BT plans to reach most of the UK with 500 Mbps broadband via G.Fast

BT (NYSE: BT) has laid out an ambitious plan to bring broadband speeds of up to 500 Mbps to the majority of the United Kingdom within 10 years by using G.Fast, a technology that can provide fiber-like speeds over short copper loops.

Beginning this summer, the service provider will conduct two pilots in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth, Newcastle. Nearly 4,000 homes and businesses will be able to take part in the trial which will examine what speeds can be delivered using to multiple users. If the trials prove to be successful, BT said it will begin a broader deployment in 2016 and 2017.

"We now think we can deploy this technology at scale which will enable us to deliver ultrafast speeds of up to 500 Mbps to most of the UK within a decade," said Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT, in the earnings release.  

These pilots build on the findings of technology tests conducted at BT's innovation center in Adastral Park, Suffolk in September. Leveraging a 19 meter length of existing copper, BT said it achieved downstream speeds of about 800 Mbps and upstream speeds of over 200 Mbps in the trial. On longer lines of 66 meters, a distance that it says encompasses about 80 percent of such connections, the telco reported speeds of around 700/200 Mbps.

Besides G.Fast, the service provider also conducted the second phase of its VDSL vectoring trial last August, which it claims could enhance the speeds of its "up to" 80 Mbps-capable FTTC network.

The announcement of the G.Fast trials came as BT reported that its fiscal Q3 consumer revenue rose 7 percent to $1.08 billion, with a 15 percent increase in both broadband and TV revenue and continued growth in calls and line revenue.

BT said it saw an improvement in consumer line losses, from 85,000 in the second quarter to 60,000 in Q3. The service provider also added 119,000 retail broadband customers, representing 46 percent of the DSL and fiber broadband market net additions. Adoption of fiber-based broadband service continued to grow with 209,000 retail fiber broadband net additions, raising its customer base to over 2.7 million customers. Out of its broadband customer base, over 35 percent are now on a fiber-based connection.

BT also reported gains on the TV side, adding 45,000 new customers during the quarter. The service provider enhanced its video play by launching TV Everywhere, which allows customers to watch TV channels on multiple devices, and making Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) available.

From an overall financial perspective, BT's revenue declined 3 percent to $6.73 billion as gains in BT Consumer offset losses in other divisions.

BT's shares were listed at $63.02, down $1.74 or 2.69 percent, in late Friday morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. 

For more:
- see the earnings release

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