BT will miss 2010 target for IPTV service but will increase FTTP

Britain’s BT Vision said the IPTV service would fall short of meeting its goal of 2 million to 3 million customers by the end of next year. That target, set by BT CEO Ian Livingstone, won’t be reached over that time. "We have not yet found the best way of explaining what the benefits are to consumers, and what [BT Vision] stands for," conceded BT Vision CEO Marc Watson.

The UK video provider claims 433,000 subscribers – much less than competing pay TV service BSkyB.  Mr. Watson has stated that not having access to Sky’s premium content is costing it dearly in terms of total subscribers.

Mr.Watson predicts the company could reach 1 million customer mark by December 2010.  In contrast, Orange- France has met with success through its integrated web, TV, phone and mobile deals and has more than 2.2 million customers.

BT’s involvement in the BBC-convened Project Canvas open platform IPTV initiative is going ahead as planned: boxes should be in shops before Christmas 2010 and Watson expects it to cause an upturn in Vision subscriptions. “When you look at the early marketplace, I think a lot of customers will take their box and a service from us because we will subsidise it,” he says.

On a much more positive note, BT is to more than double the number of homes able to use the company’s ultra-fast broadband network and increase the download speeds – a major upward revision of its next-generation broadband infrastructure plans.

BT’s ultra fast broadband network now offers download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second.  That’s quite a bit better than the average broadband download speed in the UK, which was 4.1 mbps as of this April.  The BT network  will run past at least 2.5m homes by 2012, or 10 per cent of the UK’s households.

When it unveiled its original superfast broadband network plan last year, BT said the 100 mbps network would only run past 1m homes. So the company will be doing much better than originally forecast.

The BT network has two different "last mile" transport path architectures:

  1. Under the "fibre-to-the cabinet" part, BT will replace copper wires running from its phone exchanges to street cabinets with fibre optic cable. This will increase broadband download speeds to up to 40 mbps.
  2. Under the "fibre-to-the-home" part, BT will extend fibre from phone exchanges all the way to homes. This will increase broadband download speeds to up to 100 mbps.

Steve Robertson, head of Openreach, the BT subsidiary responsible for the new network, told the Financial Times the company was ramping up the reach of its ultra-fast network after finding it would cost less than originally expected. The network could eventually support download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.  Now that is quite impressive!

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