Still a long way to go
There was unbridled triumphalism from UK telco giant BT today, as it announced its five millionth broadband customer. BT is the first ISP to reach this figure - achieved on 9 December - and it gave the customer in question a trip to the Winter Olympics.
The prize was an apposite choice, given a recent report in the FT quoting BT chief exec Ian Livingstone as promising to have its next generation 40mbps fibre optic network up and running in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics, which will be held in the UK.
"The UK's intensely competitive market for broadband has meant that UK customers have enjoyed superb innovation and low prices," said John Petter, MD of BT's consumer division. "There is more to come, as we believe bringing the content of things like iPlayer and ITVPlayer to the TV set via broadband is going to have a transformational effect when we launch Project Canvas with our partners next year."
Quoted in the FT, however, Livingston was more guarded in his vision of the future. "We need our politicians to decide how much of a priority fibre broadband is," he said. "BT is the only company currently planning to invest large sums in this area but we can only go so far with our shareholders' money."
Furthermore, while BT seems to want kudos for accelerating the roll-out of its next gen network, it had promised to deliver by 2012 a year and a half ago. At the time, the primary hurdle to achieving this was apparently Ofcom, but now BT seems to want more public money before it delivers on its promises. Good thing we've got so much to spare.