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BT 10Gbps fibre broadband in Cornwall breaks world speed record

BT has demonstrated what it’s claiming to be the world’s fastest commercial broadband service, running at an eye-melting top speed of 10Gbps.

While Bangor University has broken the tens-of-gigabits sound barrier with its successful demo of 20Gbps, BT is saying that this is the world’s fastest broadband product being used in a commercial environment.

BT is able to offer the new speeds thanks to new equipment from ZTE called XGPON (Tens of Gigabits on a Passive Optical Network), which runs in tandem with existing fibre services on the same network.

BT 10Gbps fibre broadband in Cornwall breaks world speed record

The speeds were demoed at Arcol Resistors based in Threemilestone, Cornwall which has been actively involved in the Superfast Cornwall project, first taking an up to 100Mbps line and now enjoying a 330Mbps line.

Previously the company was languishing on a 1-1.5Mbps line which was “dragging the company down” in the words of Arcol co-founder Alun Morgan.

“We’re still only discovering the sorts of things we can do with these speeds such as taking advantage of video conferencing and using a cloud-based system so we can access information elsewhere… anything to do with the cloud I would have previously considered a joke.”

Morgan added that now up to five employees now regularly work at home thanks to the new connection, adding “we were asking ourselves how much does location actually mean now?”

It’s important to note that Morgan is talking about the 330Mbps service here, not the 10Gbps XGPON line. The important distinction about this demo is that it proves that BT’s fibre network can go this fast if future demand is there.

BT 10Gbps fibre broadband in Cornwall breaks world speed record

Ranulf Scarborough, BT’s Director of Superfast Cornwall said: “We’re doing nothing special with the fibre, we’re running XGPON over it… [Our] fibre can go faster and faster just by changing the electronics at either end. The difficult bit, getting the fibre there for the long term, is the crucial thing. A lot of this project is about future proofing, making sure that it’s not just the fastest speeds today but that we can continue to be at the cutting edge for five, ten, twenty years.”

BT had previously told us that speeds of up to 1Gbps were possible over its FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines and that BT’s FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) customers and ISPs would eventually be able to upgrade the copper last mile of their connections with fibre, turning it into full FTTP.

There’s a worry that cost will be a barrier for takeup. The idea is that competition will drive the prices down as it has done with ADSL broadband, but right now Ofcom does not regulate prices for BT’s fibre products.

TalkTalk’s Dido Harding has already raised concerns that “the country will have spent a lot of money building infrastructure which no one [will be] using” if price regulation isn’t set up.

BT is confident that competition will thrive on its new network in time. Right now it’s hard to predict how competitive the new fibre market will be with a few including Plusnet and Zen Internet dipping a toe in the FTTP waters.

Pending a burst of competitive activity which sees FTTC upgrade costs driven down, it’s good to know that BT’s work in Cornwall and elsewhere ought to be able to satisfy future demand.

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