No superfast for BT

BT won't be forced to invest billions in a national, superfast network, UK ministers have said, as the telco outlines its own tentative acceleration plans. Since recent government criticsim investors had feared BT would be forced to spend £15 billion (E21.4bn) on a fibre network.

The Department for Business confirmed: “It is not for government to tell business how much and where to invest in next-generation broadband. However, it is right that we discuss with industry, and with the regulator, how the right environment can be created that will persuade them that such investments are timely and efficient.”

The department underlined how a patchwork of superfast broadband networks might emerge, supplied by several companies. BT revealed a scheme to offer broadband about 20 times faster than average at a housing development in t, Kent, which from August will enjoy download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second over a BT fibre-optic network. The average broadband speed last year was 4.6 mbps.

The company said 10,000 homes would become a test bed for whether consumers would be willing to pay a premium for superfast broadband, which would make music downloads almost instant. It would enable people to watch two or more films on high-definition quality television sets simultaneously.

BT is considering installing fibre to all homes on greenfield sites, noting that the government is planning to build 3m houses by 2020. However, BT maintains that there is no economic case to justify the huge costs of taking fibre to all existing homes. BT is planning to offer download speeds of up to 24 mbps over the copper wires that run to most existing homes from this spring.

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