BT to upgrade fibre network
British incumbent BT has pledged a major upgrade to its fibre broadband network in the country, on basis that calls for it to be broken up are ignored by regulators.
The operator has also agreed a new deal with its pension trustees to pay £2 billion into a pension scheme over the next three years. This is to tackle a deficit of approximately £7 billion; up from £3.9 billion three years ago.
With BT’s plans to acquire mobile operator EE also in motion, the trustees have reportedly accepted that the company now has a stronger financial future and is therefore capable of shouldering repayments over a longer period.
“These [announcements] reflect the strengths of the business and the confidence we have in the future, and the fact that the technologies and services we provide are very much in demand,” said Gavin Patterson, BT chief executive.
BT plans to trial G.fast for its fibre roll-out; a technology which squeezes higher speeds from existing copper wires and was trialled by the operator last year.
“We believe G.fast is the key to unlocking ultrafast speeds and we are prepared to upgrade large parts of our network should the pilots prove successful,” Patterson said.
However, rivals including Sky and TalkTalk are increasingly arguing that something must be done to curb BT’s dominance, and a regulatory battle looks likely for this year as the incumbent pushes forward with its expansion plans.