BT fattens fibre customer pipes for free - with a contract extension
Requires commitment before coming across
BT broadband customers who subscribe to the company's Infinity 2 package will see their fibre download speeds nearly double from tomorrow, the national telco has promised.
Those punters will see current downstream speeds boosted from 38Mbit/s to "up to" 76Mbps on 12 April.
BT has said for some time now that its Infinity customers would soon gain access to a faster broadband network served via its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology.
The company added that the increases, which include upstream speeds of "up to" 19Mbit/s, would not lead to cost hikes for its customers.
Those subscribers on BT's Infinity 1 package will also see their broadband download speeds swell to "up to" 38Mbps and with upload speeds that could reach 9.5Mbit/s, it said.
Here's the rub, though: Existing customers already signed up to Infinity will be required to agree a new contract – at no extra cost – with BT before being able to access the new speeds.
The Register asked BT to explain why this was necessary and to also tell us how long an existing subscriber would be required to be tied into that "new contract"?
A BT spokesman confirmed that such a customer would first need to order a "regrade" from the company before "extending" their contract to another 12 or another 18 months.
"The new term starts from when we upgrade [their] service," he said.
“Super-fast broadband is helping people enjoy the internet far more than ever before. However, many providers have forgotten about the importance of fast upload speeds," said BT consumer managing director John Petter.
"BT believes that fast upstream speeds are vital given how people now use the internet and so we are distancing ourselves from the competition by providing the UK’s fastest upload speed.”
Roughly seven million premises in Blighty can currently upgrade to BT's Infinity products. The company is hoping to "pass" 10 million homes and businesses this year as part of its £2.5bn investment in fibre upgrades for two-thirds of the country.
The company is also bidding for government funds from the £680m BDUK pot for rural and urban areas. BT is the only telco to have secured such an investment so far.
Of course, those theoretical maximum speeds could greatly vary for customers depending on how far away their homes are from the street side cabinets installed by BT's Openreach engineers that tie copper phone lines to BT's fibre optic tech.
The company is offering a "mixed economy" broadband network, with most of it being FTTC. The more desirable FTTP technology, that involves blowing fibre directly into a premises, is much harder and more time-consuming to roll out – as we discovered here.
BT recently talked up a product dubbed "FTTP on demand", that will eventually allow cabinets to carry faster broadband speeds of "up to" 300Mbps – at a hefty cost. Consequently, the company isn't punting that service to the consumer market, and is instead targeting businesses.
Meanwhile, seeing as BT mentioned its cable rival in its statement advertising the the Infinity upgrade, we thought it would be a good idea to get Virgin Media's response.
A spokesman at the UK's second largest ISP told us:
"This is good news for Britain that BT is trying to 'Keep Up' with Virgin Media ... We've now completed our roll-out of 100Mbit/s to 13 million homes and now we're boosting our customers' speeds up to 120Mbps – that’s some 50 per cent faster than BT's top speed." ®