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BT announced today that they are considering the case for an ultra-fast broadband network capable of achieving speeds of up to 50 Megabits per second (Mb/s).

The UK communications company is contemplating whether to install fibre-optic cables to as far as the street curb, where the BT phone line cabinets are placed. This roll out of fibre close to homes and businesses could offer speeds of up to 40-50 Mb/s. This contrasts greatly with the current level offered by BT of a maximum of 8Mb/s.

Investors are nervous about a possible upgrade in technology as preliminary expectations put the cost at about £4bn, this cost would be increased if BT took the fibre-optic cables to peoples homes, plus the speed would be faster. However BT believes that there is no economic case for this, except on Greenfield sites due to the cost involved.

Sir Christopher Bland, the BT chairman who stands down in September said BT’s thinking had advanced “quite far” on the case for fibre to the curb. “That is the more likely development going forward,” he said, while stressing no decision had been taken to go ahead with fibre to the curb.

However BT are still planning to offer speeds of up to 24 Mb/s next year, as they will start to use technology known as ADSL2+ (currently used by Be Broadband and UK Online), which will cost a much more respectable £10m.

The Broadband stakeholder group has claimed that BT would be too slow in reaching the targets of customers needs by 2012 and that ADSL2+ will mean only a third of the country will receive speeds of 20Mb/s or more due to the fact that they still use copper wires, and the speed of the connection is down to the length of the wire. With Cable there is no loss of speed, the speed will only be lost when it changes to a copper wire from the street to peoples homes.

Sir Christopher said any fibre roll-out would be in “selected areas”. Analysts said BT would focus on towns and cities.

This story comes shortly after the article in Top 10 Broadband yesterday referring to how badly Briton is performing compared to the rest of the world concerning broadband technology. For example in Japan, customers can normally expect speeds of up to 100Mb/s already.

Use our broadband speed test to check the speed of your connection and compare potentially faster packages.

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