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BT's G.Fast plan a 'muddled compromise', says Vodafone

Tuesday, November 22nd 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

BT's plan to roll out G.Fast technology is a "muddled compromise" that will bring ultrafast speeds to less than 5% of the country, Vodafone has claimed.

Vodafone said that without the government’s intervention, the UK would be reliant on the rollout of G.Fast, a hybrid technology that uses a combination of fibre cables and traditional copper wires.

According to research commissioned by Vodafone, BT’s current G.Fast plans would increase the UK’s ultrafast household coverage by less than 5%.

The research also suggests that up to 90% of any G.Fast rollout would focus on areas already covered by Virgin Media and would only be available to customers living within a few hundred metres of an existing superfast street cabinet.

Vodafone’s claims come just days after the firm wrote to Ofcom to complain that Openreach’s trials of G.Fast were in breach of the regulator’s rules, potentially delaying the rollout of the technology by months.

But BT has dismissed the comments as “highly speculative” and called its plans the most ambitious in the UK.

A BT spokesperson said: “This is a highly speculative report given we haven’t revealed where we will be deploying ultrafast broadband.

“The good news for customers is that we will bring competition with us wherever we deploy as hundreds of providers will be able to offer competing services over our network.

“Our plans are the most ambitious in the UK and will see us reach as many as 12 million premises by the end of 2020.”

'Rooted in the past'

Both providers welcomed Chancellor Philip Hammond's upcoming announcment of a £400m investment in fibre to the premises broadband, a move that will bring speeds of up to 1,000Mbps to around two million homes.

Vodafone's director of external affairs Helen Lamprell, said: “We welcome the government’s move to focus on providing full fibre and we call upon BT to be up-front with the British public about its rollout plans and acknowledge that G.Fast will do nothing to help those stranded on archaic and woefully inadequate broadband today.

“BT is pushing a muddled compromise rooted in the past, while the rest of the world is focused on building the gigabit society at light speed over fibre.”

Responding to the Treasury announcement, BT said it is important to deploy ultrafast broadband to as many areas as possible, adding that BT supports others wanting to roll out their own networks.

“Such activity is very capital intensive and this fund may be helpful in ensuring smaller players can build sustainable businesses,” a spokesperson said.

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