BT announces fastest fibre broadband ever

BT has announced its fastest broadband service yet, with the release of specs and pricing for its forthcoming 110Mbit/s connections - even though the commercial deployment of the company's 100Mbit service hasn't even begun.

BT subsidiary Openreach, the wholesale broadband arm of the telecoms company, has confirmed that the 110Mbit/s service will become part of its 'Generic Ethernet Access Fibre To The Premises (GEA-FTTP) portfolio in March 2011.

If you're one of the few Britons who's managed to get access to BT's 100Mbit/s service by the time the new speed is added to BT's product portfolio - and there won't be many - we doubt you'll really notice the difference those extra megabits might make, particularly since BT's weasel-worded announcement throws in a fairly hefty caveat.

The 110Mbit rate referred to is a "peak rate", while the 20Mbit/s "prioritised" download rate mentioned in the release represents a guaranteed minimum - tantamount to an admission that users could experience as little as less than a fifth of the price they're paying for.

British ISPs have come in for criticism already this year from telecoms watchdog Ofcom for making extravagant claims for the speed of their broadband packages, and it seems BT is carrying on this less-than-distinguished tradition.

Upstream rates for the package should help the package appeal to peer-to-peer users, offering a generous 15Mbit/s maximum upload rate - assuming, of course, that it doesn't get throttled.

Wholesale prices for the package suggest it'll cost around £258.48 a year (£21.54 per month) for a standalone product, or £157.80 (£13.15 per month) if you buy it with a related copper-wire voice service. Connection is a fixed-price £75 including engineer call out and the necessary hardware. How much ISPs will charge those desperate to get their hands on the premium fibre service is anyone's guess, at this stage.

What's notable is that the prices for BT's 110Mbit/s service are very similar to those announced earlier in the year for its 100Mbit service - suggesting the phone giant may plan to simply leapfrog straight to 110Mbit, in attempt to give one in the eye to Virgin Media's 100Mbit product, due to launch by the end of this year.