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BT has claimed a major breakthrough in broadband technology, revealing ultra-fast speeds can be achieved using a mix of fibre and copper.

Previously, it was thought such speeds required a dedicated business line or a fibre-optic connection from the telephone exchange all the way to the end-user's premises.

However, BT's trials of fibre-to-the-distribution-point G.FAST technology - conducted in the field - suggest this is not the case.

During G.FAST testing, fibre was rolled out to telephone poles or junction boxes, located close to homes and businesses.

Downstream speeds of around 800Mb were achieved over a 19m length of copper, combined with upstream speeds of more than 200Mb.

Over longer copper lines of 66m, speeds of 700Mb and 200Mb were recorded by BT.

The finding is significant as it suggests ultra-fast broadband can be rolled out more affordably, in a shorter timeframe, with less disruption.

The upshot of this could be wider access to the fastest broadband speeds and greater value for money for BT - something which could feed into deal pricing in the future.

Dr Tim Whitley, Managing Director of Research and Innovation at BT Group, said the firm sees G.FAST as being "a very promising technology with significant potential".

"That’s why we’re putting some of our best minds on the case to assess it fully in a purpose-built facility [at Adastral Park R&D centre in Ipswich]," he stated.

Dr Whitley claimed that BT has "a long history of pushing the boundaries in telecommunications", from the earliest days of the electric telegraph to the global fibre networks of the 21st century.

"It’s crucial that we stay ahead of the curve for the benefit of our customers and shareholders," he added.

Joe Garner, Chief Executive Officer at Openreach - BT's infrastructure division - said the firm's fibre broadband rollout is making "a huge positive difference" to consumers and businesses across the UK.

He explained that 82 per cent of people already have access to super-fast fibre broadband - a number that continues to increase as network upgrade work is carried out nationwide.

"Customer needs will continue to change, and that’s why we’re deploying a mix of current technologies as well as testing new ones," Mr Garner stated.

"We will continue to innovate so that we meet our customers’ needs today, and in the future.”

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