BT to deliver new 300Mbps 'on demand' fibre broadband

Adam Oxford at

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More broadband news today: BT's wholesale arm Openreach, which provides the majority of broadband connections in the UK, is planning to launch a new fibre-based broadband product that's capable of delivering 300Mbps to your house. The company issued a press release this morning that claimed successful trials in St Agnes, Cornwall of its Fibre to the Premise On Demand (FTTP OD) would be followed up with more tests later this year, and most of its ISP partners would be selling the product by Spring 2013.

FTTP OD should be available to any exchanges which have been upgraded for Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) services like the 40Mbps Infinity. Theoretically, at 300Mbps you could download a 10GB Steam game in about five minutes. So is this the death of copper?

Obviously that's a rhetorical question. Aside from the fact you'd probably break Valve's servers downloading at that speed, FTTP OD is unlikely to appear in homes soon. Since it involves laying new fibre cables from the street cabinet to your door, it'll be expensive to connect to. Networking specialist site Thinkbroadband estimates an installation fee of £500-£1500, which is a bit extreme for a game of UT3.

Still, it's a pleasant option to have, which sits alongside existing business grade FTTP services and complements the more practical fibre products BT offers for blocks of flats, where the cost of superfast broadband can be shared.

It's been a busy day for BT, though, which also announced its Q3 results (takings down as no-one makes phone calls any more, profits up because what's left is all high margin stuff). The more interesting news, in fact, is in the detail of this announcement – that there are more than 400,000 subscribers on BT's Infinity FTTC service already. That's an impressive rate of uptake considering it's not available everywhere yet.

The best news, though, is that like rival Virgin, BT is planning to double speeds for existing customers – at least those who are on fibre-based services already. Infinity is going to accelerate from 40Mbps to 80Mbps, with a very large 20Mbps upstream bandwidth. Outside of all the gushing about superfast broadband and triple digit speeds, it's that last figure which is most important to me. Big upstream speeds should, and I repeat should, mean better quality all round. And as I pointed out yesterday, it's quality, not quantity, of broadband that counts for games.


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