By: MarkJ - 21 January, 2010 (11:49 AM)
fibre optic broadbandBT Retail has today officially revealed the first consumer pricing for its next generation superfast (up to 40Mbps download and 10Mbps upload speed) fibre optic ( FTTC ) broadband packages - BT Infinity. Prices start at just £19.99 per month (20GB usage allowance) and will be made available to new and existing BT customers from 25th January.

The operator informs us that they hit the start button on their Next Generation Access (NGA) programme last week when BT Openreach began selling fibre services for the first time from enabled exchanges on a commercial basis. The move is part of BT's £1.5bn programme to deliver next generation services into 10 million homes (40% coverage) by the summer of 2012.

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail, said:

"The internet is essential to our customers’ lives and they are demanding more and more as richer and even more compelling services become available. BT Infinity gives customers the capacity and reliability they need in an instant and at a great value price they can afford. We want to give our customers the best possible online experience and are committed to rolling out super-fast speeds across the UK."

BT Openreach is making its fibre optic broadband services available on an open wholesale basis to rival UK ISPs and aims to reach 4 Million homes and businesses by the end of December 2010. Interestingly today's announcement is all about Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology, with the faster 'up to' 100Mbps FTTH / P product still to be detailed (this will cover 2.5m of the 10m homes).
BT Infinity Option 1 - £19.99 Per Month
Download Speed: Up to 40Mbps
Upload Speed: Up to 2Mbps
Connection Charge: £50
Usage Allowance: 20GB (GigaBytes)
Wireless Router: Free BT Home Hub
Security: Basic security
Storage: 5GB Digital Vault
Wi-Fi Minutes: 250
Contract: 18 Months

BT Infinity Option 2 - £24.99 Per Month
Download Speed: Up to 40Mbps
Upload Speed: Up to 10Mbps
Connection Charge: FREE
Usage Allowance: *** Unlimited *** (Fair Usage Policy TBA)
Wireless Router: Free BT Home Hub
Security: Advanced security
Storage: 5GB Digital Vault with auto back-up
Wi-Fi Minutes: Unlimited
Contract: 18 Months
Detail's of BT's Fair Usage Policy (FUP) for its Option 2 package have not yet been revealed, though the pricing is a little lower than we expected. Still, next generation broadband speeds don't seem so well suited to BT's cheaper Option 1 usage allowance of 20GB. A qualified BT engineer will also be on hand to come and install the product for customers.

Virgin Media’s up to 50Mbps XXL cable service costs £28 per month when also taken with a Virgin phone line costing £11 per month. This compares with BT's Infinity Option 2, which will offer download speeds of up to 40Mbps for £24.99 per month and can be taken with BT line rental costing from £11.54 per month. Virgin’s 50Mbps broadband offers upload speeds of just 1.5Mbps.

Fibre-to-the-Cabinet technology ( FTTC ) delivers a fast fibre optic link to the operators street level cabinets, while the remaining connection - between cabinets and homes - is done using VDSL / VDSL2 (similar to current ADSL broadband but faster over short distances) through existing copper cable; FTTC will initially deliver speeds of up to 40Mbps, rising to 60Mbps in the future (uploads will be in the 2-15Mbps range).

It's worth pointing out that the distance dependant nature of VDSL technology in FTTC, coupled with common ISP congestion and traffic management, mean that not everybody will receive the top 40Mbps speed. However the bottom end performance of an FTTC connection is still likely to be very respectable, sitting somewhere around 10-15Mbps. This compares well against the real-world performance of existing 'up to' 8Mbps ADSL and 24Mbps ADSL2+ services, which frequently deliver far less than 10Mbps.

BT's FTTC coverage will initially be extremely limited and to date it has only revealed details for over 160 telephone exchange upgrades (here), primarily covering its rollout plans in 2010; though more will be announced in the near future. We expect additional ISPs to unwrap their packages soon and it will be interesting to see whether there will be many differences between them. We will update our listings to reflect the new services when more ISPs announce their details.
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