BT bets big on UK broadband with £600m plan to hit 99pc of homes

31 Jul 2017

Image: Dima Karpov/Shutterstock

Every country is struggling to make broadband reach the most remote homes within its borders, with BT eyeing a UK solution.

A £600m offer from BT in the UK could see decent broadband coverage reach 99pc of homes and businesses before the decade is through.

That’s according to claims made over the weekend, with 10Mbps the speed BT thinks it could provide, should its offer be accepted by the government.

Future Human

Under the proposal, BT would hit the 99pc mark by 2020, with everyone satisfied within two years of that.

Officials now have to decide whether or not to accept BT’s plan, as other regulatory options are under consideration.

BT would fund its investment and recover its costs by charging for access to its local networks, should it get the go-ahead.

“We already expect 95pc of homes and businesses to have access to super-fast broadband speeds of 24Mbps or faster by the end of 2017,” said Gavin Patterson, BT’s chief executive.

“Our latest initiative aims to ensure that all UK premises can get faster broadband, even in the hardest to reach parts of the UK.”

Irish eyes

Grand plans to deliver broadband to rural areas isn’t a solely UK endeavour, of course, with Ireland’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) still bouncing around the houses.

Currently, Eir, Siro and Enet are shortlisted for the tender for the NBP, which could amount to an overall spend of €1.5bn to bring fibre connectivity to around 1.9m people.

However, the plan was originally intended to have launched in June and now it may not be announced until November. The constant delays in commencement are raising more questions than answers as to the ultimate feasibility of the plan.

The NBP was changed in April when the Government agreed on a deal with Eir to grant the incumbent operator access to 300,000 homes in the intervention area. This reduced the number of homes in the NBP intervention area to 542,000 premises, including an additional 84,500 identified for the Department of Communications’ Broadband Map, much to the displeasure of the other bidders vying against Eir.

According to the latest Central Statistics Office Small Area Population statistics, 50pc of dwellings in the Westmeath village of Ballynacargy have no broadband, the highest level of any town in Ireland.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic