Faster broadband on way as OFCOM cuts prices

Fair exchange: Ellon and Kemnay broadband users are set to swap their current service for speeds up to twice as fast
Fair exchange: Ellon and Kemnay broadband users are set to swap their current service for speeds up to twice as fast

Ellon and Kemnay have been named as towns set to benefit from increased broadband speeds, as BT revealed details of the latest phase of its roll-out programme for its ‘next generation’ internet service.

The announcement came as telecommunications regulator OFCOM unveiled moves which would see BT cutting its wholesale prices to other broadband suppliers in rural areas, in order to increase competition and improve services for consumers.

Some 31 telephone exchanges across Scotland, and over 300 across the UK, will move to BT’s ADSL2+ service in the latest phase of the company’s upgrade programme. This service, which uses the existing copper telephone wires, sees broadband signals boosted at the exchange in order to double maximum download speeds to around 20 megabits per second, and comes in addition to BT’s £2.5bn roll-out of super-fast, fibre-based broadband.

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “Faster broadband can help businesses become more competitive and greatly improve the online services available to families and homeworkers.

“BT is the only company consistently investing in a mixture of faster broadband technologies both in and outside Scotland’s major urban areas.

In a separate move, telecoms regulator OFCOM has announced plans to force BT to cut the amount it charges rival providers to use its wholesale broadband network. It is hoped that the price cuts - some 12% below inflation per year - will make it worthwhile for other providers to move into the rural market, and to allocate more bandwidth to customers without increasing their own costs.

Exchanges which have been upgraded to ADSL2+ - as Ellon and Kemnay are set to be - will be exempted, in a move which Ofcom hopes will encourage BT to increase the rate at which it rolls out its faster servcies.

A spokesman for BT said the company expected the upgrades to be complete by next spring, and that consumers would not have to pay any more, or be required to upgrade their existing equipment in order to take advantage of the faster service.