Fibre optics for 90 per cent of UK could take six years

BT chief executive Ian Livingston has said that it could take up to six years for 90 per cent of the UK to be covered by high speed, fibre optic broadband of 100Mb/s or more.

This announcement was made to British Prime Minister David Cameron in a visit to BT's research headquarters. Mr Cameron has in the past pledged his support for improving Britain's broadband infrastructure, saying that he felt it encouraged businesses and individuals to move into the area where it was accessible.

The British government recently allocated just over £360 million to Scotland and England to focus on improving high speed internet access across the nation, making sure that every household had a minimum of 2Mbps. An Ofcom study released earlier this year found that around 12 per cent of the UK was still languishing with slower speeds than that, or even no connection altogether.

ZDNet reports that in his talk with Cameron, Livingston said that BT had ongoing plans to overhaul its exchanges, as well as reducing the numbers of low speed broadband users to just two percent in the next few years. While it would still be several years before the entirety of the UK had fibre enabled internet, he did say that by 2014 two-thirds of the populace should have access.

It's expected that once the auction for the 4G mobile data network is complete, it will open up more avenues for improved wireless broadband across the country. Currently 3G networks are focused around large population centres, but with the introduction of 4G, it should be possible for the older network to be used in more remote areas. Unfortunately though, due to the delays caused by arguing mobile providers, it is expected consumer connections to the new network won't be possible until 2014.

While Ofcom has been pushing for them to begin bidding on the new generation of mobile data network, there's been disagreement among the firms taking part. O2 and Vodafone have been angered by plans to offer the smallest UK provider Three, a share of the new 4G network at the lowest price - even threatening legal action if the auction continues in its current form.

The argument from Ofcom and Three is that since the larger mobile providers were given parts of the 2G spectrum - which they plan to reuse for 3G services - Three would be left at a disadvantage. Regulators are keen for the provider to continue pressuring the larger firms to aid competitiveness in the market.

Ofcom will be holding a consultation towards the end of the December in an effort to mitigate concerns from all parties.