BT has announced a pilot of a new technology it hopes will allow UK homes currently not served by broadband to get access to faster speeds. Broadband Enabling Technology (Bet) can provide between 1 and 2Mbps (megabit per second) broadband to homes currently struggling on dial-up.
With funding, BT said it could fulfill the government’s pledge to bring broadband to every home by 2012. Up to three million homes in the UK are in so-called broadband “notspots”. Openreach, the BT spin-off responsible for the broadband network, has trialled the technology in Scotland and found it to be successful.
It will now extend that trial to eight other locations, including towns in Berkshire, the West Midlands, West Sussex and Norfolk. Usually houses farther than 5km from their local telephone exchange are unable to get broadband but Bet increases the range to 12km.
“We are really excited about the potential of Bet to extend broadband to the remaining not-spots,” said John Small, managing director of service delivery at Openreach.
“We’re keen to work with local and regional authorities and other bodies with funding to discuss how the technology can be rolled out to their areas,” he added.
Lindsey Annison is a long-time campaigner for better broadband. Living in Cumbria, she struggles to get a decent service. She is not convinced that Bet will help her.
“It is not broadband and it is utterly useless for bringing 21st century communications to rural citizens and businesses of this country.
It is certainly not what an experienced telco should be offering as a solution for the current notspot problem,” she said.
Ian Fogg, an analyst with Forrester, described Bet as “an evolution rather than a panacea, offering relatively modest download speeds” although the fact that it can also deliver up to 1Mbps upload speeds was “better than a lot of current offers” he said.