BT has revealed ambitious plans to help make the UK’s broadband speeds the fastest on earth, despite being under Ofcom review over its market dominance.
Gavin Patterson, BT chief executive, used the company’s ‘Delivering Britain’s Digital Future’ conference in London to make his future vision clear. This included improvements to broadband speeds across the board, tackling slower connections in rural locations and improving customer service through ‘a number of commitments’.
In terms of this world-beating speed, Patterson said BT would “never say no” to providing broadband to communities, with plans to make the service go “further and faster”. This is a bold move, coming after communications regulator Ofcom announced it was to carry out a review into BT’s Openreach division, to determine whether it should be spun off.
Although BT is the main beneficiary of £1 billion in government funding to boost broadband connectivity, the company has pledged to return some funds where take up is already above 20 per cent. To this end it has already returned £129 million.
Superfast gives way to Ultrafast with speeds of up to 1Gbps
On the subject of Ofcom, Openreach chief executive Joe Garner acknowledged there were more improvements to be made on the service, but highlighted that it had exceeded all 60 of the regulator’s service standards over 2014/15. Furthermore, installation waiting times, fault repair times and complaint numbers had all decreased thanks to the 3,000 extra engineers BT has taken on.
In his speech, Patterson proposed a move from Superfast to Ultrafast broadband to homes and businesses alike. BT aims to reach ten million premises by the end of 2020, offering speeds of between 300 and 500Mbps. Certain well-connected businesses will even manage 1Gbps.
Despite the promises, BT’s biggest competitor is unconvinced. A spokesperson for Sky told theguardian.com: “What the British broadband market urgently needs is radical reform, not calculated manoeuvring and caveats to protect BT’s self-interest. Only a truly independent Openreach will unlock the investment, innovation and competition required to deliver the digital connectivity of the future.”