LONDON – British incumbent telco BT announced successful trials of “FTTP on demand” in St. Agnes, Cornwall. BT is building out a next-generation network using a primarily fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) architecture, but this solution allows additional fiber to be run on demand to any home or business in an FTTC-enabled area and provide the customer with fiber-to-the-premises broadband.

Previously, FTTP speeds weren’t possible in FTTC-enabled areas, but BT developed a solution that could take advantage of the fiber already deployed between the exchange and the street cabinet. The company did not say whether customers would be charged for the fiber deployment or only for the higher tier of service.

[Update: Broadband Communities’ resident expert speculates that BT is simply placing an optical splitter in the DSLAM cabinet, diverting a strand of fiber to the splitter, then splicing drop cables to the splitter output to bring the uninterrupted fiber line to the premises. This is a simple enough solution – why aren’t other FTTC providers doing the same? Readers please feel free to comment.]

BT says this technological development could transform the U.K. broadband landscape by allowing FTTP – which will soon offer speeds of up to 300 Mbps – to be made available anywhere in BT’s fiber footprint. BT plans to conduct further trials this summer with a view to making FTTP on demand commercially available to all communications providers by spring 2013.

The service, which also delivers fast upstream speeds, will likely be particularly appealing to small and medium-size businesses that need to send and receive large amounts of data. The feedback from businesses in St. Agnes has been excellent, according to BT.

BT also plans to introduce a new, faster variant of FTTC broadband this spring. This service will deliver speeds approximately double those on offer today, so downstream speeds will be up to 80 Mbps rather than up to 40 Mbps. Upstream speeds will also be faster, at up to 20 Mbps.

Both announcements came as BT revealed that more than 7 million premises can now access FTTC or FTTP over its network. This figure will rise to 10 million in 2012 and then to around two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014. BT believes it is possible to make fiber broadband available to more than 90 percent of U.K. premises with subsidies. BT (along with other companies) is bidding for government funds to make that happen.