BT is calling on consumers to help it map demand for high-speed broadband, pledging to add the five biggest exchanges to its rollout plan.
The thrust of the Race to Infinity contest is to boost private investment in fiber deployments by mapping the areas where demand is highest, but which are not yet included in the telcos deployment plans.
Successful exchanges will be added to the firm’s 2011 fiber deployment schedule with the aim of completing rollout by early 2012.
BT Retail boss Gavin Patterson said the competition is a chance “for the country to make its voice heard,” and get in on the firm’s £2.5 billion (€2.8 billion) investment in fiber. “We want to hear from towns and villages across the UK, and so I would encourage people to take part and register their interest.”
However, with demand measured on a percentage basis - and after the first 1,000 homes are hit - the competition is already stacked in favor of heavily-populated regions and may not be the boon rural communities expect.
BT says communities that garner the support of over 75% of the public but which aren’t successful in the contest will be contacted to discuss upgrade options.
UK communications minister Ed Vaizey said there is huge pent up demand for fiber access among consumers. “I warmly welcome any initiative that will lead to private sector investment in fiber networks, and applaud the way BT are engaging consumers to ensure that investment reaches the people who want it the most.”
BT had covered 1.5 million homes with fiber by end calendar 2Q, and aims to hit four million by the year-end.