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BT starts trials of 330Mbits/sec fibre technology to squeeze even more speed out of BT's copper wires

BT has begun a large-scale trial of a new fibre broadband technology that can boost download speeds to 330Mbits/sec. The technology is being trialled in Huntingdon, and allows BT to squeeze even more capacity out of the copper telephone lines. is essentially a halfway house between fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which currently delivers a maximum download speed of 80Mbits/sec, and full-blown fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), which is currently pegged at 330Mbits/sec, but has the ability to deliver speeds of 1Gbit/sec and beyond. sees high-capacity fibre cable moved closer to the customer’s home, although not right to the customer’s door. Instead, the cable is run from the local fibre cabinet to a smaller piece of hardware (called a distribution node) that can be fitted to a telegraph pole or placed underground. The last stretch of the connection still runs over the speed-sapping copper, but because the length of copper wire is shortened, speeds are dramatically increased. 

BT says it has already squeezed speeds of 330Mbits/sec from lines and that the technology will “make speeds of a few hundred megabits per second available to millions of homes by 2020 and deliver up to 500Mbits/sec to most of the UK within a decade”.

However, BT’s press release comes with a thinly veiled threat to regulator Ofcom and the competition authorities, who are musing over whether to split off BT’s networking arm, Openreach. BT warns the new technology will only be rolled out “if UK regulation continues to encourage investment”.

BT will still be lagging behind Virgin Media, even if it does proceed with its plans for The company is about to upgrade the top speed on its network to 300Mbits/sec. BT is at least a year away from a commerical rollout of, with the Huntingdon trial set to run for the next six to nine months. 


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