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BT's quarterly newsletter for analysts, consultants and investors - Issue 41 - September 2016

Setting the record straight on the health of the UK's internet

Sean WilliamsBy Sean Williams, Chief Strategy Officer

Connectivity is central to all of our lives. That's why the health of the UK's internet is such an emotive topic. Having access to fast, reliable internet is something we champion. And we've always welcomed constructive, informed debate about the subject. Unfortunately, that's not what we've seen recently. There are a number of myths and misconceptions doing the rounds at the moment.

It's time to set the record straight. Because the truth is, at BT, we've done something everyone in the UK can be proud of: we've delivered one of the fastest and most ambitious fibre rollouts in the world. So we're running a campaign to provide the facts, backed by independent research, so that people can understand what's been achieved to date and our ongoing commitment to the UK's digital future.

9 out of 10 UK homes now have access to superfast broadband

The UK leads the top five EU economies on virtually all key measures of superfast broadband coverage, take-up, use and competition.

Through our Openreach division, we've made fibre broadband available to well over 25m homes and businesses. We're on track to help government achieve its target of 95% superfast coverage by the end of 2017. And we want to go even further.

On take-up, more households are using superfast broadband in the UK than in France, Germany, Italy or Spain. And because our network is available for all communications providers to use on an equivalent basis, customers can choose from more than 100 fibre broadband providers.

Some people criticise the extent of fibre to the premises (FTTP) rollout but independent research shows if we had only used FTTP technology (rather than a mix of FTTP and FTTC), the UK would now be at c.40% coverage rather than the 91% coverage we have today.

In fact Openreach is the largest FTTP provider in the UK, offering services to more than 322,000 homes and businesses.

Average UK broadband speeds have doubled in the last three years

Everyone cares about their internet speed. The good news is that internet speeds in the UK have been getting much faster. Average UK broadband speeds have doubled in the last three years and increased 20-fold in the last ten years.

Average download speeds in the UK are faster than in France, Germany, Italy and Spain but we're not stopping there. We plan to take Britain from superfast to ultrafast - with up to 12m homes and businesses benefiting by the end of 2020.

In the last ten years we've invested more than £10bn in the Openreach network

Some people say that the UK doesn't invest enough in infrastructure. But over the last ten years we've been investing an average of £1bn each year through Openreach.

We invested £3bn in rolling out fibre broadband when others in the market weren't prepared to invest. Our investment has helped make the UK one of the most digitally-savvy nations in the world, with the largest digital economy in the G-20.

Over the next three years, we plan to spend a further £6bn on our fixed and mobile networks, delivering broader coverage, faster speeds and better service.

So we're more than happy to debate the health of the UK's internet, but let's do so based on facts. We're proud to have played our part in building the UK's digital infrastructure. And we'll continue to invest to make sure the UK continues to be a world-leading digital nation.

Read more here.