BT has promised to roll-out ultrafast broadband, including Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), to 12m premises by 2020 in a bid to dramatically boost the UK’s broadband speeds.
In addition to FTTP, which will be available to around 2m new-build residential and businesses premises, the telecoms giant will deploy G.fast technology on its existing copper and fibre network.
G.fast boosts the speeds available without having to run new lines to premises and customer trials have seen some users receive speeds of up to 300Mbps.
BT claims this figure could increase to 500Mbps in the next few years and says laboratory tests have shown it’s possible to achieve speeds of more than 5Gbps, results it claims demonstrates “that copper has a role to play for many years yet.”
Today’s news follows a pledge by BT’s EE mobile division to boost 4G connectivity to 95% of the UK population and a commitment by rival Virgin Media to increase its broadband offering.
BT Group Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said: “G.fast is an important technology that will enable us to deploy ultrafast broadband at pace and to as many homes as possible.
“Customers want their broadband to be affordable as well as fast and we will be able to do that using G.fast.
“FTTP will also play a bigger role going forward and I believe it is particularly well suited to those businesses who may need speeds of up to 1Gbps. My ambition is to roll it out to two million premises and our trials give me confidence we will.”
A number of BT’s competitors have previously lobbied for the forced sale of BT’s Openreach network division, an option Ofcom says remains on the table.
However today Patterson said: “Networks require money and a lot of it. Virgin and BT have both pledged to invest and we will now see if others follow our lead. Infrastructure competition is good for the UK and so is the current Openreach model whereby others can piggyback on our investment should they want to.”
But Sky’s Group Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Griffith, accused BT of “limited ambition” and repeated calls for Openreach’s sale.
Griffith commented: “Today’s statement shows that BT continues to see copper as the basis of its network for 21st century Britain.
“Despite BT’s claims, it is clearer than ever that their plans for fibre to the premise (FTTP) broadband will bypass almost every existing UK home.
“This limited ambition has been dragged out of BT by the threat of regulatory action, demonstrating once again why an independent Openreach, free to raise its own long-term capital, is the best way for the UK to get the fibre network it needs.”