BT to consider ultra-fast broadband network



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BT to consider ultra-fast broadband network

BT has dropped its hostility to building an ultra-fast broadband network and is now willing to discuss it at the industry summit that competitiveness minister Stephen Timms is to chair later in the year. Timms' summit will consider the potential need for public sector intervention in next generation broadband supporting download speeds higher than 20 Mbps, sufficient to support multiple HDTV feeds using MPEG4, as well as other internet and telephony services.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Ian Livingston, BT head of retail, said that the company was open to building the network if it could charge other operators a "sensible price" for it. This is a U-turn on BT's previous policy, which was that there was no economic case for swapping the existing copper wires that go into homes and businesses with a fibre network.

It follows Timms' speech last week that echoed earlier fears by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) that Britain will be economically disadvantaged by the fact that BT's 21CN network will offer slower broadband speeds than those possible on systems being put down in places like Germany, France and South Korea.

Livingston added that BT was also open to building out fibre cables to cabinets at street kerbs to extend broadband speeds. He said: "BT remains very interested in further expanding the speed of access for customers, whether that be through faster copper, fibre to the home or fibre to the cabinet."

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