Published: 22nd Jun 2016
Following a raft of criticism about its broadband provision for rural areas in the UK, BT has unveiled new plans to improve broadband access for those with the poorest connections, as well as ever-faster connections for more homes.
In a bid to counter suggestions that his company’s monopoly should be broken up (including a recent letter published in the Financial Times signed by rival companies Sky, Vodafone and TalkTalk), BT’s chief executive officer Gavin Patterson has laid out what he hopes to achieve over the next five to ten years.
This includes plans to connect ten million homes to ultrafast broadband by 2020 (which is described as connections between 300 and 500Mbps), as well as a universal minimum connection of five to ten Mbps.
He also pledged to increase the number of Openreach installations completed on time, improve customer service, help to fund more community broadband projects, and reiterated his commitment to invest £1 billion into the UK’s broadband infrastructure.
Mr Patterson 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."
He claimed that to achieve his vision, BT would need the market stability its monopoly provided, and asked politicians and regulators to “leave markets to operate.”
However, the letter in the Financial Times has called on Ofcom to ask the Competition and Markets Authority to launch a full investigation into BT Openreach’s market practices, so there may still be challenges ahead for the company.
Ofcom has also revealed that problems with broadband are the most common cause for complaint in the media and telecoms sector, highlighting the dissatisfaction that many customers have with the provision of internet access. Despite this, the number of complaints BT received over the past year has fallen, although it remains higher than the industry average.
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