The U.K. will get 300 Mbps fiber to the home connections available on a wholesale basis. And that, my friends, is the sound of broadband supremacy passing us by in the U.S. Sure, we’re aware that Japan, Korea and the Netherlands all have gigabit broadband, while most of us languish with cable or even DSL connections that deliver a nationwide average of 5.1 Mbps according to Akamai. But now, the U.K. is trumping us with the announcement of an open 300 Mbps network.
BT Openreach, a U.K. telecom, said Thursday it plans a fiber to the premise service that will be available on a wholesale basis, which could help create a competitive market for broadband service. BT is already deploying the FTTP for commercial customers in six locations that will be ready by the end of October. Currently, the network offers 110/30 Mbps speeds, but by spring, it will offer the 300 Mbps download speeds. It plans to expand that program, although it’s a bit hazy on where and how. The technology BT will use in delivering FTTP is capable of delivering gigabit speeds, which are currently being trialled in Kesgrave, Suffolk.
BT has also said it will boost speeds in its fiber to the node deployments from 40 Mbps down to 80 Mbps. The fiber to the node deployments rely on fiber to the cabinet in the neighborhood and then copper to the home, much like AT&T’s U-verse service does in the U.S. At this point, it says fiber broadband will be available to over two-thirds of the U.K, although it’s unclear if that’s fiber to the home or fiber to the node. The company will invest $2.5 billion in the project.
Before utterly despairing about the fate of broadband in the U.S., it’s worth remembering that Verizon is deploying fiber to the home as is Google and municipal network efforts. Google’s network will also be open. Plus, there’s still a question of how much BT will charge to provide access to the pipe, and whether it will allow for competitors to come into the market. But, more fiber in the ground and connected to commercial buildings and consumer homes is a good thing.