BT pledges better broadband for UK

BT pledges better broadband for UK

BT pledges better broadband for UK  Image copyright
BT

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BT has recruited more engineers but rival Sky claims it is still slow to connect its new customers

BT has hit back at rivals calling for its break-up, with a strategy to make the UK the fastest broadband nation.

It revealed plans to connect 10 million homes to ultrafast broadband by the end of 2020 and raise the minimum broadband speed for homes that cannot get fibre to 5-10Mbps (megabits per second).

It comes in a week when rivals have denounced the quality of UK broadband.

In a letter to the Financial Times on Monday, they said BT should be split.

Sky, Vodafone and TalkTalk were among signatories to the letter which claimed that millions of customers currently have a "substandard" broadband service.

The letter said it was time for "radical reform" and called on Ofcom to ask the Competition and Markets Authority to undertake a full market investigation of BT.

Ofcom is in the process of considering whether BT Openreach, which runs the telecoms network, should be separated from the rest of the firm.

"Ofcom is conducting the most fundamental review of the communications market in a decade, and has identified serious problems with the ownership of the national telecoms network by BT Openreach," the letter reads.

"These include a conflict of interest in the role of BT, poor quality of customer service and difficulties in enforcing the existing regulatory regime. The result is a substandard experience for millions of customers and diminished opportunity for alternative providers to compete effectively."

Minimum speeds

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Getty Images

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Questions have been raised about how Openreach is kept separate from the rest of BT

Hitting back at critics, BT's chief executive Gavin Patterson said his firm could cement the UK as the G20's leading digital economy.

Among its plans were:

  • Aim for a new universal minimum broadband speed of 5-10Mbps
  • Plan to extend fibre broadband beyond government's 95% of premises target
  • 10 million premises to receive speeds of between 300-500Mbps by end of 2020, with 1Gbps also provided
  • Co-funding of more community broadband schemes
  • Openreach to increase on-time customer installations
  • Aim to improve customer service with text progress updates and engineer's mobile phone number

"We want to forge an ultrafast future for Britain and stand ready to help government deliver the broadband speeds necessary for every property to enjoy modern day internet services, such as high definition TV streaming and cloud computing," he said.

Ofcom has just published its latest data on the volume of consumer complaints among broadband providers.

Although BT saw its complaints fall, it still generated more than the industry average.

Sky had the smallest number of complaints, followed by Virgin Media.

EE generated the most complaints for broadband while TalkTalk's complaint volume increased.

Plusnet also saw a reduction in its complaint volumes but also had more than the industry average.

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