The super-fast broadband race continues, as BT and Virgin Media attempt to outdo each other hooking the nation – or at least the major population centres – up to very speedy pipes.
Virgin Media struck the latest blow, with the announcement of a broad doubling of the speed of its various packages at no extra charge to customers. And those on its leading edge 100Mbps package are to get a boost to 120Mbps, faster than BT’s current nippiest line (100Mbps).
But not for long, BT heralds with an announcement this morning. For its trials of FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) on-demand technology in Cornwall have gone well.
Basically, FTTP-OD is an extension of services in FTTC enabled areas whereby the customer can pay to have an additional run of fibre directly to their home or business premise.
Previously a direct fibre line wasn’t available in FTTC areas, but BT has developed a new “fibre overlay” solution for hooking up the household with a final run of fibre.
This will offer speeds of up to 300Mbps, triple the existing top speed, in what BT has dubbed ultra-fast fibre.
Further trials will happen this summer, and BT is expecting the 300Mbps service to be available to end users in the spring of 2013, just over a year away. It will also be available on a wholesale basis to other ISPs.
BT noted that it would also deliver “fast” upstream speeds – we should think so – but without actually stating what these would be.
The downside is it’s likely to be an expensive business, with the installation having to be funded by the customer, and no doubt substantial monthly fees. As a result, the service is initially more aimed at small to medium businesses, or relatively well-off consumers.
BT has also confirmed that the firm will be rolling out its faster FTTC technology this spring as planned, doubling speeds up from 40Mbps to 80Mbps (the move that prompted Virgin’s recent doubling of its speeds).
Upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps will also be offered on the new and improved FTTC.
BT said that 7 million premises are now on its fibre network, and this year that number will grow to 10 million. The ultimate target is two-thirds of the UK by the end of 2014.