/ Technology

We’re edging closer to universal superfast broadband

Orange optical fibres

Sometimes it’s difficult to share, but now BT has no choice. Ofcom has told the company to open up its fibre network to all of its competitors. So are we finally getting closer to superfast broadband for all?

Like most of us, Ofcom is eager to speed up the move towards universal superfast broadband in the UK. So rather than just kindly asking, Ofcom has ordered BT to open its fibre network up to its broadband competitors (like Sky and TalkTalk).

Not only will this give us a genuine choice of providers, it should spur competitive pricing of broadband packages that offer speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second. That’ll let you download (legally, of course) the umpteenth Pirates of the Caribbean film in the blink of an eye.

You’d think BT would be feeling just a little bit bitter about all this, but actually its apparently welcomed Ofcom’s announcement – likely because the regulator hasn’t put a cap on what BT can charge for its network.

The race to infinity

BT’s already started to roll-out its own fibre broadband, called BT Infinity, which it hopes will be available to two-thirds of the UK by 2015. This is being fuelled by a new campaign, imaginatively called ‘the race to infinity’, which is trying to find out who wants superfast broadband the most.

The five exchange points that get the most demand will have fibres installed by 2012. It’s a pretty high-profile campaign that, in practice, will map out where and when BT will install fibres across the country in the coming years.

Though it’s important to note that the results won’t just impact where BT’s own service goes. They’ll also influence the UK’s superfast networks as a whole.

However, Ofcom has also ruled that other providers can use BT’s infrastructure to lay down their own cables. That means they won’t have to wait for the big bad BT to get there first. So, fingers crossed, this should mean that even rural areas will get a look in on eye-watering broadband speeds. We can only hope.