Wheeee! BT preps for FIVE HUNDRED MEGABIT broadband trial

If it works it'll go nationwide, says telco's top dog

BT has announced that it wants to roll out G.fast and fibre to the home to provide internet speeds of up to 500Mbps and 1Gbps.

G.fast is a technology that gets fibre closer to the home and leaves traditional copper twisted pair to the last leg, so that drives and gardens don’t have to be dug up, but uses interference cancelling to provide very much higher speeds than traditional DSL or Fibre-to-the-Cabinet.

BT chief Gavin Patterson has given the nod to BT rolling out consumer trials of G.fast following tests at the telco's beautiful Adastral Park research centre. If you live in Huntingdon or Gosforth you’ll be able to sign up for a trial this summer by contacting your ISP. All the ISPs in the area will be invited to participate in the trial.

BT is looking for 4,000 homes and businesses as guinea pigs. The trials will experiment with different topographies to understand G.fast better. It is particularly well suited to BT’s new plan to put cabinets in buildings.

For most people, however, it’s a long way off. Patterson said that deployment would start in 2016/2017 and coverage to the rest of the UK would take a decade.

Early tests show G.fast is capable of delivering a range of speeds depending on how close the technology is to a customer’s premises. BT expects to offer initial speeds of a few hundred megabits per second to millions of homes and businesses by 2020. Speeds will then increase to around 500Mbps as further industry standards are secured and new kit is developed.

Patterson said: “We believe G.fast is the key to unlocking ultrafast speeds and we are prepared to upgrade large parts of our network should the pilots prove successful. That upgrade will depend however on there continuing to be a stable regulatory environment that supports investment.”

BT is also planning to develop a premium fibre broadband service for those residential and business customers who want even faster broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps, much like Google Fiber. This network already passes almost 22 million premises – around three quarters of all such premises in the UK – and is open to all communications providers on an equal basis. Its expansion will help the UK to boast 95 per cent coverage for fibre broadband within the next few years.

There is an existing BT service, Infinity 4, which offers 300Mbps. Fibre-to-the-premises is available from a number of ISPs, while BT Openreach has a coverage checker here ®.

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