Networking

British Telecom's $778M broadband investment could improve remote work for rural UK workers

Telecommunications provider BT wants to ensure that all houses in Britain can access internet speeds of at least 10 megabits per second. Here's what that could mean for tech workers.

UK telecommunications provider BT (British Telecom) has offered to invest 600 million pounds, or $778 million, to provide broadband internet to remote areas, Britain's government announced on Sunday.

BT's goal is to provide all houses in Britain with internet speeds of at least 10Mbps, "typically enough for a family to stream films, carry out video conferencing and browse the web at the same time," according to a Reuters report.

In its proposal, BT sets out to offer coverage of at least 10Mbps to about 99% of homes and businesses by 2020, reaching complete expansion within two years after that. The idea is that company would make its money back in charging for access to its local networks, according to Reuters.

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"We already expect 95 percent of homes and businesses to have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps or faster by the end of 2017," BT's chief executive Gavin Patterson told Reuters. "Our latest initiative aims to ensure that all UK premises can get faster broadband, even in the hardest to reach parts of the UK."

British culture secretary Karen Bradley said in a statement that the government will "warmly welcome" BT's offer, and will now determine whether this or a regulatory approach will be the best option for homes and businesses to gain access. "The driving force behind our decision making will be making sure we get the best deal for consumers," Bradley said.

Bringing broadband internet access to homes and businesses in rural areas could potentially open up more possibilities for remote work, cutting down on people's commutes to the cities or even opening up new employment opportunities for those living in the country. Better access could also encourage startups and new tech companies to open shop in areas outside of the city centers.

However, Britain's opposition Labour Party said the 10Mbps target was "not ambitious enough," according to Reuters. In the US, the FCC defines broadband as 25Mbps, it should be noted.

Several US companies have also made moves to improve broadband access in rural areas as well. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced its Rural Airband Initiative, a $10 billion investment aiming to provide 2 million Americans with broadband access in the next five years. AT&T and NetComm Wireless also recently unveiled a plan to supply fixed-wireless equipment across rural areas in the US.

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Image: iStockphoto/cienpies

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. On Sunday, British telecommunications provider BT offered to invest 600 million pounds, or $778 million, to provide broadband internet to remote areas.

2. BT's goal is to provide all houses and businesses in Britain with internet speeds of at least 10Mbps, though some say that is not fast enough.

3. Expanding broadband access to rural areas may encourage more remote work throughout the country, as well as spur more startups to open outside of city centers.

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About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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