BT doubles download speeds for Infinity broadband

BT doubles download speeds for Infinity broadband

Summary: The free upgrade to Infinity broadband plans bumps up BT's super-fast rivalry with Virgin with top download speeds of 76Mbps and uploads of 19.5Mbps, though existing BT fibre customers will have to sign a new contract


BT is doubling download speeds for Infinity broadband customers from Thursday, ramping up its super-fast fibre rivalry with Virgin Media.


BT is doubling download speeds for Infinity broadband customers from Thursday. Image credit: BT

The boost will come at no extra charge, though existing customers will need to sign up to new contracts, the company said on Wednesday. The move fulfills a promise BT made in May, when the operator said it would roughly double the download speeds and increase the upload rates provided by its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) Infinity broadband services.

Customers on BT's up-to-38Mbps Infinity package — 'Option 2' —  will get downloads of up to 76Mbps and see upload rates rise from 9.5Mbps to around 19Mbps, the company said. The upstream speed of Infinity 'Option 1' goes to a headline speed of 9.5Mbps, from its current 1.9Mbps. Downloads on Option 1 remain at up to 38Mbps.

"Delivery of the new increased speeds by BT Retail will help to achieve the government's stated ambition for the UK to have the best super-fast broadband network in Europe by 2015," BT said in a statement. "The high upstream speeds will also be of great benefit to customers who wish to upload photos, video, graphics or other rich content."

They will also contribute towards the government's ambition of delivering the best high-speed broadband network in Europe, BT added.

Super-fast rivalry

The rollout should increase BT's competitiveness with its key UK rival in super-fast broadband, Virgin Media, which already offers 100Mbps services. Like BT's Infinity, these are FTTC-based, but in Virgin's case, the final connection from the cabinet to the premises is done over co-axial cable rather than copper cable.

BT also offers a 100Mbps service, delivered by full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), but it this is only available to "a few thousand [premises]" at the moment, the company told ZDNet UK.

Virgin got a headstart on BT in 2008, when it launched a 50Mbps cable broadband service. At the moment, it is carrying out a speed upgrade programme that will see the headline speeds of its packages increase to up to 120Mbps. 

Previously, BT promoted the Infinity packages it is upgrading as delivering speeds of up to 40Mbps, but changed its terminology after new industry advertising guidelines came in on 1 April.

New customers, and those on non-Infinity contracts, can sign up for the faster services from Thursday at no extra cost, BT said. Existing Infinity customers can upgrade their connections to get the faster speeds, also at no extra cost, but will need to start a new contract, renewable under the terms of the existing contract. For example, if an Infinity customer on a 12-month contract wants to upgrade, they must start a new 12-month contract; the same is true for customers on 18-month contracts.

BT said that Infinity is already available to seven million people across the UK and that the service will reach another three million premises before the end of the year.

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Topics: Broadband, Networking

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • what a shame I'm in a city, and can barely get 1MB (speednet reported an avaerage of .87 at last check). I wish they would stop giving the people on fast broadband superfast broadband and concentrate on giving the rest of us some fast broadband!!
  • BT are indeed to be congratulated on now quoting maximum throughput speeds.

    Regarding the "Best High Speed Broadband network in Europe" it is unfortunate that Ofcom and the incumbent still use the phrase "passing a house" as job done, when it must be apparent to all that the very limited maximum capacity of their FTTC cabinets (even where they are actually installed) is far below the PCP cabinet's working pairs count. "Passing a house" cannot possibly connect everybody unless all the FTTCs are redesigned to provide close to the total pair count. If that course were taken there must be a strong argument that FTTC's should be scrapped in favour of full FTTP solutions for everybody. Were that Herculean task accomplished very rapidly indeed we might then be in a position to claim to be one of the better European networks.

    In this respect Virgin Media's co-axial "water pipe" seems significantly better as most houses (in their enabled areas only) can just be "tapped" into their service using their existing duct infrastructure. Not only is this likely to provide a much higher proportion of satisfactory services (provided the contention rates are kept in proportion), but it is not complicated by the maintenance aspects of the ageing twisted pair network which has to carry both telephone and broadband signals.

    The following picture shows a different type of PCP with the two FTTC link cables installed but not yet connected to any services

    Here's a typical smallest Virgin Media cabinet which covers a very much smaller area of houses. Note the separate telephone cables.

    If the UK is to obtain full fibre to the home, yet again the Virgin media duct infrastructure is surely the better option as illustrated below with the small fibre tube inserted in parallel with the existing co-axial and telephone cable.
    Surrey Hills