BT claims most customers will not notice fibre-optic rollout

Telecommunications giant BT is currently working on spreading its fibre optic network across all of the UK, including villages and rural areas, before the end of 2017, as part of a government initiative to give all UK residents broadband Internet.

BT's rollout plans have received criticism recently, with consumers claiming the broadband provider is cherry picking areas to launch high-speed fibre optic. BT refuted these claims, stating it has launched fibre-optic in a lot of remote areas where it is not currently economically viable.

With regards to the rollout, Simon Roberston said: “It’s also largely invisible to the public, they don’t see a great big new structure, they see engineers shoving things down a hole in the ground or some vans parked outside an exchange.

“So it’s hard to appreciate the level of work that goes in or the amount of planning that goes in for a couple of months to turn up to lay a bit of fibre.”

The “invisible” rollout is not felt due to the small iterative upgrades BT adds every few months to the fibre-optic broadband, meaning customers might not see the gains even when the Internet gets faster.

Medieval bridges, historical landmarks, greenbelt regulations and wildlife reserves are all barriers in BT’s rollout of fibre-optic to remote locations. It has been working with the government, Ofcom and rural regulators to make sure everything is above board.

“I think it’s an astonishing project especially when you consider the scale of it across the whole of the UK,” Robertson said to Cable. “If you had told me five years ago that we would get to some of the villages in Northumberland that we are reaching, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

BT is not the only communications provider working with Ofcom and the UK government to provide Internet and mobile services to rural areas. O2, Three, Vodafone and EE (now part of BT) have all started pushing out services to remote locations in the UK.