BT pledges to improve broadband for the UK

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BT releases plan to make the UK the fastest broadband nation, hitting back at its rivals who called for it to break-up, aiming to connect 10 million homes, by 2020, to ultrafast broadband and increase the minimum broadband speed to 5-10Mbps for homes that cannot get fibre.

The announcement was made in the week when it rivals, including Sky, Vodafone and TalkTalk, criticised the quality of UK broadband, in a letter to the Financial Times, stating that BT should be split.

In the letter, rivals claimed that millions of customers are currently being provided with a “substandard” service. They said that it was time for “radical reform”, calling on Ofcom to ask the Competition and Markets Authority to commence a full market investigation of BT. Ofcom is now in the process of considering whether BT Openreach, which runs the telecoms network, should be separated from the rest of the firm.

The letter reads:

“Ofcom is conducting the most fundamental review of the communications market in a decade, and has identified serious problems with the ownership of the national telecoms network by BT Openreach.

“These include a conflict of interest in the role of BT, poor quality of customer service and difficulties in enforcing the existing regulatory regime. The result is a substandard experience for millions of customers and diminished opportunity for alternative providers to compete effectively.”

BT’s Chief Executive Gavin Patterson hit back, saying that his firm could cement the UK as the G20’s leading digital economy.

The firm’s plans include:

  • A new universal minimum broadband speed of 5-10Mbps
  • Extending fibre broadband beyond government’s target of 95%
  • Achieving speeds of between 300-500Mbps for 10 million premises by the end of 2020
  • Co-funding more community broadband schemes
  • Increasing the number of on-time customer installations
  • Improving customer service with text updates and engineer’s mobile numbers

Patterson commented:

“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.”

Ofcom has published its published its latest data on the volume of consumer complaints among broadband providers. Although BT saw its complaints fall, it still generated more than the industry average. The provider with smallest number of complaints was Sky, followed by Virgin Media.

The most complaints for broadband were generated by E, and TalkTalk’s complaint volume increased. Plusnet also saw a reduction in its complaint volumes but like BT also had more than the industry average.

A spokesman for 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.”

Source: BBC News

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