LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Britain’s BT is to offer superfast broadband speeds at up to 300 megabits per second to both its retail customers and rivals from next spring, it said on Wednesday, in a move that will transform speeds across the country.
The British government has been urging the industry to develop faster broadband speeds in its bid to make British businesses more competitive and Communications Minister Ed Vaizey welcomed the news.
The announcement will also help BT in its competition with the cable operator Virgin Media which also offers superfast speeds.
BT made the announcement as it launched a fibre to the premises (FTTP) service offering 110 Mbps on Wednesday. It will use this same technology to deliver downstream speeds of up to 300 Mbps from next spring.
The FTTP service will be offered on a wholesale basis, which means customers to the BT Retail service and those on rival services such as Talk Talk will be able to take advantage of the new offering.
In another development, the telecoms provider said those accessing fibre via the alternative technology of fibre to the BT street cabinet (FTTC) would soon receive faster connections, with speeds set to roughly double to up to 80 Mbps from 40 Mbps.
Fibre to the premises is the most advanced service because it is solely based on optical fibre, whereas fibre to the cabinet requires copper to be used from the cabinet to the premises, reducing available speeds.
European Union Commissioner Neelie Kroes this week put forward a proposal that would reduce the profits telecoms operators make from copper-based networks, in a bid to spur investments in fibre networks.
BT is investing 2.5 billion pounds ($3.9 billion) to make fibre broadband services available to two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2015.
More than 5 million premises already have access to the fibre to the cabinet network and the company said in July that over 200,000 had signed up for the product.
“These are significant announcements and good news for the UK,” Vaizey said in a statement. “High-speed broadband is essential for economic growth, which is why we want the UK to have the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015.
“Improving the UK’s broadband infrastructure will help our high-tech, digital industries grow. It will ensure the UK is an attractive place to start up and base the businesses of tomorrow.”
$1 = 0.649 British Pounds Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Georgina Prodhan