Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 12:48 UK

Bournemouth homes get fast fibre

Bournemouth beach
Homes in Bournemouth will benefit from 100Mbps broadband

Bournemouth has been picked as the first UK town to get super-fast fibre via the sewers.

It is part of a plan from fibre firm H20 to extend its underground sewer networks from businesses to consumers.

Work will begin on the network within the next six months and more towns will be announced in coming months.

It will bring broadband of up to 100Mbps (megabits per second) to 88,000 homes in the Dorset town and is the largest scheme of its kind in the UK.

Nationwide network

"Many households and broadband customers in the UK have insufficient connectivity bandwidths because they are attached to legacy networks deployed in the 20th century," commented H20 chief executive Elfed Thomas.

The firm has been offering high-speed fibre via the sewers to businesses and universities around the UK for several years and now plans to extend this to a nationwide network for consumers over the next few years.

UK regulator Ofcom is currently considering how underground ducts built for sewage and other utilities can be utilised in its efforts to make super-fast broadband widely available.

There are concerns that the UK is falling behind other nations. In France, for example, three operators are already providing homes with speeds of between 50 and 100Mbps.

For consumers, super-fast net connections could create a range of new services including on-demand high definition TV, DVD quality film downloads in minutes, online video messaging, CCTV home surveillance and HD gaming.

Environmentally-friendly

BT is installing 100Mbps broadband networks to new homes being built in Kent. But the development of 10,000 homes in Ebbsfleet will not be completely until 2020 and no other new sites have yet been identified by the telco.

Virgin Media is speeding up its cable network and over the course of this year the whole of of its network will be upgraded to 50Mbps.

The UK has 360,000 miles of sewers and offers a far cheaper and environmentally-friendly way of deploying fibre than by digging up the roads.

Bournemouth councillor Nick King is pleased the town has been selected.

"Bournemouth really needs to embrace the many advantages that being a fibre city will bring and I am sure it will bring massive rewards to all homes and businesses that sign up," he said.

H20 has already installed its high speed network to council offices, the Bournemouth International Centre and Pavilion Theatre.


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