BT promises 300Mbps broadband for 10 million homes by 2020

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

BT Boosts High-Speed Broadband Plan as Regulator Considers Split.

The chief executive of telecoms giant BT says the company will “never say no” to providing faster broadband for rural communities though rollout is “subject to regulatory support”. BT Group Plc, the U.K. phone company facing calls for a breakup from competitors, promised to expand the speed and reach of its network and hire new engineers to improve customer service ahead of the communications regulator’s decision about its future.Openreach, the BT-owned network provider which supplies most UK internet and phone companies, has pledged to improve service levels and make it easier for end-users to follow the progress of their faults and installations.Joe Garner, the Openreach chief executive, has unveiled plans to shake up the network arm of BT which could see the introduction of a ‘View my Engineer’ service.

The group said it will “explore innovative funding and technical solutions” to deliver broadband to rural areas and claims 90 communities in the UK are “already benefiting from this approach”. BT is aiming for universal minimum broadband speeds of 5 megabits to 10 megabits per second for Britain’s homes and businesses, more than twice the minimum standard set by the U.K. government’s broadband delivery program. Simon Roberson, regional partnership director for BT in the North East, said: “These proposals will have a major impact on the future success and prosperity of the North East. “BT is already leading the way with nearly 900,000 households and businesses in the region having access to high-speed fibre broadband – and that number continues to grow each week. “In an increasingly competitive world, this further major investment will be another vital boost for our region. The BT subsidiary is ring-fenced from the rest of the firm’s operations, including its BT Retail division which competes with Sky, TalkTalk and other phone and broadband providers. The BT chief said the UK would “go beyond government’s current 95 per cent target for fibre availability, thanks to ‘success dividend’ clauses in contracts covering rollout co-funded by BT, Whitehall and local councils”. “A sum of £130 million is already being released and is potentially available to get the UK towards having fibre available at 96 per cent of premises.

BT secured all £490 million of state subsidies in the £1.2 billion rural broadband procurement programme, Broadband UK (BDUK) spread across 44 local bodies across the UK. Chief Executive Officer Gavin Patterson said that the goals will depend on government support for the company, which has been called too powerful by rivals including Vodafone Group Plc and TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc. Earlier this year Sky claimed that hundreds of engineer appointments are missed each month and that thousands of customers see appointment times changed or new installations missed and delayed. As only a number of Openreach vans are also fitted with GPS equipment – around 75 per cent at the last count – it’s unlikley that you’ll be able to get an Uber-style Google Maps view pinpointing the exact location of your engineer, at least in the short term.

The Scottish Government pledged a further £2.5 million support in 2014 to help bring broadband to remote areas in Scotland, taking the total investment in the Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) programme to £7.5 million and extending the scheme until “at least March 2018”. All the same, ISPs using BT’s Openreach network could use this information to power a series of apps aimed at letting their customers know how long it’ll take for an engineer to visit. Separately there are increasingly high profile complaints, including on BBC One’s consumer affairs programme Watchdog, about delays in connecting new developments to the network. Right now it’s possible for customers ordering superfast FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) services to self-install, although this is an option the less tech-savvy might want to skip. Openreach insists that it’s already exceeding Ofcom’s performance targets and has hired thousands of additional engineers to reduce customer waiting times.

Because engineers require access to a customer’s house to complete installation and make sure the line is working, people who can’t work from home need to take a day off work, which is one reason why no-shows or late arrivals are frustrating. Competitors that rely on Openreach to offer their own service have complained that BT is slow to repair faults and that its control over the market has resulted in poor network performance. He also announced plans to supply fibre broadband for all new housing developments, either through BT’s own efforts or in co-operation with developers. “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. He also suggested that, subject to Ofcom approval, customers could in future be allowed contact Openreach directly about their issues ending the need for them to rely on their ISP relaying messages to the engineers.

Patterson said new technologies developed at BT’s Adastral Park research laboratories “should help boost slow speeds for many hard-to-reach premises”. BT picked up all 44 regional contracts awarded under the scheme, with PAC chair Margaret Hodge accusing the government of failing to deliver “meaningful competition” in the procurement of the programme.

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