BT pledges 300Mbps broadband speeds to 10m homes by 2020


news The chief executive of British incumbent telco BT has announced a significant upgrade to his company’s broadband expansion plans, with BT now planning to deliver broadband speeds of at least 300Mbps to some 10 million premises in the United Kingdom by 2020.

BT is primarily upgrading its copper network with Fibre to the Node technology, although it also uses the Fibre to the Premises network rollout model in some areas. It provides services over the network on a wholesale basis through its Openreach division. The other major infrastructure-based telco in the country is Virgin Media, which operates a HFC cable network across the UK.

BT first started deploying fibre to the node throughout Britain in January 2009, with a number of trials being conducted around the country that year, and commercial services launching 12 months later in January 2010. At the time, the platform was dubbed ‘BT Infinity’.

The deployment of this kind of service can broadly be considered analogous to the 2005 plan outlined by then-Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo to upgrade Telstra’s copper network to FTTN, in that the rollout is predominantly being conducted by an incumbent telco which already owns its own copper network and all associated infrastructure, and which already has tens of thousands of engineers in the field to help deploy new infrastructure.

By mid-2013, BT had passed some 16 million premises with its FTTN rollout.

In a statement issued this week, BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said the telco would continue to expand its broadband upgrade program. The UK Government has a target of reaching some 95 percent of premises with either FTTN- or FTTP-style broadband.

Patterson said BT would now push that level to 96 percent, and would also use a combination of the new G.Fast standard and Fibre to the Premises to extend fibre further towards customer premises and deliver higher speeds.

Patterson went beyond his January statement on ultrafast broadband, to say BT’s new services of 300-500Mbps would reach 10m homes and smaller businesses by the end of 2020, and the majority of premises within a decade. A 1Gbps service will be provided for those that want even faster speeds.

In general, Patterson announced BT’s desire to go “further and faster” on fibre broadband. He made it clear BT would “never say no” to providing faster broadband to communities, promising the company would instead explore innovative funding and technical solutions. He said 90 communities were already benefiting from this approach.

Patterson committed BT to supporting government in delivering a new universal minimum broadband speed of 5-10Mbps.

And the BT chief executive emphasised the need for a supportive regulatory and government policy environment to bring about a commercially viable investment. He also cited new technologies developed at BT’s Adastral Park research laboratories, which should help boost slow speeds for many hard-to-reach premises. Research at that facility includes tests on new technologies such as “wireless to the cabinet” and “long reach VDSL”, to help bring higher speed broadband to hard-to-reach communities.

Patterson also pledged the company would introduce a satellite broadband service for some of the UK’s more remote premises by the end of the year.

Patterson said: “For the past five years, the UK has been the largest digital economy in the G20, by percentage of GDP. We think the UK has an even brighter future ahead if we make the right decisions today. We want to forge an ultrafast future for Britain and stand ready to help government deliver the broadband speeds necessary for every property to enjoy modern day internet services, such as high definition TV streaming and cloud computing. To achieve this, we need a collaborative effort across industry and government.”

Opinion/analysis to follow separately.

Image credit: Nikos Koutoulas, Creative Commons


  1. Well they had to otherwise they were going to be broken up for not maintaining their network :)
    Pretty much upgrade or be split up was the ultimatum

  2. 5-10mbps minimum? Wow, they’re really setting their sights high. Don’t strain yourselves, BT.

    • Thats a minimum for everyone which may not look exciting for urban dwellers but compares well internationally. 40Mbps is available today to over 83% of UK population.

  3. Someone should tell them they’re wasting their money. I’ve been reliably informed that 25 mbps is enough, more than enough, for everybody.

  4. A lot of hot air. Didn’t anyone read the article only 1% of FTTN users could reach 75mbps ? It would have to be FTTP model.

  5. @Dan Rossi Yes, the upgrades that BT is providing are minor.

    But BT (British Telecom) is the kind of organisation that Australia could have had today (and should have), if it were not for the Telstra share sales. People here just couldn’t see past the dollar signs and thought it was a good investment opportunity to buy shares in something that they already paid for many times through their phone bills and taxation for many decades.

    But there was only one way for the share price of a former monopoly provider to go. The recent share price increase and the company’s successes have been almost entirely driven by its mobile division.

    Back when Telstra was called Telecom, it actually was like BT. A well-maintained network with an abundance of skilled technicians, a healthy research department that provided timely and relevant improvements to services and cooperation with the government. Now, we have none of those things. Telstra has gone off on its own with low-capacity mobile and we fixed users are languishing.

    I hope people are satisfied with their “investment.”

  6. Yeah. Worth adding that in 1995 Telecom had plans to roll out universal FTTH internet across Australia and finish it by 2010.


  7. “Overseas experience in markets like the UK and Germany has proven the value of FTTN in delivering fast broadband services to millions of premises both quickly and cost effectively,” said NBN chief architect Tony Cross.
    In the meantime, former CTO of British Telecom Peter Cochrane said,
    “Fibre to the cabinet is one of the biggest mistakes humanity has made. It ties a knot in the cable in terms of bandwidth and imposes huge unreliability risks”
    ‘Fast broadband’, Mr. Cross? Maybe. Fast enough? Definitely not!
    Who are we to believe in all of this – the muppet who’s obviously deluded by the plaudits and kudos he’ll get for hooking up as many homes as possible to ‘The NBN’ in the shortest timeframe, or the guy who was at the helm of a network that over 20 million Britons know today is complete rubbish?
    Ask yourself this question: Why are our world trading partners ripping up their FTTN infrastructure and moving on to networks that provide speeds of no less than 1Gbps?
    Answer: Because FTTN is JUNK!

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