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Three quarters of Brits can now get BT fibre

Barry Collins
7 May 2015
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Latest figures show upswing in fibre broadband take-up

BT claims its fibre broadband network now passes three quarters of the UK population, as the company begins expanding on its plans for "ultrafast" fibre. The latest figures from BT, released alongside its fourth-quarter earnings, show 22 million homes and businesses can now receive BT fibre.

BT says the total number of homes actually taking fibre from its wholesale network (Openreach) has increased by 1.5 million this year, boosting numbers from 2.7 million to 4.2 million. That means almost one in five homes who can get fibre are actually taking it. 

Although other broadband providers can connect customers to BT's network, BT itself has been by far away the biggest beneficiary of the fibre expansion. 58% of the customers who took a fibre connection in the past year bought it directly through BT, once again raising questions about BT's dominance of the market, not least with its proposed takeover of EE in the pipeline. 

BT might be nearing the end of its fibre rollout, but those already connected to the network could see speeds increase to up to 500Mbits/sec, as BT begins trial deployments of its G.Fast technology from next year. "This will be another multi-year investment by Openreach and is the right thing for both BT and the UK, providing even faster speeds in an already competitive market," said BT CEO, Gavin Patterson. "We delivered our best ever performance for fibre connections in the fourth quarter with Openreach adding almost half a million premises to our network. Our retail business delivered a record-breaking 266,000 of these connections."  

Patterson added that BT shareholders had approved the takeover of EE last week, but it still has to win approval from the Competition and Markets Authority, and is unlikely to be rubber stamped until the end of the year. In the meantime, BT has launched its own virtual 4G network, conveniently piggybacking on EE. 

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