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BT to begin rollout of 'ultrafast' broadband next year

Friday, January 30th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A new technology is to help BT rollout ‘ultrafast’ broadband speeds across the UK over the next decade.

‘G.fast’ – a combination of fibre and conventional copper wires – will be tested in two pilot locations this summer ahead of deployment in 2016.

BT expects to offer initial speeds of a few hundred megabits per second to millions of homes and businesses by 2020.

Speeds will then increase to around 500Mbps as further industry standards are secured and new kit is developed.

Chief executive Gavin Patterson said: “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,” he said.

“That upgrade will depend however on there continuing to be a stable regulatory environment that supports investment.”

Mr Patterson said the UK is ahead of other European countries “when it comes to broadband” and needs to stay ahead as customer demands evolve.

“G.fast will allow us to do that by building on the investment we have made in fibre to date,” he added. “It will transform the UK broadband landscape from superfast to ultrafast in the quickest possible timeframe.”

The two pilots will take place in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, and Gosforth, Newcastle. Around 4,000 homes and businesses will help to explore what speeds can be delivered using G.fast at scale.

Technological revolution

Newcastle council's cabinet member for investment and development, Cllr Ged Bell, said: "Newcastle is already part way through an ambitious project, in partnership with BT, to increase our superfast broadband coverage to over 98% of the city, making us one of the best connected cities in the UK.

"Superfast broadband is critical to any city nowadays and this allows us to remain competitive with other major European cities.

"We welcome this announcement from BT to be the only place in the north to trial ultrafast broadband which is capable of delivering hundreds of megabits per second. It keeps Newcastle at the forefront of the technological revolution."

The pilots will build on recent tests at BT’s innovation centre at Adastral Park, Suffolk.

These have shown that G.fast has the potential to deliver significant speed increases from existing and new fibre street cabinets as well as from other points closer to the customer.

BT is likely to deploy G.fast from various points in the network, with the pilots allowing it to assess various roll out options.

It is also planning to develop a premium fibre broadband service for those residential and business customers who want even faster broadband, of up to 1Gbps.

Gigabit broadband providers have previously told Cable.co.uk that G.fast is "simply not viable for the kind of speeds the country needs to be economically successful".

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