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A new BT fibre trial could pave the way for increased super-fast broadband coverage in rural parts of the UK.

According to, BT Openreach – the broadband provider's network management arm – is planning to test the viability of fibre-only telephone exchanges.

Over the past year, BT has been busy upgrading its copper-based exchanges to support fibre services, enabling households and businesses across the UK to take advantage of super-fast broadband.

Fibre broadband services exist alongside the existing copper solutions, giving local customers a choice between ADSL and fibre broadband.

However, the latest BT initiative will see one rural telephone exchange equipped exclusively with fibre-to-the-premises and ethernet fibre network technologies.

The broadband provider is aiming to test the viability of removing copper broadband altogether in favour of faster fibre-optic services.

A number of exchanges across the UK are being considered to take part in the trial, with Openreach set to issue a shortlist to broadband providers shortly.

During the trial, local homes and businesses could potentially benefit from download speeds of up to 110MB, delivered directly to their premises.

BT wants to assess how much it will cost to equip telephone exchanges entirely with fibre broadband, and gauge whether there are any other barriers to development.

The firm is currently waging war with Virgin Media in the fibre broadband stakes, with the latter continuing to extend its 100Mb broadband network.

Some 6.5 million homes –around a quarter of the UK total – are now able to take advantage of a Virgin Media fibre broadband deal.

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