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BT commences trials of copper-to-the-home broadband tech

Fibre to a special cabinet somewhere reasonably close to the home

The first customers were connected in a BT trial of its 330Mbps "" ultrafast broadband in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire today. The test, which was announced in July, will later be extended to Swansea, Gosforth and Newcastle. uses a fast link from a specially equipped cabinet to a distribution point, then employs noise cancelling between the distribution point and the home so that the speed can be boosted without the ropey old copper having to be ripped out.

Openreach is working with eight communications partners, which will then provide retail services to consumers. The trial is open to all communications providers on equal terms. This means people will have a choice of service provider and any technological developments will benefit the wider industry.

Two thousand homes and businesses will be covered by the trial in the coming weeks. It is already delivering speeds of up to 330 megabits per second (Mbps): more than ten times the current UK average.

In a pop at the likely separation of BT and Openreach, the company warned: “If trials like the one in Huntingdon prove successful – and if UK regulation continues to encourage investment – Openreach aims to start deploying in 2016/17 alongside its fibre-to-the-cabinet and fibre-to-the-premises services.”

The company believes that will enable it to make speeds of a few hundred megabits per second available to millions of homes by 2020 and deliver up to 500Mbps to most of the UK within a decade, as the technology is developed further.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: "The UK already leads Europe when it comes to superfast broadband coverage and speeds, with around 40,000 more homes and businesses getting access every week thanks to the government roll-out. We want to stay ahead of the competition and so it’s good to see this continued investment and innovation in the industry. BT is harnessing its world-class technology and engineering expertise to help the UK lead the way on ultrafast broadband and remain a world-leading digital economy."

His Labour shadow, however begged to differ on just successful the government has been at rolling out broadband, sugesting that it has not been good for his constituents.

Joe Garner, CEO of Openreach, said: “Today is the start of a new chapter in building Britain’s connected future. This is the largest trial of technology in the world and it builds on the pioneering research of BT’s world-class R&D teams.

The company has pioneered research into technology since 2007 and has been heavily involved in driving the creation of global industry standards in that time. It is working on the trials with international vendors ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei, and also with chipset manufacturers and global standards bodies, to drive the speed and performance of technology.

BT told The Register that the areas of Huntingdon with the highest levels of coverage in the trial will be Stukeley Meadows, Sapley and Hartford.

One of the ISPs offering the service will be Andrews & Arnold. The company told The Register that because it’s a trial, won’t be immediately available to order from its website, but if customers called them the sales people could check availability and process an order. ®

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