BT admits it's not even close to hitting its original fibre broadband target

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BT admits it's not even close to hitting its original fibre broadband target

When BT first set out plans to connect Britain with fibre optic broadband, it wanted to get 25 percent of homes on its network online without using old copper cables. That meant fibre optic wires running straight into your home, rather than just to your local cabinet on the street, where BT's aging infrastructure has to make the final push. Alas, the company's plans didn't pan out and it eventually resorted to its copper network to get fibre connections in more homes in a shorter space of time. However, that means slower downloads; while BT's fibre-to-your-door can get you speeds of up to 300 Mbps, its copper lines top out at 80 Mbps (although it could theoretically get a whole lot faster).

The decision caused a couple of savvy consumers to complain that BT's use of "fibre optic" was misleading, given most people are still being sold copper-limited internet packages. In its response to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), BT admitted that only 0.7 percent of homes on its network (144,000) could access the faster broadband speeds, just a fraction of the figure it previously predicted. However, it argued it wasn't misleading to promote the copper-to-your door method as fibre optic, and the ASA agreed. With such a small true fibre footprint, rivals are looking to build faster networks of their own. Sky, for example, is testing a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network that can deliver up to 1,000 Mbps broadband to people's homes. Not only is that faster than BT's offering, but it means bypassing the copper infrastructure that's holding so many homes back from faster speeds.

At some point, BT will have to choose (again) between persevering with copper and splashing the cash needed to install fibre cables in people's homes. It's no small expense, and would be part-funded by the taxpayer, but better infrastructure should mean a future-proofed BT network and the ability for customers to enjoy whatever greater connectivity might bring in the future.

[Image Credit: Barta IV, Flickr]
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