After our coverage of JT Group’s ‘Gigabit Jersey’ initiative, which will see all of Jersey able to get 1Gbps speeds by 2016, we caught up with BT to ask if we’d be able to see 1Gbps on its fibre network.
Currently, BT is rolling out an extensive fibre-based network which will by 2015 cover two-thirds of the UK. This will provide speeds of up to 330Mbps in areas where there’s a fibre-optic broadband line going straight to the home, or Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP).
FTTP lines are faster than Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) lines which on BT’s network provide top download speeds of 80Mbps. BT Infinity 2, BT’s premium FTTC service, however has an advertised maximum speed of 76Mbps, presumably to comply with new advertising rules.
JT Group’s network will connect homes with FTTP lines and offers a range of services, starting at 2Mbps going all the way up to 1Gbps.
So why isn’t BT offering, or planning to offer, 1Gbps speeds on its network anytime soon?
BT: 330Mbps fibre coming this June, 1Gbps coming when it’s ready
In a chat with a BT Openreach spokesperson, we were told that “1Gbps is technically possible over BT’s FTTP network, depending on the configuration, and has been successfully tested in a technical trial at our Adastral Park research labs.”
“However, we (BT Openreach) only offer products which, after talking to our CPs [Communications Providers], we believe there is sustainable demand for. As such we have no plans at the moment to offer a 1Gbps service – but it’s good to know that our FTTP infrastructure can potentially support it.”
So in a nutshell, BT Openreach won’t roll out 1Gbps until there’s a clear demand from other ISPs.
BT opened up its 80Mbps fibre network to other ISPs earlier in the year. So far it’s just TalkTalk, Sky and Plusnet which have tentatively dipped a toe into the fibrey waters. Sky has embarked on a very soft approach for its fibre service, not admitting it was running an 80Mbps one for a time. TalkTalk has gone so far as to call for wholesale prices of BT fibre to be regulated along with copper lines.
BT had previously announced trials of 1Gbps broadband, with a live trial taking place in Kesgrave, Suffolk back in 2011. BT’s director of strategy at the time Olivia Garfield (now CEO of BT Openreach) said last February;
“We intend to continually push the limits of our super-fast broadband programme in terms of the technology and the geography. While everyday consumers don’t require Gigabit speeds today, it’s important that we test the maximum speed capabilities of our fibre broadband product to ensure that it is fully future proofed.”
BT is expected to make 330Mbps lines available to other ISPs from the 11th of June onwards. BT is discounting prices of its services for a year, to get things going. Speed boosts to existing BT Infinity 100 customers, due to start in January 2013, will see download speeds climbing to 300Mbps.