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BT boasts superfast speeds over creaking copper wires

BT engineers laying fibre

Use of new technology finally allows superfast speeds to be sent down copper wires

BT has claimed success in its efforts to squeeze faster speeds down ageing copper wires after recent trials saw it record gigabit speeds over a mix of fibre and copper. It was thought that such high speeds would require an expensive fibre to the premises (FTTP) line.

The new record speeds were recorded at BT’s Adastral Park research centre in Ipswich. The company said it was “greatly encouraged” by the tests, which used fibre lines rolled out to telephone poles or junction boxes closer to homes and businesses. Currently fibre is normally rolled out to exchanges, which can be a long way from customers.

Known as G.FAST, the trials achieved download speeds of around 800Mbps and upload speeds of over 200Mbps over a 19m length of copper wire. Over a longer distance of 66m speeds were 700/200Mbps respectively. BT said that the longer distance represented 80 per cent of such connections in the UK.

BT’s fibre network is currently available to around 20 million UK premises, using a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to FTTP. Current speeds are limited to 80Mbps, mainly due to speed limits on copper wires still used on BT’s network.

The company said that new technology, which maximises the data capacity of copper wire by using much higher frequencies, would finally make faster speeds possible. The new fibre and copper technology would be cheaper and easier to install than FTTP, while also delivering better speeds than FTTC. BT said that it was still carrying out extensive testing and that commercial use of the technology was still some way off.

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