BT to expand 24Mbps broadband coverage

The telco's wholesale division has announced plans to deliver speeds of up to 24Mbps to 75 percent of UK homes and businesses by the spring of 2011

BT intends to almost double the reach of 24Mbps broadband connectivity across the UK, the communications provider announced on Thursday.

BT Wholesale — the division that supplies connectivity for resale by other ISPs — currently provides speeds of up to 24Mbps to around 40 percent of UK homes and businesses, with the vast majority of the rest of the UK getting up to 8Mbps.

Earlier this year, BT said it would expand 24Mbps coverage to 55 percent of the country, but it is now aiming for 75 percent coverage by the spring of 2011. This would cover around 20 million homes and businesses, BT said.

"Today's announcement is further evidence of BT's commitment to deliver next-generation broadband services across the UK," BT Wholesale products chief Cameron Rejali said in a statement.

Although BT's 24Mbps offering is based on its next-generation 21CN core network, it still relies on copper connections between telephone exchanges and customers. The company is currently trialling fibre connectivity — which promises speeds of up to 100Mbps — to homes and businesses, and intends to roll out such high-speed access to around 10 million homes and businesses by 2012.

BT will cut its copper-access wholesale prices for other ISPs from January 2010, with bandwidth charges falling by almost 50 percent and rental charges "standardised at the lowest current price", BT said in its statement.