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Geordie.fast: BT trial of up to 330Mbps broadband powers up in Newcastle

BT engineers have connected the first trialist of G.fast technology in Gosforth, Newcastle to an up to 330Mbps service.  

While we’re unable to get a handle on the exact kinds of speeds enjoyed, the G.fast-based service is apparently fast enough to allow for near-instant downloads of HD content while multiple family members share the same connection. 

The emerging technology promises to greatly increase the bandwidth possible on connections where old-school copper is still being used in the so-called ‘last mile’. Right now customers with FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet)-based services in BT’s network can get a top theoretical speed of 80Mbps – as with ADSL broadband services, your service is determined ultimately by your location, as previous lab conditions tests have demonstrated

Related: BT could boost universal download speed to 5-10Mbps, if Ofcom lets it and Copper’s not dead yet: Inside BT’s G.fast labBT has bold plans for G.fast and hopes that once it’s finished testing out the technology – a similar trial is taking place now in Cambridgeshire and one is planned for Swansea – that 10 million customers will be able to order G.fast-based services by 2021

The incumbent telco recently outlined its ambitions for the next five years ahead of an Ofcom review which could see its network arm Openreach – used by ISPs like TalkTalk, EE, Sky and now Vodafone – separated from the rest of the company. 

The company recently made a series of commitments that it plans to stick to, should the regulator play nice and let it keep its network. Equally, there’s a good chance that should Ofcom’s strategic review go the other way, BT will need to pull out all the stops to face off competition from the likes of CityFibre, whose networks could be used to reach a similar number of customers with superior FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) technology in a similar time frame and Gigaclear, which is going the distance in rural areas deemed uneconomical by bigger ISPs like BT.  

Joe Garner, CEO of BT’s network arm Openreach’s CEO said: “As we explained in our recently launched Charter, we are determined to continue to improve the UK’s leading position on broadband. That’s why we are very excited to have begun the second G.fast trial which is another step in building Britain’s connected future.” 

BT is also looking at rolling out gigabit FTTP services to customers in the future and has recently revived its Fibre on Demand service in Wales. This gives business customers the option of paying to upgrade the last mile of an FTTC line with a fibre optic link, effectively turning it into an FTTP line. In the past, the economics of this left a lot to be desired, with customers paying a one-off price based on how long that last mile would have to be – with a long-term contract lock in on top. It’s currently unclear if the pricing mechanism has been revised this time round. 

Although your line speed is probably not 330Mbps, you can check the speed you currently get with our broadband speed test tool.

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