in March 2012 (there are other FTTC deployments, the most notable of which is South Yorkshire Digital Region, which covers around 440,000 premises in the South Yorkshire area). [1]

BT is currently in the process of rolling out FTTC services, and this is reflected by the fact that in the year to March 2012 our estimate of the proportion of homes able to receive BT FTTC services (or services using BT’s FTTC network) increased by 15 percentage points to 31% (these estimates have been adjusted to take into account the fact that not all street cabinets connected to an exchange that has been upgraded to offer FTTC have fibre run to them). BT’s FTTC service had a headline speed of ‘up to’ 40Mbit/s at launch, and in April 2012 it upgraded its FTTC network to offer ‘up to’ 80Mbit/s. [2]

In urban areas of the UK 35% of UK homes were able to receive BT FTTC services by March 2012, more than twice the proportion that could do so in rural areas (15%). Northern Ireland had the highest estimated proportion of homes able to receive FTTC services from BT in March 2012, at 87%, over eight times higher than the 10% figure for Scotland, where availability was lowest. The availability of BT’s FTTC services was higher in Northern Ireland than in the other UK nations as a result of a Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) initiative to increase the availability of fibre-based broadband services.

BT is also deploying fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) services, and by the end of 2011 its FTTP network, which offers speeds of ‘up to’ 110Mbit/s, covered around 50,000 UK homes. [3] BT intends to make its superfast broadband services available to two-thirds of UK premises using a mixture of FTTC and FTTP, and in October 2011 it announced that this goal would be attained by the end of 2014, a year sooner than originally planned. [4]