BT pledges £6bn broadband investment
BT has announced its Openreach and EE businesses will spend £6 billion to upgrade its fibre broadband and 4G networks, increasing speeds up to 500Mbps, over the next three years.
The first phase of the investment plan will aide BT reach its ambition for ultrafast broadband to pass 12 million premises by 2020, a national coverage of 95%. BT aims to pass 2 million of those homes and businesses with fibre to the premises (FTTP) 4G.
“We are announcing a further six billion pounds of investment in our UK networks, subject to regulatory certainty,” said BT group chief executive Gavin Patterson.
“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.”
Whilst some consumers will receive their ultrafast broadband via FTTP, most will receive it via G.fast, a technology which transforms the speeds customers can receive over a mix of fibre and copper. BT says customer trialists are presently receiving speeds of up to 300Mbps and over next few years this will reach up to 500Mbps as the technology is deployed. Laboratory tests of XG-FAST, BT says is a future variant, have also shown that speeds of more than 5Gbps are possible over short copper lines demonstrating that copper has a role to play for many years yet. Patterson added that G.fast is an important technology that will enable BT to deploy ultrafast broadband at pace and to as many homes as possible.
Openreach CEO Clive Selley told communication provider customers it will deliver ‘better service, broader coverage and faster speeds’ by hiring 1,000 new engineers this year, providing further multi-skill training for engineers. The provision of dedicated Ethernet business lines known will also increase by 20% year-on-year.