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Introduction Tim O'Sullivan

BT announces further spending on broadband

Broadband 

And aims to reach a further two million premises with fibre to the premises

BT’s broadband focus is on those who don’t yet have superfast broadband, who might contact you: the investment is in place to ensure these people’s needs are tackled, even more so now that BT has announced a further wave of investment to help the UK remain the leading digital nation in the G20. Its Openreach and EE businesses will between them spend around six billion pounds over the next three years in the first phase of a plan to extend superfast broadband and 4G coverage beyond 95 per cent of the country by 2020. We’re also addressing customer service and you can read about that here.

Ultrafast broadband (300Mbps) will be deployed to a minimum of ten million homes and businesses in the same period, subject to regulatory support, with an ambition to reach twelve million. There will be an increased focus on Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology within this plan with the aim being to reach two million premises with the technology, mainly in new housing developments, high streets and business parks.

Networks require significant investment: Virgin and BT have both pledged to invest and will now see if others follow. Infrastructure competition is good for the UK, as is the current Openreach model whereby others can piggyback on BT’s investment to compete with BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, Sky and others.

G.fast is an important technology that will enable BT to deploy ultrafast broadband relatively quickly and to as many homes as possible. (G fast article) Customers want their broadband to be affordable as well as fast and G.fast can be used to achieve both those goals.

However, FTTP will also play a bigger role as it is particularly suited to businesses wanting speeds of up to 1Gbps. Openreach has the largest FTTP network in the UK and it has been conducting further trials of this technology to prove it can reduce the cost of deployment, improve the customer experience and make it quicker to install. The trials are going well and the business believes it may be able to pass two million premises with this technology by 2020 helping to take overall ultrafast availability to twelve million.

FTTP is likely to be deployed to hundreds of thousands of SMEs in high streets and business parks, should there be demand, providing them with a service that offers speeds of up to 1Gbps without the need for a dedicated business grade line. The updated service will be developed by Openreach in the coming months taking the views of its communication provider customers into account.

Improving service is our number one priority, and we are making progress: Openreach’s engineers now fix 84 per cent of faults within two working days, compared to just 67 per cent when reporting began two years ago. The business installs 93 per cent of new lines on time, and it has cut the average time to get an appointment from 11 to seven days. Openreach has also reduced the number of appointments its engineers miss by more than a third in just three months and is on track to halve missed appointments this year.



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