LONDON — BT announced that its open fiber network passes more than 19 million homes and businesses. This means around two thirds of UK premises can order much faster broadband from a wide variety of ISPs, all of whom have benefited from the billions of pounds BT has spent on upgrading its network.

BT originally said it would cover 19 million premises with fiber by the end of 2015 (meaning fiber to the curb). It passed that total in March this year, around 21 months earlier than planned, with the vast majority of that footprint being enabled by BT under its commercial plan. The remainder has been enabled in partnership with the public sector.

73 Percent of Premises Passed
BT’s engineering and planning teams have ensured the UK has benefited from one of the fastest roll-outs of fiber anywhere in the world. That progress was shown in a recent independent report which showed the UK has the widest fiber availability of the EU “Big 5” countries as well as the highest adoption of the technology and the most competitive marketplace. UK fiber availability currently stands at 73 percent of premises when all networks are taken into account. This widespread availability compares with just 20 to 25 percent for France.

BT’s fiber footprint is set to grow considerably in the year ahead as it continues its commercial roll-out and enables further areas with the assistance of the public sector. Much of this work will take place under the 44 local partnerships that BT has struck as part of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) program. Work is underway in all 44 contract areas and more than 630 thousand largely rural premises have been passed with fiber to date under the program.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The UK now has the widest fiber availability of the top five European economies as well as the highest take-up rate. Commercial operators like BT, with support from government, are delivering one of the fastest roll-outs of fiber in the world and these figures demonstrate that the government’s aim to provide access to superfast speeds to 95 percent of the UK by 2017 is well on track.”

BT revealed strong adoption of fiber in its 2013 full-year results, with 347,000 new premises signing up for fiber over its network during the fourth quarter. Those new customers have taken the Openreach fiber broadband customer base to more than 2.7 million, almost double that of a year ago. More than 6 million UK premises currently subscribe to fiber when all networks are taken into account. This level of adoption is considerably ahead of many other European countries.

UK consumers and businesses are benefiting from a wide choice of suppliers given Openreach’s network is open to all ISPs on the same terms. This intense competition at a retail level has resulted in the UK boasting the cheapest prices for fiber of the major countries.