BT announced today its plans to invest £1.5 billion in a fibre-optic infrastructure that will bring broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps to some ten million British homes by 2012.
At present, Britain's broadband service pales in comparison to countries such as Japan and France, largely due to the copper wires used on BT's ageing network.
BT's plans would revolutionise Britain's broadband experience, with approximately nine million homes estimated to achieve speeds of up to 40Mbps. A further one million newly-built homes could receive speeds of up to 100Mbps with BT installing fibre-optic cables direct to their doors.
In order to fund the project, which will involve hundreds of British roads being dug up in order to lay the fibre-optic cables, BT will suspend its £2.5 billion share buy-back programme later this month.
However, the telecoms giant has stated that its plans are dependant on Ofcom, who it hopes will relax restrictions and help BT ensure a decent return on its investment. Showing signs of a certain agreement, Ofcom responded within the hour with a press release stating that it welcomes BT's proposals.
BT's chief executive, Ian Livingston, said:
Broadband has boosted the UK economy and is now an essential part of our customers' lives. We now want to make a step-change in broadband provision which will offer faster speeds than ever before. This marks the beginning of a new chapter in Britain's broadband story.
Though BT's plans will be welcomed by many broadband users, it hasn't been well received by rival broadband supplier, Virgin Media. James Kydd, managing director of marketing and brand at Virgin Media, states that a fibre-optic network is already available and that BT is simply playing catch-up. In a statement, Kydd said:
We've already invested £13 billion in a fibre-optic network and the launch of our 50Mb product later this year will mean 12 million UK consumers won't have to wait to get access to next generation broadband. We've long believed that super-fast broadband is what people want and we're not surprised some of our competitors are now trying to play catch up.
This could be the moment that British broadband users have been waiting for over many years. Super-fast broadband could be on its way.