BT commits to extending UK broadband to minimum speed of 5-10 Megabits per second

Telecoms giant BT announced on Tuesday that it aims to provide a new universal minimum broadband speed of 5-10 Megabits per second (Mbps) for every home and business in the UK, ensuring Britain’s future prosperity as the G20’s leading digital economy.

In a speech at the company’s Delivering Britain’s Digital Future conference in London, BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said that BT is committed to tackling slow speeds in hard-to-reach parts of the country and achieving a step-change in speeds overall, with ultrafast rollout starting next year, as well as improving customer service through a number of commitments announced by its infrastructure division Openreach.

According to a report from Ofcom, 90% of UK premises already access fibre broadband, which places the UK top of the EU’s largest countries.

Patterson commented: “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.”

BT is committed to support the UK government in delivering a new universal minimum broadband speed of 5-10Mbps, providing enough for everyone in the UK to enjoy Internet services such as high definition video. BT also aims introduce a satellite broadband service for some of the UK’s more remote premises by the end of the year.

In addition, Patterson stated that supportive regulatory and government policy environment is necessary to bring about a commercially viable investment. He also mentioned that new technologies are being developed at BT’s Adastral Park research laboratories, designed to help boost slow speeds for many hard-to-reach premises. This research also 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.

The UK is also expected to exceed the government’s current target of 95% for fibre availability, as a result of “success dividend” clauses in contracts covering rollout co-funded by BT, Whitehall and local councils. These 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 GBP130m is already being released and is potentially available to get the UK towards having fibre available at 96% of premises. 

Patterson also revealed plans to supply fibre broadband for all new housing developments, either through BT’s own efforts or in cooperation with developers. He went on to say that BT’s new ultrafast broadband services of 300-500Mbps would reach 10m homes and smaller businesses by the end of 2020, and the majority of premises within a decade.