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BT boss: If Ofcom backs us, we promise to speed up UK broadband

Telco giant fires opening salvo in high-stakes battle to prevent Openreach divorce

BT chief Gavin Patterson has promised to back the government's desire to gift Blighty with universal minimum broadband speeds of 5 to 10Mbps, with the caveat that the company needs support from Ofcom.

The one-time state monopoly laid out its plans for the next five years on Tuesday morning, by claiming that BT's pledges could be worth as much as £30bn to the UK economy over the next decade.

BT awaits the outcome of a review of its Openreach business from Ofcom, amid calls from its rivals for the telco to be broken up. Patterson was open about BT's efforts to prevent the company from being split up by regulators.

"We think the UK has an even brighter future ahead if we make the right decisions today," he said.

"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. To achieve this, we need a collaborative effort across industry and government,” he added.

BT said that it needed the government's support to bolster slower broadband speeds for everyone in the UK.

Patterson said that BT, left in its current incarnation, would deploy "ultrafast" broadband services of 300 to 500Mbps to 10 million homes and SMBs by the end of 2020.

It claimed that in 10 years from now, the majority of premises in the UK would have access to those speedier network connections, using a combination of Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) and Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) tech, such as BT's product – which is currently being trialled in parts of Cambridgeshire.

Another bugbear for BT's rivals has been the company's horrendously slow Openreach repairs to its aged copper infrastructure, which has already led to regulatory meddling.

BT said today that it had a new "view my engineer" service, which would allow customers to track the whereabouts of Openreach bods.

In response to Patterson's comments about BT's plans, Ofcom said:

It’s important that BT is looking to help address the growing needs of broadband users who rely on its network, and we welcome the company’s commitment to provide ultrafast broadband to 10 million premises.

We look forward to discussing BT’s proposals in more detail, including its commitments on Openreach’s performance – something Ofcom has been clear must continue to improve.


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