BT has launched a competition to find five locations in the UK most in need of high speed fibre broadband.
The company has also rolled out a nationwide survey to see how much potential demand there is for next generation broadband. It will run until 31 December and is designed to let communities help BT identify hotspots where demand is high and influence its future deployment plans.
The ‘Race to Infinity' competition is linked to the survey as BT has promised to fund five exchanges with the highest demand for fibre broadband by early 2012. The competition could see commercially viable exchanges brought forward to the front of the queue or non-viable exchanges added to the deployment plans, it said.
BT has also promised to work with any community that expresses a ‘high level of demand' so it can explore bringing fibre broadband to the area.
The company only last week announced its plans for the UK's biggest fibre optic rollout in rural Cornwall. Over 90 percent of homes in the region will be able to get speedy broadband by 2014 and it is hoped the project will act as a blueprint for future rural schemes.
BT said it has brought fibre broadband to 4m premises by the end of 2010 but will still have some 12m homes and businesses to connect as part of its plan to delver fibre broadband to two thirds of the UK by 2015. It believes the survey offers communities the chance to make their voices heard and decide where else should receive the speedy service.
Gavin Patterson, BT Retail CEO said: "The Race to Infinity is an opportunity for the country to make its voice heard. We want to hear from towns and villages across the UK and so I would encourage people to take part and register their interest."
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: "Whenever I travel around the UK I hear the same message: people want access to superfast broadband in their communities. I warmly welcome any initiative that will lead to private sector investment in fibre networks, and applaud the way BT is engaging consumers to ensure that investment reaches the people who want it the most."
Meanwhile, fellow ISP Sky Broadband has admitted that copyright holders pay for ISPs to hand over details of customers suspected of sharing or downloading copyright files, The Inquirer reported.
Sky Broadband as well as a couple of other ISPs have found themselves in hot water following the ACS:Law fiasco as some of their customers' details were published online by 4Chan.
The Inquirer said it has received an email of an image that seems to be a price list for Sky to look up some customers' names and addresses to match IP addresses handed over by copyright holders.
This, if true, might fly in the face of Sky's stance that it handed over customer details to ACS:Law following a court order forcing it to do so.
The website has discovered that the court order does not include postage (which the ISP and/or copyright holder pays) but costs are around £1 per IP address for about 5,000 letters.
Commenting on the allegations, a Sky Spokesperson reportedly said: "It is wrong to suggest that we have provided information for commercial reasons. This is simply a question of complying with a legally-binding Order and recovering the reasonable costs of doing so."
While it seems extremely unlikely Sky would risk ignoring data protection rules and its reputation for a tiny amount of money, the idea of ISPs and copyright holders wrangling over recoup costs is unlikely to appeal to its customers.