Sunday, 27 September 2015 08:51

BT unveils plan for faster broadband

Written by  Ruralcity Media
BT unveils plan for faster broadband

BT has outlined its vision for better broadband amid criticism at the slow rollout of superfast connections.

The company has unveiled plans for a new universal minimum broadband speed of 5-10 Megabits per second (Mbps) for every home and business.

It says the new target would be subject to regulatory support.

BT rivals want the company broken up.

They claim that BT's ownership of broadband provider Openreach has led to a poor customer service and made it hard for alternative providers to compete effectively.

But BT said the vast majority already received "well ahead" of minimum speeds – and the company planned to extend fibre broadband coverage beyond government's 95% of premises target.

And it pledged to build on its record of co-funding 90 community broadband schemes to bring better connections to more people.

It said its pledges would be worth £20-30bn to UK economy.

BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said 90% of UK premises could already access fibre broadband – putting the UK top of the EU's largest countries, according to Ofcom.

Speaking at BT's Delivering Britain's Digital Future conference in London, Mr Patterson said the company was determined to tackle slow speeds in hard-to-reach parts of the country.

"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."

This would include high definition TV streaming and cloud computing, said Mr Patterson. "To achieve this, we need a collaborative effort across industry and government."

Mr Patterson said 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 benefitting from this approach.

The BT chief executive said the UK would go beyond government's current 95% target for fibre availability.

This was possible thanks to "success dividend" clauses in contracts covering rollout co-funded by BT, Whitehall and local councils.

The clauses mean BT has to reinvest or return money if take-up exceeds certain levels in areas where public funds have been used.

A sum of £130m is already being released and is potentially available to get the UK towards having fibre available at 96% of premises.

A greater proportion of premises will have access to fibre broadband than can access mains gas.

Mr Patterson also announced plans to supply fibre broadband for all new housing developments, either through BT's own efforts or in cooperation with developers.

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